Tag Archives: Residential Homebuilding

Are You Catering to Your Home Buyers?

3 Ways to be more Customer-Centric in 2014

When asked, most homebuilders will most likely answer “yes” as to whether or not they consider themselves Customer-Centric. And why not? Being Customer-Centric is important, not only to the happiness of your customers, but to the long-term financial success of your company.
Not only that, but customer-centrism is huge in any industry that heavily relies on today’s ever-changing technology – we have to keep up with the times and the new trends of the home buying experience, or we will get blown off the road and fall by the wayside. But the truth is that only a handful of homebuilders have actually tailored their home buying experience to their direct customers. Why? Well, in the long, tedious, complex process of building a home, we lose sight of the big picture — of what is best for the customer. Considering the habits of today’s consumer, there are 3 distinct and crucial steps to sufficiently accommodating your home buyer:

1. Provide Useful Information

Buying a home starts with fact-finding, and there is such a thing as “too much.”  There is also such a thing as “too little,” and finding a good balance of the information you provide to your potential customer is the absolutely vital first step. It’s your initial hook. From the information you provide on your website, to the content you include on your marketing collateral, to the signs and displays you have up at your sales centers and model homes — all information provided should be trim, concise, and relevant. It absolutely has the ability to sway your customer’s decision!

2. Give Them Control

Letting your home buyer have control of the process gives them the opportunity to take ownership of their new dream home and form an emotional bond to it. Homebuilders often fall short on this step due to a lack of interactive tools provided to their potential home buyers. Today’s technology allows for most of the home buying process to be done online, just like everything else we do — from shopping for clothing, to managing finances, to dating. Not keeping up with today’s interactive online technologies could be losing your company a lot of money, and even worse: lifetime customers.

3. Provide Many, Many Options

Buyers love personalizing, and they will often gladly pay more for it — in fact 60% of consumers will spend more for a better buying experience. We are living in a time where options are everything (flash to your neighborhood grocery store). Being able to customize your car, your phone, and your home are just a few examples of the desires and standards of your average consumer today. So when it comes to new homes, being able to choose your architectural style, your dining room lighting, and your cabinet materials either online or in the design center is the standard premium of today’s new home buyers. But the good news? All of these options reinforce ownership –  the most influential emotion in making that decision to buy.

All of these steps actively engage your potential home buyer, while genuinely understanding what it is that they want. Following through and giving them what it is they want will turn them into a lifetime customer.

At the end of the day, this is the business of turning houses into homes!

 

 

Fly Fishing & Selling Homes

Plans

First There’s Strategy -

When you first think about building a new community, what are some of the thoughts that come to mind? Customer? Area? Product? When an angler begins a trip to his or her favorite fishing destination, they need to think along the same lines of strategy. In fact these are some of the key areas of concern before they even drop that first line into the water:

  • Type of fish
  • Geographic Area
  • Time of Year
  • Rig Presentation

Isn’t this similar to what an executive team thinks about too when planning a new community? Who’s going to be my customer? What area? Type of product offering?

Fly Fishing

Choosing The Flies – Product Selection

When choosing trout flies, the relative importance of fly characteristics in your selection, in order, should be: size, shape, color, and action (for stripped flies). In saltwater, action is often more important than exact size and shape. Don’t you need to make sure that your home offering selections are enticing to the target demographic too? If technology is a key feature for a Gen X buyer, then one must make sure that there’s key technological features available in the community.

Fly Fishing Cast

Presentation – Creating The Right Sales Environment

Trust me on this one, you can be casting into a certain section of water and not even get one bite if you don’t have the right presentation. Two thirds of the time, trout are biting on submersible midges and nymphs. The other times, they are striking a dry fly on the surface that represents an insect that’s hatching that time of year.

If you don’t have the right type of web site presentation using up to date technology such as Interactive Floor Plans, then chances are the prospect will pass you on for better presentations. Not only is presentation important, but a builder will need engaging content to attract potential home owners. (see 2012 Home Buyer Conversion Report)

Interactive Floor Plans

These are but a few direct correlations of fly fishing and selling homes. I trust that we can all learn new ways to go to market by observing other endeavors of life…………………

Happy Fishing!!!

Interactive Floor Plans

Imagine Integration

Speed to Market

How to Achieve the Results You Want, The Way You Want.

