Homebuilder Construction Scheduling: The Glue to Successful Operations
Scott Sedam always has interesting thoughts on homebuilding and how to improve operations. 

Back in 2011 he wrote in ProBuilder, "The best builders are the best schedulers."

A considered schedule helps address labor, costs and homeowner satisfaction

We suggest that thought is as true today as it was thenWhether you're concerned about cost increases, labor shortages, homeowner satisfaction...a thoughtfully created and consistently used schedule can be the glue that keeps your operation performing successfully.

Where Do I Start?

We're frequently asked: Where do I start when thinking about putting together the type of schedule that helps me address all of these questions -- and maintain my margins?  We'll start with the basics -- and add to them in subsequent blogs:
  1. Keep It Simple: Yes, the KISS theory applies to scheduling, too. Whether you're building entry level or high-end, focus on determing key steps -- eliminating additional steps, paperwork, trips, etc.
  2. Get Buy-in: From your corporate team -- and vendors.  There's no sense in creating either an unrealistic or unacceptable schedule. Everyone wins when the schedule is accurate and reliable.
  3. Remember: your buyer! Make sure you include "meet the buyer" activities and develop steps to keep your buyer informed! They'll be happier -- and provide referrals, too.

Your Construction Schedule Helps Create Best Practices

Putting together and utilizing a good schedule is the first step to best practices.  You'll also want to evaluate results: did Lot 12 deliver on-schedule; which subs performed/which didn't; how many punch items were generated; how did the homeowner rate satisfaction?

Construction scheduling software will help you put together the schedule -- and evaluate results. CPS' FieldCollaborate is a Constructech 2018 award-winner: we can help you be a better scheduler and, in turn, a better builder!

Builders: Using Software to Help Ease Margin Pressure
Are you a homebuilder focused on the entry-level and first-time home buyer market? That portion of the new home market is hot -- and the Millennial home shopper is more focused on purchasing than ever before!

Are you experiencing price increases on basic materials? How about difficulty in obtaining labor -- especially in critical trades? Labor shortages lead to price increases -- and these factors mean you're seeing margins being squeezed.

Now is a good time to focus on Operational Excellence

Recently, John McManus had a great article in BuilderOnline. McManus notes there's an opportunity today to motivate apartment dwellers to purchase homes. Home shoppers prefer new -- and apartment dwellers don't need to sell their current home so there are fewer strings attached to the purchase.

But, these buyers are at the first-time, entry level price point so price increases on the builder side indicate a need to be extra focused on what could be considered controllable costs to maintain margins. McManus notes builders are "doubling down" on items under their control such as construction cycles and workflows.

Construction Scheduling Offers an Effective Management Tool

Cycle time doesn't live in a vacuum -- and can't be determined or measured in the abstract, either. Do you have a published schedule -- do you track progress against it? Does everyone look at the same schedule or are there multiples floating around within the organization? If so, there's where inefficiencies multiply!

If there's one schedule, not only can you measure cycle time but you're able to provide consistent, reliable schedules to your vendors. That's a win/win as your vendors can rely on your schedule to book their crews. That lets your vendors get and stay efficient.

Construction scheduling software will help you develop the tools so there's only one schedule (for everyone -- within and outside the organization). Not only can you track and measure against it but..your vendors will have easy access to it and can rely on it.

CPS FieldCollaborate: Award-winning Construction Scheduling Software

We're available to provide a FieldCollaborate demo -- and we'll show you how to implement and use software that has resulted in up to 30% cycle time reductions -- day in/day out!

Let's Put Some Spring into Your Sales/Leasing Office!

Spring Mean Sales!

Spring might finally be here and with it: Spring Selling Season!  No matter what you're selling, says Amy O'Connor of Shore Consulting, Inc., people like buying in the spring. Buyers are ready to shake off the last days of winter and ready for something new!

From a visual vocabulary to virtual curb appeal!
Where to start? Amy is clear: the key to spring selling success is starting strong!

CPS adds: Work to Create a Great Buying Experience!

You want to be your customer's #1 choice; what can you do to make that happen? First, embrace the idea that home shoppers visit your office because they're interested in buying one of your homes.. in many cases, today!

Next, we'll suggest that it makes sense to start looking at your sales office as a customer does. What will help you stand apart so the home shopper rates your community #1?

Consider: Virtual Curb Appeal

What are you doing to create a great buying experience? From the minute a prospect drives (or walks) up to your office, they're using all of their senses to evaluate the experience...from smell to sight to touch!
 SalesTouch uses visuals to appeal to home shopper emotions!

Mollie Elkman, a Philadelphia-based marketing expert, reminds us that pictures offer "virtual curb appeal."  Why not build on standard imagery and Go Interactive to make your office stand apart and grab home shoppers' attention? An interactive touch presentation actively engages prospects from the minute they step into your sales office and can continue the conversation with interactive floor plans, the ability to select and place furniture inside your homes and e-brochures.

