Former pro hockey player Brandon Elliott has lear ned how to create a winning homebuilding team.
IN JUST SEVEN YEARS, Elliott Homes LLC has established itself as a high-end custom home builder along Mississippi's Gulf Coast, and one that offers homes with upgrades included — and expected.
“People know us for top-notch customer service and quality homes,” owner Brandon Elliott says. “We build a high-end home with luxury finishes as standard. We make it simple; when customers come in we give them the price and let them know everything they see is included – granite, crown molding, custom closets and a lot more.”
For price points from $250,000 to $400,000, homeowners enjoy luxury finishes in a 2,000 to 4,000-square-foot home. About 65 percent of the company's buyers are military officers who want a graciously appointed home with lasting appeal and quality, so it can be resold, if necessary.
“We have a reputation for quality and design,” Elliott says.
Though the company sells custom homes, base plans are available as a starting point. No matter the homeowners’ final choice, all plans include luxury touches and finishes, such as intricate woodwork, spalike baths and high-end electrical fixtures.
“I learned the hard way about growth,” Elliott says. “It's better to grow slow rather than trying to grow overnight. Which is why we cap our sales each year to insure the experience, level of service and quality does not get put in jeopardy. We’ll never sacrifice quality over quantity.”
The company's two sides — production and custom — cater to customers, and the local market has embraced Elliott's commitment to quality and beauty. But it wasn’t easy earning their stellar reputation.
Learning the Ropes
"Our company is built with a team of experienced experts," Elliott says.
Elliott was a 23-year-old professional hockey player with the Tampa Bay Lighting when he felt a pull to put down the sports gear and pick up the tool belt.
"I retired from hockey and started building houses,h he says. gI just loved building and had a passion for it. Learning the ins and outs of running a construction business was another thing."
For the first two years after Elliott founded the company in 2008, he was constantly improving the practical aspects of the business - sequencing, pricing and some elements of construction. Elliott says the staff he put together, to date, is his most significant accomplishment.
"Learning how to hire and maintain the correct people who share passion and have an outstanding work ethic was the difference between the company operating like amateurs or professionals," he says. "In my hockey days, we were told amateurs will practice until they get it right, and professionals will practice until they canft get it wrong. This mentality is the chemistry of Elliott Homes."
Today, Elliott says his team members are his company's best asset. They include:
. Wane Zill, operations director
. Ken Lanahan, custom homes manager
. Maegan Harder, customer service concierge
. Asher Travis, financial manager
. George Gilbert, site manager
. wife Adrienne Elliott, interior designer
. Susan Siemiontkowski, sales and marketing manager
. Justin Allen, sales broker and designer
. Jerami Goodman, sales agent
"The staff I have currently has so much passion for what they do,h Elliott says. "Their drive and commitment is equal to a professional athlete's. Itfs incredible watching them work and I learn something new from them everyday - always trying to improve while putting the reputation of the company ahead of their pride. I think with their commitment to customer satisfaction and to each other, every home is built to the highest level of quality"
With the right staff in place, Elliott says the company has been able to focus on quality and style . both top of mind for homebuyers.
"In the south, hurricane rating is obviously a very big thing," he says. "Besides that, what I'm seeing is that home buyers want something they feel comfortable in. They want to make sure they're buying quality and something that will appreciate in value since buying a home is the largest investment most people will make in their lives. They also want a good experience. I have learned with advanced technology, the entire home building experience is just as important to our customers as the home itself."
Elliott Homes now offers a personal website for each buyer, a customized dashboard where buyers can look at construction schedules, building plans and details such as color selections. The company also has a customer service concierge on staff to help customers throughout the entire project.
The company has delved into building its own exclusive developments. This allows Elliott Home Development to give the company's high-level finishes into community wide amenities that start at the entrance of a development instead of at the door step. Since 2013, Elliott Homes has created three developments and is just launching a fourth.
“What made the difference was taking our time, not being so worried about growth,” Elliott says. “A good piece of advice that stuck with me from a sage trim carpenter was: Everybody has time to go back and fix it. But nobody has time to do it right the first time. We decided to take the time upfront and do it right the first time.” This mindset has even increased since the hiring of the newest team member who is in charge of the operations of Elliott Homes.
The community has taken notice, too. The company was named a “Best in Mississippi Award” winner for several categories in 2011, 2012 and 2014. They were also voted No. 1 builder in the Sun Herald newspaper's People's Choice Awards in 2014 and several other recognitions. Elliott Homes is involved is many local organizations to help improve the quality of life for the areas they build in and believe very strongly in helping create a high-level living environment. Elliott Homes has contributed two homes to date to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through the Dream Home Campaign, and the result was one of the most recognized Dream Homes of 2012. Elliott Homes has be chosen again to build the 2016 St. Jude Dream Home and will do so by donating a house and lot in their own development.
“I think people are seeing our new technology, new ideas, new designs and, again, quality,” Elliott says. “The end design and touches are the easy part these days with the resource we call the internet. With this tool, the average person has a lot more knowledge of what they want and can understand all their options. Anybody can pull up websites like Houzz for ideas, but putting that into reality and leaving the homebuyer excited by the time they get to the finish line is the part that takes a true professional.
“Exceeding our commitments is an expected result for home buyers in this the information age, so we strive for perfection on every home built. This is much easier said than done but a necessity for businesses.”