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 (take a look at 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 they actually buy from you?

Think about: creating a great 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 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!



    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.

    FieldCollaborate
    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!


    Millennial Marketing: Highlight Your Features in Language They Use!
    Did you see the recent Sacramento Bee article: Elk Grove millennials buck national home ownership trend in a big way?

    Author Thomas Oide cites marketwatch.com's studies indicating Elk Grove (a suburb south of Sacramento) is the No. 1 city in the country for homeownership for those under 35.  That's the Millennial demographic everyone is focused on!
    Millennials favs: large, open spaces, multi-functional rooms -- check!

    Smartasset.com attributed the high rate of Millennial homeownership to the strong Sacramento job market (finally!) and relative proximity to San Francisco. Note: median home value is $390,000.

    Not every community has the San Francisco factor available for their marketing campaign, however. Builderonline offers suggestions for the rest of us in Redfin's Whitney Bennett's How to Make a Home More Appealing to Millennial Buyers.

    We'll focus on Millennial-friendly Suggestion #1 and follow-up with others, soon: Create an Open Floor Plan.

    Bennett says most younger buyers are interested in large, open spaces with fewer walls and partitions. Why? They like entertaining in large spaces and are also interested in multi-functional rooms.

    How to market that open floor plan? Let's look at a recent CPS SalesTouch installation at Cornerstone Homes' new Agave community in North County San Diego. You'll notice an open first floor area as well as a second floor flex space.

    Now, image your home shopper going one step further and interacting with the floor plan, using the drag and drop furniture feature, finding the floorplan meets their lifestyle objectives!  As a builder, your're letting your home shopper dream and create their new living space!

    And, it's in a "language" they understand -- interactive technology. This is the generation that grew up with iPhones and iPads, after all.

    Encourage your Millennial home shopper to create their lifestyle using interactive tools -- moving away from the standard brochure plan by mixing/matching structural choices, adding furniture, marking up the plan -- and making it their own!





    Are You Getting Your Story On?!?
    Robert Rose, with the Content Marketing Institute, asks: Do brands create stories? Do stories create brands?
    Yao Xiao of Image Think documents the storytelling conversation!

    Rose goes on to say storytelling has never been "hotter" than today -- although stories have been picked up, passed on and shared throughout history.

    Today, storytelling principles and success factors are closely related with word-of-mouth, social sharing, social media, brand perception and content marketing. Yet, Rose suggests, storytelling is also often misunderstood, both from a content marketing and branding perspective.

    We're going to be talking about how to create stories, nurture them, and encourage them in subsequent blogs. We'll try to work out the difference between what Rose calls boring and souless content and stories that engage.  
    A connected content strategy where people are key!

    After all, don't good stories compel people to change?  Isn't the very essence of a home purchase a desire for change?  

    Several CPS staffers just spent time attending the 2017 Jeff Shore Leadership Summit -- and storytelling was definitely top of mind in many of the discussions.  Take a look at a summary photo generated from trying to examine a homebuilder customer story -- there's definitely a lot going on!

    After all, CPS is definitely involved in digital storytelling with our SalesTouch interactive touchscreen product. In today's digital and data-driven environment,  single format storytelling has been transformed into transmedia storytelling in an effort to connect people and brands better than ever.







    Customer Experience is Everything!
    A recent Digital Signage Today commentary suggested the phrase "the customer is king" has evolved into a more holistic concept: "the customer experience is everything!"
    SalesTouch: dynamic and effective customer engagement!

    More and more, companies are recognizing there needs to be a particular focus on cross-channel experiences that engage customers.  

    Microsoft recently reported the average human loses focus after 8 seconds (a rather precipitous decline from the 12 second attention span of 2000)! Technology is perceived as a driving factor behind this change. Did you know goldfish have a 9 second attention span?

    How to attract and maintain customer focus in this environment so your customer experience is maximized? Is digital signage that tool -- or just more distraction?

    Digital signage has the capability to jump out and grab attention -- even in today's short attention span world. Take a look at the Cornerstone Communities SalesTouch interactive touchscreen image above; wouldn't you like to find out how you could live at this community?

    What does your reaction this tell us? Marketing strategy and content -- regardless of the product or location -- has to stand out to grab a consumer's attention.  Companies need to plan how to grab attention in advance. Who is the audience? What type of content will reach them? What are their motivators? What sorts of benefits can be displayed in those 8 seconds?

    Video is a good example of the need for thorough analysis: if there's a 30-second video, most people won't watch. But..if it can be broken down into 5-second segments, you're within the Microsoft-reported sweet spot!

    Another key take-away is content is critical:  consumers will notice changing displays (vs. static signage, as an example -- or even an interactive presentation with just a single message). Cornerstone's presentation revolves images -- some focused on lifestyle, others on community.

    CPS has been providing interactive touchscreen presentations to home builders for 10 years; let us help you design dynamic content and presentations that maximize your home shopper customer experience!


    #1 Customer Care Trend: Self Service
    Today, it seems that it doesn't matter the industry when looking at customer service. As a recent Radial article notes, in the age of Amazon, consumers have sky-high expectations.
    WarrantyWatcher: mobile self-service!

    Homebuyers aren't any different when thinking about their post-closing warranty service.  Consumers want convenience and quick issue resolution -- in addition to an environment that is proactive with personalized service.

    Self-service is reported as one of the hottest trends in customer care. Consumers love the idea of being able to quickly and easily meet their objectives from submitting a warranty request to checking status to being able to review their warranty history.

