Customer Service Growing Trend in Home Building

Written by Posted On Sunday, 09 October 2005 17:00

Times have certainly changed in the home building industry and experts predict more changes to come with a greater emphasis on customer service and satisfaction.

More than half-a-century ago, housing starts totaled 1.9 million units, of which almost 1.7 million were single-family housing starts. In 1950 the average single-family home was no more than one-thousand square feet and sold for an average of $11,000. Two-thirds of the homes had no more than two bedrooms and only four percent had at least two bathrooms. Central air wasn't even a consideration.

That compares to 2.009 million housing starts in August 2005. Of that approximately 1.71 million were single-family housing and the national median price of an existing single-family home was $220,000 in August of this year. The average size of a home today is 2,400 square feet. Slightly more than half of the new homes have more than three bedrooms and 90 percent of the homes have central air.

The rapid growth puts pressure on homebuilders to find land at a cost-effective price and to produce homes that buyers' desire.

Homebuilders, such as John Laing Homes, are leading the way in developing homes that are meeting buyers' standards according to recent industry accolades; one of the company's newer divisions recently took top honors. The San Diego division was awarded The Eliant "Best Homebuying Experience" and "Purchase Experience" in the nation just last month. The division was also recognized in 10 other categories, taking second-place honors for "Overall Quality;" "Home Readiness;" and "Construction Experience."

"We as a new team took it upon ourselves to kick some tail and work at it diligently and try to take it from another level which isn't always easy because you still are competing for land and you still have to make a profit, which we do …," says John Mecklenburg, president of John Laing Homes, San Diego division.

The latest prestige award falls on the heels of John Laing Homes being named "2004 Builder of the Year" by Professional Builder magazine.

Mecklenburg says what makes the company stand out so much is how much homebuyers are supported and have a say in the development of their new home.

"We don't pre-sell homes and public companies do pre-sell homes ... . The other companies will typically start a production phase the next month and then every other month they'll start another phase and so let's say your typical phase is 12 homes; by the time they finish their models and open them they've got 36 [homes] under construction," says Mecklenburg.

"We get people who go to the other competitors and say, 'Well they've already picked cherry cabinets and this really ugly green counter top or something and we don't like it.' And so we drive a great deal of satisfaction by how we do things a little bit differently across the board for all John Laing divisions … it's really helped our scores in customer satisfaction," says Mecklenburg.

The top three companies placing in the "Overall Experience" category for multi division are John Laing Homes, San Diego; John Laing Homes, Denver; and Shea Homes, Colorado.

The top three companies placing in the "Overall Experience" category for single division respectively from first place are: Greth Homes, MBK Homes, LTD, and Keller Homes.

To read more about other categories and winners visit eliant.com .

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Phoebe Chongchua

Phoebe Chongchua is an award-winning journalist, an author, customer service trainer/speaker, and founder of Setting the Service Standard, a customer service training and consulting program offered by Live Fit Enterprises (LFE) based in San Diego, California. She is the publisher of Live Fit Magazine, an online publication that features information on real estate/finance, physical fitness, travel, and philanthropy. Her company, LFE, specializes in media services including marketing, PR, writing, commercials, corporate videos, customer service training, and keynotes & seminars. Visit her magazine website: www.LiveFitMagazine.com.

Phoebe's articles, feature stories, and columns appear in various publications including The Coast News, Del Mar Village Voice, Rancho Santa Fe Review, and Today's Local News in San Diego, as well as numerous Internet sites. She holds a California real estate license. Phoebe worked for KGTV/10News in San Diego as a Newscaster, Reporter and Community Affairs Specialist for more than a decade. Phoebe's writing is also featured in Donald Trump's book: The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buying Foreclosures. She is the author of If the Trash Stinks, TAKE IT OUT! 14 Worriless Principles for Your Success.

Contact Phoebe at (858) 259-3646 or phoebe@livefitmagazine.com. Visit PhoebeChongchua.com for more information.

www.phoebechongchua.com/

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