Scott Frankel of Frankel Building Group: “Home acquisition is still first and foremost where to invest”

There are so many innovations constantly being created. One we’ve recently used in one of our custom-built homes at Frankel Building Group is Flo by Moen. It’s a smart water detector that works 24/7 within your home to automatically shut off your water supply, preventing water damage. Devices like this are becoming more available for […]

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There are so many innovations constantly being created. One we’ve recently used in one of our custom-built homes at Frankel Building Group is Flo by Moen. It’s a smart water detector that works 24/7 within your home to automatically shut off your water supply, preventing water damage. Devices like this are becoming more available for every type product, from the garage to the sprinkler system.

As a part of our series about “Homes Of The Future”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Scott Frankel.

Co-President and Principal of Frankel Building Group, Scott Frankel has strategically concentrated his efforts in the areas of construction, operations, and overall client experience. He has made great strides in changing the public perception regarding green building and spearheaded FBG’s campaign to present the “value-added” benefits of green technology and the efficient use of energy and sustainable resources in building custom homes.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

My father, Jim Frankel, established his custom home building company, Frankel Building Group, in 1988. Growing up, my father would constantly talk about running a business and the operations needed to make a business successful. I decided to go into the building industry on my own by starting my career building starter homes as a Construction Superintendent at Newmark Homes. I went on to work as a Construction Manager for a new building company called Lindenwood Homes, which was later acquired by John Lang Homes. Throughout my time at Newmark and Lindenwood, my father and I would go to breakfast in the mornings and constantly talk about home building — from how a home comes together or how it’s financed, to why a client decides to purchase one home to another. Then in 2006, I joined Frankel Building Group in a full-time capacity. Since I’ve joined, my father and I, along with my brother Kevin, have been able to grow the family business together to become one of the top residential architecture and custom home builders in Texas.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I was meeting with a client (who is also a friend of mine) to show a design plan of his future home. We were specifically looking at a black and white design plan, and when he looked at it, he kept saying, “I have no idea what this is going to look like.” I knew how smart and intelligent he was, and it was then that I realized if he didn’t know what a home was going to look like from this sketch, other clients wouldn’t either — not only clients but anyone who would be a part of building the home. If the customer can’t understand what it’s supposed to look like, who can? Following that day, we set out to create a system that accurately and effectively shows clients, builders, contractors, or whoever what the home is meant to look like. After investing years of time and manpower, we created a program that shows exactly what the home is going to look like in a 3D model. To this day, we still show a black and white sketch, but the 3D modeling can really bring that home to life for our clients.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

I had been building houses for close to 10 years and had created a great career for myself but wanted to continue to excel. I was chatting with a colleague and mentor of mine who shared that the only way to excel in home building was to be a part of the sale. I had never been involved in the sales aspect of the home but understood why I needed to be that first point of contact for my clients. During the sale, they’re getting to know you to see if your company is a good fit for them and vice versa. The time is crucial to set the tone for the client, expectations for the company and a relationship moving forward. I realized that through the process, I’m able to answer questions on the front end and truly become the face of the company, all while building the trust of my clients.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My father has been the most influential figure in getting me to where I am. Although I didn’t start working with him right away, I was always listening to his stories of what it takes to run a business and the ins and outs of home building.

Two other influential figures in my career path have been Steve Von Hoff from Newmark Homes & Jim Lemming from Linden Homes. They both shaped me and my work as a home builder early on.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

The Paradox of Choice has impacted my thinking of leadership and communication since I’ve read it. It explains that if you give someone too many choices, they can’t and won’t make a decision. This resonated with me in thinking in terms of our business. If we were to give a customer too many choices on types of flooring to install, they won’t make a decision. They may eventually, but it could delay the timeline and create uncertainty in their own thought process. If I can eliminate the number of choices a customer has, I can decrease their anxiety and create a better experience. The Paradox of Choice often helps me to keep the company structure people-centric and to keep the experience of the customer top of mind.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If you assign something to everyone, you’ve assigned something to no one.”

I use this life lesson quote every single day as I’m running the business. By following it, you are able to create accountability and consistency amongst your employees. Directly assigning tasks, questions, or research to one person clearly defines who is in charge and allows cycles to be created and repeated.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Homebuilding in the US has grown tremendously. We’d love to hear about some of the new trends and techniques that are being used to build the homes of the future.

We at Frankel Building Group believe, at least optimistically, that people will not be building for a pandemic. However, our lives have all changed and our use of spaces in the home has changed with it. People will be building for a new normal and we believe that the positives of that normal include appreciating outdoor life, appreciating a great working space and cooking and eating together in different ways.

I think people will be looking to build with materials that are easy to clean. We’ll see golden blonde, whitewash floors — things that are low maintenance and generally more durable. More hard surfaces and tile baseboards in more areas of the house.

Moving forward, people are going to really want to make sure that they are investing in their space for its use now and for future sales. Everyone has had the time to really think about what they want to see out of their home.

Can you share with us a few of the methods that are being used to make homes more sustainable and more water and energy efficient?

At Frankel Building Group, we’re building homes to LEED standards at the same cost of a traditional home. As a result, we’re able to provide more energy-efficient, more sustainable and more environmentally friendly homes than conventionally built homes. That’s something you don’t see every day in residential home building.

There is a lot of talk about Smart Homes. Can you tell our readers a bit about what that is, what that looks like, and how that might help people?

Smart Homes is a completely watered-down phrase. Today, everything has tech innovation and everything can be “smart.” Almost daily, devices and products become more and more intelligent. We are currently not building homes that don’t have some sort of smart home technology integration.

Aside from Smart Homes, can you talk about other interesting tech innovations that are being incorporated into homes today?

There are so many innovations constantly being created. One we’ve recently used in one of our custom-built homes at Frankel Building Group is Flo by Moen. It’s a smart water detector that works 24/7 within your home to automatically shut off your water supply, preventing water damage. Devices like this are becoming more available for every type product, from the garage to the sprinkler system.

How about actual construction materials? Are there new trends in certain materials to address changes in the climate, fires, floods, and hurricanes?

At Frankel Building Group, we believe that there is not one material or product that is a fix-all. We take a holistic approach and look at every aspect of the home to address these changes and disasters. For example, if you live in a wet, humid climate, we’d take that into consideration to see how your home will be able to withstand for years to come rather than follow a singular trend of material.

For someone looking to invest in the real estate industry, are there exciting growth opportunities that you think people should look at more carefully?

Home acquisition is still first and foremost where to invest. When thinking about purchasing a home, it’s important to think beyond 5 years. Ask yourself questions like: Is this where I want to live? Is this where I want my kids to go to school? Convincing yourself otherwise that a home purchase is a good deal or what you’re looking for is never a good idea.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

One thing that we are really passionate about at Frankel Building Group is taking care of our veterans. We’ve gotten involved in a few different programs, such as Hiring Heroes, which helps connect veterans with solid career opportunities. We were also fortunate to be able to work with an organization called Camp Hope here in Houston, which provides housing for veterans suffering from PTSD, by helping to furnish family housing facility with furniture from our showrooms. For us, it’s about giving back to those who have given us so much, in whatever way we can with our resources in the custom home business.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can follow Frankel Building Group on Instagram (@frankelbuildinggroup) or Facebook (@FrankelCustomDesignBuild).

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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