|Builders: Automated Construction Software Helps Gain Efficiencies|
Good News: Homebuilder Order Growth Continues to Accelerate
"Builder order growth has continued to accelerate; excess speculative inventory has been absorbed and housing starts are picking up to satisfy demand."
"Increasing construction activity always presents the risk of cost inflation and labor tightness."
Are Your Operations Optimized to Meet the Challenges?There's nothing quite like throwing ice water on good news, is there? How are builders addressing cost inflation and labor tightness? Possible to make adjustments and see results relatively quickly?
We'd like to suggest the answer is: YES!
Let's take a look at one of CPS' builder clients currently using our automated construction scheduling software, FieldCollaborate. When asked how they previously managed their construction process, the CEO replied:
"Email and phone. We were really disjointed. There were disputes among FieldManagers about trades because they didn't know who was working on what, when."
Costs and Labor Can Be Better Managed!Sound familiar? What has changed with the implementation of a scheduling system?
"Because you can plan out jobs far in advance (we schedule out 6 months), builders and vendors can forecast materials, allocate labor toward our jobs, etc. The purchasing team can negotiate better prices with vendors as they're able to pinpoint quantities and timing."
Using a Portal to Helps Get Everyone on the Same Page!
We've also talked about the value of SST (self-service technology; take a look at uses throughout a builder's organization in this Blog). FieldCollaborate offers SST with its Vendor Portal. Vendors, using authorized credentials, are able to view their schedules (as well as drawings, photos, notes and the like) up to 6 months in advance. Builder staff access the same Portal. Everyone's looking at the same schedule, same calendar, same workload.
Critical is the short-term view regarding efficiency:
"The Portal eliminated a lot of phone calls, texts, etc. That extra time allows us to continue to move homes."Want to find out more about the efficiency and profitability advantages provided by automated scheduling software? Contact us; we can provide a full-featured FieldCollaborate demo!
|Homebuilder Construction Rates Accelerating; Let's Talk Efficiency|
Builder Order Growth Continues to Accelerate
Alan Ratner, Managing Director of Homebuilding Research at Zelman & Associates, recently delivered great news for homebuilders saying,
"Builder order growth has continued to accelerate; excess speculative inventory has been absorbed and housing starts are picking up to satisfy demand."Isn't this great news for everyone associated with the homebuilding industry?
Yet, Increased Construction Activity Presents RisksRatner continues,
"Increasing construction activity always presents the risk of cost inflation and labor tightness."If you've been reading our Blog, you might recall a March 2019 article noting Ashok Chaluvadi's comments in Builder,
A key issue cited by 82% of builders is the cost/availability of labor. What's particularly noteworthy is labor replaced building material prices -- which had been the hot topic in 2018.
Increasing Costs and Labor Shortages Turn Focus to Efficiency -- Particularly SST
This environment (increasing costs, labor shortages) provides an opportunity for builders to laser focus on areas specifically under their control -- operations -- in order to increase internal efficiencies (and, in turn, profitability). One opportunity is automated construction scheduling -- particularly SST elements (that is, self-service technology).
SST had somewhat of a bad reputation in years past. It may have tried to do too many things in too disparate ways. However, attitudes change; today, demographics and technology make SST an important tool for home builders as they consider that increasing workplace productivity is the option most under their control, today.
SST implies technology and construction management software leverages SST
An effective construction software implementation gets everyone within the building process (and that includes both in-house and vendors) on "the same page" as to which tasks need to be accomplished, in what order and on what date.
Cloud-based software makes the information available to everyone, 24/7, anywhere anytime. That means you can expect a reduction in delays, dry runs, phone calls, texts, misunderstandings.
In a sense, getting everyone on the same page is a good first step in exerting organization control. Interested? CPS' FieldCollaborate is award-winning automated construction software; contact us and we'll give you all the information needed so you gain productivity while experiencing this order growth!
|Builders: Let's Explore Selling and Senses|
What Motivates Purchase Decisions?Have you had a chance to read Martin Lindstrom's Buyology - Truth and Lies About Why We Buy?
It's an eye-opening book describing what influences purchase decisions in today's message-cluttered world.
Our "Other" Senses Are CriticalLindstrom conducted a 3-year neuromarketing study and one element he discusses is how our "other" senses -- smell, touch and sound -- capture our interest and influence purchasing decisions.
CPS' Bob Musa's Book Discusses the Power of Touch in New Home MarketingBob Musa, CPS' President, authored an innovative book, Creating Customers with Interactive Digital Signage - we'd love to discuss how the power of touch can be harnessed in your sales offices!
Take a look at our interactive touchscreen SalesTouch Case Studies highlighting how single and multifamily builders leverage both the power of touch and interactive technology to more effectively engage home shoppers in their sales/leasing offices. Reach out to schedule a conversation!
|Celebrating Veterans Day 2019!|
Veterans Day gives us all an excellent opportunity to lift up and honor those who served our country -- as well as recognize and thank those currently serving.
