Jeff Marra heads up Design Builders Waikato and Design Builders Franklin. Jeff and his team have a reputation for outstanding homes, and a trophy cabinet full of awards to prove it. We sat down for a yarn with Jeff and threw a few questions to him about what he loves about his job, the future of building, people’s (mis)conceptions of Design Builders Waikato, and more.
Just as an easy starter Jeff… how long have you been with Design Builders?
It’s been 12 years. Quite a long time.
You’re the Regional Partner of DB Waikato. What is your role?
Wearing many hats. That includes managing the team, getting everyone on the same page, dealing with administration, project management, marketing, working with the design team. Then there’s the client side of it, which is all about communication and, ultimately, doing our best to enhance our clients’ experience and delivering the best product we can. The boring focus is just trying not to drop the ball. But really, we strive for constant improvement and trying to do things a little bit better each day, week and month, in a changing world and a changing market.
What is the best thing about your job?
I feel that we have become very good at what we do – we’re seen as a leader in the design and build market. We deliver experiences and homes that are unique to each client, and each site. That’s a very rewarding thing to do. It’s very satisfying when we deliver a great product. I also love seeing the joy that the team get out of doing their work. All these things are what makes my job so enjoyable.
Top tip for businesspeople you can share?
Keep the excitement and the joy in what you’re doing and the service you’re providing. If you’re constantly looking to improve what you do, and always trying to evolve to deliver a better product and service, that will maintain your excitement in your business. If you’re not doing that then you lose a bit of passion for what you’re doing. Stay excited.
Design Builders has enjoyed success for 30 years, how do you stay fresh?
Again, we work hard to keep evolving. The designs we create, our internal processes, our communication with clients, our staff. In all aspects of your business, including marketing, accounting, we have to be constantly evolving, and challenging ourselves to get better and better. I believe that that’s how we can continue to stay fresh.
‘Personalised Quality Homes’, ‘Nothing but original homes’, ‘A home built around you’ Design Builders has a had a few slogans over the years. Are these just words, or is there something more behind them?
‘A home built around you’ is a slogan we’ve had for a while now. Every time we hand over and walk through the home, as a team, that phrase comes out. “Yep, this home is built around our client”. That means we’re satisfied that we have achieved what the client wanted to achieve. I think that every aspect of our business is geared around that idea of ‘a home built around you’ – the client is at the centre. A beautiful home that is uniquely theirs is what gives our clients the most joy. We’re true to that motto.
One of the many strengths of Design Builders is the way the partners support each other. What are the benefits for the partners and their customers?
At Design Builders Waikato, we’re very aware of what other partners or regions are doing. We share many of the same services, such as the in-house design team, and that draws all the Design Builders partners closer. Knowing each other means we can help each other, share information, give each other advice and tips. We can refer clients to each other. That support is great for all our clients. When everyone is delivering a better product – the client’s home and their experience – it reflects well on all of us. It drives us all to do better and better.
The last two years have been extremely unusual, how is the market changing?
Our industry has been really stretched and under a lot of pressure. It made it tough, but things are changing. The industry’s shrinking a bit which is potentially not a bad thing. I talk to subcontractors and they’re almost looking forward to more of a normal work/life balance. We really feel like the supply side is coming right, which will coincide with the slowdown in the industry. Not so much pressure on various products. Pricing will get a bit more competitive. The heat is coming off the market. I think overall, this will be good for everyone, including clients and builders.
In Part 2 of our interesting interview, Jeff tells us about the importance of having the right team on-board, and why people might be surprised about Design Builders Waikato.
Want to know more about Design Builders Waikato?
Enjoy a free, no-obligation chat with Jeff or Olivia
Find out about our whole exciting process, from start to finish. Understand the architect’s role, work out your budget, look through our portfolio, pick up great tips and ideas, and ask questions. If you’re thinking about building, it’s the perfect first step.
Call Olivia at Design Builders Waikato today on 027 667 7557 or send her an email.