If I say the words ‘Location, Location, Location’ you understand what is meant by this. It has become a long-standing TV programme that highlights location as being the most important consideration in buying a property.
As other considerations fade into the background, Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer emphasise that this is the key element as they help house hunters to find a new home in the perfect location.
Quality is a key element in construction projects. Why can we not start a trend for a new phrase ‘Quality, Quality, and more Quality’?
It is after all what everyone wants to see - the client, the architect and the building contractor's quality control team. It appears to me that if you select a building contractor who makes this their priority, then the architect does not have to waste time checking and chasing for finishes to be re-done. The ultimate reward is that the client is more than happy with the finished product.
Let’s look at three aspects of Quality.
1 - A Quality Policy
At the beginning of any project it is important to set up a Quality Policy that is fully defined and establishes a framework. In the selection of your building contractor you will have already viewed the quality on past projects and established how they will be monitoring the quality on your project. So, you are ready hand over the responsibility to them.
But that does not stop you overseeing the work. Good quality control has a number of benefits which include a reduction in costs, effective use of resources and team satisfaction and good morale. If everyone is working towards the same performance targets, there is a general increased good will between all concerned. If your contractor is doing their job well, it will also reduce the cost of your time inspecting progress.
2 - Tradespeople
Quality can be defined as a measure of excellence and being free of defects or significant variations. This is achieved through a consistent commitment to providing a uniformity or standard of finish that meets the customer or user requirements.
The team is key to achieving quality. Any successful building contractor will have excellence at the heart of their team. They do not want people who accept ‘second best’. Their team needs to take pride in their skills to ensure that the quality is there from the start. They should not have to wait for someone to come round to check for quality.
3 - Quality standards
For those of you familiar with ISO standards, you will know that ISO 9001 is recognition of quality. Quality is an element that pervades all areas of a business. It is the ground works on which all aspects of the company are based. Being regularly audited, by both internal and external sources, it is a recognition that quality of processes are in place. Once everything is based on these principles, ‘Quality’ becomes a way of life for the team.
The ISO 9001 standard has a number of Quality Management principles. For each principle you need to understand what it means for your organisation. You need to be able to explain why it is important and the benefits you will gain by following the principle. Once you have reviewed, this you can decide what you need to do within your practice to improve your performance.
Let's look at the first principle of 'Customer focus'!
What does that mean for your business? Maybe you would like to exceed your client expectations.
Why do you think that it is important? If you exceed your client expectations you can build confidence in your clients, and others, that you are focusing on their needs and your ability to deliver more than what was required.
You offer better value to your clients and build on your reputation. By delivering on this principle, you create an environment where your clients are highly likely to recommend you and introduce you to new clients. This way you can achieve both repeat business and new projects.
Remember the client with a one bedroom flat where you increased their living space and they gained an extra bedroom through your design of a side extension. Who did they naturally turn to when they moved and wanted to increase the size of their new property. So, customer focus can directly influence your 'bottom line' by increasing turnover and driving profits.
In order to achieve this benefit, you need to encourage your team to do the following:
1. Talk to your clients and find out about their needs. It is so easy to make assumptions and then not quite deliver what they wanted. See what they expect in the future and deliver it 'now'.
2. Make your client's journey a 'delight' throughout all their interactions with you - from when they first make contact with you, throughout the design and construction phases, and after they have moved into their new home.
3. Ensure that everyone in your team understands what the client needs so that you can plan and develop the services to meet them. All the interactions with the marketing, sales and customer services need to deliver what the client is expecting. Obtain feedback at all stages of their journey so that you can monitor your success and take remedial action when you are not meeting your principle.
Control of quality is a critical factor in gaining a happy client, retaining their loyalty and encouraging them to recommend you to new prospective clients. So it has the potential to assist you to improve your turnover and grow your business. How much better to exceed your client's expectations by delivering a quality project.
Look out for our blogs on how you can introduce into your business the other Quality principles of Leadership, Engagement of people, Process approach, Improvement, Evidence-based decision making, and Relationship management.
So, it is all about Quality. And finding a building contractor who delivers on quality.
Let’s start using ‘Quality, Quality and more Quality’ in the construction and renovation of properties in our industry. Maybe we just need to find a couple of high profile passionate people, like Kirstie or Phil, to lead the campaign.