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.
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)
|Builders: Electronic Signature Key to Improving Efficiency & Satisfaction|
Builder Hot Topics: Efficiency, Productivity, Buyer Experience
The Solutions Blog has devoted quite a bit of virtual space focused on improving efficiency and productivity -- particularly on the operations side of homebuilding. Take a look at recent Blog articles:
We've also been talking about the Home Buyer Experience -- before, during and after the new home purchase:
CRM Offers Experience and Efficiency Opportunity, too!
One key concept emerges from all the articles highlighted above: the builder's universe is expanding! There aren't any islands left, in other words! Thinking about buyer experience is no longer limited to the sales office or marketing. It encompasses operations -- from construction to warranty, too.
Efficiency can be thought of similarly: how long does it take your sales agents to process a sale? Do you have 25-40 documents ranging from Purchase Agreement to Options Orders to Avigation (yes; that's a real word!!) Disclosures?
Document Processing is More than Creation; Consider These Stats
How long does it take for your agent to generate these documents -- and how many signatures are required? Do you realize that 37% of documents are missing a necessary signature, initials or dates?
And, many people don't always consider the post-signature activities required to support documents: that's the proper collection, filing and retention. 51% of businesses report that some or all of the documents needed are mis-filed or lost!
In other words, are you certain that Lot 55's purchase agreement package is completely processed, stored properly and accessible?
Electronic Signature Can Go Beyond Purchase Agreements!
You're probably familiar with electronic document signature processing as it relates to purchase agreements (CPS CRM, for example, provides seamless integration with DocuSign to obtain signatures for all documents, distribute the documents amongst all necessary entities in a specified order and save a completely executed set). And, the value is not only for the builder: buyers appreciate the ease and ability to obtain and store a full set of accessible, executed documents. That doesn't even take into consideration processing a sale with buyers in multiple locations!
And, have you considered the value of electronic signature for your warranty/customer service operations? Why not provide your customer service rep or vendors with the ability to accept electronic signature on work orders via phone or tablet? CPS WarrantyWatcher does exactly that -- and keeps a copy in the lot's permanent history file, as well!
There's now another touchpoint (or two!!) for improving efficiency, productivity and the buyer experience!
|Homebuilder Customer Service: A Critical Link|
Homebuilder Customer Service is a Hot TopicWe've been talking about homebuilder customer service frequently this year; you can see earlier Solution Blogs here (Putting Metrics on Your Dashboard) and here (Add Focus to Actionable Customer Service).
Value-Unique Motivates Referrals
Today's homebuyer and homeowner expect to receive a quality customer service experience. What will set your team apart is a value-unique experience. That's service that will generate posts, Tweets, and, most importantly, referrals. How to get value-unique?
Are You Prioritizing the "Most Important Department"?
There's a new Hanley Wood Construction Wire article asking, "What's the Most Important Department in Home Building?" and customer service emerges as a top contender! Author Jim Haffner points out that the "last person who interacts with customers leaves a lasting impression."
That doesn't mean that sales or construction (or estimating or accounting, for that matter!) aren't important. What it does seem to highlight is that customer service needs to be considered a critical component of the entire building process -- and that, sometimes, it is regarded as an afterthought.
Go Quick, Consistent and Memorable
Why not make it as easy and straightforward as shopping on Amazon? CPS WarrantyWatcher provides a 24/7 Homeowner Portal so owners can quickly and easily submit a request directly to the customer service department -- complete with photos! And, they're able to use the same Portal for status updates and request history.
Go the extra step and ask your customer service rep or vendor to include a photo so they're able to check things out on their phone on the way home... isn't that value unique?
Key customer service terms: quick, consistent and measurable. You're able to take care of quick with the 24/7 portal! WarrantyWatcher also provides the metrics that allow for measurable! Do you know your longest outstanding Work Order? How about the most frequent warranty issue? How easily could you locate homes with a recalled microwave? Usable data is your friend in these cases!
Finally, there's the value in consistency as it will pay off in referrals. Your homeowners need communication -- not necessarily conversation! Keep them informed and they will be comfortable with your process -- even if that replacement part is taking time to arrive.
Technology Provides Desired SST
Technology facilitates your ability to deliver on your homeowner's expectations and there's really no other way to meet their need for SST (self-service technology). A recent Radial article summarizes:
Self-service channels consistently outperform other channels in terms of consumer satisfaction. Your homeowners love self-service because it reduces friction and provides immediate and consistent answers.
|Builders: Buyers are Expecting an Enhanced Sales Office Experience|
Consumer Expectations Are Changing RapidlyOur Blog has focused on SST recently -- that's self-service technology (read here and here).
In other words, today, self-service is not only a solution but a preference for many.
Customer Satisfaction is Driving Kiosk Implementation
SST isn't happening in a vacuum, however.
