4 Steps to Ensure Your Firm’s Labor Needs are Met

Many markets across the nation are grappling with chronic labor shortages.

At an International Builders’ Show seminar in Orlando earlier this month, Brian Hall, vice president of construction at Charlotte, N.C.-based Classica Homes, outlined four steps his firm has taken to ensure it is the “builder of choice” in its local market.

  1. Hire the best of the best. Hall says there are only two National Housing Quality (NHQ) certified trade contractors in Charlotte, and his firm does business with each of them. The NHQ certified trade contractor program was started by the Home Innovation Research Labs, and the program’s seal demonstrates a company’s ongoing pro-active commitment to quality and continuous improvement.
  2. Provide an open-door communication policy. Classica Homes holds quarterly and semiannual meetings with its trade suppliers to review its sales, starts and closings; current and upcoming land positions; and model and design studio needs. “Our trades are part of the new plan process,” said Hall. Allowing the trades to review the plans enables them to provide constructive feedback to make the construction process more efficient for all the parties.
  3. Create a simple system. Classica Homes has established a weekly schedule with its trade partners for each project and instituted a six-week look ahead. The weekly schedule also shows all upcoming starts. In addition, each trade partner has a drop box that highlights their specific schedule for each job, vendor orders, purchase orders, warranty work orders and lot-specific plans.
  4. Develop long-term partners. “We treat our trades with respect and as true partners,” said Hall. “I have never discussed a meeting with a trade partner where an issue was 100% their fault. We try to see things from their perspective.” Classica Homes also works with its trades to help them grow their business and ensures that trades and suppliers are involved in all field training. During weekly builder meetings, the firm asks its trades and suppliers what it can do to help make them better and more efficient. “When you help trade partners with their bottom line it will help your bottom line,” he said.

By putting these concepts into play, Classica Homes has established a system where it is 90% single source with its trades and suppliers. “We believe in long-term contracts and feel this system helps us to develop more consistency and loyalty among our suppliers, our trades and our team,” said Hall.

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  1. » 4 Steps to Ensure Your Firm’s Labor Needs are Met | January 24, 2017
  1. Ashley B. Richards, Jr. says:

    That all sounds good but it does not address the long term problem of not enough younger people entering the workforce. For the last 40 years we have been hoodwinked into sending everyone to college while ignoring the fact that a majority of the population learns by seeing and doing (working with their hands). Studies prove this! Caught up in the go to college craze Guidance Counselors have not recommended students for Career Technical Educations all of which provide a life long career, good incomes, benefits, no college debt and most of all the feeling that you have accomplished something at the end of the day (happiness!). A paradigm shift is needed and now is the time the trades to come together and exposed the college sham for what it really is for the majority of Americans.

  2. Peter Whittle says:

    I agree with Ashley but I would take it one more step. The education system does not see fit to teach trades such as wood shop, auto shop, metal shop as have been available in the past. There is a steep decline that has gone unnoticed in these areas over many years. Statistics show that dropout levels have increased over the last few decades not just because of our societal issues. Kids are not learning and they know it. I loved my auto shop. It kept me interested in school. These are the issues HBA and like organizations need to lobby for especially now we have a president who is a builder and knows of the labor shortage. On the other hand I applaud HBA for its efforts in encouraging the youth but it would be so far more reaching if done through the education system.

  3. Kia Ricchi says:

    Home EC should be mandatory and it should include basic home maintenance (= construction), cooking, cleaning, financial planning, and other skills needed to run a household.

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