Picture This. The smell of coffee fills the air, you grab a seat in a room full of energized people talking excitedly among themselves…

  • To the left is your team — your departments of:
  • Architecture
  • Purchasing
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Who are sitting down & communicating with your:
  • Architectural Designers
  • Structural Engineers
  • Mechanical Engineers
  • Framing
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Energy Experts

Their main objective? Your Success. All these people are assembled here to help you complete your project faster than ever before, while at the same time lowering costs and improving accuracy.

This is Integration, at its finest. But is this even an option? YES. Not only is it possible, the Home Building Industry is finally catching on to this prosperous way of doing business and completing projects. It is called Integrated Project Delivery, or IPD. Coined in 2007 by the AIA California Council http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrated_project_delivery

IPD, is a results-driven collaboration between all people, processes, and technology. It increases velocity, reduces waste, and maximizes efficiency — the goal is achieving overall project SUCCESS. The people in this meeting make up your IPD dream-team.

They will take you through all of the phases of design, documentation, and final construction.

The results you can expect:

  1. INCREASED VELOCITY: Working collaboratively over the next several months, they will shave weeks/months off of your time-to-market schedule (refer to image).
  2. LOWER COSTS: Your IPD team will substantially reduce costs and improve efficacy by evaluating and perfecting the product development and delivery.
  3. IMPROVED QUALITY: Working together during all stages will ensure an end-product that is higher in quality & accuracy — a product with hardly any error.

So why is IPD important, and what are we currently doing wrong? For the past 50 years, most builders have adopted an ‘a la carte’ method to their home building process —choosing several different companies to complete the different processes, creating a hodge-podge team of different vendors instead of one team (IPD) that works on everything together. What results is a plethora of errors — multiple points of contact and a continuous back-and-forth of communication. Think of the game “telephone” — somehow the message always seems to get messed up. The costs increase, the deadlines change, and a good flow of overall efficiency is lost. Quality and accuracy is on the way out the door, too. And ultimately, the worst potential outcome is a poorly executed product and an unsatisfied home buyer.

Here is an example of an agenda for an IPD-managed project:

  1. Develop Project Agenda
  2. Set Main Project Goals
  3. Set Desired Project Targets
  4. Outline Project Milestones
  5. Create Project Checklists

Just imagine this integration taking place in your company, with your team, right now. This is the quiet revolution that is taking place in the Home Building Industry today, and yes, we at The Contrado Group are at the forefront. 20 years of industry experience has taught us how to embrace the process of integration to achieve the results that our builders want, when they want them.

Hybrid Marketing For Home Builders

Combine Traditional Media with an Interactive Digital Experience

Today we’re seeing a combination of forces merging into a singular platform that allows for a prospective homeowner to be more informed, engaged, and excited about their new home  even before they set foot in the community. With the varied tools available online from social media to interactive floor plans, one can easily get a fairly good grasp of a the type of home they are interested in purchasing. What can trigger this interest is the use of traditional media formats such as T.V., Radio, Print, and Outdoor. However traditional campaigns can be tricky in measuring the return on investment.

With a Hybrid Marketing approach, greater emphasis is placed on the reliance of a prospect seeking key informational components of the buying process. These components can be related to the geographical area, community, plat map, floor plans, and other critical areas to be considered when making a home purchase decision. One of these areas would be the actual floor plan selection and the associative options with that plan. Interactive Floor Plans (IFP) is a perfect way to engage a prospective homeowner online to make various option selections at their leisure.  In making these selections, the prospective client can save their favorite floor plans to their e-mail address which in turn begins the Hybrid Marketing Cycle from a Pull Marketing style approach.

As the saved floor plan is sent to the prospect’s email address, a copy of the saved floor plan is sent to the builder for future reference. Not only does this allow for a better prepared sales agent, but a builder can begin to assess through analytics which types of floor plans and options are right for a given community. With this data, a builder can optimize the right floor plan / option mix in a community and cut costly plan maintenance for under performing floor plans.

Customer Discovery Center – The Meeting of Two Worlds (Digital / Print)

Here’s where the magic takes place! Instead of being handed a registration card as way to gain access into the model park, and agent is already prepared with the floor plans that a prospect has saved. If this is not the case, then an agent can walk the future homeowner through the Customer Discover Center. This is a large format presentation (1080p) on a wide screen of the community, site plan, interactive floor plans, key builder information, and more.

