Saturday, November 18, 2017

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 image? 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!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

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.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

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? 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); can't you see your buyers virtually exploring and enjoying their new community?

Friday, November 10, 2017

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)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Home Builders: Interested in a Referral Win?

Had a chance to ready 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!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

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!


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Referrals Can Be Your Least Expensive Source of Traffic!

Did you see our earlier 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 summarizes Eliant CEO Bob Mirman's comments in a Builder and Developer article, 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!

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 are easily viewable by your most important audience, your buyers.