About the Author
Our ECI Residential Home Construction team are experts on home builder software and bring their experience in the residential home construction industry to each implementation. This month, we wanted to bring together four leaders in residential home construction to learn about their backgrounds, top industry trends, and the importance of technology within the industry.
In this blog post, we profile Jeff Muir, Sr. Consultant for MarkSystems, Jared Johnson, Product Manager for BuildTools, Lauren Loy, Regional Sales Executive for Lasso, and Sam Knight, Development Manager for Bolt. These four RHC experts showcase the rich thought leadership we provide to all our small and medium-sized customers. We are thrilled to share our knowledge and experience with our wonderful ECI family.
Jeff Muir (JM): I have 23+ years of experience in the residential construction industry. I started out working summers as a laborer on a framing crew. I quickly rose through the ranks to project management and eventually started my own custom home business in late 2006. I found my way to a semi-custom home builder, where I was introduced to home building software. I quickly realized the benefits of adopting it fully into the business, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I now enjoy helping other builders experience the exponential benefits of adopting the right software in the right way. I’ve built 1000’s of units in my career in multiple states across the country in single-family (production and custom), multi-family (townhomes and apartments) light commercial (restaurants, office complexes), and heavy commercial (hotels, event centers). I have a special place in my heart for woodwork and carpentry.
Jared Johnson (JJ): My interest in the construction industry stems back to my youth. My father is a developer, and I always found myself in the middle of some commercial or residential project he was working on. However, as time passed, I became more drawn toward the custom home world. I liked the idea of the home being kin to a piece of artwork in that it would be designed and built only once and never repeated. I got started because I was lucky enough to have a good family friend whose family had its own custom home business, and he took me on as an intern while in school. That’s where my journey began.
Lauren Loy (LL): I have been in the Residential Home Construction industry for over 12 years. I started in multi-family residential during college and then started working for a national home builder after graduation, and the rest was history! I quickly fell in love with the industry! I went on to work for large Fortune 500 Builders focused on first-time buyers, to a land developer for a 3200+ active adult community, and for a private urban infill builder. I started as an online sales counselor and went on to get my real estate license, where I also sold homes onsite. I underwent a year-long training with our partner, DoYouConvert, and sharpened my online sales skills. I then launched Lasso CRM for a builder and managed their sales team. This led to where I am today, selling Lasso CRM, LotVue, and Insearch to home builders!
Sam Knight (SK): I've worked in this industry since October 2015 and got my start when we decided to start Bolt, which is now an ECI product.
JM: I love how our industry evolves and adapts. It’s a cyclical industry, but more like a spiral than cyclical. The last five years will be nothing like the next five years. I love watching the ingenuity and inventiveness that gets adopted as market conditions get rough and we ask ourselves what we can do better.
JJ: The most exciting part is the industry is one of the last to commit to technology fully, so there is so much green space ahead of us. It's exciting to see where the industry will go and how technology will improve the lives of those building the homes and those who enjoy living in them!
LL: I am passionate about being a trusted advisor for our clients and helping our builders scale and grow their businesses with the right technology.
SK: Home building is like building Legos, but for adults. You can create something from nothing or turn an undervalued structure into something people want. Often it is someone's first house, and it's a pretty exciting experience for everyone involved. Some would say incredibly stressful. Knowing how many great memories, gatherings, and events will happen for the people moving into that house is rewarding.
JM: I see the adoption of diversification in product offerings as a way to stay financially solvent in every market. You never really know which market segment will get affected during a downturn, and where one product type or market segment suffers, another completely thrives. That was true even from 2008-2012. There is a vast opportunity to move into different market segments and grow your expertise and portfolio. My experience has been that you learn different strategies with each product type. You can leverage that knowledge into other products to find creative ways to stay profitable and ahead of the curve.
JJ: Recently someone I spoke with brought up the idea of providing aging-in-place design. As the population ages, there is an increasing demand for homes designed to accommodate older adults. Businesses specializing in aging-in-place design, such as installing grab bars and ramps, can tap into this growing market.
LL: The biggest opportunity for the industry is optimizing home building with the right technology. It’s important to remember that with ECI Solutions, builders will not have to be in the software industry, they can focus on building and selling homes. We have them covered with our industry knowledge and support. Also, with the shift in the market from builders not being able to write contracts fast enough to now leads slowing down with rising rates, it is so important to have a solid CRM in place, like Lasso, to maximize lead conversions with targeted marketing and reporting.
SK: Leveraging tech. There may or may not be much innovation in how we build, but the best companies will be tech companies that also happen to build.
JM: Always be shopping. You owe it to your customers to always search for the best value, whether a product or adopting new methods. You’ll find them if you’re searching for ways to add value, but you have to be looking.
JJ: Embrace Technology. It’s your friend! Technology can help streamline processes, reduce errors, and improve client communication. Home construction businesses and contractors should consider investing in software to help with project management, accounting, and client communication. Put your focus on customer service, it sounds redundant, but it will and always will be paramount to building your business. A good reputation is essential in the home construction industry.
LL: Smartphones, Amazon, and COVID, have shifted how consumers shop. Builders are not competing against the other builder next to the door anymore. They are competing with how consumers are shopping online. Builders must have the technology to elevate each milestone of the buyer journey, from pre-sale to after-closing. Future buyers spend over 10 hours researching online before stepping into a model home.
SK: Intentionally create a culture that reflects the core values of the owners, and do everything you can to hire, fire, and reward your employees based on those who exhibit or do not exhibit those core values. Home building still requires people, and the companies with the best people will win.
JM: There are so many repetitive tasks in home building. Technology has found niches to reduce the workload of those repetitive tasks so that you can focus your energy on more important and unique issues. Those who have adopted technology into their business and found the best ways to use it benefit exponentially and are way ahead of their competition who are still carrying around notepads and notes on McDonald’s napkins.
JJ: Technology has dramatically impacted the construction industry and is only picking up steam. A few key areas that technology has enormously impacted are design and planning, building materials, and smart home technology. Overall, technology has significantly impacted the residential home construction industry, improving efficiency, accuracy, and sustainability while introducing new possibilities for design and functionality.
LL: It’s no secret that the home building industry has been a bit slower to adopt the technology. With the shift in the market and how consumers shop online, we have seen an exponential increase in builders quickly adopting technology. Our integrated and industry-specific tools that we offer are what I often hear from our builder clients, “a no-brainer.”
SK: It has exposed the lag in adoption in home building and the inefficiencies we often overlook. Lagging in adoption is not necessarily bad because it allows you to adopt the technologies that stick over the long term. Overlooking inefficiencies implies that we all know there are problems we choose to ignore for various reasons. Still, the core thing to remember is that you can either change or die when it comes to issues overlooked. Eventually, a new generation of construction workers will saturate the market that expects to use technology in their daily work. You can either embrace it, attract the best of the new talent, or bleed a slow death.
JM: I really enjoy being outdoors, and I love learning new things. I also love travel, where I enjoy exploring the local culture and nightlife.
JJ: Outside of work, I enjoy working and remodeling my own house. I have always loved getting my hands dirty and learning to create something from nothing. As my wife always asks, “have you done that before,” my common answer is “No, but I’ll figure out how.” I also enjoy spending time up north at our cabin, playing as much golf as I can squeeze into our short Minnesota summers!
LL: I enjoy surfing, hiking, yoga, and cooking a good meal with friends and family!
SK: Spending time with my wife, children, and peers.
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About the Author