When Jim McCall sold his Montana pool business and started a family business developing homes in Billings, he thought the logistics of construction would be the hard part. But once their homes started selling quickly, the family quickly realized the challenge of running a five-star warranty program.
“We knew that delivering on our quality guarantee would be critical to our success. We were committed to delivering an easy, affordable, and fun build process—and that included proactively reaching out to each new home buyer to measure their overall satisfaction before and after purchase,” says McCall Homes co-owner Brad McCall. “But reaching out wasn’t enough. We had to figure out how to track and report on defects, manage our trade partners, and conduct our warranty work systematically so that nothing fell through the cracks.”
It wasn’t long before the McCall team discovered the need for a system to manage communications, requests, scheduling, work orders, and warranty status. After a few fits and starts with different technology options, they found what they needed in Punchlist Manager.
“We have literally hundreds of active communications, action-items, follow-ups, and service requests at any given time,” says Cricket Colter, warranty manager for McCall Homes. “Without Punchlist Manager, keeping track of all that would be a nightmare.”
Colter describes how she reaches out to customers at two months and 10 months about their current satisfaction. “I don’t need any of that on my calendar. Instead, I get pop-up reminders, so I can take notes and create tickets right there. It’s great for someone who is dealing with a million things at once.”
With Punchlist Manager, the McCall team communicates with homeowners and trades from anywhere, managing open, closed, and pending requests and service work orders in real time. Collaborative scheduling lets them know when and where field technicians and trade partners are scheduled for inspection and repair.
Punchlist Manager has improved field operations as well. McCall’s quality team now captures customer signatures during on-site walkthroughs, annotates photographs showing precisely which items didn’t pass inspection, schedules with trades to revisit the work site, and manages quality control checklists.
“I like that the trades can manage their own tickets — they get in there all the time,” Colter says. “I can set it up so I have a ticket scheduled for a date, then it can send reminders for the trades. It keeps everyone on track.”
New homeowners benefit from a dedicated portal with access to pictures, warranty documents, and status updates.
This has proven to vastly improve the customer experience. “When there’s a homeowner involved, it’s critical that we keep everyone engaged and satisfied,” McCall says. “We can do it in one step, and the process dominoes from there.”
That kind of collaboration and communication has paid off with a dramatic increase in customer satisfaction. Previously, only two thirds of customers expressed that they were extremely likely to recommend the company to a friend. Now, having integrated Punchlist Manager, McCall Homes receives that score from over 90% of their customers, with a total satisfaction of 97%. In 2016 McCall Homes was voted Builder of the Year by the Montana Building Industry Association. The company received “Best Home Builder” from Billings Lifestyle Magazine two years in a row in 2017 and 2018. It also received the prestigious Guildmaster Award from QualityGuild seven times from 2012 to 2019.
“It doesn’t hurt that Punchlist Manager saves money,” says McCall. He estimates that the business spends a third less time managing warranty, callbacks, and quality issues. He also notes that the company is using only half of its warranty servicing budget.
“We’re spending quite a bit less,” he says. “I can actually fall back on the trades and show them what they need to fix at their cost. I can get a quote or estimate and actual pre-agreements, which helps solve disputes. It also helps document the bidding process. Every bit of that positive management amounts to a huge savings in our warranty work.”