Today’s Home Builder Key Word: Customization

Today’s Home Builder Key Word: Customization

Take a look at Builderonline’s October 2015 article, Your Biggest Competition isn’t Other Builders, discussing new-home builder’s sales advantages when compared with existing home sales.  The author, Myers Barnes, highlights 7 key selling advantages.

The second key advantage is customization and it offers a very powerful message:  who wouldn’t want input on design and product selections?  The article suggests reminding home shoppers that a new home will reflect their personal style — not someone else’s taste.

And, a reminder: the millennial demographic — only starting to purchase homes — is very keen on customization and personal style!

Take advantage of technology to stay current on selections

Some of you might be thinking, “Oh, customization; tried that.  Definitely added time to our schedule and very tough to keep track of all the selections, changes, re-selections. Not sure they’re even profitable.”

But…customization is a key selling advantage for new homes.  How can a builder’s current process be better managed to effectively offer something that home shoppers really like?

Previous Blogs mentioned the need for simplification (isn’t that the opposite of customization?) and process analysis.  Scott Sedum’s 25 Essential Scheduling Practices article in ProBuilder offers several steps to consider:

(1) Provide only the number of options customers will pay for and can be kept 100% current – revisit annually.  Do you know how many times each option is selected ?  If every sale has a particular option, wouldn’t it improve operations to make it a standard feature?

Ask accounting to provide an “options ordered” list and review with sales.  It’s a great selling advantage to have an extensive list; take the time to analyze that all your costs are included and the scope isn’t so extensive to unduly burden the team refreshing the list at the beginning of each year.

(2) Coordinate cut-off dates with sales for option selections and changes — and help manage everyone’s expectations. Sedum mentions, “It takes skilled salespeople, a focused management team and a company-wide commitment to maintain this discipline.” Not maintaining such an approach impacts schedules and costs and can create negatives in homebuyer perceptions, as well.  No one wants to hear the neighbor was able to add the granite countertop after cutoff when they couldn’t!

We’ll suggest a third:

(3) Take advantage of technology so your team knows when options are added or deleted — and can easily browse all appropriate documentation including drawings.  CPS’ FieldCollaborate offers scheduling software tools as well as provides field managers anywhere/anytime data access necessary to keep up with options activity.  They’re able to see, in real time, what has been ordered on Lot 12 — and when.  It’s possible to view drawings, as well, so your field managers can review accuracy both before and after construction.  All from their smartphone and tablet!

Customization is a powerful selling advantage; make sure that your operations are nimble enough to manage the necessary processes.

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