There are different aspects to evaluating an associate’s performance, Fingeroot explains. For example, the “A”-location finished lots that Pinnacle’s land team has acquired—the company currently has about 2,000 in its portfolio and builds on about 150 per year—“will bear fruit for the next five years.”
But if he limits his choice of hero to 2012, Fingeroot says it would have to be Pinnacle’s vice president of sales and marketing, whom he hired that year. (Fingeroot asked that the official’s name not be used.) As with each of the builder’s department heads, Fingeroot sets goals he wants the sales team to achieve: In 2012, those goals included sell more houses without resorting to incentives and keeping options to a minimum.
Fingeroot gave his vice president a “stretch” goal, which he met as measured by increases in sales volume, traffic at its models and through emails, and hits on Pinnacle’s website.
Tri Pointe sold about 180 homes in 2012, and opened seven communities.
"The home building business is definitely improving," Bauer says. But mortgages "continue to be a big challenge."
This is why he gives kudos to his entire sales team. “It takes a lot of patience and coddling” to keep buyers under contract and get them to the finish line to close the house. That’s because lenders such as Wells Fargo (with which Tri Pointe has a preferred arrangement) are much more demanding that home buyers maintain their credit scores throughout the purchasing process.
Bauer and his partner Tom Mitchell meet with their sales team monthly “so they can feel the support of ownership,” Bauer says. He adds that his salespeople’s motivation is “they are paid extremely well.” Their efforts will be further rewarded, he said, when Tri Pointe, which launched in spring 2009, turns a profit in 2013.
Erickson defines an unsung hero as someone who not only "gives 105 percent," but has the ability to "see problems down the road" before they occur. He was reluctant to single out anyone by name for fear of losing him or her to competitors. But three people in particular at Grayhawk excelled in 2012. One has been with the builder for six years, another just got promoted "and has shined in that job," said Erickson; and the third joined the company out of college 20 months ago.
They “consistently helped make us successful” by asking for resources when they needed them and by “looking out for the company’s interests instead of their own, which can sometimes be in conflict.” A willingness to work weekends to complete projects exemplifies such selflessness. Erickson personally thanks outstanding employees, and occasionally gives them spot bonuses. “When you reward people for doing positive things, they tend to repeat them.”