Improving customer satisfaction and customers' perception of the business are top reasons for deploying digital signage. Enhancing the customer experience, improving the customer journey, is driving the transition from a static, pre-set experience to a dynamic, immersive sales office environment fueled by interactive kiosks.
Meet Your Home Shoppers Need for Information and Lifestyle
CPS has been providing interactive touchscreen kiosks to homebuilders for the last 10 years. We understand what's involved in providing an exceptional, end-to-end experience (in this case, that includes the customer and technology).
Here's what we've learned about improving the customer experience and interactive kiosks:
Visit CPS at PCBC 2019
We'll be at PCBC 2019 in San Francisco starting May 29; visit us in Booth 141 or contact us for a one-on-one demo to see how we can work together to create an enhanced customer experience!
|Memorial Day 2019: Remembering Service & Sacrifice|
President Harry Truman's Memorial Day message to the nation is as appropriate today as it was in 1945:
Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.
Bob Musa's son is currently serving in the US Marine Corps; Mike is at his permanent duty station in North Carolina.
We honor the service of:
Bob Strickland, US Air Force
Bob's father: Robert Musa (US Marine Corps, retired and 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)
Did you realize 50% of today's high school youth aren't aware of World Warr II? Why not take the time to encourage friends and family to remember -- with a bbq, picnic, memorial park visit or concert, join a parade or run a race to support fundraising efforts?
Let us know who you are remembering this Memorial Day!
|Customer Service: Expand Beyond Vanilla!!|
Chip Bell Talks Out of the Box About Customer ServiceChip Bell, a well-known authority on customer loyalty and service innovation, has some interesting thoughts regarding customer service:
Make Service Neopolitan, Not Vanilla!
Bell suggests: Walk on the wild side with your customers! In other words, provide a customer experience that is not only good but innovative -- which translates to meet customer expectations and then go for the unexpected!
Innovative Service Brings Rewards
What's interesting about customer service, from Bell's perspective, is a quality service experience will be met with customer loyalty and Tweets, referrals and all sorts of positive items for the organization.
Homebuilder Opportunities to Deliver More
How can you step out of that Vanilla box?
Homebuilder customer service is a day-in/day-out process. You'll want to have tools to expedite the heavy lifting so it's possible to move beyond vanilla!
Software Will Help!
CPS WarrantyWatcher provides cloud-based warranty management that's available 24/7 on all platforms (tablet, phone, desktop) so your team and vendors are able to respond quickly. And, your homeowners get a seamless process, too with 24/7 access to submit and monitor their requests!
Visit CPS at PCBC 2019
We'll be showcasing WarrantyWatcher at PCBC 2019 May 30-31; visit us at Booth 141! Or, reach out to us and we'll schedule a one-on-one demo.
|Delivering an Exceptional Customer Experience|
What's a Value-Unique Customer Experience?
Do you recall one of our Blogs regarding Value-Unique customer experiences? You can read it here.
You not only have a happy customer but one that's actively engaged in marketing for you!
Designing for Exceptional Customer Experiences
How can you provide value-unique? Joe Schultz, VP Sales, Harbor Retail, recently provided some interesting thoughts regarding delivering exceptional customer experiences. Key, he says, is thinking about items that enhance selling probability.
It's more than product and not necessarily your sales team, in other words, although those could be critical drivers. What does success look like? Are you trying to educate, show off your latest design, provide product differentiation? Analyze your objectives: once they're clear, you're able to create an environment that makes success possible.
Consider Customer Experience Strategies
Take a look at the photo above: aren't those home shoppers engaged in evaluating what the homebuilder is offering? In addition, don't they look comfortable? Don't they look like they'd be happy spending time finding out more about this product?
Schultz suggests several items to consider when developing a customer experience strategy. We'll focus on two:
(1) See your space from a customer's perspective.
The interactive touchscreen kiosk that's part of the builder's customer experience center is accessible and easy to navigate -- even when there are 3 people present! We frequently say it's encouraging home shoppers to cozy up and find out more!
(2) Give your customers a glimpse of the future.
CPS' interactive system, SalesTouch, gives home shoppers an easy-to-use way to visualize their new home with interactive floorplans and drag 'n drop furniture.
In other words, the floorplan is no longer a brochure or an image on the wall: home shoppers are able to mix 'n match structural options (den in lieu of bedroom 3, expanded kitchen island, covered lanai) and then drag furniture into their created space. They're able to visualize how this floorplan will live; it's become "their" home, in other words!
Interested in finding out how you can create value-unique homes shopping experiences? We'd love to give you a one-on-one demo; let us know a convenient time here!
|Builders: Let's Add Pets and Up Your Marketing Program!|
Furry family members are influencing home-buying decisions!
Did you see the results from a recent SunTrust Mortgage:
33% of Millennials purchased their new home to have more room (either an improved space or yard) for their dog?
What are you doing to make this important connection for home shoppers?
