Twelve Step programs are well known for their use in treating addictive and dysfunctional behaviors. The first 12 step program began with Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) in the 1930s and has since grown to be the most widely used approach of other programs in dealing not only with recovery from alcoholism, but also from drug abuse and various other addictive and dysfunctional behaviors.

12 steps #2I apologize in advance to any of my readers who may personally been or have family or friends in or in need of a 12-Step Program but I believe that the basics of these programs not only provide hope and a foundation for personal self-improvement but also for the structure of success in any business and, specifically, the homebuilding industry.  And please forgive me for this statement but I believe that much of what I see across the country in homebuilding and residential development is often dysfunctional.

So with what I hope will be a little latitude and tolerance on your part, here is “Dr. Dan’s 12-Step program for success in Homebuilding and Residential Development”:    

Step 1. – Admit Powerlessness – we must admit that we are powerless over the market as it is established and managed by forces beyond our control and acts solely of its own volition.  We, as builders and developers, cannot create a market nor the demand for housing, only work to satisfy the needs and desires of the market as it may exist from time to time while recognizing that demand is subject to continual evolution.   And while we may be powerless over the causal factors of the market, we are not powerless over the actions necessary to satisfy the market  

Step 2. – Find Hope – we must believe that a power greater then ourselves can be of assistance and that power is knowledge – knowledge of the market and all of its components.  Only by studying the housing market and all of the underlying factors thereof can we hope to understand the true demand, the competitive factors that exist and the real and viable opportunities that are presented for success.

Step 3. – Never Surrender – we must make a decision to accept reality and take action, not just give up and fall by the wayside.  That action is to create a strategy for success based upon thorough research and analysis of the demographics and psychographics of the market, the economic conditions and factors, the competitive marketplace including both new and resale housing, and area and site specifics.    Continue reading

You don’t bring a knife to a gunfight!

Depending on your age, the phrase “You call that a knife? This is a knife!” will tend to evoke either the familiar line from the 1986 Australian comedy film Crocodile Dundee or the title of the 2009 rap song and music video by Capture the Crown.  Either way, the visual image is clear.  And while a larger knife is probably beneficial in a knife fight, it will not do you much good in a gunfight.


Make no mistake about it, homebuilding is a gunfight and similar rules apply – bring all of the weapons that you need and make certain that your team is similarly armed.

The first weapon is research, thoroughly examining the marketplace and the competition to create the USP, the “unique selling proposition” that is the basis of any effective homebuilder’s strategy to bring to the market what the buyers want and can afford and is different from and visibly better than the competition.  Even today, many homebuilders still fail to invest the necessary time, effort and assets to do the research and create the strategy. 

Once we have identified the “hole in the market”, the opportunities that exist waiting to be served, then we must expeditiously implement the strategy, providing the solution indicated and bringing it to the market while the competition is still loading their guns. 

Homebuilding has five key drivers of sales – the other “weapons” that we can bring to bear to create a competitive advantage to generate sales.  Many builders fail to properly implement the strategy in all of the key elements of success, creating an “opportunity vacuum” waiting to be filled. Continue reading


I have a new aphorism or, if you prefer, an apothegm, axiom, dictum, maxim, motto, or precept for life on which I am working to gain universal acceptance.  This maxim is known by the acronym “TFE” which stands for “Time For Excellence”.

TFE is especially appropriate for the homebuilding industry today for this is the year that the markets begin their slow but steady climb back to normality and the industry returns to profitability.  To maximize the opportunities available and to achieve success I believe that we must be excellent in every possible way as there is no reward for anything less.

In homebuilding there are five basic areas in which we can satisfy market demand and create a competitive advantage.  Excellence must be provided in each of these five components.  By allocating resources equally among these five areas we optimize operations and profitability and this is true whether you are a large merchant builder or a small custom builder/remodeler. Continue reading