Fusion | How Homebuilders Can Rock The Boat, Without Sinking The Ship
How Homebuilders Can Rock The Boat, Without Sinking The Ship

How Homebuilders Can Rock The Boat, Without Sinking The Ship January 31, 2017 | By Al Doyle

General Posts Home Design, Innovation, Lennar Homes, Market Research, NAHB, seattle

Lennar CEO Stuart Miller spends a dozen minutes sharing with fellow homebuilders his belief that “Success is the enemy of innovation” and explaining how he is managing change at one of American’s most successful homebuilding companies. He tells us, “You need to get to the future first,” meaning before your buyers and before your competitors. What are you doing today about tomorrow?

Watch the Video

Here in the Pacific Northwest, the market is strong, demand high and prices are rising. Our big complaint and constraint these days is getting and keeping a steady supply of skilled labor and reliable subs.  But this is the kind of thinking mire, Miller tells us, that prevents us from future-proofing a place in tomorrow’s market. His video is a twelve-minute view and just might change your future.

Where Fresh Ideas Come From

Keeping your business fresh in a complicated industry like homebuilding can be a daunting challenge. Getting any fresh ideas can be difficult where most of our product is “stick built” in virtually the same way it was in the late 1800s! Materials have changed. Tools have changed. Quality has changed, but we still bring skilled workers to our remote sites to assemble a complicated product. No other industry still functions that way. But, maybe construction methods are not where the homebuilder needs to be focused. Perhaps it is more on the changing customer. Our first wave of Millennial Generation buyers is flowing into the market.

Think about it. What could be a better investment than some regular conversations with our best market to find out what we are missing? Why not sit around a table with some Starbucks and notepads and ask our buyers how we could do a better job?

Boomers are now ready for their last chapter, which often means a major lifestyle change. Are we, as individuals who make design decisions, sitting down and talking to them? Are we dialoguing and probing for clues as to what will motivate their next purchase?

These conversations are potentially a lot more efficient than putting a prototype on the market and hoping it will sell. Conversation with buyers (called market research) is pretty much the norm for all other industries. Why do homebuilders resist it so?