Let experience guide you

by malley@solagroup.com

Lately, the importance of relying on experience seems to be discussed everywhere I turn. I was preparing to give a seminar at the Pro Expo presented by Pella on how to not compete on price. Always pushing the value of your experience is one of biggest parts of the seminar.

This term “experience” came up again when I interviewed the design/build team written about in this month’s cover story (page 12). David Lesser and Bobby Gross, principals, Windstar Homes in Tampa, Fla. consistently talked about the importance of designing to their client’s budget. And one of the best ways to do this, according to them, is to have the experience to back it up.

Lesser and Gross aren’t talking only about experience in the field, they’re also talking about experience with specific trades. Windstar uses the same partners on projects and brings them early in the design process to make sure they are designing to budget. Additionally, Windstar asks all clients to fill out an 11-page“New Home Design Questionnaire.” This changed and evolved over time and is based on Lesser’s and Gross’ experience.

Their experience tells them it’s important to know the daily routines of the homeowners, who sleeps on which side of the bed, what the kitchen is used for, etc. Knowing these things is important because it guarantees the design fits the clients.

The idea of relying on experience comes up again when reading this month’s column by Luis Jauregui, AIA (page 6). He writes about the importance of architects using their experience and knowledge to create detailed specifications. Relying on networks, associations and industry resources has helped him to create good sets of specifications, but overall, it was his experience that guides him when creating specifications, Jauregui also wrote in his column.

It’s funny that the term experience would hit so many places at once within a short period of time. It’s like when you learn of a new word and then you hear it everywhere.

There’s no better time than now, when many of us are asking ourselves how we’ll continue moving forward, to lean on your experience. Look back at your experiences in this market and compare them to how things are different today, then make adjustments to your projects, to your business strategies, etc.

Relying on your experience doesn’t mean you are alone or should be alone in the home building process. As Jauregui says, your network of peers and industry associations are there to assist you. But don’t discount your experience. It can be the difference between an unsuccessful design and a successful one that fits how your clients live.

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