CPS offers SalesTouch, the interactive touchscreen system for both large and small (think tablets) screens. We're here to help you kick off (and up!!) your Spring selling season.

Keeping Customers Happy -- Even When There are Lines

QuikLine: Keeping Customers Informed with Line Management

Businesses take lines seriously

They have to.  No one wants grumpy customers annoyed about wait times and abandoning their purchase, because of a line.

Automated line management systems are available to make the wait process more efficient.

Typically, a well-designed system will provide a 15-35% improvement from end-to-end.  Everyone likes the idea of less time in line but … reducing a 3 1/2 minute wait by 25 seconds might not register as a significant improvement for the average consumer. It’s still a wait, in other words.
That’s where queuing management comes into play — and it isn’t just about shortening the line.  Queue theory, a 100-year old field of study, has transitioned from the purely mathematical to more of a psychological analysis of lines and their impact.

As a result, line management considers perceived wait time — the psychological component of line management — as just as important as time in line.

There can be up to a 40% decrease in perceived wait time with a good automated line system keeping customers informed about what to expect and both occupied and distracted by marketing and informational messaging.  It’s play-off season; who wouldn’t mind waiting when they knew they’d see the latest game score? Or, learning about Friday night’s free wine tasting!
What’s your business doing to keep your lines moving — and your customers happy?  Take a look at CPS’ QuikLine automated line management solution!

How to: Make Your Digital Signage Project a Success
Daniel Waldron hit the ball out of the park in a recent Digital Signage Today article: your digital signage success hinges on creating a unique user experience for your customers.
Staying Consistent with Your Customer's Journey!

How do you do that? Waldron suggests there are several key pieces of advice:

  1. Ask: is your digital solution attractive?  That seems fairly basic but.. you'd be surprised! Is the actual hardware visually appealing? Many times, in the interest of cost savings, you'll see monitors that are  too small for the setting -- or have been touched too many times without cleaning. Stay on top of details! And, of course, make sure you're taking advantage of high quality visuals and high-res monitors.
  2. Incorporate Social Media into the digital experience. Have you seen the Digital Information World statistic: 71% of consumers refer to social media for purchasing decisions? Linking digital signage to social media, Waldron suggests, creates trust -- as social media recommendations carry positive weight and show you're committed to engaging with your customers. 
  3. Stay Customer Centric. Don't try to do everything, in other words! If you're a homebuilder, for example, stay consistent with your customer's journey: they're at your sales office because they want to make a lifestyle change. Show them your homes, let them try on various options, help them find out about life essentials in this new neighborhood (where are the local schools; how about shopping?) -- and make it easy to do! Add some fun, where possible!
Take a look at CPS' interactive touchscreen SalesTouch system designed for Cornerstone Communities' Aventine sales center. Wouldn't you agree it is visually attractive? And, consistent with prospective home shopper's life journeys? We can help you create unique (and successful!) user experiences; visit our website to find out more!

Interactive Presentations: Content is Critical
Your audience -- whatever the product, whether they're new new home shoppers or retail customers -- has a short attention span.
CPS SalesTouch content helps focus the customer journey!

They want content -- in short bursts -- and they want it now.  Reading through brochures is so 2000, in other words!

What can you do to improve your approach to content and make it relevant to your audience?
  • Focus on grabbing their attention -- right away.  Remember: visuals are key as they spark the imagination.  Let your customers know there's a story unfolding in front of them -- make sure your copy and content is relevant to their lifestyle, goals and aspirations.
  • Provide actionable information -- that is easily approached. Your customer is there because they want something new -- they want to find out how your product (be it a new home, an appliance or clothes) will improve their current situation.  Help them explore your solution. If you're a new home builder, that means interactive floorplans, furniture placement, design center features.  A grocery? There's recipes, nutritional information and new cooking methods.
  • Motivate them to take the next step -- make sure you've defined it.  Do you want prospect registration? A tour, followup meeting or call back? Make the next step realistic, identifiable and easy to locate. 
Take a look at the CPS SalesTouch interactive touchscreen presentation above: what can you tell about the audience, their goals and aspirations and the next steps?  We've put SalesTouch case studies on our website so you can see how effective content grabs a home shopper's attention and encourages them to take the next step on their path to home ownership.

Yes! Interactive Technology & the 55+ Home Shopper are a Great Fit!
People are always asking: My new project is a 55+ community -- do you think interactive technology would be useful?
Technology helps answer your home shopper's questions!

The answer is a resounding yes!

First, a few thoughts about 55+ and technology: today's 55+ home shopper is more tech savvy than you might think.

The largest growing Facebook user group is the 55+ audience. The 2017 NAR Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report reports that 89% of home shopping Boomers search online -- which is consistent with any of the other age groups -- including Millennials.

We've found every generation of home shoppers expects some sort of digital engagement and builders need to consider providing tools to meet those consumer expectations.

By the time a Millennial, Gen Xer, or Boomer home shopper walks into your sales or leasing office, they’re already well into their journey for a new dwelling.

