Saturday, December 31, 2016

Stats Show Digital Signage Engages Customers

People always ask, "Does Digital Signage really offer anything different than a home builder's website?"

SalesTouch engages and captures more attention!
Websites engage users and drive them towards an onsite sales office visit; digital signage at the sales office has different objectives.  There are potential buyers in your sales office; what should this sales tool do to turn them into actual buyers?

Following is a statistic to evaluate when considering including digital signage in your sales/marketing program -- whether an interactive touchscreen system (in a kiosk, mounted on the wall or a tablet) or a social media wall:  compare the consumer effectiveness of a digital signage display to typical "static" signage such as floorplan displays on the wall or a floor topo table.



Here, at CPS, we can help you develop dynamic digital signage that will engage, gain views, build your brand and increase sales!

Let's kick start 2017!






Thursday, December 29, 2016

Adding Happiness to Your Customer Experience

Great article by Simon Fraser in a recent Retail Customer Experience blog entitled, 7 Keys to Customer Experience Happiness suggesting business customer experience efforts should never just be an initiative or a fad. They're never a one-off!

CPS' Social Media Wall: encouraging storytelling!
Customer experience efforts, in other words, need to be communicated as part of the overall business vision -- and delivered consistently.

Business goals, Fraser offers, are enhanced when there's a focus on creating great stories. Members of your organization -- and your clients -- get a positive experience as a result of building memories.  Who doesn't remember experiencing "that feeling" when hearing a great customer experience story?

Why not think about how you are telling your stories?  Are they static stories on the wall or in a brochure -- or are you encouraging your customers to take information, add their experiences and start creating their own narrative around your brand?

Take a look at CPS Social Media Wall: it starts with your vision -- copy and images -- and adds in stories using social media content.  Stories emerge from your vision, yet are dynamic and ever-changing as customers start adding their own through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Every business and person has stories to tell -- and all of us get pleasure from hearing and seeing them!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Put Something Apple in Your Sales Office!

Great article by Carmine Gallo in Forbes, recently, How the Apple Store Seduces You with the Tilt of Its Laptops.
SalesTouch Puts Multisensory Experiences into Sales Offices!

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'  touchscreen system, SalesTouch, is 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!  And, 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.  We'll be at the National Home Builders Association IBS in Orlando in January and there will be a number of touch opportunities available!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Your Home Shoppers Want to Hear from You!

Interesting article recently in Realtor suggesting agents might want to reassess their follow-up efforts with home shoppers.  Keeping in contact not only puts you "top of mind" with active home shoppers but can also be a referral source, as well.

The key thought is many home shoppers don't have a "specific" interest in mind when they first start looking at homes and staying in touch is possibly the most underrated and underused sales process in the industry.

Software facilitates staying int ouch!
Of course, all of us have many, often competing priorities for our time.  Yet, 36% of home owners say they find it beneficial to receive communications -- even if they aren't in the market for a home, today.

Topics of interest range from what's for sale to home maintenance pointers.  Why not have a set of pre-established emails that go out on a periodic basis to everyone in your prospect file?  CRM systems are designed to facilitate this process -- from registering your prospects to creating a set of followup emails to actually sending them on a scheduled basis.  Once you have the followup details down, your home shoppers will receive tips and pointers from you on a regular basis -- without any additional work needed.

And, why not apply the same process to your home buyers?  Here's a group of people living in a new neighborhood, using different appliances and concerned about their new home.  Remind your homeowners that you're available for warranty questions --  and encourage the "warm and fuzzy" by sending out an email with the closest restaurants (coupons might be a possibility, too) -- or a trail guide to local recreation hot spots. There's always room for info regarding the new appliances, HVAC systems and electronics, too!  After sale communications are another key referral source!

Not quite sure how to get started with this process?  Contact us to discuss CPS•CRM and WarrantyWatcher customer service software -- easy-to-use and cost effective ways to communicate with prospects and buyers!



Thursday, December 1, 2016

Builders: Relatable and Emotionally Charged Marketing Ideas

There's a current line of thinking suggesting that, regardless of the product (consumer electronics, cars, new homes), more and more women are now playing a primary role in the decision-making purchase process.
SalesTouch engages your audience with relatable content!

