Photo Courtesy of Brieann Corbitt

Homebuilder Bryan Havel believes he has a bit of an unfair sales advantage.

He knew his new design studio was going to help close incremental business and provide useful home-buyer insight. What the Texas-based builder didn’t figure is how many boxes his new outsourced design studio emphatically checked, circled, and underlined.

A flood of buyer insight, for example, is just one of the outcomes that has “blown away” Havel, president of the central Texas division of fast-rising William Lyon Homes, ranked #18 on the 2019 Builder 100 list. His central Texas team is on a roll, expected to deliver just under 1,000 homes this year.

Zero to 100
William Lyon Homes specializes in entry-level homes, priced in the $270,000s. Building to that price point doesn’t allow for extensive buyer options. In fact, up to about a year ago, the builder William Lyon acquired to enter the Austin market offered strictly option-free inventory homes. Lyon management decided to gingerly open the door to options this year. “We wanted to broaden our marketplace with more options. But we had to do it in a way that preserved affordability and delivery dates,” Havel explains.

There was just one hitch: William Lyon had no central Texas design studio to market upgrades to flooring, wall tile, cabinets, appliances, countertops, and window coverings. Havel reasoned its new design studio had to check at least seven boxes:

  1. Moderation. Entry-level buyers have enough on their mind. Manage the feature-selling process to keep budget parameters in check.
  2. Tight Purchasing Integration. Create a seamless ordering, inventory, and delivery environment to eliminate surprises, schedule disruptions, and buyer disappointment.
  3. Easily Scalable. With nearly 20 new homes coming on line each week, and likely an even faster tempo next year, the design studio has “… to go from zero to 100 really quick,” Havel says.
  4. One-and-Done Ordering. “I’ve worked in sales environments where buyers would shop multiple times or change their minds after 30 or 60 days. We can’t afford that,” he explains.
  5. Winners Only. “What are winning options for cabinets, countertops, or flooring? We needed reliable third-party expertise and judgment,” observes Havel.
  6. Comprehensive Reporting. What do buyers prefer? How does that vary by community? By sales agent? By vendor brand? Lyon management expected monthly market intelligence that would support confident decision-making.
  7. Hands-Off Administration. The focus has to be on maintaining aggressive construction schedules and keeping quality high, not worrying about design-studio staffing and operations.

Fortunately, Havel’s solution was hiding in plain sight: Their vendor for interior finishes, Interior Logic Group, is also the industry go-to for interior design studio services. Today ILG operates more than 120 design studios nationwide.

Photo Courtesy of Brieann Corbitt
Photo Courtesy of Brieann Corbitt

New Income, New Insight
“Partnering with an expert like ILG is a big win for us. We expect to add seven to eight percent in option revenue this year. Remember, this is an entirely new income. The market intelligence is incredible. To be able push monthly reports like that upstream is great,” Havel says.

Unfair advantage? Havel just smiles. His central Texas team now controls a money-making solution that checks all the boxes.

To learn more about what an outsourced design studio could mean for your business, visit