Monday, September 12, 2016

Construction Data Portals: 24/7 Collaboration Tools

Are you familiar with the concept of a web portal, sometimes referred to as a neutral platform in the cloud?

Portals provide users with the ability to view  and sometimes update  information developed by one or more systems from a single web-based location.

What can a construction portal do for your construction process  inside and outside the company, including vendors and home buyers?  Effective portals improve communication and collaboration by providing real-time data access to enterprise information.
FieldCollaborate Portal Offers 24/7 Vendor Access 

Let's take a look at a real-world example.  Vendors can login to CPS' FieldCollaborate Portal — at any time, 24/7  and view their current construction schedules, punch items and safety assessments.  And, they're able to pull up builder documents and drawings.

Home buyers, on the other hand, login to the FieldCollaborate Portal to find their home's schedule and stage-of-construction photos.  The Portal keeps home buyers actively engaged throughout the home buying/construction cycle, which in many areas can take nine months from the time of contract acceptance to closing.

Home builders use the Portal, as well, to share information within the enterprise. When we consider the entire set of participants  the builder, vendors and home buyers  think about the number of phone calls, faxes, emails and misunderstandings that can be eliminated!

What's more disruptive than having multiple sources of information?  A well-managed portal provides the same information to everyone (governed by access credentials, of course)  and it's all available 24/7, in real-time, via the cloud!

Portals improve communication and that makes the builder's entire enterprise more efficient and productive  resulting in more profit for both the builder and the vendors.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

3 Ways to Market Your Community's Walkable Urbanism

While suburban communities still have their appeal, it is becoming more and more apparent that urban environments are attracting new home neighborhoods -- and buyers!  Both Millennials and Boomers are considering and buying in areas that previously wouldn't have offered new construction.

Downtown Richmond -- start exploring!
One of these neighborhood's key features (or, you might think, amenity) is it's walkability. There's even a new term: walkable urban places (sometimes referred to as WalkUps -- but completely different than multi-story buildings from the early-mid 1900's!!).

WalkUps are defined, as BuilderOnline's Lauren Shanesy notes in a recent article, as a development with substantially higher density, mixed-use product, emerging and new product types and a variety of transportation options.

There are a couple of concepts associated with WalkUps you might consider as part of a community-based marketing program -- not too complicated or expensive yet providing good touch points for your home shoppers:
  1. Highlight Transportation Options -- Home shoppers in all demographics love the idea of reducing their reliance on a car. Residents in WalkUps spend less on transportation so why not highlight options for your home shoppers?  Provide maps, schedules -- even signage from your local metro.  While Millennials and Boomers are key demographics for the new urban community, reduced transportation costs appeal to moderate-income home shoppers, as well.
  2. Offer Walk Abouts -- One of the reasons WalkUps are popular is easy access to convenient, interesting and unique shopping and dining venues.  Why not create an "It's in the Neighborhood" guide highlighting 15 close-by locations that are probably new to most of your home shoppers?  Think: ethnic restaurants, unique bookshops, unusual hardware stores.  Let your potential buyers explore the neighborhood (literally or 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 visual introduction to the neighborhood.
  3. Shine a Light on Educational Institutions -- Washington, DC is considered the second highest ranked WalkUp -- and over 50% have B.A. degrees.  One of the urban neighborhood attributes frequently mentioned by Boomers is access to educational opportunities.  These don't have to be just colleges and universities --  there's always adult education and interest-focused centers, as well.  Think: great knitting shops, photography studies, art centers.  Let your visitors know what's in the neighborhood with an easy-to-read map focused on neighborhood learning opportunities!
Take one step further and consider highlighting these factors using an interactive touchscreen system.  CPS' SalesTouch offers the aerial photo detailing shopping, dining, recreation and community options in Richmond (above); can't you see your buyers wanting to be able to virtually explore your neighborhood?

