Pipeline Workshops™: More of What Builders Say About It

Posted July 19, 2017 By Fletcher Groves

In their own words, more comments from builders who have attended a Pipeline workshop™:

“The Pipeline Workshop™ and associated business case study was an excellent way to help me shift my production paradigms, from growing capacity to maximizing my current capacity.”  (Chris Harrison, President, SW Region, Primera)

“The concept of production building being in a “Pipeline”, along with the simple and straight-forward concepts discussed in this seminar made this one of the most eye-opening experiences I have ever had when it comes to learning about production building.  I would definitely recommend this seminar to any building company looking to gain a competitive advantage and to learn ways to do more with less.  The hands-on learning approach and interaction with other builders from around the country was invaluable.”   (Patrick Bukszar, Director of Construction Services, Essex Homes, Lexington, SC)

“The exercises and processes opened my eyes to immediate steps I had to take to become a better builder.”  (Lusant Ordonez, CEO, Zenodro Homes, Altamonte Springs, FL)

“[In many] classes, you get a lot of great ideas, but never act on them.  The impact [of] this class resonated in many ways, and has spurred us to take two immediate actions:  (1) hiring the design center manager that we did not think we could afford;  and (2) beginning the implementation to Critical Chain Project Management.  It was very clear;  we have been penny-wise and pound-foolish in not hiring a strong manager for our design center, and the impact of Critical Chain will be huge on the way we conduct business.”  (Karl Haslinger, CEO, Essex Homes, Lexington, SC)

“The Pipeline workshop™ was an eye opening experience.  Not being an owner of the company, sometimes you don’t realize the impact day-to-day business decisions have on the true desired bottom line results of the company.  Playing the Pipeline game™ gave me that ‘ah-ha’ moment, seeing first-hand how those decisions can influence your bottom line.  I took away invaluable insight on what it takes to operate a profitable homebuilding company.”   (Daniel Hopkins, Director of Purchasing/Estimating, Jeff Benton Homes, Huntsville, AL)

“The workshop was really effective in showing how operational decisions affect business outcomes and how risky a ‘more for more’ approach to growing a home building company really is.  The Pipeline games™ were not only fun, but they were super-effective in showing how unbalancing the production system, managing the constraint resource, and managing the right amount of WIP creates predictable operational results and maximizes financial outcomes.

“At the end of the day, running a successful business is about how much money you make on the amount of money you invest.  The Pipeline workshop™ helped me understand this better than any workshop or seminar I’ve ever attended.  I highly recommend it.

“This workshop was really eye-opening!”  (Charles Roberts, Vice President – Operations, Providence Homes, Jacksonville, FL)

“I thoroughly enjoyed the [Pipeline workshop™] and all its learning components!  It does a great job of creating a visual image of homebuilding production, while connecting operating performance to business outcomes.  The workshop is a must for anyone at any level within a homebuilding organization, and goes well-beyond what you get out of [reading The Pipeline: A Picture of Homebuilding Production©].”  (Val Snider, Construction Manager, Lennar SE Florida)

“If [teammates] can utilize this information correctly and make good business decisions, owners are free to consult and finance rather than hand-hold.  I also thought that the interactive games really showed how everyday decisions can make-or-break your production pipeline.  If a start or a closing is delayed, the whole rhythm of the pipeline is off;  you can’t correct that disruption, since it is a function of time.  A [lost] start can never be made up.”  (Sara Flint, CFO, Inland Homebuilding Group, Tampa, FL)

“I highly recommend the Pipeline Workshop™.  The concepts learned have directly affected my building process in a positive way.  Implementation [of these principles] will guarantee a ‘more-for-less’ mentality in any home building operation.”  (Sebastian Alvarez, Member, Alvarez Construction, Baton Rouge, LA)

“The Pipeline Workshop™ really opened my eyes to how a company’s operating performance truly impacts business outcome.  These are things that I already knew, but the workshop caused me to start thinking about it in a different way.  For example, some companies’ motto, including ours, is to put out as many starts as we can, then sort it out in the field. After attending the workshop, I realized how counterproductive this way of thinking is;  releasing more starts than our ‘pipeline’ can support is actually going to cause us to perform worse.”  (Darek Burns, Purchasing and Estimating Manager, Essex Homes, Charlotte, NC)

“[Pipeline workshop™] is a concept that we, as a team, were aware of before coming to the seminar.  That said, being aware of it and being able to understand and implement are two very different things.  After going through the case study and the [simulations], our team went home better prepared to implement it in our company.  We feel that it will be a long-term building block for us going forward.”  (Justin Morrison, Vice President, Cimarron Homes, Durham, NC)

