Illustration: iStock Illustration: iStock

How do you turn a $5,000 investment into a company that generates more than $50 million a year? Allison Grafton, President of Rockwood Custom Homes in Calgary, accomplished this spectacular feat despite starting the luxury residential home building company in 2009, in the midst of a global recession.

Rockwood’s revenue has grown 154% over the last three years, an achievement that helped earn Grafton her the No. 4 spot on the 2015 PROFIT/Chatelaine W100 Ranking of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs.

Grafton attributes her success to the processes and procedures she created on her first day at the job, which she says are “absolutely critical for real success.” Rockwood broke into the established homebuilding industry by paying attention to customers’ concerns.

Rockwood’s signature innovation was the Customer Construction Schedule, which accounts for the unique demands of each house and provides a detailed personalized schedule for the project. Clients know what to expect, and the construction team can use the Schedule as a guide to deliver on time.

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Rockwood also developed financial tools that allow its construction team to stay on budget. Costs have never exceeded the initial budget by more than 5% for any of the $2.5–20 million houses Rockwood has built, she says proudly.

“These procedures and processes have created massive success in our business,” Grafton proclaims. “They’re dramatically different from the [rest of the] industry, and helped us become smarter, faster, and leaner.”

Here’s how Grafton suggests you go about building your own processes and procedures to improve your business.

Understand the industry you’re in

“Find where the challenges lie and ask yourself how can you improve them through a process,” instructs Grafton. “Understand what you’re going to do better than your competition.”

Grafton’s differentiator was the financial knowledge she developed in her previous job as an investment banker, which she used to develop detailed financial planning templates that ensure houses are delivered on budget.

Get outside help

For business owners that do not have expertise in the area they want to standardize, Grafton suggests getting help from large, established groups.

Stay committed to the system

Once you have the process in place, you have to follow it rigorously, says Grafton. “Even when you’re a small operator, it’s still very important to follow these systems you established. You have to do it,” says Grafton. “These procedures and processes, operationally, financially and culturally, have helped us maintain our vision of being the best quality, luxury builder we can be.”

MORE PROCESSES AND PROCEDURES:

What process and procedures have you put in place to help you grow? Share your strategies using the comments section below.

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