Home Builder Scheduling: More on the “Small Ball” Approach

Home Builder Scheduling: More on the “Small Ball” Approach

There’s quite a lot going on in the new home market these days: momentum is positive, more homes are being built and sold.  Low interest rates are still to be found,  household formation is growing, millennials finally seem interested in home ownership and…there are ongoing labor shortages in certain, key industries and markets making the construction part of the business ever challenging.

There’s also growing interest in maximizing the concept of job scheduling in the effort to “bring order from chaos” in new home construction.

There’s no doubt about it: new home construction is unlike many other production processes. However, Scott Sedum, in a ProBuilder article suggests there is one inviolate rule: The best builders are the best schedulers. Every builder recognizes that, as Fletcher Groves notes in Practice Makes Process:  “the reason an enterprise exists is to make money and… that value is delivered through the work that the enterprise performs and the work has to be performed in some manner of workflow.”

Getting Down to the Basics

There can be a tendency to say (or mutter): “I already schedule — and haven’t really noticed much difference in the chaos!”

That’s where “starting at the beginning” will pay off.  The art of scheduling needs to be much more than creating a list of tasks to be done today. Taking the time to review, analyze and enhance organizational processes will pay off — as that review process will highlight areas needing attention leading to better scheduling.

And, as much as it might hurt, it pays off to start at the beginning. Remember KISS?  Regardless of whether you’re building single-or multifamily homes, production or custom, in Alaska or the desert — make an effort, as Sedum suggests, to reduce extra steps, paperwork, trips, calls.  That’s what, Groves points out, allows you to complete more work, at a lower cost, with fewer resources. End result: increased efficiency resulting in better margins.

OK; where to start?  Remember our mentioning taking a SF Giants “small ball” approach? Details matter; we’ll suggest 3 detail points that will help improve your scheduling process:

  • Make simplification a daily objective — throughout the organization. Finding out where you can simplify things (whether paperwork, approvals, or phone calls) is the first step in increasing efficiency — and should be a part of schedule review process.
  • Create a complete “start to finish” checklist — nothing is more painful (for the organization and the pocketbook) than discovering a grading mistake when the slab is about to be poured. This list should be your start document — and will generate one or more tasks in the schedule. 
  • Absolutely include “BUYER” items in the schedule —  Touchpoints are today’s mantra. And, they don’t  start or finish in the sales office. The pre-construction meeting, walk through and home orientation are not only critical to your relationship — they take time.  Make sure to include them in your schedule — both because they’re tasks and to highlight their importance.
Groves mentions process review needs to be much more than documenting today’s workflow — it is the front end of an improvement methodology.  We’ll look at more key points in upcoming Blogs!

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