“The Pipeline workshop™ really took a different focus and approach than I was used to.  I enjoyed the group workshop forum that was very interactive.  It’s information that will – long-term and continually – be thought about and digested in my day-to-day work.  It presented an interesting balance concerning the importance of cycle time in regards to the financial and operation spectrum.  It was challenging and thought-provoking.  The group games really brought the concepts to life.  I appreciated the “Velocity Accelerators” discussion that touched on some of the best practices and implementation.  The workshop challenged me to be a better leader in regards to velocity and its importance, as my team and I will be looking for the best ways to apply the concepts to our business model.”  (Jeremy Tesimale, Production/Construction Manager, Essex Homes, Lexington, SC)

“This [Pipeline Workshop™] is one of the best I have ever attended in my 30 years in the homebuilding Industry.  The way [the Pipeline game™ is incorporated] into the learning is fantastic!  This course should be attended by all construction staff of any company.”  (Reed Williams, President, Central Florida Region, Inland Homebuilding Group)

“The Pipeline workshop™ quickly and clearly helped me realize our company’s mismanagement of the amount of work-in-process and job starts.  I believe our new thinking on those principles, along with the techniques we learned, will reduce our cycle times substantially.”  (Bob Anderson, Vice President – Operations, Stylecraft Homes, College Station, TX)

“It is going to help our business refocus on what all of us already know, but lose focus of, in the haste to make money and sell as many homes as possible.  What we have learned will benefit [our] business and margins, if we become disciplined, [and] stick to the principles of the pipeline.”  (Sean Ward, Field Manager, Eagle Construction of Virginia, Richmond, VA)

“[The Pipeline Workshop™] allowed me to step outside of my department and see the industry on a wider scale.  The Pipeline Game™ was a great visual tool that emphasized the importance that velocity plays in home building.  It has allowed me to begin thinking creatively about the ways I can improve my department to ultimately improve our companies velocity overall.”  (Alexa Drees, Design Consultant, Drees Homes, Jacksonville, FL)

“The Pipeline workshop™ was a great chance for my team to learn some excellent fundamentals for a better business in a very straightforward manner.  The instructors were superb, and the overall atmosphere was one of education, fun, and comradery.”  (David Savicki, Purchasing Manager, Cimarron Homes, Durham, NC)

“If you are looking for a way to remove status quo from your operations, you need to attend the Pipeline Workshop™.”  (Marisa Clark, Regional Sales Manager, Constellation HB Systems)

[The Pipeline workshop™ was] “eye-opening and thought-provoking.  The topics outlined functional business tools and methods for the current business environment.”  (Ken Colen, President, ON TOP OF THE WORLD Communities, Orlando FL)

 

Come.  Participate.  Learn.

The next Pipeline workshop™ will be held at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, on October 18-19, 2017.  The cost is $875.00 per person;  the cost during early registration, open only through July 17, 2017, is $745.00;  for team pricing, inquire here (flgroves@saiconsulting.com).

Sponsored by BUILDER and BuilderMT.

For more details:  www.buildervelocity.com

 

      

Pipeline Workshops™: What Builders Say About It

Posted July 15, 2017 By Fletcher Groves

In their own words, comments – with a couple of exceptions – from builders who have attended a Pipeline workshop™:

“The Pipeline game™ production simulations were a brilliant way to demonstrate and drive home the significance of cycle time improvements and improving trade partner efficiencies on ROA and Net Income.”  (Keith Porterfield, COO, Goodall Homes, Gallatin, TN)

“Pipeline workshops™, through hands-on simulations and classroom instruction, provide excellent learning experiences to see WIP turns at different velocities, and the effects on Return on Assets.  The principles and disciplines, if applied in the field by you as a builder, will increase your ROA.”  (Scott Jagoe, President, Jagoe Homes, Owensboro, KY)

“All of our construction guys came back from the conference with a lot of new info.”  (Doug French, CEO, Stylecraft Builders, Inc., College Station, TX)

“I participated in the first-ever Pipeline workshop™, spending two days exploring the ins-and-outs of production, inventory, and scheduling.  It was quite intense, challenging, and not for the intellectually lazy.  We played repeated rounds of the Pipeline game™, and saw clearly that scheduling requires careful thought and planning.”  (Scott Sedam, President, TrueNorth Development, South Lyon, MI, excerpted from the April, 2014 issue of Professional Builder, “Taming the Chaos”)

