All Business Myth Stories

  • 9 Myths that Affect Your Bottom Line

    From customer care and human resources to land strategiesand purchasing, misconceptions abound about how to operatea building business...

  • Bob Mirman

    Customer care myth: Home buyer satisfaction increases in an up market.

  • Jamie Pirrello

    Finance myth: Every dollar of revenue should generate the same return.

  • Jason Forrest

    Service myth: The customer is always right.

  • Tony Callahan

    Purchasing myth: Price and cost are the same thing.

  • Veronica Ramirez

    Hiring myth: It's all about money.

  • Fletcher Groves

    Operations myth: Bigger is always better.

  • Jeff Handlin

    Land strategy myth: Builders need to pay more for land than developers.

  • Clark Ellis

    Operations myth: Land is the answer to all problems.

  • Martin Freedland

    Labor myth: Talent lost during the recession is easily replaced.


In a retail world dominated by companies dedicated to the delivery of an extraordinary customer experience, builders can learn a lot from firms ranked high for customer loyalty such as Costco, Lexus, and Amazon. On occasion, industry leading home building firms will find their way to these lists: Shea Homes, David Weekley Homes, MBK Homes, The New Home Company, and imortgage have been recognized as models of consumer-centric home building firms. BIG BUILDER talks with Bob Mirman, CEO of Eliant, about the best practices of these highly rated builders. What is the No. 1 misconception builders have about customer care?
Too many builders still think customer care is the same as customer service, which is warranty service delivered by service techs. Customer service is a part of the overall customer care experience just like the salesperson at Nordstrom is a part of the store’s customer care process, or the check-in agent is a part of Southwest Airlines’ customer care experience. But, it’s also much more. Customer care should encompass the policies and practices necessary to consistently deliver an extraordinary customer experience, the purpose of which is to drive sales from referrals. Customer care begins before the prospective buyer even sets foot in your sales office and shouldn’t end until the expiration of your long-term structural warranty period.

Today’s builders need to be extra diligent because in an up-market, home buyer satisfaction declines as builders get their feet stuck in the mud of compressed production schedules, too few trades, and overly aggressive sales targets. When this happens, builders forget about the importance of the customer experience.

What should builders do to change this mentality?
Many builders fall into the trap of believing that customer care and customer service are expense items. What they are missing is that by delivering an extraordinary experience, home owners are much more likely to send their friends to your sales offices. The customer experience should create future sales…is there a better reason? Customer care should be seen as a profit center because the delivery of an extraordinary customer experience creates positive word-of-mouth, an excellent local reputation, and healthy referrals.

For 2013, Eliant’s top-rated builders sold 45 percent to 50 percent of their homes from referrals versus our average client builder at 26.8 percent. This is not by accident or differing demographics or price points. After measuring this for almost 30 years, we know that there is a clear inverse relationship between sales volume and customer satisfaction ratings.

Bob Mirman is founder and CEO of Eliant, a consumer research consulting firm in San Clemente, Calif.