A super interesting article in FusionHappens.com suggests Millennials are particularly focused on including pets in their homebuying decision-making. FushionHappens asks: what are you doing to make this important connection:
Go the Extra Step: Talk About How Your Floorplans Fit Their Lifestyle!
Millennials (and Boomers, by the way) are particularly interested in how a new home fits their lifestyle. For some, a family-focused kitchen is critical. For others, it's the "extra" room that can be a craft space, or a tasting room or a "man cave."
And, for pet owners: do you offer doggie doors or dog washing areas?
There's a great way to enhance your marketing for these lifestyle-focused buyers: interactive floorplans!
Let your home shopper try out lifestyle ideas with touch and mix/match structural options and drag 'n drop furniture. Consider something as simple as re-purposing the "mud room" label!
There's nothing better for a potential buyer than seeing that you recognize their lifestyle is important. You might not know which element is critical but offering your buyer with the ability to visualize it is critical.
Add Lifestyle Visualization to Your Sales Offices!
Interested in finding out more how you can help buyers see how your homes meet their objectives? CPS offers one-on-one demos; use this form and we'll schedule one with you!
|Builders: Put Metrics on Your Dashboard!|
SST Emerging as a Preference
There are a couple of key elements associated with the trend towards SST; demographics and technology. Cloud-based software applications are making information available 24/7, anywhere/anytime.
Preferences and expectations are changing, too; what was once viewed rather negatively is now seen as not only a solution but a preference!
Builders Have 2 Audiences Looking for Information: Buyers and Their Own Team
The benefits of SST apply across the builder audience: homebuyers and your own team of field managers, operations staff, accounting, corporate management.
Homebuyers Obtain Concise, Personalized Information via Portals
How can that be? Your homebuyers have access to information through web-based portals with data published through web-based software applications. It's concise, time pertinent, personalized and available 24/7.
Portals recognize their participants through credentials. So, it's straightforward for your buyer to locate stage of construction photos or warranty issue status. They're able to use their phone or tablet and there's no digital clutter: their specific and unique information is presented clearly and concisely.
Metrics Deliver for Corporate Team Members
A business metric is defined as a quantifiable measure used to track and assess the status of a specific business process. Every business area has unique processes that need to be monitored. Sales, for example, track marketing and social media metrics; senior management tracks key financial results and trends.
Metrics encourage your organization to become more data-driven -- and that's particularly true when SST features are built-in to your software applications. Think: visual and interactive!
What might your warranty team need as metrics? Submitted requests, requests turned into work orders, open work orders? The team doesn't necessarily want all the details at first glance; they're interested in scope and outliers.
Customer Service Rep "A" has 150 open work orders with 20% over 30 days; "B" has 260 open orders with only 5% over 30 days. That's easily viewable in a pie chart, for example, Then, drill down for details; you might find "A" has a community's worth of "manufacturer microsoft recalls" and is waiting for replacements.
You're able to locate that type of information using a software-generated visual dashboard such as those provided by CPS' WarrantyWatcher.
Visual Metrics Focus Attention and Investigation
SST means personalized, concise information 24/7, anywhere/anytime. Setup your dashboard to measure the data that's critical to your business -- adjust the timeframe, drill down for details, focus on what's important, offer Portals to your buyers -- that's CPS WarrantyWatcher!
|Builders: Consider Value-Unique Customer Experiences|
Good Customer Experience is Appreciated; Noteworthy Gets People TalkingHave you run across Chip Bell? He's an author, speaker and consultant focused on customer loyalty and service innovation.
Bell suggests that good Customer Experience is appreciated.
We knew that, right? Yet, good service rarely results in people mentioning in -- or posting or Tweeting about it.
However, when a noteworthy customer experience moment occurs, people talk, post and Tweet about it all the time.
So..how does your customer service become Tweet-worthy?
Move-Up to Value-Unique Experiences
Today, customers expect their experience to be value-added.
Taking what your customers expect and just adding more isn't enough to generate anything beyond satisfaction and.. that's why it isn't generating posts or Tweets.
When customers get more than expected and it's unique and innovative, Bell suggests, that's value-unique.
And, value-unique has a lot more value. That's when people start talking and Tweeting about it!
Customer Focus Also Drives Revenue Growth
A recent McKinsey & Co. study concluded that customer satisfaction also correlated with company revenue growth. One idea that emerges from that study is the importance of employees as brand ambassadors. What is your organization doing to foster this concept?
Encourage Employee Engagement
One idea is to make sure you're providing the tools to facilitate employee engagement. Implement tools, in other words, to foster employee engagement and, in turn, you'll see value-unique service.
What sort of tools? Keep in mind your customer's expectations are changing at rapid speed.
Builders must now account for an increasing number of factors ranging from having more information on the website to conversational commerce to providing an engaging in-sales office experience. And, your employees need to take advantage of those digital engagement tools so your brand emerges as value-unique!