“[the] Pipeline workshop™ was by far the most engaging workshop I have attended.  The principles shared relate to homebuilding companies of all shapes and sizes.  The two day program kept me engaged the entire time with a mix of lecture, open discussions and simulations of practical application.  I have already applied some of what I learned to my business, and I am looking forward to fantastic results.”  (Mark Refosco, President, Marcus Allen Homes, Arthur Rutenberg Homes franchisee, Jacksonville, FL)

“I would recommend the Pipeline Workshop™ to anyone interested in improving their homebuilding knowledge.  It offered me a fresh perspective, and got me excited to go back to work to share what I had learned.  10 out of 10].”  (John Marcy, Purchasing Agent, CalAtlantic Homes)

“The Pipeline Workshop™ is an extremely effective insight to production, for homebuilders of all sizes.  Whether your company builds 5, 50, 500 or 5000 units annually, you will leave this event with a deeper understanding of your company’s production capacity, and where you need to focus your attention.”  (Adam Roller, Project Manager, The Fechtel Company, Tampa, FL)

“The simulations at [the] Pipeline workshop™ [were] a very innovative way to demonstrate the critical nature and relationship between cycle time, inventory turn, margin, and Return on assets.  Both days were filled with learning, engagement, and inquiry that proved to be invaluable.”  (Vishaal Gupta, President, Park Square Homes, Orlando, FL)

“Think the same way, and you stay in the same place as everyone else;  challenge yourself with the new theories and strategies, and [you] become more effective in your company[y’s] achievement with your team.  You get to take these theories and teachings and immediately apply them in a simulation of the real world to test your skills against others, and that’s what this business is all about:  finding the right mix of everything to be the best.”  (Justin Parry, President, Parry Custom Homes, Irwin, PA)

“ROA is not discussed much in the building industry;  the focus has always been on margin.  Through the Pipeline workshop™, you will learn that your company ROA is just as important to know as margins per house.”  (Mark Ivey, Owner, Ivey Residential, LLC, Evans, GA)

“I think the concept of ROA or inventory turn can be THE differentiator between success and failure in a production-type environment.  It requires thought one level past the “P&L”, but will allow the manager that can recognize [its] impact and implement it, a major competitive advantage.”  (Wade Jurney, President, Wade Jurney Homes, Greensboro, NC)

“The Pipeline workshop™ provides full insight into the application of universal principles of production.  It provides clear and convincing proof that improving velocity will yield not only faster profits but greater profits.  I look forward to attending it again with some of my key staff.”  (Carlos Alvarez, President, Alvarez Construction, Baton Rouge, LA)

“It proved to be a great opportunity to enlighten our entire management team with a ‘higher level understanding’ of how our business works.”  (Craig Morrison, CEO, Cimarron Homes, Durham, NC)

“As an owner of a home building company, intimately understanding the importance of home building production principles, as taught in the Pipeline workshop™ and book, and effectively implementing them in our building processes, will be critically important to becoming a best-of-breed builder in our competitive market.  Running our company using these home building production principles will not only allow us to weather the next downturn intact, but grow in a healthy way.”  (Josh Lysen, Principal, Merit Homes, Kirkland, WA)

“The Pipeline workshop™ conducted by SAI Consulting and Continuum Advisory Group was a straight-forward introduction to what matters most in the homebuilding industry…. velocity!  Although many of the concepts reviewed are not new to most managers, the manner in which they were highlighted was eye-opening.  The case study, simulations, and discussion with the instructors made it crystal clear as to how to go back to my operation and implement immediate improvements.  The interaction amongst the diverse group of attendees was also invaluable.  How often do we get the opportunity to discuss best practices with others in our field?  The workshop was time and money well spent, and I’m already getting a return on my investment!”  (Mike Cancilla, General Manager, Essex Homes, SE, Lexington, SC)

“Great opportunity for any individual to uncover the potential of the pipeline and maximize their business returns.”  (Brian Small, Vice President of Land, Blake-Wilder Strategies, Orlando, FL)

“The Pipeline Workshop™ reminded me that there is no substitute for moving quickly and efficiently in every aspect of our business.  The workshop agenda and material was focused and challenging.”  (Greg Stallard, Division President, Essex Homes, Charlotte, NC)

“I walked away with a new perspective on making returns in residential homebuilding that challenged the models and assumptions I have worked under.”  (Mark Carter, Operations Manager, Drees Homes, Jacksonville, FL)

 

Come.  Participate.  Learn.

The next Pipeline workshop™ will be held at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, on October 18-19, 2017.  The cost is $875.00 per person;  for team pricing, inquire here (flgroves@saiconsulting.com).

