Jul 11, 2022

Pacesetter Homes Edmonton’s Innovation Generates Quicker Development and Happier Customers

Edmonton, AB – Pacesetter Homes Edmonton continuously strives to be responsive to customer needs and has come up with an innovative way to meet customer expectations while tightening up its construction cycles.

The team recognized that requests from customers to make custom changes to existing floorplans often affected the timing and costs of home builds, creating bottlenecks along various points of the process.

“Customization at scale presents a number of challenges,” explained Erin Davis, Director, Sales and Marketing, Pacesetter Homes Edmonton. “Everything from extended pre-construction timelines, to increased workload and backlogs in drafting and estimating, and even client expectation management and desire for ongoing custom changes that don’t align with our business model.”

To start with, a customized file takes more time at the pre-drafting stage, in between condition removal and drafting, as the sales and estimating teams work together to get accurate pricing in place. This stage involves finalizing things like architectural pre-approval, colour reservation, exterior colour chart, and priced custom changes in order to move the file forward to the drafting team so they can begin working on the file.

During the drafting stage, drawing a customized house takes more time than simply utilizing a standard plan with pre-designed options, according to Valerio Borchiellini, Production Manager, Pacesetter Homes Edmonton.

“Depending on the complexity of the customization, it can affect the timeline by a month because customizations are not only convoluted to draw, they can also be difficult to interpret, requiring a lot of back-and-forth clarification,” he said. “There are often hidden implications to customizations that only come to light after the file is drawn.” 

Timelines for the estimating stage are also affected by customization since each home’s purchase orders will be unique, and customization can often add a few weeks to each file in the estimating department.

Having uniquely customized homes can even impact Pacesetter Homes Edmonton’s construction team and trades down the line, as the unique nuances of each home need to be executed.

To overcome these challenges while still offering a level of choice and personalization to clients, Pacesetter Homes Edmonton created up to seven pre-planned architectural options for each of their three most popular plans – the Willow, the Whistler, and the Calypso, which together account for approximately 60 percent of Pacesetter Homes Edmonton’s construction volume.

These pre-planned options include things like adding a den on the main floor, adding a spice kitchen, having a side-door entrance to the basement, or adjusting a main floor two-piece bath to be a four-piece bath. To determine which pre-planned options would be offered, Pacesetter Homes Edmonton reviewed the most common customization requests coming from customers.

“This initiative has really been a company-wide effort,” said Erin. “Sales and marketing focus groups and customer insights identified and prioritized what options were needed. Production, estimating, and drafting all contributed to creating efficient and cost-effective options able to deliver on the client’s needs. And the work doesn’t stop there. As we continue with this initiative, everyone has a part to play.”

To communicate these pre-planned options to customers during the sales process, Pacesetter Homes Edmonton’s marketing team created a sell sheet with imagery for each model completed so far. The team is also currently working with different tech companies to evaluate additional ways to present these options to clients.

“We have pre-costed and pre-priced all of these options,” Erin said, “so staff and customers don’t have to wait for custom pricing, and we can be confident in our contract pricing. Customers can make their decisions on the spot, confident their price will not change or be countered.”

Pre-planned options can also translate to a cost-savings for customers in many cases, since they are often more efficient than individual customizations, whether that means having fewer elements of the home affected by changes, having more efficient planning so fewer square feet need to be added, or avoiding future rework that may not have been considered initially.

If customers are still thinking about making customizations that aren’t part of the pre-planned options, the team will work to help customers better understand the benefits of sticking with the pre-planned options from a timing and cost perspective.

“When customers want to have something that is slightly tweaked from their pre-planned options, the direction will be that the cost control and speed of taking one of the pre-planned options will get them what they need sooner and still achieve their needs,” said Dave Armstrong, Vice-President, Pacesetter Homes Edmonton.

Going forward, the team will continue to track and evaluate any recurring customization requests that could potentially be introduced as new pre-planned options. Erin noted that Pacesetter Homes Edmonton expects pre-planned options to be more extensive and applied to the majority of the business’ models in the future.

So far, the team is pleased with the way the pre-planned options have allowed them to cater to customers while delivering a high volume of homes in shorter and more efficient timelines and with more cost control. It’s also resulted in decreased demand for the purchasing and drafting departments and tripled throughput for the drafting team.

“There is no better solution than one that benefits all parties involved,” said Erin. “Successfully delivering a product that matches customer demand while ensuring a company’s financial health and longevity – this solution is a win for all parties.”

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