What does this emerging role have to do with your marketing approach and style?  If you've always marketed to what might be categorized as a "female audience," you might argue...not much.

However, all sorts of other bits of marketing data are emerging, as well: women are the "most" connected audience (throw out those preconceived "geek" ideas!).  That fact alone might suggest re-visiting your marketing approach: more mobile, less print; more Facebook, fewer mailers.

In addition, recent studies suggest women see information, products and even themselves in terms of how they relate to others.  Women, in other words, feel more comfortable responding to marketing messages that tell relevant stories.  And, the studies suggest a story's details matter as much as the outcome.

There are many marketing studies out there but.. let's just concentrate on these two pieces of information for a moment: women are "the most connected audience" and they are motivated by richly detailed stories.  How might this influence your marketing approach (and sales, for that matter!)?

Suggestion #1: don't cut to the end...take time (and energy) to tell the story!

Take a look at the image at the top of this blog.  It's from a CPS SalesTouch interactive touchscreen presentation at a multifamily property, The John Marshall.  This property is telling their location story: there's a lot going on in the surrounding area; there are all sorts of restaurants...

But.. that's not the end of their story!  John Marshall's interactive touchscreen system not only provides information about the restaurant and an appropriate image.. it calls out a signature dish!  If you were looking for an apartment in the area, can't you see yourself relating?  Trying this restaurant, living in this neighborhood?

To some extent, doesn't this image take you to Suggestion #2: The best stories are emotionally charged.  John Marshall doesn't just list the restaurants; it shows very appealing images and takes time to provide something really interesting: the "Gotta Try" dish.  Can't you just taste these oysters? Wouldn't it be great living in this property so you could try other restaurants and their signature dishes, too?

We'll have more Suggestions in future blogs talking about including women and their "relater" tendencies.  Meanwhile, try thinking of one new way you can incorporate relatable stores and technology into your sales and marketing process!

We'll give you a starter story idea: follow-up a prospect's visit (whether they were looking at a car, home, apartment or ...) with an email containing a short cell phone video you just made highlighting 2-3 items covered in your sales presentation -- as you open the door to the car or walk through the home visited.  It's easy-to-do and will resonate with your prospect!  This creative way to story-tell comes courtesy of new home sales trainer, Jeff Shore!

Interested in learning more about relatable marketing technology?  Here at CPS we can talk to you about interactive touchscreen-based presentations, social media walls and dynamic, consumer-focused comment systems.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

2017 Means More Buyers, More Selections: How to Manage Customization

Builderonline article, Your Biggest Competition isn't Other Builders, highlights advantages to purchasing a new home when compared with an existing home sale.  The author, Myers Barnes, highlights 7 key selling advantages.

The second key advantage is customization and that asks a basic but key question:  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.

FieldCollaborate: Improve customization processes
And, a reminder: Millennials -- expected to be a key 2017 buyer profile -- are very keen on customization and personal style!

Some of you might be thinking, "Oh, customization; tried that.  It adds time to our schedule and it's tough to keep track of all the selections, changes, re-selections. Not even sure they're profitable."

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

Previous Blogs mentioned the need for simplification 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 home buyer perceptions, as well.  No one wants to hear the neighbor was able to add the granite counter top 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 and provides field managers 24/7 data access necessary to keep up with options activity.  They're able to see what has been ordered on Lot 12 -- and when.  It's possible to view drawings -- 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. CPS can help you determine what processes will best help you -- CPS•CRM manages option selections including cut-offs and FieldCollaborate provides critical 24/7 access to selections, schedules and drawings.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Why Did the Turkey Want a Move-in Ready Home?

All of us at Computer Presentation Systems wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!


and, to answer that question: He wanted something tur(n)key!

(with a shoutout to Steve Kaller at Ultimate New Home Sales in Southern California!)





Saturday, November 19, 2016

Demographics, Home Size, CRM: Who's Buying the Biggest Homes?

