Setting Up Options for Both Your Customers and Trades

Blog MKSYS Setting Up Options Both Customer Trades

I always advise builders to be more concerned with how options are presented to customers, rather than trade partners, but there is a way to satisfy both.

Here are four tips to make it easier for you.

Tip #1 Organize options based on the order that selections are made

You should organize the option categories by the order that the customers are making selections in their design appointments, or how they would walk through the design center/model home. The only exception to that rule is to have the structural options first because they are big-ticket items and involve multiple trades, so they should grab everyone’s attention first. The remaining option categories should be named after the trade mostly being affected by that category.

Tip #2 Define “structural” options as altering the floor plan

One big sticking point that often comes up is where do multi-trade options belong? If you define “structural” options as anything that alters the floor plan brochure outline (meaning it moves or relocates anything on the base plan), the majority of multi-trade options fall within those parameters, so that conflict almost always disappears. The remaining options are usually trade-specific, a la carte options.

As an example, one question that comes up frequently is “where do master bath changes belong?” Some builders consider those items plumbing options because it’s usually upgrading from a tub to a shower or free-standing tub, adding dual sinks, etc. Those options almost always alter the footprint of the initial plan, involve multiple trades, or change locations within that bathroom perimeter. That would always be a structural option to me. After those options are addressed, I found that almost every other option after that would be la carte for a specific trade, so they would get assigned to the appropriate trade option category.

Tip #3 List included options first within each category

Within each option category, I recommend listing your included options (or standard options) first; upgrades to those options should then follow. The logic I used for ordering options would be defaulted to grouping things together by location, then by least expensive to most expensive, leaving room for future locations and future upgrades in the coding scheme. This makes price sheets easy to understand and often reflects how those products are displayed in design centers.

Once again, I tried to follow the logic of how the customer would be selecting items in the design center, and my design center would be set up as a buyer’s journey through their home. Customers are most concerned with kitchens and master bathrooms, so those locations are always first. Then I would follow the path of how one would typically walk through a house, going from main living areas to secondary bedrooms and bathrooms. Structural rooms that were added (like bonus rooms, finished basements, etc.), would be last because not every customer purchases them.

Tip #4: Train your trade partners how to read your selection sheets

As part of new trade partner orientation, once all the major items of contracts and scopes of work are addressed, I recommend reviewing a common selection sheet with them, so they are aware of exactly which option categories require their attention. I would also review some of the most common options they would typically see on change orders.

As part of their contract and scopes of work, each trade partner would be required to review any structural and custom options in addition to any option categories related to their trade from the selection sheet prior to ordering any materials or scheduling crews. With a fully functioning purchase order system, the relevant information related to options would be cleanly listed on their purchase orders or work orders as well.