Mountainwood Homes

by Emily Blackburn
Robert Wood

Beaverton, Ore.
mountainwoodhomes.com
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 96%
GQ 2021 Recommend Rate: 97%
Number of Jobs in 2021: 82
Type of Firm: Design/Build
CEO: Robert Wood

Business technology and business software are offering new ways for remodelers and home improvement professionals to improve client experience and customer satisfaction. In what ways are you using software or technology to improve client experience?:

First, we use Buildertrend as our internal and external hub of communication. For a low monthly investment, we can run the software that can keep us organized and communicate the schedule, payments, and updates on our jobs. The beauty of cloud-based software is that the information is available to everyone in real-time and allows us to share the most relevant and accurate information to improve the experience for the clients, trade partners, and our team. Our clients expect this level of transparency, service, and data transfer.

We have a CAD Operator position that we rely on to optimize some of these things and make sure we have perspectives through 3D visualization. We use SoftPlan Architectural Design Software to help our clients visualize their spaces. This software helps us place materials orders and produce residential designs quickly and flexibly.
We also use GuildQuality to administer our client surveys after the project gets finished. This service helps us monitor the client experience that our team delivers—surveying our clients after their project is one of the ways that we get this information to make incremental improvements.

Rising costs for labor and building materials along with higher inflation on everything else is forcing remodelers and home pros to raise prices dramatically. Tell us about the most effective ways you are passing along these rising prices to your clients?:

The cost increases are not forcing us to raise our prices. It’s simply not true. Prices are being driven by commodities and products we’re purchasing. The cost of products is rising; we must get paid for those products. We’ve tried very hard to be efficient in our services/operations to maintain our pricing to pass on that value to our clients. Product and labor have continued to increase, and we must get paid for those increased costs. That’s what the consumer has to swallow. We communicate that – it’s not us driving the lumber market; it is its own thing. Same with windows and other aspects of the building process. We just need to be covered for that cost. The consumer should be paying for the extra cost – it’s going into their home.

We are trying to negotiate at every step to ensure we are not getting unnecessary increases. We are asking our trade partners and vendors to push back on manufacturers, so they pause and ask themselves, “Do we really need a 3% increase and push it upline?” It’s going to bite them. With our small influence, we’re trying to inform big manufacturers and suppliers that at some point, the client will decide if they will buy that product. Builders are going to get blamed that we’re too expensive. It’s going to be all these commodities that go into the product.

Supply shortages have required you to ask clients to go back and pick another finish or building material. What are your tips for handing these product trade-off conversations?:

It’s common for a product to become unavailable or delayed once we’ve already selected it with our designers and clients. We have been flexible in waiting for the product even though it impacts the building schedule.
We are trying to order things as early as possible to find out the reality. We have pushed back job starts since products won’t be available. It’s tricky because we need the project starts, but we also want our clients to get what they want if possible. We have decided to move up when we order windows and doors to the very first thing because of long lead times. We need to gain a couple of weeks. The design team is going to push selections which removes flexibility later. If you order products early on, you own them. The flexibility we had in framing and design is now gone because we had to figure things out early. Hopefully, it gets here. This process change has helped our clients have a better experience and eliminate that waiting game. However, the impact is that we lose some of that on-site, on-the-fly customization that makes for dramatic and better results. That isn’t possible anymore. There used to be incremental changes that could have made a dramatic difference, such as window and door placement that you could make after waking the space. We are maximizing the 3D software we have to ensure things are accurate so we can make orders on projects and visualize concepts that haven’t been built yet.

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