Trusted ERP software for homebuilders and developers

Success Story:
Storybook Homes

MarkSystems® software integrates all functions into a single database, uniting this home building team

Business challenges

  • The company needed a reliable method keeping track of forms and ensuring that only the most up-to-date forms were used
  • When information changed, like a closing date, the change had to be redundantly entered across all relevant company documents
  • There were inconsistencies in the consistency of data, forms, and reports
  • Storybook needed a way to develop and update external reports with real-time data
  • Staff, supers, and subs were using data entered at different times, from different sources, resulting in inconsistencies

Benefits of switching to MarkSystems homebuilding software

  • The single database ERP enabled Storybook to centralize the forms and the knowledge that built the forms and to create reports with real-time data
  • MarkSystems eliminates redundant data entry; now the information any staff member generates is instantly shared with all parties
  • Manual report creation is eliminated, improving accuracy and freeing staff time
  • All parties have access to the information and data they need, from the office or on the road
  • For Wayne Laska at Storybook Homes, LLC of Las Vegas, implementing MarkSystems was a pivotal chapter in his business’ success. It represented the culmination of years of industry experience.  

MarkSystems is at the core of Storybook Homes’ optimized efficiency in business processes

Today, Storybook Homes runs at peak efficiency with defined and documented processes that have been applied in every division of the company. All business-critical data is centralized in a single database, where information is updated and reported to all parties—from sales to supervisors, to subs, to customers—in real-time.  

Wayne Laska, President of Storybook Homes, is a veteran of the residential construction industry. He spent 14 years managing sales and marketing for Lewis Homes in Las Vegas. At the time, it was one of the largest family-owned homebuilders in the country. Nimble decision-making gave the company a distinct competitive advantage in the market, while the family environment made everyone feel they were playing on one team for one common cause.

In 1999, Lewis Homes was purchased by Kaufman and Broad (today’s KB Home), and Laska became Vice President of Sales for KB’s largest single market entity, selling over 3,000 units per year. At KB Home, Laska was able to develop and expand upon his process management ideas and tools to help the housing giant leverage its capital, size, and buying power.

Defining and documenting all procedures set the stage for Storybook’s progress

His experience with both Lewis Homes and KB Home helped him to design a repeatable framework for home building success. In 2002, Laska started Storybook Homes, LLC. where his ideas would soon permeate the company’s vision, structure, and processes. “Although I had a great deal of experience in sales, marketing, land acquisition, and development, I lacked some of the technical experience. I knew that I would need a set of clearly defined processes to stay on top of what’s happening,” Laska said. He could define some basic concepts that helped structure the ways that Storybook Homes would function:

  1. Define and document specific instructions for every business process 
  2. Follow these procedures the same way, every time 
  3. Carefully manage changes, because every process change costs money
  4. Cut out the red tape 
  5. Share information constantly and consistently
  6. Ensure that each employee knows his or her own job, and how it affects everyone else

Only a single-database, home building software could keep everyone on the same page

To accomplish his goals, Laska sought out one solution that would have five characteristics. The solution he sought must:

  1. Maintain all data for all forms and reports from departments in a single database. 
    Enable all forms and reports to be available both in paper and digital formats.  
  1. Provide all information, forms, and reports with data updated in real-time.
  2. Not only provide a comprehensive library of standard reports but enable external reports to be developed at any time that would be updated with information from the real-time database.  
  1. Enable back office, sales, design center, purchasing, scheduling, construction superintendents, vendors, homebuyers, and customer service to be on the same page, using the same current data always.

They found their solution in MarkSystems, a single-database, enterprise-wide software package.

Using the reporting tool Crystal Reports®, Laska now has customized forms and reports now linked to his software. “Because all our information now resides within a single system on a single database, our reports and forms are always up to date without any manual intervention.” MarkSystems’ software is accessible both locally and online, allowing all pertinent information to be shared with superintendents, subcontractors, lenders, and homebuyers.

Laska reports that several benefits became immediately apparent:

  • Everyone has access to the information they need when they need it:  
    • Superintendents can update schedules and approve work orders and purchase orders through their online portals. 
    • Schedules, payables, and reports are updated instantly, along with lenders’ escrow reports and images of signed contracts.
    • Sequence sheets are available to both supers and subs. 
    • Subcontractors can access schedules, work orders, purchase orders, VPOs, and job starts at any time.
    • Subs can print out house drawings, check on the processing of invoices, and review payments, virtually eliminating phone calls.
  • Information is never out of date. Reports and forms are up-to-the-minute accurate.
  • The information any staff member generates is instantly shared with all parties. 
  • Manual report creation is eliminated, improving accuracy and freeing up staff time. 

A key to Storybook’s success was empowering subcontractors with MarkSystems' data

 “Anyone can sell houses,” Laska says. “It’s making money at it that counts and MarkSystems enables us to do that consistently. The affordable market lets us leverage our efforts. By staying with the same basic plan set, our subcontractors can help us understand and control costs while still being profitable themselves.” Including subcontractors as integral components in the development of processes, procedures, and product is an important point for Laska. “A homebuilder that does not assist in making trade partners money will go out of business.” By including trade partners in developing procedures, giving them easy access to the information they need to do their jobs effectively, and maintaining consistency in the products he builds, Laska has been able to develop a very loyal subcontractor base.

Click to download the full Storybook Homes case study

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