The father-and-son team of Al and Don Couto joined forces to launch Couto Homes after running their own custom homebuilding firms.
NOT MANY COMPANIES are willing to draft, design and collaborate when the only binding agreement is a handshake. However, Couto Homes of Granbury, Texas, places great emphasis on the amount of trust that must exist between builder and buyer in these situations. This gesture of trust and good faith on the part of the Couto family is how they show Couto Homes will be there for the customer.
“We feel that we’re stepping into a circle of trust, so we have to show them we’re here for them every step of the way,” says Donny Couto, owner and home designer who runs Couto Homes with his father, Al. “We trust them to follow through on their commitment to us, and we show them this is who we are, and we do everything we can to cater to them.”
Couto Homes’ origins date back to 1982, when Al Couto launched Couto & Sons Construction as a homebuilding firm. In 2001, Donny Couto followed suit by founding his own homebuilding company, Four Seasons Construction.
Father and son later joined forces to start Couto Homes. Since then, the company has grown year over year. About 75 percent of Couto Homes’ builds are custom homes.
“We used to be a builder that mainly built homes to sell,” Donny Couto says. “We have evolved more to the custom side because that is where the greatest demand has been in the last couple years.”
Couto Homes operates on the southwestern side of the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, region. The company’s headquarters is in Granbury, and plans are in the works to open a second branch to offer more convenience for clients buying in the northern part of the company’s building radius.
Making Things Clear
Couto Homes has an in-house drafting department, in-house interior designers, does 3-D modeling of homes pre-construction and offers a plethora of other ways to for its customers to interact, design and collaborate to achieve the home that works for them. These are just a few capabilities Couto says add value to his company and makes the homebuilding process a little more transparent, easier and fun.
“We’re enhancing the customer experience by removing some of that anxiety by making things clear to see using 3-D models and committing to build them,” Couto says. “Over the last few years, we have focused on making the process less confusing and more transparent by sharing pictures, ideas and documents and bringing technology into it more than we ever had in the past.”
This focus on making things fun and easy to comprehend is important because it potentially decreases the unknown for the homebuyer. Couto says all the information is at the homeowners’ fingertips, from specifications to selections and schedule.
“It has reduced a lot of stress for the homeowner when they know what’s coming up in the weeks ahead,” Couto says. “It has changed the emotional state of the customer – it is a lot more positive now than it has been in the years past.”
The Coutos have been in business long enough to realize a homebuilder is only as good as its subcontractors. That is why Couto Homes treats subcontractors like an extension of the company by training them on how to interact with clients.
“We feel they are more of a partner than a subcontractor,” Couto says. “We train them on how we talk to the
customer, how we present ourselves, and, most importantly, how to respect the customer and consider what
they have in mind.”
Along with keeping good relationships with trades, Couto says it is important for Couto Homes to keep good trades happy for better business.
“We need good quality trades for customer service or we won’t have customers,” Couto says.
For example, Henson Lumber has had a relationship of 15 years with Donny and Al Couto. The relationship grows with each passing year – Henson’s is always willing to bring in new products to accommodate the needs of the Couto Homes customers, according to Donny Couto.
Getting Past the Stigma
Couto Homes continues to invest in easier processes. “I would like to get to a point where one of the most stressful things in a customer’s life – building a custom home – could be something people enjoy like going to a Broadway show,” Couto says.