Wouldn't you want to walk into a sales office featuring the Brisas interactive touchscreen system highlighted above -- and see not only gorgeous creative but interactive floorplans, what's happening in the neighborhood and an up-to-date sitemap? Leveraging digital tools such as CPS' SalesTouch doesn't diminish your sales agent's role; it amplifies it by associating the brand with a value-unique experience!
|Builders: Increasing Productivity Helps Offset Labor Costs & Availability Issues|
Builders Rank Labor Cost & Availability Top Issue for 2019
There's a great article by Ashok Chaluvadi in a recent Eye on Housing article in Builderonline describing anticipated challenges facing builders in 2019; you can read it here.
A key issue cited by 82% of builders is the cost/availability of labor. What's particularly noteworthy is labor replaced building material prices -- which had been the hot topic in 2018.
What options are available to a homebuilder to counteract labor's increasing cost/decreasing availability -- particularly in the short run?
SST Helps Builders Impact Productivity
We know the number of trades people is limited; a significant number of experienced workers are "aging out" and there haven't been enough Millennials entering this specific workplace.
SST (that's self service technology) had somewhat of a bad reputation in years past. It may have tried to do too many things in too disparate ways. However, attitudes change; today, demographics and technology make SST an ever emerging tool for home builders as they consider that increasing workplace productivity is the option most under their control, today. SST implies technology and construction management software leverages SST:
CPS' FieldCollaborate is the 3rd version of our construction scheduling software designed specifically for homebuilders and offering the 24/7, anywhere/anytime access we discussed. Interested in finding out how it can increase your team's productivity? Use our contact form to schedule a one-on-one demo.
|Why Implement Interactive Kiosks in Your Sales Office?|
SST: Attitudes are Changing About Self-Service TechnologyOur Blog has been talking quite a bit about SST recently -- that's self-service technology (read here and here). Self-service hasn't always had the best of reputations; however, attitudes, preferences and expectations change quickly. One reason is changing demographics; another is technology.
It's communication without conversation!
Interactive Kiosks are Self-Service and More!
Interactive technology provides many of the customer service benefits associated with self-service.
Whether your demographic is Boomers or Millennials, your home shoppers want fast and concise information. And, they're interested in content that's tailored to their specific situation: that's personalization! That type of information delivery adds up to a new level of customer service that's actionable and personable!
Interactive technology goes a step further as it delivers content that's engaging, exciting and impactful.
Why Interactive is a Must for Homebuilders!
First, it's engaging! Take a second to ponder what are you more likely to look at and consider: a static sign with pre-determined messaging or a screen that offers you a choice of content (and that's designed to be tailored to your objective)?
81% of survey respondents say interactive displays grab their attention more effectively than static.
CPS has been providing interactive touchscreen systems since 2008 and we've always said: interactive grabs your home shopper's attention from the minute they walk in the sales office door!
And, it's not just that there are gorgeous graphics! Grab your attention means providing the type of information your home shopper is seeking! They're able to drill down beyond those gorgeous graphics to the details behind your floorplans (yes; there's a Jack and Jill bath; yes: the bonus room can turn into a 5th bedroom!), drag 'n drop furniture to see how your plan fits their lifestyle and email/print the results!
They're locating actionable and personalized information, in other words. That's what interactive digital technology is designed to provide. Our next Blog will focus on how exciting and memorable signage will further your sales efforts.
|Smaller Builder Part 2: Take Advantage of Knowing Your Ground|
BuilderOnLine Talks About How Smaller Builders Can ProsperFrank Anton had another great BuilderOnLine article talking about smaller builders; you can read it here.
His theme: many smaller builders survived the downturn, they've prospered and can continue to do so.
But, Anton suggests, there are 3 keys to ongoing success and smaller builders should sharpen their focus on these critical items. Our last Solutions Blog talked about #1: Actionable Customer Service.
Maximize Being at Ground Zero!
Anton reminds: Remember that knowing the ground is a decisive factor not only in warfare but in homebuilding, as well.
Are there actionable possibilities, here, as well? There are many but we'll focus on sales team actionables to start:
Market Your Ground!
One thing we've learned in the 10 years of providing interactive touchscreen kiosks: home shoppers want to know more about the location!
CPS SalesTouch provides an engaging way to tell your geographic story and we encourage builders to include items that go beyond the basics: the local craft store, interesting museum, fun restaurant.
Go the extra step and suggest a popular appetizer (one client highlighted a Gotta Try: for each restaurant!) or highlight what makes a particular recreation location appealing (is it the great fishing, the sandy beach or terrific mounting bike trails?).
Reach out and let your home shopper know what's particularly interesting around your community because your team is on the ground and knows it! Your team knows the area so they're able to highlight the local restaurants, unique shopping spots, great recreation areas..everything that helps your community stand out!