Sponsored by BUILDER and BuilderMT.

For more details:  www.buildervelocity.com

 

      

Pipeline Workshops™: Right for you?

Posted July 12, 2017 By Fletcher Groves

Homebuilding production is a system, and it has to be managed as a system;  in order to be managed, it must first be understood.  That type of ordered, process-centric, capacity-focused thinking is not the homebuilding industry’s natural inclination;  it clashes with the deal-driven, product-centric, margin-focused mentality that pervades the industry.

That understanding is now crucial, because in the challenging environment that confronts the industry that has survived the worst economic and housing recession in three-quarters of a century, it is no longer a choice between achieving higher margin or higher velocity.  It is the requirement to achieve higher margins at higher velocities.

Meeting that requirement is what creates sustainable competitive separation;  sustainable competitive separation is what determines survival.

Pipeline workshops™ are a two-day immersion into production physics – into the principles and disciplines that enable homebuilders to thrive on the velocity side of Return on Assets, to thrive on the velocity side of economic return.  They transfer in-depth knowledge and create an intuitive, instinctive understanding of production principles and disciplines, focused exclusively on homebuilding operations.  They are not a lecture;  the material is comprehensive, the learning is intense, and the format is interactive and competitive;  they are size-limited.

The comprehensiveness, intensity, interaction, and competitiveness found in a Pipeline workshop™ flows from two unique elements:  (1) RB Builders: Lessons from the Pipeline© is a state-of-the-art business case;  (2) the Pipeline game™ is a progressive series of production scenarios that simulate homebuilding production in the real business world, in an environment of variation and uncertainty, where operating decisions produce economic outcomes.

The results of every game are diagnosed, so that the connection between operating decisions and business outcomes is embedded, the principles and disciplines ingrained.

What do you acquire at a Pipeline workshop™?  A visual image of a homebuilding production system – its purpose, size, cost, and capacity;  an elegant understanding of how operating decisions drive business outcomes, and how the measures of operating performance connect to the business outcome measures of profitability and economic return;  a set of mental models – a way of thinking about size, growth, capacity, cost of variation, and other critical areas – that define a homebuilding production system, provide a systemic approach to solving production problems and managing finite production capacity, and deliver a blended approach to process and project portfolio management that addresses the unique attributes and parameters of homebuilding production;  a set of velocity accelerators – Pipeline™ tactics, techniques, and practices dealing with trade partnering, job scheduling, process improvement, building information modeling, and open-book management and performance compensation – that produce shorter schedules, reduce cycle times, increase throughput, and control work-in-process.

Is a Pipeline workshop™ right for you? 

Pipeline workshops™ are not about job titles, operational scope, or company size.  They are intended for anyone charged with the critical responsibility of managing – or managing the interaction with – homebuilding production as a system, at some level of a homebuilding enterprise.  They are for those who must understand and manage homebuilding production, and drive results, including:

  • C-Level Executives – Presidents, CEOs, CFOs
  • Division and Regional Managers
  • Vice Presidents of Operations and Construction
  • Vice Presidents of Sales
  • Production Managers
  • Construction Managers

Pipeline workshops™ are also an excellent experience for the equivalent positions with building trade partners – for the manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, and subcontractors who must interact with builders in the value stream.

Come.  Participate.  Learn.

 

The next Pipeline workshop™ will be held at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, on October 18-19, 2017.  The cost is $875.00 per person;  the cost during early registration, extended through July 24, 2017, is $745.00;  for team pricing, inquire here (flgroves@saiconsulting.com).

Sponsored by BUILDER and BuilderMT.

For more details:  www.buildervelocity.com

 

      

Homebuilding is an industry that leverages equity with debt, therefore, some version of Return on Assets is the best measure of a homebuilding enterprise’s economic return.  The most useful version of ROA is the DuPont identity, which expands economic return into two components:

Margin (Return on Sales) and Velocity (Asset Turn).

 

 

From an operational perspective, the vast majority of assets on a builder’s balance sheet ought to be houses in some stage of construction, particularly when raw land and developed lot inventory is held off-balance sheet;  which means, when we calculate Return on Invested  Assets, we can reasonably associate Asset Turnover (financial term) with Inventory Turn (operating term).

The point is to thrive in this business, not just survive in it.  To do that, a builder has to do well on both the margin side and the velocity side of ROA.  That understanding fundamentally proposes two questions:  (1) How much can I make on every house?  (2) How many houses can I build with a planned, finite, and controlled amount of inventory and production capacity?