Today's new home marketplace can be thought of as a made up of a series of age-related buyer segments : boomers, millennials and Generation X'ers to name the most recognized.

Millennials are largest segment; Gen X'ers are buying largest homes!
Millennials are re-visiting previously developed home preferences, says Clare Trapasso in a recent Realtor.com article, as they're leaving the "fantasy, pace and possibilities" of big-city living and moving out to the suburbs.

Yes, the "burbs", and that's just the first of a series of major changes being noticed in the new home marketplace.

Another is the changing relationship between buyer demographic groups and home size. Today, Gen X'ers (generally thought of as those with birth years between 1965 and 1985) are buying the largest homes. They're the most likely to have children, with schools as "top of mind" and often have their parents living with them, as well.

While the average Gen X'er home is 2,200 square feet, Millennials typically purchased 1,720 square foot residences.  Boomers were in the 1,800-1,920 range with the larger homes going to younger Boomer buyers.  Jonathon Smoke, chief economist at realtor.com, notes that "older boomers are trying to downsize."

Of course, home size varies by regional price points.  The relationship between size and demographic group remains constant, however.

What does this have to do with CRM?  A good CRM system allows you to "slice and dice" information so you're able to associate profile information with individual prospects and then search through your database, using software tools, to locate those prospects meeting specific criteria.  Do you have more of your largest floorplan units available?  Consider creating a demographic-specific search and develop a followup email focused on home size -- highlighting local schools and suggesting alternative uses for extra bedrooms!

CPS•CRM features customized prospect profiles; we can show you how to slice and dice data to market effectively!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Have You Heard: There's a Tsunami of 1st Time Buyers on the Horizon!

Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at realtor.com, says he's excited to see traffic and survey data indicating "first-time home buyers are poised to come back in a big way in 2017."

That's the good news; however, Smoke notes that, unfortunately, this surge doesn't mean all of them will actually become home buyers.
Up-to-speed on neighborhood schools & amenities?

And, that's where an agent with sound business processes can make a difference!

Why? This first-time buyer tends to face more challenges than other home buyer demographic segments:

  • They need help with down payment funds
  • These buyers tend to be renters so there's a lease in place that needs to be managed
  • Many need to improve their credit score
  • They need to fine tune their focus towards homes in the appropriate price range to quality for a mortgage
That's where the agent comes in with, as Smoke suggests, education, advice and support!

Why not have a prepared informational package highlighting common issues and offering suggestions to address them? A FAQ package, in other words! Work with your lenders so you understand which loans are most appropriate for your buyer profile -- so you can comfortably discuss some of these details with prospects.  If this is your buyer profile, think about scheduling group educational sessions -- and use your CRM software to send out invites, manage responses and keep track of attendees. You can become your prospect's "trusted advisor" for all things home buying!

CPS has been providing sales/marketing software to home builders since 1985 -- and we've seen several tsunamis!  Today's CRM product will help you display financing and qualifying ratio scenarios, slice/dice data to focus on buyers needing additional information and manage those educational sessions, too!  Let us know how we can help you be prepared for this tsunami!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Using CRM to Build Homebuilder Customer Loyalty

At first glance, it might seem a bit strange to read about brand loyalty in the home building industry.

On-site Social Media Walls encourage social interaction
You might ask: don't folks buy one home at a time?  And, don't most hope to live in their current home for years? Once they decide to move, does it even make sense to suggest buying a new home from the same builder?

While there might be some truth in each of the statements above, there's also a considerable amount of weight behind having homeowners blog, Tweet and post about their new home purchase, refer a friend and, yes, actually have their current builder be "top of mind" when considering a new home in the future.

Acquiring new customers is good, but it's just the beginning.  Businesses only win big, Jai Rawal posits in his recent 6 Ways to Builder Customer Loyalty at Every Touch Point article, when customers can be nurtured into loyal customers. Rawal goes on to suggest that providing a satisfying emotional experience helps create loyalty.

