Many companies downsized during the housing market downturn, and now that the market is coming back, a lot of builders, remodelers, and trade contractors will find themselves trying to keep up with growing demand while maintaining quality and profitability. Before the market shifts into full gear, now is the best time to XYQ—examine your quality—to position yourself for the rebound.

The growth will require builders and contractors to get their staff levels back up, which means training and quality management challenges (and opportunities) ahead. Companies with a structured quality management system will be better prepared to take these on while simultaneously increasing customer satisfaction and profitability.

About 10 years ago, Home Innovation Research Labs developed a quality management system and certification program that was modeled after the ISO 9001 quality management requirements, which have become the benchmark for other industries. Home Innovation used its understanding of the home building industry to customize that well-known quality management system to fit new-home construction in a way that emphasized continuous improvement and was easy to implement. Our system has proved effective: Both builders and trade contractors report increased customer satisfaction, reduced callbacks, improved builder-trade and trade-trade relations, and increased profitability as a result of the training and quality certification.

Hot Spot Technique: It Works One of the most beneficial elements of our quality management system is the hot spot technique for addressing recurring construction issues. To implement this, a company identifies its most frequent issue or callback. The next step is to understand the cause of the problem and then boil the solution down to simple instructions that can be delivered at brief jobsite toolbox talks. The discussion typically is paired with a one-page summary that includes two photos: one showing the wrong way and one showing the right way.

The talks are tied to efforts to inspect each job to ensure the hot spot issue is being addressed and done correctly. To be effective, this kind of training is done at least weekly. Some companies do it daily—it can make a big difference in information retention. With this kind of quality management activity, most jobsite problems can be eliminated in a month or less.

The hot spot technique is just one step in a company’s quality roadmap. Home Innovation provides consulting services to assist builders and trade contractors in developing and implementing quality management systems.

Visit www.HomeInnovation.com if you are interested in improving your company’s quality management.