As a builder, consider this scenario:  You have a competitor that has exactly the same work-in-process, resource overhead, working capital requirements, borrowing capacity, and risk profile.

If you generate a Gross Margin of 24% and turn your inventory twice a year, you will be outperformed by this competitor that generates a Gross Margin of only 18%, but turns its inventory four times a year;  you will be outperformed in terms of Revenue, outperformed in terms of closings;  you will be out-performed – by better than two-to-one – in terms of Net Income and Return on Assets.

You will struggle to compete;  in fact, you will struggle to survive.

It is the picture of a slow, marginally-productive homebuilding company versus a fast, highly-productive homebuilding company;  your competitor generates 85% higher Revenue and 40% more Gross Income than you do, and does it with the same amount of assets.

It is also a picture of the difference between a 180 day cycle time and a 90 day cycle time, and if that contrast is too stark, consider this:  your competitor – the one with the 18% Gross Margin and a 4x turn – produces almost the same ROA as you do with a 24% Gross Margin and a 3x turn;  that’s the picture of your competitor’s 90 day cycle time versus your 120 day cycle time.

In the face of clear differences in economic outcomes, remember this:  in this scenario, your competitor is exactly the same size as you, when the real measure of size is the amount of work-in-process you each have to carry.

What creates competitive separation – the distance between competitive position?  It lies in doing the important-yet-difficult things.  The demands of higher productivity are so tough, require so much rigor, so much discipline, so much resolve, that most builders won’t even go there.

It’s not a choice between higher margin or higher velocity;  it’s the challenge – and the opportunity – of producing higher margin and higher velocity.

Pipeline workshops™ are a two-day immersion into the production physics – into the principles and disciplines – that enable homebuilders to thrive on the velocity side of economic return, to thrive on the velocity side of Return on Assets.

Come.  Participate.  Learn.

 

The next Pipeline workshop™ will be held at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, on October 18-19, 2017.  The cost is $875.00 per person;  the cost during early registration, open through July 17, 2017, is $745.00;  for team pricing, inquire here (flgroves@saiconsulting.com).

Sponsored by BUILDER and BuilderMT.

For more details:  www.buildervelocity.com

 

      

Pipeline Workshops™: Finding TrueNorth

Posted July 1, 2017 By Fletcher Groves

Scott Sedam is President of TrueNorth Development, Inc., and is the industry’s foremost Lean Production practitioner.  A well-known, well-respected Lean Building purist, Scott has roots that go back to Edwards Deming and Total Quality Management.  He is a friend, and longtime fellow consultant.

In 2013, after the first edition of The Pipeline: A Picture of Homebuilding Production© was published, and as I was planning the first Pipeline workshop™, I offered for Scott to attend as SAI’s guest.  I wanted him to see the workshop for himself.

I wanted his opinion of the workshop, but also wanted him to share his thoughts with those first-time-ever attendees on applying Lean principles beyond the margin side of economic return, towards what we were now terming the velocity side of Return on Assets.

Scott graciously came to the first workshop in March 2014, functioned like any attending builder in the discussions and in the Pipeline games™, and was a panelist (with me) on blending improvement methodologies towards a solution that works best for homebuilding.

Afterwards, in September 2014, this is what Scott wrote in a discussion on the BUILDER group on LinkedIn:

“If you are ready to challenge your brain, get out of your well-sealed ‘Builder Box’ and make a huge leap forward in understanding schedule and its impact, come to this workshop and bring a few of your better thinkers.

“The roots of [this] workshop are in Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints, which is at first-blush exceedingly simple, but you can spend years studying the intricacies.  Fletcher puts it all in builder language and forces you to go deep into the impact of our most common builder practices.

“If all builders learned and followed the principles in [a Pipeline workshop™], our industry would take a huge leap forward.  The winners would not be the builders alone, but also homeowners and especially our suppliers and trade contractors.  Fletcher does not know I am writing this, but I strongly recommend his Pipeline Workshop™ to everyone who has the will to change for the better.”

Come. Participate.  Learn.

 

The next Pipeline workshop™ is October 18-19, 2017, at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  The cost is $875.00 per person;  the cost during early registration (through July 17, 2017) is $745.00;  for team pricing, inquire here (flgroves@saiconsulting.com).

Sponsored by BUILDER and BuilderMT.

For more details:  www.buildervelocity.com

 

The Pipeline: A Picture of Homebuilding Production, Second Edition© is available on the publisher website (virtualbookworm.com), as well as through the major book sellers (amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and booksamillion.com).