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Retailers: Improving Line Wait Time Improves Customer Satisfaction and Profits, Too

No one likes waiting in line -- whether at the DMV, grocery shopping, amusement parks or sporting events.  And, today, long wait times can be splashed across social media at any time.  That's in addition to lost profits when the customer balked or reneged and left the point of sale location.

Every retailer and entertainment venue constantly evaluates how to better improve the customer experience -- and improved line (or queue) management provides an immediate and long-lasting impact.  That's because effective line management technology offers more than just a shorter wait experience.
Enhanced Customer Satisfaction is the goal!

Automated line management provides at least 4 significant business benefits:
  1. Wait time management tools provide control -- Long-standing studies indicate average wait times can be reduced 10-30% with line management technology.  Lots of "fewer than 10 items" customers today?  Using automated management tools, store management is able to quickly realign registers to better serve those customers while reducing the number of "full service" registers.
  2. Improved line management -- Customers are more quickly and accurately directed to an open location as compared to "manually" guessing which station is available or casually strolling towards a register.
  3. Customer perceptions improve -- Two factors impact customer perceptions regarding lines: perceived wait time and the issue of fairness. Customers typically over-estimate the amount of wait time -- that's probably human nature. Providing an automated, call forward system not only efficiently directs customers to the next available register but encourages them to think the wait isn't as long as it actually is. Customers like knowing what is going on -- so seeing the next available register is beneficial even if it isn't their register!  And, people appreciate being treated fairly; an automated system is perceived as providing similar service to all.
  4. Expanded impulse purchase opportunities -- Whether an automated system operates a single, serpentine line or multiple, register-specific lines, the opportunity exists for expanding impulse purchase opportunities.  First, the business is regulating how and where the waiting zones are located. Additionally, customers are less stressed waiting so they're more likely to review offerings and make impulse purchases.  It's also possible to advertise and encourage such purchases through messaging on line management monitors. 

Interested in finding out more about how automated line management can improve your customer satisfaction levels and provide additional business benefits, too?  Talk to us at CPS about QuikLine -- an automated line management system providing call-forward technology with easy-to-use management tools and straightforward hardware components.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

3 Ways to Enhance Your Outdoor Living Space Marketing

Just in time for summer: all sorts of new home builder articles about the latest outdoor living designs. You've probably seen similar articles with their focus on:

Use Summer & Social Media to Market Your New Homes!
-- outdoor kitchens
-- firepits
-- fountains
-- outdoor dining options
-- seamless indoor/outdoor flow

And, there were probably all sorts of gorgeous photos, interesting menu possibilities and, even, recipes.

What you might not have seen were ways for you to market similar features in your new homes.  We've developed 3 ideas that we think will build a fire under your home shoppers:
  1. Put your model home kitchen to use! Organize a weekend bbq event and invite your home shoppers with automated emails.  Highlight the menu; provide recipes! Use your CRM system to make this happen! 
  2. Leverage the event with a Social Media event hashtag (think something clever like #GetYourCommunityNameBBQOn).  It probably doesn't make sense to invite people with your social media hashtags but... why not run a contest asking if the ribs recipe is preferred over one featuring tri-tip or whether Arnold Palmer drinks are more popular than sweet tea?
  3. Post photos after the event on social media -- and put your Social Media Wall to use.  Everyone enjoys seeing people having fun -- why not in your outdoor living space?  Let your home shoppers see what buying a new home in your community offers as a lifestyle. 
Don't have a Social Media Wall?  Need some help finding a CRM system that will send automated emails (with recipes and great-looking photos!!)?  All of us at CPS can help you!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

How to Manage Retail Customer Lines & Improve Customer Satisfaction

Lines are a very big topic these days.  It's Memorial Day Weekend and there are media reports of record numbers of travelers and record long lines anticipated through TSA checkpoints at airports.