Remember: home shopping can be stressful because of the fear of the unknown. You're building a good product and you want your buyers to know that you care about them. Let your local, on the ground, knowledge help mitigate the stress!
Interested in finding out how you can put some of these CRM and touchscreen kiosk actionables to work for you? Contact us to schedule a one-on-one demo so we can show you!
|Builders: Smaller in size? Add Focus to Actionable Customer Service|
Smaller Means You Can Be More NimbleRecently, there's a great Frank Anton article in Builderonline: Three Ways Small Home Builders Can Be Big Winners -- it's worth reviewing; you can read it here.
But, he says, smaller builders and those in smaller markets are in a great position. They're not occupying the same "space" as the NYSE builders.
Smaller Allows You to Focus on Personalized Customer Service
Anton suggests smaller builders have an opportunity but.. they need to focus on key metrics and one of the most critical is customer service. And, to be honest, it is one of the most controllable!
He goes a step further and suggests thinking of the process as concierge service!
SST is a Preference for Many
SST (that's Self Service Technology) provides smaller builders with a manageable way to connect with home shoppers and buyers -- and the price tag is reasonable!
Self-service hasn't always had the best of reputations. However, attitudes, preferences and expectations change quickly. One reason is changing demographics; another is technology.
Self-service is one of those quickly evolving expectations. Today, self-service is not only a solution but a preference for many -- regardless of age.
Use SST as Your Concierge
What? How can SST (that's self service, isn't it??) provide concierge-level service to home shoppers and buyers?
Your customers want fast and concise information. Communication doesn't have to mean conversation! They're also interested in information that's tailored to their specific situation: that's personalization! It adds up to a level of customer service that's actionable and personable.
Take advantage of technology to facilitate delivery of the types of information that will make your customers feel your attention!
SST Delivers Information Quickly, Concisely and When Requested
What sorts of personalized information can technology provide in this concierge service idea? Here are a couple to consider:
Remember: Referrals are the Most Cost-Effective Source of Traffic
Happy home shoppers and buyers will have you "top of mind" when talking about their home shopping experience!
Interested in finding out more about technology options facilitating this type of concierge service? CPS can help you; contact us to schedule a one-on-one demo and what your customer satisfaction and referral rate grow!
|Builders: Grab Your CRM Tools for Spring Selling Season!|
Might be Frightful Outside but..Spring Selling Season is Here!
We have to admit: the weather outside -- whether you're on the East or West Coast -- doesn't exactly encourage getting outside and going home shopping. Even if you're in Las Vegas -- it's snowing!
But, why not take advantage of the slower traffic and take stock in preparation for your Spring marketing efforts? We have some ideas to start generating visits to your sales offices and engaging home shoppers once they arrive!
Start Reaching Out to Realtors & Other Neighborhood Sources, Now
There's a great, recent Frank Anton article in BuilderOnLine noting, "Remember that knowing the ground is a decisive factor not only in warfare but in homebuilding as well."
Do you know your local Realtor community? Why not get acquainted and start putting together a "Get Ready for Spring" open house and offer a "spa event" raffle for attendees? Or, a "Wine & Cheese" evening with a case 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!
Here's where your CRM system can step in and help! Make sure your local Realtors are in their own section so you can easily email and measure your success in terms of visits, home shopper tours and sales. Not sure how to do this? Let us know: CPS CRM is laser-focused on co-op agent features!
Start Thinking About Demographics, too!
Don't forget: many Realtors focus on specific demographics or groups -- relocations, ethnic or religious groups, 55+ buyers, etc. Try reaching out to the demographic-centric agents, often. They always have a group of interested buyers available to visit your community -- provide them with a reason to stop by -- again and again. CRM will help here, too: establish Rating groups so you can sort through your database and focus on specifics.
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 are visiting today 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! We'll talk about touch in the next Solutions Blog but.. make sure that your "curb appeal" is upfront, clean and appealing!
Have you seen the stats? Only 50% of home shoppers hear back from the sales office they visited! Even a simple Thank You! gets you in the top 50%! Think about the value of an automated & templated followup with a short, cell phone video with a quick tour -- you're in the top 10%!
Do you recall an earlier Solution Blog with Ryan Taft's CRM tips? Take these quieter times to start a top performer habit:
|Builders: Tips for Migrating Buyers/Owners to Your Self-Service Options|
Self-service is a Preference for ManyWe've been blogging recently about the paradigm shift in the self-service concept. Frankly, it wasn't that long ago that self-service wasn't popular -- for either businesses or customers.
Self-service is one of those quickly evolving expectations. Today, self-service is not only a solution but a preference for many -- regardless of age. Take a look at the 55+ community in the photo!
It's About Customer Experience and More!
Good self-service platforms can both improve the customer experience and save businesses money.
And, effective organizations are pushing forward with new customer paradigms as they recognize the need to engage customers amidst the current digital clutter is a way to enhance their brand.