One key take away: technology acts as an assistant to sales and leasing agents as it encourages home shoppers to ask questions and find solutions.  Whether the process includes creating a dream home with a hobby room in lieu of the standard 3rd bedroom or determining how Plan 2158 fits on the selected lot, interactive technology helps the home shopper visualize and embrace their new home.

And, your 55+ audience seeks information! They're considering a life-changing purchase and want to make sure they've checked all the possible boxes. Take a look at CPS' interactive touchscreen system, SalesTouch, engaging home shoppers at Latitude Hilton Head -- the latest Margaritaville 55+ community. The sales agents address questions and provide understandable answers at a touch!

It's President's Weekend -- Spring Selling Season is Around the Corner!
It's true: we're just about to wrap-up February -- and that means the Spring Selling Season is kicking off! This week offers a great time to take stock and develop plans to kick-off new Spring new home sales/marketing efforts.

How do you create a great Buying Experience?
We'd like to suggest several ideas to help generate visits to your sales office and better engage home shoppers when they're there:

(1) Start Reaching Out to Realtors, Now -- We've blogged about the value of co-op agents before (here's an earlier Solutions blog -- Builders, Co-Op Agents: Reaching the Asian Community.)

BuilderOnLine reports Spring is the busiest season for Realtors and suggests offering incentives to make sure they are up on the latest about your community.  How about putting together a Get Ready for Spring Open House -- maybe offering a "spa event" raffle for attendees?  Or, a Wine & Cheese evening with a several bottles of your favorite?

Keep the buzz going: don't stop with one event!  If you start now (in dreary February), you'll be ahead of 90% of your competition!

Don't forget Realtors often focus on specific demographics -- relocations, ethnic or religious groups, 55+ buyers, etc.  Try reaching out to the demographic-centric agents, oftenThey always will have a group of interested buyers available to visit your community -- provide them with a reason to stop by.

(2) Work to Create a Great Buying Experience --- You want to be your customer's #1 choice; what can you do to make that happen? First, embrace the idea that home shoppers visit your office because they're interested in buying one of your homes.. in many cases, today!

Next, we'll suggest that it makes sense to start looking at your sales office as a customer does. What will help you stand apart so the home shopper rates your community #1?

Think about: what are you doing to create a great buying experience! From the minute a prospect drives (or walks) up to your office, they're using all of their senses to evaluate the experience...from smell to sight to touch!

Mollie Elkman, a Philadelphia-based marketing expert, reminds us that pictures offer "virtual curb appeal."  Why not build on standard imagery and Go Interactive to make your office stand apart and grab home shoppers' attention?

An interactive touch presentation actively engages prospects from the minute they step into your sales office and can continue the conversation with interactive floor plans, the ability to select and place furniture inside your homes and e-brochures.

CPS offers software to help you zero in on the co-op agent community (that's CPS CRM) as well as SalesTouch, our interactive touchscreen system for both the large and small (think tablets) screen. We're here to help -- even when it's snowing and raining!

Add Something Apple to Your New Home Sales/Leasing Office!
Great article by Carmine Gallo in Forbes, recently, How the Apple Store Seduces You with the Tilt of Its Laptops.

CPS SalesTouch Brings Multisensory to Home Shopping!
Yes, you read that correctly!  Laptop tilt!

Actually, the tilt is designed to encourage customers to adjust the screen to their ideal viewing angle.

In other words, the tilt is encouraging touch! And, not just with the monitor angle but throughout the store.  Apple wants customers to see what is available and to experiment with hardware, apps and websites as a way to learn about their devices.

Gallo suggests interactivity -- what he calls multisensory experience is built into every component of an Apple Store.  Store employees don't demonstrate items; rather, they encourage shoppers to find solutions themselves.  Gallo suggests Apple discovered customers would be more interested in buying, more loyal to the brand by creating an ownership experience!

Our brains, Gallo writes, love multisensory experiences.  The more engaged a customer is, the more likely it is they will engage with your product on an emotional level.

CPS'  interactive touchscreen system, SalesTouchis all about interactivity.  It is designed to engage home shoppers the minute they walk in the sales office with interesting, useful, emotional images and content.  Whether exploring the neighborhood or trying on structural options, they're finding solutions (where is the local elementary school? where is the optional den located?).

And, just like the Apple store, they're creating an ownership experience!

Isn't that what home shopping is about?  Take a look at some of the interactive presentations we've created for builders and developers in the Case Studies section of our website and ask us how we can help you add interactivity to your offices!

Kick-up the Customer Experience in Your New Homes Sales Offices!

Over the last quarter, this Blog has focused on several consistent new homes-related themes: the emergence of Millennials as homebuyers, the impact of 55+ buyers on new home design, features and marketing, and the role of customer service as a referral driver.

SalesTouch lets 55+ shoppers dream and make it their own!
Have you been considering these topics and wondering how can my organization take these themes to boost our customer experience in a meaningful way in 2018?