    Innovations and advancements in technology enable builders to meet these expectations. Take a look at CPS' WarrantyWatcher software  -- particularly the Portal -- as an example. Homeowners are able to log-in, 24/7, to submit requests. No more waiting until Monday morning! And, they're able to check status at any time - no more calling, voicemail or missed calls.

    Self-service channels consistently outperform other channels in terms of consumer satisfaction.  Think about it, for a minute: does anyone snail mail or fax over a list of issues any longer?  How about calling?  Consumers love self-service because it reduces friction and provides answers immediately and consistently.

    And, the Portal provides for a personalized, omnichannel experience, as well.  In other words, the Portal can fit into your business operations, seamlessly. Make it available from your website, skin it with your logo and colors, include photos of your team members.  It's all about winning and sustaining loyalty.

    Remember: the #1 referral reason for homeowner referrals is keeping buyers informed during construction and post-closing.




    Marketing Focus: The Live-Work Lifestyle
    Are you familiar with the phrase Live-Work Lifestyle?  According to a recent BuilderOnLine article, this term, particularly popular with Millennial workers, pairs telecommuting with opportunities for connection.

    Many of us are familiar with telecommuting or working remote without a "typical" office to go to on a regular schedule.
    SalesTouch provides focus on Flex Space options

    But, BuilderOnLine suggests today's remote worker also wants to incorporate the element of seeking out camaraderie.

    Not every telecommuter can or wants to live in an urban area. Housing prices as well as the need for larger living spaces, good schools, recreation and the like mean many remote workers are moving out to the suburbs suggesting home builders find creative ways to satisfy the demand for a vibrant lifestyle outside the city. 

    In other words, telecommuting and flexible work options (such as 4x10 work weeks) are changing what home shoppers want not only in a home but in the neighborhood, as well. 

    Take a look at the top image: CPS' SalesTouch in use at Cornerstone Communities new Agave neighborhood in North County San Diego displays structural features such as the optional Flex Space providing the home shopper with the home office so often needed for remote work.


    SalesTouch highlights walkability
    And, now take a look at the lower image: SalesTouch provides an interactive, pinch to zoom surrounding area map highlighting neighborhood locations meeting lifestyle objectives in the KBHome Reunion area. Those objectives can range from walkability as well as "work away from home" locations such as the library or Starbucks plus dining options and recreation hot spots such as parks, trails and dog walks!

    Lifestyle marketing, in other words, is expanding as the interest in live/work options grows!







    Marketing Doesn't End with the Purchase!
    Super interesting Forbes article recently by Alan Murray: Four Forces Revolutionizing Marketing.

    Murray summarizes discussions encountered at a recent Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference noting marketing executives face a world that is radically different from it was just a decade ago.
    CPS WarrantyWatcher: Facilitating the process!

    On one hand: don't we all face a world radically different from 10 years ago?

    On the other, Steve Lucas with Marketo offers today's marketing dilemna: the number one challenge facing marketing today is complexity. There are pop-up events, campaigns designed to last a week, increased content access via mobile phones & tablets and, as JB Osborne, Red Antler CEO notes, trends are condensed over a period of a couple of weeks or a month.

    What really stands out in Murray's article however, was the consensus that marketing doesn't end with a purchase. In today's social media-driven world, the marketing process doesn't stop with today's encounter or the purchase -- there's a need to generate ongoing enthusiasm for the brand, project or community.

    Isn't that what we've been talking about regarding functionality provided by CPS' CRM and WarrantyWatcher software? Today's homebuyer becomes tomorrow's homeowner -- and their brand influence can be considerable given social media reach from the moment they walk into the sales office. Providing a Portal to get in touch, keep in touch and communicate quickly can be as important to homeowner perceptions as resolving an issue.

    After all, it has been reported that the staying in touch and keeping buyers/owners informed drives referrals (and isn't that a marketing objective?) far more than any other source!


    Yes! Boomers Are Buying Outside the "Smile States"
    John McManus noted in a recent BuilderOnline Consumer Trends article that the US population is now 325.3 million and added a fact, that frequently goes unnoticed: the US population is getting older.
    Millennials, Boomers .. and multigenerational, too!

    There's been quite a bit of fanfare recently noting Millennials are finally entering the new homes market; yet, the median age across the board has gone up 7% since 2000.  More startling: the 65+ population has grown 40.5% in the same timeframe.

    And, every state has experienced an increase -- or remained constant.  Maine has the highest median age (44.6) (compare that to Utah with the lowest at 30.8)!

    What ideas might be drawn from these numbers?

    Certainly, there's demand for 55+ communities in what are thought of as "traditional 55+" areas (for example, Sumter, FL has a 67.1 age median).  McManus suggests that builders and developers consider every area has 55+ potential -- and that there's a significant demand for multigenerational product, as well.

    In other words, communities are drawing buyers from a wider audience than ever before -- and the audience is more diverse.  What seems to be consistent, McManus notes, is the interest in carefree living.  Accessibility -- in terms of interior space as well as outside the community -- and lifestyle -- think both community and surrounding neighborhood amenities -- are drivers as folks think about how they want to live as they get older.

    Take a look at recent Solutions Blogs regarding walkability, amenities, green living, even floorplan options -- and how an interactive presentation -- we're highlighting CPS' SalesTouch -- will help tell your story more effectively to the range of today's home shopper audiences.