Get Proactive About Offering Self-Service
It goes without saying that it doesn't much sense to just drop a self-service function into an organization. The result would probably be similar to that of Coke Classic back in the day!
There are a few ideas that will make self-service work more effectively for your customer and your organization:
Use CPS' Self-Service Tool for More Info!
We try to practice what we write: reach out through our Portal to schedule a discussion or demo here!
|Homebuilder CRM Top Performer Tips|
Top Sales Performers Are Frequently Top CRM UsersA local Northern CA homebuilder's top sales performer (he's retired now; let's call him Jack for this Blog) was probably the single best sales agent user of CPS CRM.
Consider CRM Database as "Your Team"But, the reason we're suggesting he was the "best user" was his persistence with follow-up. Because Jack sold homes for about 10-years, he built-up a considerable CRM database of home shoppers and buyers.
Jack kept in touch with what he called "his team" -- sending announcements of new releases to home shoppers and new communities to previous buyers.
He went the extra step to make sure his data was useful so he could send out "Happy Home Anniversary" messages based on their Close of Escrow date. There were no doubt other personalized emails celebrating birthdays, children, college graduations and the like!
Of course, Jack used the "system" to auto-generate all of this followup; he created templates for his followup activities and relied on CPS CRM to keep in touch with his team.
Consistent CRM Use = Top of Mind and Consistent ReferralsThe result? Jack was "top of mind" for anyone on his team thinking about a new home -- and he was the recipient of many referrals as friends and relatives started their home buying journey.
Recently, Jeff Shore completed a new sales training series; his latest is Prospecting for the Long Haul (always informative; watch it here). His message: top performers work the small things over and over.
Ryan Taft is a sales trainer on Jeff's team; he has a great Blog and recently included 3 tips reinforcing the small and consistent message:
Didn't Jack take those tips to heart and play them out, every day? He took the tools provided to him in CPS CRM and was persistent! As Jeff mentions in his Prospecting session, it's the small things that, when practiced daily, generate results.
IBS2019: CPS is Persistent! We're Celebrating 25+ Years!
Take a look at the IBS2019 Buyer Guide: CPS is listed as a member of the 25 Year Exhibitors Club! We're thrilled to be included and invite you to join us at Booth SU631 as we talk about our award-winning CRM, construction scheduling, warranty management software and interactive kiosks! See how our persistence can help you sell more homes, build more profitably and provide responsive customer care.
|What Does Friction Have to Do with A Builder Sales Office?|
Why Are We Talking About Friction?Actually, we're going to discuss the lack of friction -- meaning ease and less hassle during a transaction.
Today, the definition has moved beyond less hassle (everyone expects that now!) to greater personalization and wow! experiences. It also means anticipating -- not just meeting -- customer needs.
Customers Expect Great Experiences & Leave When Friction Appears
Consumer expectations regarding friction impact their level of engagement and their brand experience.
A recent Rules of NextGen Loyalty suggests consumers expect a great experience -- and will won't stick around a brand that doesn't deliver.
McKenzie suggests, "Consumers who encounter friction will run the other way fast, and second chances don't come easily."
McKenzie suggests brands need to create experiences that stay one step ahead of the consumer.
From a builder standpoint, Jonathan Wilhelm says in a recently BuilderOnline article, "builders have the opportunity to distinguish themselves in (today's) challenging period."
One way, Wilhelm suggests is to stand out with a state-of-the-art sales center that can enhance the buying experience and make a lasting impression.
Isn't that the definition of frictionless!?
Let's Get Interactive!
Wilhelm goes on to say builders should create an experience that engages and informs home shoppers. He explains the necessity of detailed, visual and concise information, the value of interactive presentations, comfortable workstations, etc.
Take a look at the CPS SalesTouch interactive kiosk at a Minto sales center above. Home shoppers are able to review the community, select floorplans, drag 'n drop furniture, mix and match structural options -- basically, start dreaming about their new home and putting the pieces together to make it happen!
That's a competitive edge that helps you, the builder, make a frictionless homebuying experience!
More? Look for CPS at IBS2019
CPS will be at IBS2019; contact us for an onsite demo. If you're unable to attend, we can provide a one-on-one online demo, starting now!
|Homeowner Customer Service: SST Preferences Change Quickly|
Customer Engagement Strategies: There are Brand ImpactsUrban Airship suggests the new year is a good time to take a look at current strategies - and that we can never get too comfortable thinking we know what our customers want. Attitudes, preferences and expectations change quickly.
Self-service is one of those quickly evolving expectations. Today, self-service is not only a solution but a preference for many.
Urban Airship reports:
"78% of customers say poor customer service makes them lose trust in a brand"
Take a Look at Mobile and Website Options
How does customer experience, self-service and a good brand image fit together?
Offering your customer mobile and website options, reports Urban Airship, provides an easily accessible solution for questions and support. Your homeowners want access 24/7, anywhere, anytime!