A recent RetailCustomerExperience article by FullStory's co-founder, Scott Voigt, suggests, "You can win (sales) on customer experience." and summarizes, "Excellent customer experience can largely be distilled in two words, speed and convenience."

Voigt goes on to say, "The easier and quicker customers can find what they're looking for and get their questions resolved, the higher the conversion and the more loyalty you'll likely engender. And, loyalty means return customers" (as well as referrals!).
SalesTouch meets the Millennial shopper with focused and relatable content!

Here at CPS, we often say that home shoppers are no different than shoppers in other locations: they want information, quickly, and they're comfortable shopping via touch.

Take a look at the images presented from SalesTouch interactive touchscreen presentations. The 55+ buyer is actively engaged, trying out floorplans, dragging and dropping furniture into her dream home! The Millennial home buyer is presented with focused content and relatable images describing offered energy savings -- an item Millennials frequently cite as important to their buying process.

Voigt finishes, "The customer experience you offer is the single biggest way to compete."

We'd be thrilled to discuss how you can make 2018 the Year of Customer Experience -- contact us via our Info link!

Builders: Referrals Can Be Your Least Expensive Source of Traffic!
Have you been asked to increase your referral rate -- and not quite sure where to start?

Any chance you saw our Solutions BlogHomebuilder #1 Referral Driver: Keeping Buyers Informed? You can read it here.
You Don't Need Conversation -- Just Communication!

Not surprisingly, that Blog is one of our most read posts as it kicks-off with Eliant CEO Bob Mirman's Builder and Developer article comments:  the single largest referral driver for homebuilders is how well the builder keeps buyers informed regarding the status of construction. 

Mirman suggests: think of the homebuying process as similar to a hospital stay.  Both are stressful -- yet, the stress can be mitigated by information.  No one, in other words, likes to be in the dark.  And, in today's social media connected world, bad experiences can be broadcast all too easily.

The same applies to good experiences, suggests Mirman in the June 2017 Builder and Developer. He notes the #1 driver of buyers' Willingess to Refer a Friend is the ability to keep them informed of their status.

Importantly, Mirman notes, you don't need conversation -- just communication.  CPS' software Portals take information developed by Field Collaborate's construction users and WarrantyWatcher's customer service teams and make it available to buyers and home owners via the Internet.  No additional work required: the construction schedule is available for buyers to view. Warranty requests, status and appointments can be seen, as well, via mobile or desktop. In both cases, 24/7, anywhere/anytime!

Want to take things up a notch, become more user friendly? Go the extra step and take stage-of-construction photos and attach them to construction milestones. Add post-repair photos so your homeowner knows how things look before getting home after work.  After all, your buyers have Portal access 24/7 so they're up-to-speed as the work is completed!

Referrals can be your least expensive source of traffic -- and the most rewarding.  Communication is a win-win as your team communicates results within the organization -- and  easily viewable by your most important audience, your buyers.

Attending IBS2018 in Orlando?  CPS will be in Booth 5583 and we'd love to show you how FieldCollaborate and WarrantyWatcher can help your organization not only have more efficient processes but generate referrals based on your improved communication!

Harness the Power of Images in Your Sales and Leasing Centers
Do you receive those 1-minute Tuesday Tips from Brian Flook? Saw an interesting one recently: Did you know that the power of images is increasing?

SalesTouch: Powerful images provide a visual cue to explore
Flook asked that question and replied: Yes; images matter!  He goes on to note that real estate listings with 25+ images sell faster than those with only 10 photos.

Here at CPS we've long believed engaging home shoppers starts the moment they enter the sales office with SalesTouch, our interactive touchscreen system.  It doesn't just happen, of course! There needs to be a visual cue to invite the prospect to explore.

Visual cues not only invite attention, they encourage the visitor to engage and obtain more information! Whatever their reason for considering a purchase -- larger home, neighborhood, on-site amenities -- powerful imagery motivates movement.
Dynamic images engage home shoppers, encourage exploration

Take a look at Bella Collina:  elegant, Italian, scenic images along with copy about The Club, Golf Course and the Spirit of Tuscany.  You can imagine luxuriating in the Spa. What's the next step? Start touching to find out!

Compare Ramblewood Forest's imagery: luxury, large homes for family, a new neighborhood. Equally inviting, the same question arises, "how to find out more?" The next step isn't unknown: start touching to find out!

Flook suggests: storytelling via images clinches the deal -- long before any copy, no matter how well written!

Attending #IBSOrlando? CPS will be storytelling at Booth W5583 with SalesTouch, our interactive touchscreen system, and Social Media Wall!

When Thinking About Digital Walls: Go BIG!
"You never get a second chance to make a first impression."

That's a well-known Will Rogers saying and in a recent DigitalSignageToday article Debbie Wilson-Dewitt suggests it makes sense to apply it to digital walls, as well.  She says these walls are intended to create a strong impression.

Since the walls are typically placed in an entry area they're designed to make that first impression as lasting as possible and, for that, you need to go BIG or go home!

