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  • How to Combat the Labor Shortage

    Published February 16th 2017 at 12:00am
    How to Combat the Labor Shortage

    With the labor shortage topping the list of most builders' concerns, it can be difficult to ensure your labor needs are met. At the International Builders Show put on the National Association of Home Builders last month, one speaker addressed this issue, offering four tips on what his own firm is doing. Brian Hall is the vice president of construction at Classica Homes in Charlotte, North Carolina. He spoke about what Classica is doing to ensure that they are able to deliver on projects, despite the shortage of workers. The following comes directly from his seminar:

    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.

    We know that builders are stretched to the limit trying to meet all of the demand and deadlines. While that can be a good sign that there is plenty of work, it can also be a sign of low numbers of workers. No matter how big or small your business is, you can always find ways to help ease the workload. It may take some creativity, but will serve your needs in the long run.


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