There’s a longstanding school of thought among physicians that conveys a clear philosophical approach to the art of medicine, “if you listen to the patient, they’ll tell you the diagnosis.” While it may feel like an overly simplistic statement, at its heart is a powerful message: it’s not about telling someone what they need. It’s about listening for it.
Which brings us to the building industry. Well, technically it’s not the practice of medicine that brings us here, but the practice of listening. Every successful builder knows it’s an essential part of any project. Even a customer who says they don’t know what they want will tell you what they want if you really listen. And at Star, it’s our job to make sure you have everything you need – from the estimating to the finished product – to deliver it.
We’re listening for it.
At every level and in every relationship we have with our customers, our challenge to ourselves is to go beyond “may we help you?” to “how may we help you?” One of the most critical components in that endeavor is the President’s Advisory Council (PAC).
The Star PAC was formed more than 30 years ago as a way to connect with our builders and try to better understand the things they like, don’t like, or would like to see changed or revised. It’s made up of 20 Star Builders, with representation from all regions and districts throughout the U.S., and 17 Star staff members, each from various departments and with different responsibilities. Each region has an appointed representative, who solicits input from the builders within his/her region, then presents all of it for discussion at one of the group’s two meetings throughout the year.
And now with the introduction of new Star president Pete Viens, the PAC is getting a new focus – starting with a more streamlined approach to how input is communicated, considered and eventually turned into a solution. “The PAC has always been a great program”, said Viens, “but just like anything, there are opportunities for improvement. We’re looking at how we take it from where it is today to the next level.”
In the past, working through the list of builder suggestions during the two annual meetings has taken an overwhelming amount of time and left little capacity for other agenda items. It’s important to Viens, however, that all input is heard. So, going forward, a new process will be established in which all suggestions will be discussed and considered throughout the year, but the time at meetings will be spent focusing on the Top 10 items that the group has decided will drive the greatest impact overall. There will also be more communication throughout the year as well, to let builders know that their ideas have been heard and progress is being made.
“The PAC is great because it gives us an opportunity to hear the greatest concerns of our builders,” said Viens, “and then implement changes that can drive the greatest profitability for them and help us provide a better level of service as well.”
The new focus on the PAC’s structure is more of an opportunity to take a great thing and make it better than an attempt to fix something that’s broken. In fact, the PAC has been highly effective in producing successful improvements throughout its history. The 2019 PAC Committee has already driven several changes that builders told us were important to them, including the creation of a Star Building Systems Instagram account, the addition of contact information on sales orders, and the inclusion of the National Building Code of Canada 2015 in the SBS release on May 13. (And we’re not even halfway through the year yet!)
Reggie Katzakian, a Star builder and member of the PAC for three years, describes the value he sees in the council and how it gives him an inside look at the organization in whom he puts his trust as a small business owner: “It’s been important to me to see how open the management team at Star is to the PAC and to the suggestions that come up as a result of daily experiences in the field.” Another Star builder, Andy Ross, who joined the PAC less than a year ago, sees real change happening as a result of the committee: “I feel like this gives builders a platform to make actual change for the good based on feedback from the entire Star builder community.”
We’re excited to move forward with an even better, more effective PAC working to make our builders better and more effective at what they do. Our business at Star has always been built on the strength of the relationships we have with our customers, so we welcome and encourage your input. Together, we can lead the industry with smart, effective solutions that are the direct result of a commitment to the value of real, honest communication. So go ahead. Give us your best suggestion.