Exceeding Expectations

Aveling Homes

A dedication to customer service and a remarkable talent for homebuilding helped the company grow steadily, despite the rocky economic times. Today, just four years after inception, Aveling Homes boasts 70 employees, a brand new purpose-built office building, and 19 display homes – with two more slated for completion this year.

The team’s very first display home won an HIA Display Home Award, and the company’s eye catching designs have been drawing customers in ever since. What is it that makes an Aveling Homes-built house so irresistible? Mr Aveling and Mr Zorzi – who has twice been awarded Australia’s Best Builder – channel their expertise and experience into building homes that go far beyond a client’s expectations. In fact, they make it a priority to create a welcoming, calming retreat for every homebuyer.

“[We are] very specific about trying to create spaces where people really feel at home,” Mr Aveling explains. “We try to create spaces that are very comfortable and put you at ease.” The designers carefully consider every variable, from the direction of natural light to the most appealing ceiling height. “It’s not just about the basic functionality of the home, but how the home feels,” Mr Aveling insists. “We are very keen that the home functions beyond what the client might anticipate.”

Outstanding customer service is the second secret to the company’s success. The one-stop homebuilding shop carefully walks each customer through every step of the construction and financing process. Clients have over 100 home designs to choose from, as well as a dedicated consultant to assist them with all of the decision making. Moreover, Aveling Homes’ spacious, purpose-built office building contains samples of a wide range of fixtures and finishes, so customers can see the real thing before signing on the dotted line. “It makes it very easy for them to make their selection,” Mr. Aveling points out. “Looking at something on a brochure is completely different to actually picking it up and seeing it. There is a lot of comfort in knowing that their selections really are the right ones.”

In fact, the Aveling Homes office building was specially designed to provide customers with a relaxing, positive experience as they move through the homebuilding process. “We have a luxurious prestart area,” Mr Aveling explains. “It’s very comfortable. Customers feel at ease and not intimidated.” Indeed, the team takes special care to alleviate the customer’s stress and uncertainty. “We understand that the decisions they make are going to impact them for a very long time. We understand that it is very daunting for a client.”

The relationship that begins during the pre-start process doesn’t end once the customer walks out the office door. “We keep in regular contact with our clients,” Mr Aveling says. The team will ring a client at least once every week or two during the construction process, even when there is nothing new to report. “We like to keep in contact just to say g’day and find out whether they have any concerns or any questions. That regular communication has been really good for us. It works.”

This individualised attention lasts all the way through to the end of the build, when customers receive their keys. “I sit in with as many of my client handovers as I can,” Mr Aveling reports. “I will sit down with them and ask them for feedback, whether we have met their expectations, and if they are happy with their home. It is a very positive thing for clients.” Taking the time to touch base with clients helps the company as well. “It has been a very important way of gaining feedback about where we can improve and what we are doing well,” Mr Aveling explains. The team also asks each client to fill out feedback forms so that the company can constantly push toward improvement. “We do try and look after our clients,” Mr Aveling insists. “We are genuinely customer focused.”

This commitment to customers has also contributed to the company’s decision to openly post prices. “We are one of the only builders in Perth that advertises our house prices; it’s very unusual.” Typically, Mr Aveling says, builders try to entice clients using slick images of luxury homes – without disclosing the cost. The idea is to reel a client in, then determine which house they can actually afford after they are already hooked. Aveling Homes, on the other hand, strives for transparency. “Most businesses put their prices online,” Mr Aveling points out; builders, he insists, should do the same. “It’s a lot easier for the client to know which one of the houses fit into their budget,” he says. “They feel more confident to talk to us.”

The team members adhere to a special set of values to help them carry out their top notch customer service. “We have a few core values that are a big part of the way we behave and communicate,” Mr Aveling reports. “The values have been a very important part in helping us to shape the sort of company that we want to be.” Treating team members, clients, contractors, and suppliers with mutual respect and sensitivity is at the top of the list. “We respect all individuals and value their contribution.” Loyalty and a supportive, team oriented attitude is expected, and accountability is stressed. “We accept responsibility for our performance in all of our decisions and actions.” Embracing change and striving for excellence is also valued. Last, but not least, “We are dedicated to exceeding the needs of our clients and honouring the commitments we have made to them.”

These values are not just words on paper, Mr Aveling insists. Instead, the company actively instils the values into its employees – and expects each employee to consistently uphold them. “The values are such an important part of how we behave,” Mr Aveling explains. “And if someone doesn’t behave in accordance with our values they will be corrected.” Management works hard to model these values to the rest of the staff, and to offer training and development opportunities so that employees can reach their full potential. “I am a registered builder,” Mr Aveling points out, “but I think, first and foremost, I am a people builder. I really work hard on fostering our staff. I get a lot of satisfaction helping our staff develop themselves beyond what they thought they were capable of. It’s all about trying to help them to continually improve how they do things.”

The team’s commitment to the company’s values has created a collaborative, supportive environment conducive to results – and to employee satisfaction. “It’s a fantastic sense of community that we have got within the office,” Mr Aveling reports. “They all feel important. They all feel as though they are part of something special.” In fact, this was a core component of Mr Aveling’s vision from the beginning. A foundational goal, he explains, was “to create an organisation that people would want to work for and would want to be a part of – an organisation that valued their contribution.”

Aveling Homes’ high level of support for customers and employees – and its uncanny ability to produce outstanding, leading edge homes – has led to a remarkable level of growth and recognition. It hasn’t always been easy, of course; as the new kids on the block, the team has had to prove itself through its actions, rather than relying on the name recognition that older companies enjoy. The team waged an innovative, outside the square marketing campaign to get the word out. “The company is very marketing-driven and has been responsible for producing some of the most creative and cut-through advertising in the project home building sector,” Mr Aveling reports. Word of mouth soon became a driver for growth as well, as the company quickly earned a reputation for “providing really good value for money.”

The bottom line, Mr Aveling insists, is that “we just try to do what we do well. It’s simple really.”

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August 2, 2014, 7:27 AM EST