Social Media Wall at Wendell Falls
Social Media Wall at Wendell Falls
CPS offers Social Media Wall-- a unique, ever-changing combination of social media content and traditional marketing copy. Many of these walls have gone big and provide a terrific entrance focal point at new home information centers. 

Apart from size, what else needs to be considered when thinking about an effective wall?
  • Size matters, initially; content keeps people looking. 
  • Walls can greet as well as provide information.
  • Use walls to communicate and reinforce branding. 
  • Answer questions through wall content and images; it keeps people engaged, longer.
  • Be sure the wall is designed for your audience.
    Walls, says Wilson-Dewitt, are an incredible value-add and any kind of organization can benefit from them.

    Heading to Orlando for IBS 2018? Visit CPS in Booth W5583 and let us help you imagine how this dynamic communications tool can leverage your social media content and create conversations!  

    Builders: Grab Millennial Interest with Pet-Friendly Interactives!
    Have you heard results from the recent SunTrust Mortgage survey: 33% of Millennials purchased their new home to have more room (i.e., better space or a yard) for a dog?

    Mary Cook's noted in a recemt Builder Developer, that Millennials are finally ready to move out of their parents' home and find their own. They're particularly interested in community, walkable neighborhoods, flexible floor plans and green features.
    SalesTouch Highlights Your Pet-Friendly Initiatives!

    Did you know a recent Builder article suggested: it's a smart bet to include pet-friendly features -- and to actively market them, as well.  

    Take a look at the CPS SalesTouch presentation highlighting Hounds Hollow at the Tehaleh masterplan community in Washington. It's a key feature associated with the Parks & Trails portion of their interactive neighborhood exploration.

    How would you feel, as a pet-owner, if you were shopping for a home at this new home community? Welcome, encouraged, confident you'd find other pet owners!

    Lots of people have highlighted what Millennials are considering when looking for a home -- and, of course, square footage, location and amenities are factors. One jumps out that you might not have considered: Millennials love their dogs! And, pets are a key component in the home shopping decision!

    Engage these home shoppers as soon as they enter your sales office with an interactive touchscreen presentation! They want to explore how your homes meet their lifestyle expectations -- and what better way than offering interactive floorplans with drag n' drop furniture that offers design opportunities at their fingertips? And, you have a great opportunity to introduce your pet features, as well!

    CPS will be at featuring SalesTouch at the upcoming #IBS2018 in Orlando -- we're in Booth W5583.  Stop by and we can talk about how you can enhance your home shopper experience!

    Builders: Get Proactive, Increase Referrals with Mobile Customer Experience Moments!
    Let's take an earlier Solutions Blog: How to Improve Your "Refer a Friend" Rate (read it here) with Eliant's Bob Mirman thoughts regarding the referral impact associated with keeping customers informed - and add Full Story's Scott Voight's thoughts, "You can win on customer experience" and "Excellent customer service can largely be distilled in two words, speed and convenience."  

    Have you adopted  "proactive customer service" -- that is, not waiting for an event to offer specific, customer-focused attention.
    Get Mobile and Create Proactive Customer Service moments!

    A recent Innovative Retail Technologies article sparked a new thought: the value of mobile relative to proactive

    There's a "First Dibs Opportunity" study suggesting 46% of mobile usage sessions start with no real aim! Author Christine Kern also mentions 70% of respondents use their mobile devices to "kill time." 

    The study concludes "if smart phones were smart, they'd do a better job of giving us something useful!"

    Software can help builders turn mobile time into proactive customer service moments! Your homebuyers can grab a minute or two, while waiting in line at the store, to check out stage of construction photos. And, can't you see your buyer getting excited to see a just-installed countertop and turning to the next shopper and saying, "Check this out! My new home's kitchen was just finished!"

    That's a refer a friend moment! Or, how about the impact of a homeowner browsing their warranty service requests while getting a hair cut and seeing a completed request with a photo?  Wouldn't that be a "Wow! My builder is on top of things!" moment?

    CPS' FieldCollaborate and WarrantyWatcher Portals can help you easily create these proactive customer service events -- and do it quickly and conveniently. Customer experience will improve and your referral rate will jump!

    CPS will be exhibiting at #IBSOrlando next week -- drop by for a demo at Booth W5583.  Or, contact us at info@cpsusa.com and we'll schedule a demo for you!

    New Homes Marketing Ideas: Highlighting Aging-in-Place Elements for 55+ Buyers
    We noted, in a recent Solutions Blog, that today's home buying population includes three distinct demographics: Millennials, Gen X'ers and Baby Boomers.

    And, we talked about the challenge for today's sales and marketing professionals: how to incorporate the shifts in economics, demographics and technologies into a meaningful sales office experience.
    SalesTouch puts technology to work to suggest new life patterns!

    Today's 55+ Boomer buyer is particularly interested in considering how their new home will offer quality aging-in-place.

    In a sense, builders are evaluating and incorporating ways that design elements can change the pattern of life for homeowners -- thus helping homeowners live in their home longer.

