Though Boardwalk Builders works mostly on second homes in the resort town of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, the company makes their customers' happiness first priority. As proof, the company ranked above benchmark averages in the 2004 NRS Homeowner Satisfaction Awards.
Number of walk-through items identified for correction: When asked how Boardwalk limited the number of punch list items, president Patty McDaniel, responds, "It's a boring answer: We just stick there and work on it until we're done." Since the NRS survey was conducted, however, the company has implemented pre-work and post-work checklists for their trade contractors to speed the job and reduce punch list items even more.
Adherence to production schedule: The company uses charts created in Microsoft Excel, plus a large scheduling board in the office, to track production progress. A long-term version of the schedule forecasts a year out in broad strokes. A second shows each of the next 12 weeks, and a third schedule details each day of the week in progress. At a weekly production meeting, staff members review each active job, what was done the past week, what is planned for the next three to four weeks, where carpenters are needed, where and when tradespeople are needed, and what questions will be asked of the client. Then they create the updated schedules.
Time taken to correct walk-through items: Repeat and referral business motivates the company to address problems with a project as soon as possible. There's no system that flashes a note on someone's desk when there are punch list items to attend to. Rather McDaniel attributes the company's quick corrections to culture. "The culture of the company is to do it right and own your mistakes and to get it done."
Price for value received: Boardwalk Builders has a reputation for being expensive, says McDaniel. But she believes the excellence of her employees and the quality of work is worth the cost to customers.
McDaniel believes first and foremost that the job won't be done well if the crew is underpaid. She also pumps money into training programs. Finally, McDaniel empowers her crew to make decisions and take their time on a job so that it's done right. "None of those things come cheaply," she says, "[But if] you put personality, clean jobsites and trained field staff together, that's how you deliver value."
Communication of progress: After the weekly production meeting, every client receives an e-mail progress report including what has been accomplished this week, what is planned for next week, what questions the production crew has for the client and a list of outstanding issues. "What clients want more than anything," says McDaniel, "is to be in the loop." Subcontractors receive a fax that projects the next four weeks of the company's schedule. In addition, the fax gives the company a paper trail.