Jay Grant brings an intensity and passion to his Mendham, N.J.-based firm, Grant Homes, that transcends his deep hands-on involvement with his clients, his business systems and commitment to the industry. It isn’t easy to build in the state of New Jersey — available land is scarce and expensive, and state legislation is written to slow construction growth.
Grant focuses on controlling available and profitable land and building upper-end spec homes. As a result of the challenging business conditions in New Jersey, he has purchased acreage in Pennsylvania, 90 miles from headquarters. Pennsylvania has more land and fewer building constraints. The high level of architecture and detail included in the designs helps sell the homes and acts as a catalyst to the custom home side of Grant’s business.
Grant supplements the core of speculative business with a custom home niche in the $1 to $2 million range. On the custom side, he runs an open book construction management approach, which includes a detailed worksheet that shows clients the value in their decisions and where their money goes.
"We are professional information managers. I’m comfortable sitting at a sales meeting saying to the client no one at my organization is going to push you to drive the budget north. If anyone’s going to do it, you are. We’ll give you a road map and help you stay on budget. It’s a lot of paperwork, and it makes us work much harder. But when they go through it, because of the level of information we’ve shared, they know exactly all the components in the home, how it went together and what it all costs," Grant says. "The trade-off to that is I’m getting a fixed fee."
Grant’s strict attention to costs, cash flow and profitability incited him to develop a financial management system for personal wealth building that he uses in his own business and shares at lectures with others in the industry. He calls it the Iron Curtain.
"It’s financial management by reports. The objective is to measure how much capital is at risk at any time and how much you want to be at risk at any time. The true objective is to build personal wealth for the financial manager," Grant says.
Years ago, he made the decision to be more strategic with his cash flow and protect his assets and his family.
"It’s easy to always have all your capital at risk. The Iron Curtain is a system of looking at your business — a way to not go into runaway growth. The heart of it is cash flow reporting. We’re always forecasting to determine how much cash flow we need."