    What sort of design elements should be considered? Bonnie Lewis, founder of 55+ TLC Interior Design, LLC, notes in a recent 50plusbuilder article, "Key elements include creating open space..." She goes on to mention the importance of finishes, counters/countertops and overall planning for wider entries and more spacious rooms.

    Lewis also mentions that furniture is a key element (both planning and type). 

    Why not incorporate the importance of considering these design elements into your sales/marketing process with an interactive touchscreen system.  CPS' SalesTouch allows home shoppers to explore available floor plans, encourages them to evaluate structural choices (maybe the den option with double doors?) and try out new furniture configuration ideas with drag 'n drop furniture selection and placement.

    Put technology to work and offer the sort of meaningful sales office experience your Boomer buyers want as part of their homebuying process!

    Adding Proactive To Retail Customer Service
    How do you reach out to your customers to engage, interact, solicit opinions, gather information? Many of you might say email or email-based surveys; but...have you considered digital solutions at your location?

    Active Listening at Whole Foods: An Opportunity for Conversation!
    The days of the old, wooden suggestion box or tired-looking cork boards with faded and tattered flyers and weary, crumpled suggestion forms are long gone.

    Today's digital solutions aren't just passively collecting information but have expanded to become customer experience zones displaying store specials, video and, even, websites. They offer a proactive engagement opportunity!

    After all, the customer is at your location -- why not reach out and practice active listening?

    Chris Lott, a CPS developer specializing in interactive experiences, says, "Take a look at the CPS Customer Comment Board where customers are empowered, given a platform to ask questions and provide feedback.  We've found they also offer ideas for new products, initiatives and improvements -- because they are being asked in the midst of their shopping experience!"

    Lott goes on, "Most agree that customer service shouldn't focus only on 'putting out fires.' It's about developing relationships from the first point of contact." An on-site Board starts the conversation and encourages customers to engage with the brand and each other.

    Where might such a Comment Board reside? Anywhere your customers interact with your brand, services and products!  Proactive interaction shows you support your customers and reduces the number of fires long-term. Here's your chance to create opportunities for conversation!

    Yes! 55+ Home Shoppers Value Engaging with Interactives
    Today's home buying population includes three distinct demographics: Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.
    Every home shopper is looking for information!

    Regardless of age, geography or economic status, home shoppers are empowered by an unprecented level of access to choice and information.

    The challenge for today's sales and marketing professionals is to incorporate the shifts in economics, demographics and technologies into a meaningful sales office experience.

    Zoe Miller, a principal at Computer Presentation Systems, says, "People ask us whether interactive touchscreen technology -- so  relevant for Gen Xers and Millennials -- would be used by Baby Boomers. We've found that Boomer home shoppers find CPS' SalesTouch to be an important part of their home shopping experience. They really appreciate the interactive floorplans with room options as well as drag 'n drop furniture placement as they are trying out new housing possibilities."

    After all, it's not your father's (or mother's) sales office any longer! Home shoppers value a home shopping sales experience that allows them to dream and "make it their own." Boomers are the fastest growing segment on Facebook. Miller notes, "Regardless of age, home shoppers want information! Providing them with the ability to virtually walk the neighborhood and discover nearby shopping, dining and recreation -- and to explore community amenities -- answers their questions and moves them along in their decision-making."

    Interested in finding out more about effective technology for 55+ home shoppers? CPS will be at IBS Orlando -- Booth W5583 in nextBUILD. Or, we'd love to hear from you via info@cpsusa.com!

    How to: Kick-up Your Holiday New Homes Selling Season!
    The Thanksgiving-to-New Year holiday season is here -- and home builders may see a slow down in sales office traffic and sales activity during this period due to the holidays, weather, competing activities and the like.

    Weather doesn't need to be an objection!
    But...it doesn't have to be so!

    While some home shoppers might drop out during the holidays, BuilderOnLine suggests that many shoppers find the season a good time to kick up their buying process.

    Why? Take a look at the reasons and see how you can turn potential negatives into traffic and sales:
    • Yes; it's the holidays! It might seem counter-intuitive but...time away from work can mean time home shopping.  Take advantage of people visiting during the week and build on the season: add cookies, hot chocolate or even a special holiday options/upgrades program to encourage visits.
    • Frightful outside? Yes, it's true: the weather in Minnesota can be chilly during December but...it really isn't that bad in many other states (and, might even be better than mid-summer in some locations!). Turn to the holidays and your locale for inspiration.  Hot apple cider makes any house seem like home! 
    • Are decorations necessary? You really don't have to take on a specific holiday or tradition; add some family-style photos (or adventure vacation shots depending on your demographic!) and festive bowls of lemons, limes and oranges for fragrance and atmosphere.  A fresh, new look and feel is contagious!
    • Doesn't 2018 means change? While some might be concerned about changes in 2018, others are energized.  Be prepared to talk about mortgage details, up ticks in home sales volume and any/every thing that's happening in your new community.  You can be the catalyst for thinking 2018 means exciting new adventures!
    Now is the time to put your CRM system to the test, as well!  Send out a holiday appetizer invite to your co-op agents, zero in on those prospects interested in schools (those aren't changing!), deck your halls and encourage last summer's prospects to drop in on a (otherwise slow) Sunday for cookies and hot chocolate.