Access means you're able to provide a more consistent and reliable brand image. Gone are the missed calls and voicemail exchanges; now, you're communicating directly and resolving issues!
CPS WarrantyWatcher Provides Accessible, Personalized Access for Your Homeowners
Now, take a look at CPS' WarrantyWatcher Homeowner Portal and how it streamlines the builder's customer service process and provides the digital experience that today's homeowners want.
24/7 access and personalization is critical! Your homeowners have a unique location to report a service issue, receive confirmation of the problem and and appointment for repair. They're also able to view all previously reported issues and their resolution. All convenient; all 24/7; without any additional work for your customer service group. In fact, probably less work!
Communication doesn't always have to mean conversation!
Looking to improve your brand image through enhanced digital experience?
Talk to us! CPS will be at IBS2019. Not able to attend? Let us know and we'll schedule a one-on-one demo to show you how CPS can provide you with a more efficient customer service process and an improved brand image!
|Have You Asked: What's Our Home Buyer Experience Gap?|
Just a couple of Solution Blogs ago, we talked about the how the concept of customer service has transitioned into customer experience -- you can read it here.
Let's focus this Blog on your buyer -- after the time of purchase.
What is a Buyer Experience Gap?Ask yourself:
Is Communication Part of Your Gap?
Did you see our Solutions Blog: Homebuilder #1 Referral Driver: Keeping Buyers Informed? You can read it here.
That Blog is one of our most frequently read! It starts with Eliant CEO Bob Mirman's statement in Builder and Developer: the single largest referral driver for homebuilders is how well the builder keeps buyers informed regarding the status of construction.
Lack of Information Creates Buyer Stress
Mirman asks us to think of the homebuying process as similar to a hospital stay. No question: both are stressful!
Yet, the stress can be mitigated by information.
No one, in other words, feels comfortable in the dark. Mirman notes the #1 reason for buyers' Willingess to Refer a Friend is the builder's ability to keep the buyer informed of their status.
Communication Doesn't Need to be Complicated
Mirman points out, You don't need conversation -- just communication.
That's How Technology Can Decrease that Experience Gap
We'd like to suggest technology will provide the tools necessary to improve your communications -- and reduce the gap! CPS' web Portals take information already developed by FieldCollaborate's construction users and WarrantyWatcher's customer service teams and make it available to buyers and homeowners via the Internet.
No additional work required: the construction schedule can be set as viewable for your buyers. Warranty requests, status updates and appointments are available via mobile or desktop. In both cases, 24/7, anywhere/anytime.
Want to up your game, decrease the gap even further? Go the extra step and take stage-of-construction photos and attach them to your construction milestones. Your buyer knows what's happening, fewer trips to the job site, fewer calls --- and your internal team can view them, as well.
How about adding post-repair photos so your homeowner knows how things look before getting home from work? After all, you buyers have Portal access 24/7 so they're up-to-speed as the work is completed.
Referrals are the Result of a Great Buyer Experience
Referrals can be your least expensive source of traffic -- and the most rewarding. Enhanced communications is a win-win as your team communicates results internally and they're viewable by your most important audience: the buyer.
|Adding an Emotional Connection to Your Sales Office|
There's a lot of details to take into consideration during the homebuying process: beds & baths, square footage, mortgage rates and a down payment. It's frequently your buyer's largest financial decision. Yet, there's an element of emotion to consider and kindle in every person's home shopping (and buying!) experience.
Your mission: to maximize that engagement!
Your Sales Office is Often the Start of the Journey
Emotions are part of our nature -- and it's worth considering, analyzing and evaluating how to add an emotional component into your marketing propositon as sales/leasing offices are frequently the first place visitors encounter the full range of your brand and product.
Storytelling Initiates Emotional Connections
Storytelling is one of the best content strategies for creating an emotional connection. Stories are tactile and create a visual picture.
No doubt you've heard stories and imagined yourself within that context. That's what makes a good story: it pulls listeners in and actually makes them a co-creator of the message. Stories make content more interesting and more memorable.
Stories can also open up the discovery process to address the "why" your home shopper is in your sales office!
|Customer Service 2019: A New Paradigm for Builders|
Customer Service is Now the Customer Experience
No doubt you've heard: business is moving faster than ever -- and the customer experience is becoming more of a top priority for all types of businesses.
There seem to be 2 important components to today's customer service concept:
What Makes a Great Customer Experience?
Shep Hyken just released The Convenience Revolution and is recognized for helping businesses deliver great customer experiences. Ideas include:
Using Personalized Technology to Enhance the Customer Experience
You might be asking yourself: so....they're telling me that customer service needs to be quick, convenient and personal? How does that play out for a home builder?
Interested in Enhancing Your Customer Experience?
CPS will be at IBS2019 in Las Vegas the week of February 18; visit us at Booth SU631 -- or start your journey now! Or, use our contact form and we'll schedule a demo that fits your schedule.