By taking a process-driven approach, Surrey Homes has become one of the fastest-growing builders in its region.
WITH AN EXPERIENCED TEAM, Surrey Homes understands what homeowners want in a buying experience and what they want to see in a home.
Company President Scott South, a 30-year veteran of the Central Florida homebuilding industry, has delivered more than 5,000 homes, so he knows what details matter in a house and what makes it stand the test of time. Surrey’s in-house architect tailors the company’s floorplans to make homes just the right fit for individual buyers.
In the five years since it was founded, the company has experienced a swift response to its positioning as a trustworthy builder committed to excellence.
In 2015, Surrey Homes sold 59 homes and closed 73. For 2016, South says, the company plans to sell 165 homes and close 71. And with new community acquisitions, the company projects 206 closings for 2017.
Considering new communities, Surrey Homes takes into account what fits within the market. “We are focused on acquiring property where we can deliver homes to the broader Central Florida demographic, in most cases where base home pricing ranges from $200,000 to $300,000,” South says. “Today, we are delivering homes at a much higher price range, which will be adjusted to a smaller portion of our overall portfolio over the next 12 months.”
The growth, South says, is a reflection of building the right team and setting up the framework for success.
“We have identified the right people, implemented policies, systems and processes, and we are locating the properties which cater to the broader Central Florida demographic,” South says.
While South says he doesn’t see a buying frenzy, the region is experiencing steady growth, with industries like leisure, hospitality, retailing and transportation – followed by professional and business jobs – driving job growth.
“We are seeing steady traffic and are able to increase pricing in some locations,” South says. “The resale market, a barometer for our expectations, remains strong. Interest rates remain low and inventory is declining to a level near a four-month supply of homes.”
The Best Locations
Surrey Homes looks for homes in communities that offer some peace and seclusion – but also access to amenities.
Homes in three of its communities are sold out already. Another three are under development, and presales are available in the Surrey Homes at John’s Lake Landing. At Casa del Lago at Windermere, homes are selling, starting from the $400,000 price range.
In Hunter’s Creek development, Surrey Homes is selling properties starting around $370,000. The community also has top-rated schools, plus ample parks and recreation opportunities.
While location remains the No. 1 driving factor for prospective buyers, South also says the company’s homes stand out in livability. Surrey Homes have more storage built in than a typical new home, for example.
“We often hear from buyers how much extra storage is designed into the home, which comes standard,” he says.
The company also makes many features standard – so homeowners don’t feel nickel-and-dimed through the process.
“Our in-house architect is able to focus on designing homes that ‘wow’ buyers,” South says.
Building on those stunning designs, homeowners are able to customize their living spaces with a walk through the company’s design gallery for a hands-on look guided by team member Vicki White, who has years of private and public homebuilding experience – and the creative mind behind the looks homebuyers can see and touch.
“Buyers become excited when they see the options they can select from within the Design Gallery,” South says. “It is a way to personalize their home by selecting from literally hundreds of options. In a way it can be called ‘controlled customization.’”
Typically, buyers are given an allowance from which they can begin their selection process, and it’s a no-pressure environment.
“We pay our designer a fixed fee per appointment,” South says. “There is no commission structure, which typically creates a high-pressure sales tactic that intimidates buyers.”
Excellence is core to the company’s values, and that means consistent quality. Especially because the Surrey Homes has experienced significant growth, South says processes are what hold everything together.
“Internally, we inspect our homes prior to our buyer's orientation process,” he says. “We create lists of items to correct, therefore reducing the number of concerns at the end of the construction process. Secondly, we pride ourselves with the ability to deliver the homes in the estimated month given at the point of sale.”
That distinguishes the company from many other builders, who struggle to deliver homes in a timely fashion.
“This may be caused by customization, poor subcontractor relationships, lack of internal organization, etc.,” South says. “We measure this process constantly in an attempt to eliminate or greatly reduce buyer anxiety.”
Through the company’s growth, the team has worked to maintain its quality through staying true to processes that have yielded results and attentiveness to customer experiences through accountability, South says.
The team reviews customer service results each week internally – with all employees present.
“No one really wants to hear their name mentioned publicly in a derogatory sense,” he says. “And more importantly, our future sales come, in part, from referrals.”
By reviewing how those processes have unfolded, South says the group has been able to figure out what’s not working – and adjust.
“Initially, Surrey Homes tried to cater to all people, meaning customization was offered by allowing buyers to select their own subcontractors, which created a serious lack of control and predictability,” he says.
That approach ended in early 2014.
“Subsequently, our subcontractor relationships and homebuying experience with our customers has improved significantly and now can be quantified,” South says. “The results suggest we are delivering a very positive experience to all involved.”