    Need help finding a CRM system that can assist you in these efforts?  We're happy to show you how CPS CRM will make your holidays bright!

    Builders: Get Added Value from Your Buyer Surveys
    Rating our experiences... that's a concept that has started-up brand new companies and entered almost everyone's life in the last 10 years.  There used to be pen-and-paper questionnaires.  Today, we have Yelp, TripAdvisor, Amazon, Survey Monkey ... even primary care physicians are asking for feedback!

     Get Proactive: Engage buyers mid-stream with surveys
    Traditionally, many homebuilders took advantage of post-closing surveys.  Pen-and-paper has migrated to web-based. Some builders utilize results to evaluate sales agents and construction managers.

    We'd like to suggest surveys be a part of your ongoing communications process.

    Doesn't it seem a bit abrupt to ask "How did we do?" out of the blue for such a major event as a home purchase -- although it can make sense for a dinner out or hotel stay.  There have probably been many "great job" and "could have been better" events from the first sales office visit through closing. 

    Finding those mid-stream results -- and managing around them -- not only engages your buyer and enhances the customer experience but allows the builder to manage people and process on a more timely basis.

    Earlier CPS Solutions blogs talked about initiating and maintaining the communications process during the construction process.  Keeping your buyers informed; providing stage-of-construction photos -- CPS' FieldCollaborate offers a Buyer Portal just for that reason.  Why not schedule a survey after the first Construction meeting?

    Now, your buyers are involved in the feedback process and engaged to the level needed to provide meaningful feedback.  It's no longer a perfunctory "How Did We Do?" at closing; you've initiated full-scale dialogue. And, that's the type of communication that will generate referrals!

    Find out how we can help you integrate SurveyMonkey into CPS' construction and warranty software!

    We're All in the Customer Service Business!
    Not that long ago, many organizations didn't necessarily think they were in the customer service business. Doctors, for example.  They treated illness, set bones and the like. Home builders, possibly.  Their business: homebuilding.
    Get Proactive! Offer 24/7 communication channels

    Today, with the advent of social media and culture changes, interaction with customers needs to be top of every organization's mind. Whether its Twitter, Facebook or an organization's own web page, customers have plenty of opportunities to speak their mind about product, service, followup... just about everything!

    And, satisfying expectations for "good service" has expanded, as well.  It used to be a "thank you" card was considered thoughtful and enough.

    Today, a continued conversation needs to accompany a homebuyer from purchase to closing and throughout the warranty period. BuilderIQ notes that buyers "start to regret" the purchase when they don't hear from their builder during the post-sale process. That's a fairly radical thought!

    One solution: get proactive! Setup processes and systems that enable your buyers (and homeowners) to engage with you in a consistent, straightforward manner. Timing is everything: when an item is top of mind, people want to be able to communicate!  And, communication doesn't have to mean conversation.

    Take a look at CPS' FieldCollaborate and WarrantyWatcher Portals as examples of proactive and effective customer service. Are you a homebuyer that doesn't live in the immediate area but is interested in seeing the latest stage of construction images? How about a schedule summary or a list of selected options? It's all there -- available via desktop, phone, tablet!

    Maybe you're a homeowner with a disturbing leak, leak, leak in the master bathroom shower. No need to wait until 8am, Monday to contact your builder's customer service department. Log-on Sunday night and submit your warranty request -- and then check status on Monday when the office opens.

    And, remember: the primary driver of new home buyer referrals is a homebuyer satisfied with their builder's communication process!

    What's In Your Tool Belt to Help Build-in Quality?
    Interesting MultiFamily Executive article highlighting the growing demand for new housing and resultant labor constraint issues. The demand for labor has emerged as an issue for both single- and multi-family builders, nationwide.

    Quality Inspection Checklist
    Do you know the last time builders reported such widespread labor shortages was just before 2001?

    The demand for labor has forced the use of "B" and "C" quality trades, which will result in more issues and increases the demand for more oversight. Without a well-qualified and experienced labor force, builders are facing increasing quality issues. Field Managers were already being asked to produce more; how best to produce more with better quality?

    Technology should be top-of-mind as a way to consistently survey, assess and respond to quality issues. And, mobile technology allows Field Managers to work directly from the job site -- yet remain in contact with vendors and the corporate office.

    Quality issues can be observed and reported for followup as punch items and builders are able to create Quality Inspection templates aimed at catching issues as early and consistently as possible.

    One big gain with mobile in the quality world is real-time reporting. Take a look at CPS' FieldCollaborate. Field Managers are able to record a quality issue, automatically email the vendor, post the issue to the Portal (including pictures) for vendor review and then close the ticket when resolved. All from their truck or construction trailer.

