Pipeline Workshops™: Thriving on the Velocity Side of Economic Return®

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).


EFA - ROA (capture3)


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 substitute Inventory Turn for Asset Turn.

The point is to thrive, not just survive.  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:  if you generate a Gross Margin of 24% and turn your inventory twice a year, you will be outperformed – better than two-to-one – by a homebuilding enterprise that generates a Gross Margin of only 18%, but turns its inventory four times a year;  you will be outperformed in terms of Net Income, outperformed in terms of Return on Assets.

You will struggle to compete;  you will struggle to survive.

Your operation is a slow, marginally-productive homebuilding company;  your competitor’s operation is a fast, highly-productive homebuilding company;  your competitor generates 85% more Revenue and 40% more Gross Income than you do, 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, then consider this:  your competitor with the 18% Gross Margin and a 4x turn produces almost the same ROA as you would 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, note that your competitors – the two homebuilding companies represented in those scenarios – are exactly the same size as your company, when the real measure of size is the amount of work-in-process you each have to carry;  you and your competitors each have the same resource overhead, the same working capital requirements, the same risk profile.

In an industry with a capacity shortage, like homebuilding, there is not going to be any price elasticity of supply and demand, because there is not going to be any wide-spread, capacity-driven increases in supply.  Besides, homebuilding is essentially a build-to-order process, which tends to regulate short-term supply.  Moreover, 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 26-27, 2016.  Cost is $850.00.  Early registration, open through July 31, 2016, is $725.00.

Delivered by SAI Consulting and Continuum Advisory Group.  Sponsored by BUILDER.

For more details:  www.builderevelocity.com