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2007 AVID Diamond Award

The Best Home Building Experience

When it comes to delivering a great home—and home building experience—look no further than Mattamy Homes North Halton Division, winner of the 2007 AVID Diamond Award, Best Homebuilding Experience in the United States and Canada. The AVID Diamond Award is a monumental achievement for Mattamy Homes, as it was rated the highest by its customers when compared to 326 home building divisions in both Canada and the U.S.

AVID award
Mattamy Homes president Mark Parsons (far right) holds AVID award with company managers (l to r) Renaldo Benacquista, Mike Boyle, and Danny De Melo

This achievement was not an accident. Mattamy Homes, as a whole, has invested a lot of time and resources empowering its employees to deliver outstanding customer service. That’s not an easy task for an organization that builds more than 4,500 homes a year and has just over 1,000 employees. Nevertheless, Canada’s largest home builder is the very first to meet this continental challenge head on and garner the top spot in North America.
Reaching such levels of customer delight didn’t just fall into the lap of this 28-year-old company. Real progress began when Peter Gilgan, the company’s founder and CEO, commissioned the work of AVID Ratings to survey its customers and identify improvement opportunities within the customer experience. Gilgan also engaged the AVID Consulting and Training teams to facilitate deeper analysis, training, and implementation of various improvement programs so that survey findings turned into actionable results.
Having a solid reputation in the market, and freshly armed with a clearer picture of his company’s ability to satisfy, Gilgan began modifying the firm and its processes with the ultimate goal of achieving superior customer satisfaction. In his own words, “It all starts with our mission and our mission is to provide the best homeowner experience in North America.”
Today, Mattamy Homes welcomes a whopping 40 per cent of its home buyers back as repeat customers. A phenomenal 99.5 per cent of existing home owners are willing to make a recommendation to family and friends with 31.4 per cent making six or more referrals.
During the company’s journey to providing a stellar customer experience, Mattamy centered its efforts on building complete homes on time, having fixed any problems discovered during the orientation tour before closing. Most importantly, the company “focused on building relationships,” says Mark Parsons, North Halton Division president.
The relationship-building process begins at Mattamy University, an educational session in which home buyers learn what they’ll be experiencing at every phase of construction. Held at convenient locations for the buyer, the event features presentations by the actual employees building the homes, as well as the design and decor staff. “These are not professional or full-time presenters,” Parsons says. “We gain a lot of respect by having our staff, regardless of their role, presenting how their work will impact the homeowner. It starts the relationship off on the right foot.”
The company surveys home buyers to gauge any shift in its performance. The detailed survey structure reveals which departments or functions are most successful in delivering the best experience. When survey results are positive, the company celebrates and the excitement of success generates more enthusiasm which fuels a tremendous shift in the culture toward caring; “It almost turns it into a competition,” adds Parsons.
In fact, home buyer surveys have become a key management resource for generating improvements. Close monitoring of survey responses allows management to deal with problems as they occur. When Mark McHone, former division president (now running Mattamy’s Phoenix division), and Parsons noticed that home buyers weren’t satisfied with the light fixtures in use, they collaborated with the contracts person to rectify the situation without costing the company more money. “Two months after the new light fixtures were implemented, our service rating on the AVID results went up two full points,” McHone and Parsons affirm.
A preemptive attitude is quite pervasive throughout the organization. Consider the walk-through process. For most builders, a good walk-through is one that uncovers few — if any — items that need fixing. But that’s not good enough for Mattamy. “It should be a celebration; not an inspection,” says Parsons. To make sure there’s cause for cheer, the company performs a quality assurance inspection 20 days before closing and creates a list for the builder to fix. “The QA process looks at the home with homeowner eyes but without the homeowner,” he says. Before implementing this system, Mattamy would have 20 to 30 items on the walk-through list. Now there are only a few items on average, if any.
While the team is passionate about product quality, “it’s all about the little things that can make a customer delighted,” says Parsons; and whenever a Mattamy vehicle is at a four-way stop, the Mattamy vehicle lets the other cars through first. If employees see someone carrying packages from their car, they stop and help. One time, a woman was stranded in her car with a child she was taking to dance class. A Mattamy employee took them to dance class and then called a service vehicle to tow the car and take the homeowner home. Just another great example from this award winning company that signifies their avid focus on customer delight.

By Paul Cardis and Christian Caswell, AVID Ratings Co.

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