 

The prospect will be given the opportunity to view various floor plans and options. Upon various selections, the agent will then be able to print a customized eBrochure for the client to place into the Hybrid Kit. Of course, before the customized floor plan is printed, the agent asks if the prospetive homeowner would like to have the floor plan saved to their email address. In which case, an eLead has been entered into the sales agent’s system. This same saved floor plan can be forwarded by the prospective homeowner to family and friends which in turn can create referral sales.

With the Customer Discovery Center, Interactive Floor Plans, and Print On Demand, home builders can provide a very engaging platform for prospective home owners that allow for them to control the buying process. Gone are the days of push marketing that relies on factoring a small percentage of success of a massive expensive ad campaign. Now we can rely on solid data of our target market, and focus our valuable marketing resource dollars upon those who are truly interested in purchasing our products.

Life, Home Building, A Cup of Coffee

In last few months, I have had a few friends pass away at very early ages. Nothing like having someone close to you or a good friend pass away to put perspective in our lives.

Enjoy The Coffee

 As we all grind away in the Home Building Industry, it’s easy to have pity parties and talk about the “good ol’e days”. To be stuck in the past will only delay the reform that must take place in our industry. For these are the by-products of tough times:
  • Innovation
  • New Products & Services
  • Steamlining of Processes
  • Efficiencies

After the space race and world wars, we as a nation had developed many new products that we use today due the pressures in those eras.

So, let us all look upon these trying times as a source to grow and appreciate the day, our work, our friends, our family, and this GREAT country.

This clip is beneficial for all of us. Enjoy!

Is It Really Time to Buy A New Home Again?

So what is real right now? Is the waiting over?

What is real is that market conditions truly are beginning to point to a return to new home demand. Here is what we know:

  • Cost to rent is up significantly
  • Home prices are way down
  • Foreclosures are slowing
  • New jobs are being created
  • New build numbers are at levels not seen in a decade

All of these indicators point to an oncoming demand for renters to move across the street to a new home of their own. The time is coming for families and couples to get back into the game. New homes being built will be a large part of that story.

In non distressed markets, jobs creation is showing some good growth. Rents and home prices are rising at about the same pace as apartments are in short supply. As resale home inventory is becomes thinned out, people will realize how few new home builds are available currently, only 78,000 in 41 cities studies by Metrostudy. That is down from 343,00 units at the peak! And is down from a decade ago as well. Construction is ripe to take off!

Even in distressed foreclosure markets like Phoenix, the outlook is indeed looking better. Investors have been an important part of buying through distressed properties. Families that have been displaced are moving into homes as renters, further reducing the number of homes on the resale market. Most importanly, foreclosures are slowing. We will hit some bumps, but the overarching story is that the health of the resale market is beginning to return. New construction will follow suit!

For several years the fundamental of cost to own vs. cost to rent along with new build levels has given a number that indicates an unhealthy market but for the first time in a long time, it would appear that that number is going in the opposite direction. One where confidence returns, home valuations rise, the American Dream becomes attainable once again.

To read a full article explaining why new home demand is on the near horizon, please read this informative article.

Market Watch - Sales of new homes up

Additional news from Builder Pulse,  Market Watch and Arizona Republic.

Who is your Most Profitable Home Buyer in 2011!

Who are they? What are they buying? How are they buying?

Finding a home buyer in this market can make grown men and women cry. Itʼs OK, we donʼt judge… But now itʼs time to put away the Kleenex. After doing some digging, we have the news you want to hear. Are you ready? There are customers out there, itʼs true, that can bring you optimal profit this year!

We heard your cries and we wanted to take them as a challenge to find out just who these buyers are; what they look like, their wish lists, and what homes you should offer to draw them to your table. Turns out these customers are very knowable indeed. Furthermore, the home they are looking to buy is very specific. In this post we will take a look at the characteristics of the buyer, characteristics of the home, and the process of buying a home to learn more about the current market’s potential “optimal profit” customer.

Click the “more” link below to see for yourself YOUR most profitable home buyer in 2011 (Kleenex not required).
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