Their challenge: Finding sustainable material pricing and project management
Aubuchon Homes is a high-end residential custom home builder in Southwest Florida established in 1992. What started as a two-person organization has grown to become a conglomerate called the Aubuchon Team of Companies comprised of six different businesses and over 70 employees.
They’re the premiere design-build firm in their marketplace that offers in-house architectural design services.
“A client has the ability to come in with a vision or a sketch on the back of a napkin, present it to our team, and we can help turn that sketch into a reality right there in front of their eyes,” said Justin Einstein, director of operations at Aubuchon Homes.
They’re also the only builder that can offer all services under one roof. Each segment of the Aubuchon Team works together to give homeowners a one-of-a-kind, all-inclusive experience. Instead of working with several separate companies throughout the building process, they only work with one from initial contract to final walkthrough.
“We can design the home. We can furnish the home through our interior design firm. We can take them across the hall and get them a mortgage and their homeowners’ insurance. We can even close on the home with our title company.”
In a typical year, the Aubuchon team builds 25 to 30 homes averaging between $1.4 and $1.7 million per home. They have all the pieces for success – that much is obvious. All they were missing was the glue to hold it all together. That’s where sustainable material pricing with CBUSA’s group purchasing organization and Buildertrend’s construction project management software came in.
Luxury custom home builders
Cape Coral, Florida
Their solution: Leveraging community, cost savings and communication
With the difficult building environment over the last few years, materials like lumber and drywall have been at a premium. Not just from the volatility of pricing but also the lack of material availability. And that’s what makes CBUSA’s group purchasing organization so crucial to Aubuchon Homes’ success.
“CBUSA came into our marketplace and set up committed buy programs with local supply houses as well as national suppliers for products like air conditioning and generators,” Justin said. “This has allowed us as members to stabilize our pricing and continue moving forward with reasonable cycle times where other builders in our market couldn’t.”
The framework for committed buys, established relationships and resources CBUSA offers contribute to the leverage Aubuchon Homes has on material pricing and availability.
“When CBUSA, who has national relationships with 84 Lumber, gets involved, they [84 Lumber] listen differently. We get better prices and better commitments on deliveries, and we wouldn’t be able to do that without CBUSA.”
In addition to joining CBUSA’s group purchasing network, Justin knew they needed a better system for communication and project management. They tried several platforms over the past 20 years before deciding Buildertrend was the best solution in the industry for custom and semi-custom home builders.
They began using Buildertrend as a scheduling tool before they decided to maximize the platform’s potential. Justin received an invite to attend Buildertrend University – the rest is history. Buildertrend University is an engaging two-day conference held at Buildertrend’s headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. Customers get the opportunity to attend feature-based classes and one-on-one sessions with their coach.
“I came back, and I said, ‘Listen, guys. Pack your bags, we’re going to Omaha.’”
“We took a very diverse group,” Justin said. “We took superintendents. We took accounting staff. We took operations and project management. We took somebody from every area of the company to really learn what they needed to know to really use the program.”
The entire company now dedicates time to learning and using the platform. Every couple of weeks, the team gets together for a Buildertrend meeting to talk about adding another component of the software into their daily operations.
“With Buildertrend, the most paramount return on investment is saving time, and CBUSA not only saves us rebate dollars, but we get a bid for a lumber package before the committed buy. We can certainly recognize the savings. It’s upwards of tens of thousands of dollars per home.”– Justin Einstein, director of operations, Aubuchon Homes
Their success story: Accessing unlimited resources and communication
CBUSA gives the Aubuchon team the buying power that other builders in their marketplace, outside of other CBUSA members, don’t have.
“I can access resources for both materials and national-level pricing because of the leverage of relationships that CBUSA provides,” Justin said.
CBUSA not only provides their team with the resources to buy competitively, but it’s also brought them together with other like-minded builders who want to network and share best practices.
“All too often in a marketplace, we see each other as competition, when in reality it’s a very small world,” Justin said. “While we all may want to compete for a buyer, in the end we’re all just trying to build the best quality product that we can. So, the ability to share ideas in a safe environment and help each other has been huge for all of us.”
The Aubuchon team not only has the ability to foster connections with fellow builders through CBUSA, but they can also manage client and subcontractor relationships through Buildertrend’s communication features.
“We absolutely love the Customer Portal that allows us to interact with our clients seamlessly,” Justin said. “We use Buildertrend for all of our document storage, so our clients at any given time can see the most current copies of their plans or their contracts or their change orders.”
They have the ability to communicate documents, schedule changes and other information in real time to all necessary parties during the life of a project with just the push of a button.
“Instead of having to track down who to call in our organization, clients can simply click on the messaging tool, which puts their question in front of the entire build team,” Justin said. “The appropriate person can provide them with a timely answer.”
Many of Aubuchon’s clients are remote, so being able to give them updates in real time is one of the biggest assets of using Buildertrend.
“We show clients how our superintendents post photos or videos on a regular basis and how they can look at their job schedule,” Justin said. “From the time we pour their footer all the way through completion, we publish the schedule, so our buyer feels like they’re a part of the process and they can follow along.”
Buildertrend has also been huge in helping their subcontractors get ahead of lead times for materials. With being assigned jobs and having access to the project schedules, subs can order the products they need far in advance.
“The fact that our subcontractors can also interact through Buildertrend to maintain and monitor their schedule and ordering of materials is a huge asset to us,” Justin said. “They can go into the schedule and see that I’m scheduling a closing and know when to order their appliances.”
So, has Aubuchon Homes seen a return on investment after implementing CBUSA and Buildertrend?
“Without a doubt,” Justin said.
“Not only because of the rebate dollars, but the fact that we can get a bid for a lumber package before the committed buy. We can see what it is now, and we can certainly recognize the savings. It’s upwards of tens of thousands of dollars per home.”
“For Buildertrend, the most paramount return on investment is saving time,” Justin said. “The fact that the communication becomes seamless, we don’t have the barrage of phone calls anymore. We don’t have constant requests for information because it’s all at their fingertips.”
The success of the Aubuchon team is obvious. What started as a two-person team has grown substantially over the last 30 years, building nearly 600 custom homes. Justin recommends both CBUSA and Buildertrend to fellow builders looking to do the same.
“If you’re the right builder, with the right mindset – you want to do right by your clients, you want to build a quality product and you want to deal with reputable vendors and manufacturers – then there’s no better way to do that than with CBUSA,” Justin said.
CBUSA spends an extraordinary amount of time vetting builder members as well as vendors. Strict parameters and performance standards also ensure everyone is living up to their end of the bargain.
“In this market where labor is so transient and materials are so volatile, it’s peace of mind knowing you have vendors that have already been vetted and have committed to the process the same way we as builders have,” Justin said.
“And if you’re not employing the technology that’s necessary in today’s marketplace, you’re losing out, and you’re losing money.”
Aubuchon Homes is reaching their potential with CBUSA. You can, too.
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