    And, there's also the ability to analyze data over time -- in real time. Are today's problems consistent with issues last week or last month? Is this vendor consistently late or slow to complete tasks? All of that information is available on the mobile device while dealing with today's quality issue.

    FieldCollaborate also provides scheduling, punch and safety tools -- as well as a homebuyer information Portal to keep builders in 24/7 communication with their clients.

    Take a Deep Dive: Millennial's Interest in Community
    Mary Cook, writing in Builder Developer, noted that Millennials are finally ready to move out of their parents' home and find their own. Her firm is known for creating innovative environments targeted to market demands; the article focused on 7 Ways to Design Residential Developments for Millennials. 
    Take a look: there's community outside the door!
    Cook notes that many Millennials telecommute -- meaning there isn't too much face-time with co-workers and managers. The typical, work-related social interactions that many of us are used to (lunch, sports teams, etc.) aren't available.  Like  many new home buyers, they're probably relocating (even if a relatively short distance).

    As a result, they're looking for their home (both specific and general) to provide relationships. That desire for adding relationship possibilities is driving the popularity of amenity-rich communities offering "social points" such as community pools, tech centers and fitness centers that encourage residents to gather and engage.

    Do you recall an earlier Solutions Blog about walkable neighborhoods (or Walkups)? Consider using your location as a way to encourage thinking of the new neighborhood in terms of benefits from a social interaction perspective -- as well as walkability.

    Offer Walk Abouts: One of a walkable neighborhood's driving forces is access to convenient, interesting and unique shopping and dining venues.  Why not create an "It's in the Neighborhood" map highlighting 15 close-by locations that are probably new to your home shoppers -- and make it interactive? Think: ethnic restaurants, unique bookshops, unusual hardware stores.  Let your potential buyers explore (virtually!) and see themselves living the experience! Drones are making aerial photos so much more affordable -- take a look at Richmond above and consider using this type of visual introduction to the neighborhood.

    Shine a Light on Educational Institutions: Here's another opportunity for introducing a new way of thinking about community! And, these opportunities don't need to be just traditional colleges and universities. Think outside the box and consider adult education and interest-focused centers, too. Look for places like innovative yarn shops, photography studios and art centers.  Encourage your home shoppers to explore neighborhood learning opportunities and imagine the opportunities available. Let an interactive touchscreen presentation tell your community story -- from amenities to neighborhood "hot spots" to all sorts of educational possibilities.

    Take a look at a CPS' SalesTouch  presentation's aerial photo detailing shopping, dining, recreation and community options in Richmond (above); why not let your home shoppers (buyers, too!) virtually explore and visualize enjoying their new community?

    Celebrating Duty, Honor, Country This Veterans Day!
    Veterans Day gives us all an excellent opportunity to lift up and honor those who served our country -- as well recognize and thank those currently serving.

    Duty, Honor, Country Touring the US!
    Traditionally, here at CPS, we also take time to recognize and thank members of the CPS family who have served our country in the armed forces.

    First, a shout out to Bob Musa's son, Mike. He graduated US Marine Corps Camp Pendleton Boot Camp in 2016 and he's now at his permanent duty station. Congratulations, Mike; we're so proud of you!

    Remembering the service of:

    Bob Strickland, US Air Force

    Bob's father, Robert Musa (US Marines, retired & yes; that's 2 generations!)
    Chris' father, Michael Lott (US Navy, retired)
    Michelle's father, Robert DuBois (US Air Force)
    Michelle's husband, Jerry Stone (US Navy)
    Sean's father, Chris Miyazaki (US Air Force, retired)
    Troy's brother, John (US Air Force)
    Zoe's father, Charles Miller and brother, Wilson Miller (both: US Army)

    Home Builders: Interested in a Referral Win?
    Had a chance to read an earlier Solutions BlogHomebuilder #1 Referral Driver: Keeping Buyers Informed? You can read it here.
    Communication is the Driver!

    Not surprisingly, that Blog is one of our most read posts as it summarizes Eliant CEO Bob Mirman's comments in Builder and Developer, that the single largest referral driver for homebuilders is how well the builder keeps buyers informed regarding the status of construction. 

    Mirman suggests: think of the homebuying process as similar to a hospital stay.  Both are stressful -- yet, the stress can be mitigated by information.  No one, basically, likes to be in the dark.  And, with today's social media, bad experiences can be broadcast all too easily.

    The same can be said for good experiences, suggests Mirman in the June 2017 Builder and Developer. He notes the #1 driver of buyers' Willingess to Refer a Friend is the ability to keep them informed of their status.

    Importantly, Mirman notes, you don't need conversation -- just communication! CPS' software Portals take information developed by Field Collaborate's construction users and WarrantyWatcher's customer service teams and make it available to buyers and home owners via the Internet.

    No additional work required: the construction schedule is available for buyers to view. Warranty requests, status and appointments can be seen, as well, via mobile or desktop. In both cases, 24/7, anywhere/anytime!