Shoppers appreciate social fairness while waiting in line!
In comparison, it might seem trivial to talk about lines of 10 or 20 people at a retail store.  Yet, from the retailer's perspective, lines are anything but small talk.  The retail checkout line is a critical aspect in the "total" shopping experience and, because of balking and reneging possibilities, there's a possibility that a sale can very well be lost because of a line.

Perry Kuklin, writing in Business2Community, suggests consumers would consider not returning to a location with long or badly managed lines -- and would probably tell others about the experience.  And, social media outlets are available everywhere for disappointed consumer stories.

What's a retailer to do? There's actually an established body of knowledge regarding lines -- operations management and queueing theory. Queueing theory has been around since the early 1900's.  However, the focus has transitioned from mathematical theory to shopper experiences.  There are 3 basic tenets: people get bored while waiting in line, consumers don't like expecting a short wait and experiencing a long one and the experience needs to be perceived as fair.

Retailers have added all sorts of ways to combat line boredom from impulse items next to the line to demographics-sensitive music and always-on monitors running video and news. Shoppers tend to mind waiting less when provided with estimated wait lines (think: Disneyland).

However, the biggest line issue (and, therefore, the most emotion-laden) is the quest for fairness. Dick Larson is considered one of the foremost queue management scholars and he notes there have been incidents of "queue rage" when the concept of social fairness has been breached.

CPS' QuikLine helps manage the social fairness aspect of consumer line expectations.  Whether implemented with a serpentine line or a series of individual lines, QuikLine signals for the next person when a checkout location becomes available (an example of call-forward queueing). It can display results on a monitor, call out an available register and prompt lights to flash. Coupled with impulse items at the checkout stand and great background music, QuikLine will help minimize actual wait time and the emotional impact of waiting for retail consumers. End result: improved customer satisfaction!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend 2016: Honor and Remember

Memorial Day has been set aside as a day for all of us to remember the sacrifices made for our country by our military and to honor their memories.

Semper Fi!
Traditionally, here at CPS, we recognize and thank members of the CPS family who have served our country.

In addition, this year we're celebrating Bob Musa son's recent graduation from US Marine Corps Camp Pendleton Boot Camp. 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 and Dave's father, Michael Lott (US Navy, retired)
Michele'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 know 50% of today's high school youth aren't aware of World War II? Why not take the time to encourage friends and family to remember -- with a bbq, picnic, visit to a memorial park or concert, joining a parade or race.  Here in Sacramento, some of us will be joining family members at the Aerojet Wounded Veteran Run  to honor and remember family and community members. Join us -- or participate in something similar in your community!!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

How to: Tell Your Amenities and Lifestyle Story Effectively

Bill Greene, with Atlanta-based multifamily developer Wood Partners, notes in a recent Multifamily Executive article, "The bar's being raised higher and higher on these communal amenities." He continues, "Millennials expect them. Besides wanting to live close to work, they expect every amenity you could probably find in a single-family suburban market, but all in one area."
Using interactive technology to tell your story!

And, actually, the same might be said for Boomers and their interest in a more urban environment. They want amenities associated with their previous suburban life such as pools, fitness spaces and large-scale theater rooms along with the lifestyle associated with a metro environment.

Location, of course, is still critical, as Jerry Davis with UDR notes, "The biggest community amenity is always the neighborhood."

One (perhaps) unexpected amenity of the moment is meeting/conference rooms.  With more and more people working from home, there's an interest in relaxing socially on-property as well as the ability to engage in community-centric activities such as wine tastings, dinners and game-nights.  Davis comments, "When it comes time for their lease to expire, if your residents have more friends that live at the community, they're more likely to renew."

The property not only needs the amenities but the ability to effectively tell their story.  Our suggestions include adding an interactive touch-screen based presentation to the leasing office with a clear focus on neighborhood and lifestyle. CPS' SalesTouch visually tells your story -- location, neighborhood and amenites.  Add CPS' Social Media Wall to engage prospects and residents in a property conversation -- and leveraging your social media, as well.  Ask us; we'll help you tell the story in the context of your community and amenity set!