After all, it's estimated to cost 6-7 times more to acquire new customers than to nurture a current one into an ongoing relationship!
Schedule events, use CPS CRM to invite & remind

How to engage home buyers at every touch point?  While there are ideas that might not resonate too well with home builders such as adding a points-based loyalty program (think your local market, airlines and hotels), it is possible to kick-up your CRM system a notch and start taking advantage of his other suggestions -- and consider adding complimentary touch points to maximize your impact:

  • Engage your prospects and buyers via social channels.  We've talked about CPS' Social Media Wall -- an easy-to-implement tool capturing and displaying social media content in sales and information centers.
  • Encourage current buyers to become brand ambassadors through referrals. Nielson reports that family and friends are the most persuasive influence on buying decisions.  Use social media and a referral program so your customers can easily and confidently promote your communities.  Send letters and/or emails reminding homeowners about your referral program -- frequently.  Most people won't remember it exists after 1 month.
  • Use email marketing to keep in touch with homeowners.  Here's where CRM shines as you can create pre-set pieces, schedule their delivery and dial-in recipients (only those buyers in the last 6 months, everyone with a pool, all Plan 2 homeowners, etc.).  Send a referral program reminder, invite homeowners to a summer BBQ at the sales center, offer a coupon to the new pizza place...all focused on engaging and reconnecting with your homeowners.
  • Delight Your Homeowners on Special Occasions.  It doesn't have to be overly exciting -- a simple thank you on the anniversary of their closing or birthday wishes.  A recent Fulcrum study found that 75% of customers receiving a birthday message from a company thought more highly of the company.  Again, CRM excels at this type of automated -- yet personalized --messaging.
Intrigued by the concept of brand loyalty?  Interested in exploring how your organization can put some of these ideas into action? Contact us for a demo -- or visit our website.




Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How to: Add a Retail Customer Engagement Initiative

It's true: the old, wooden suggestion box with a slot on top is past its prime.  Also no longer relevant to today's shopper is the passive,  tired-looking cork board with messages, faded and tattered flyers and weary, crumpled suggestion forms.

While those passive signage items are no longer relevant, retailers are definitely interested in getting in touch with their shoppers, soliciting opinions and pushing information.

Today, many of those objectives are being met with digital solutions -- and they've moved beyond passive to become customer experience zones displaying store specials, video and, even, social media content.

CPS' Interactive Customer Comment Board
Are you spending time to listen to your customers?

CPS' touchscreen-based Customer Comment Board acts as a proactive customer service process.  Customers are asked to submit comments, suggestions, ideas.  They're empowered, given a platform and might even provide ideas for new products, initiatives and improvements.

Take a closer look at the Board on the left -- there's all sorts of customer engagement initiatives combined into a single board designed to enhance the shopping experience:


   (1) The actual Leave a Comment section
   (2) A store events calendar with pop-up details available at a touch
   (3) Streaming video content
   (4) Weekly Specials display
   (5) Connections with social media

If you entered this store, wouldn't you want to walk up and see what's happening? Digital signage has moved from a simple, one-way dialogue with either the shopper filling out a form or the retailer broadcasting via video to a two-way conversation. It's engaging, more personal and offers an interactive experience with the brand.

Monday, November 14, 2016

How To: Add Content Marketing To Your Sales/Leasing Office

Have you ever considered the difference between content and content marketing?

One way to consider the difference, says Michael Brenner, in an article available at www.contentmarketinginstitute.com, is the destination.

Adding content and making it a destination!
Brenner suggests we need to focus on developing content for the audience we're trying to reach, engage and convert.

In other words,Brenner says,  get focused on attracting an audience to an experience (that's the destination) that you own, build and optimize to achieve your marketing objectives.

Have you had a chance to see CPS' Social Media Wall? It's a great destination for content -- and the audience helps develop the content!

You're able to develop traditional marketing copy and images around your product and brand-- and add social media content developed by you and your audience.

Now, you're creating a content brand and sharing the development and viewing with your audience!

Take a look at our web video and consider whether this unique, tradigital experience would help make your sales/leasing office a content destination!




Saturday, November 12, 2016

Celebrating Veterans Day Weekend 2016






Computer Presentation Systems is based in Sacramento -- and we live downtown as well as in the foothills.  There were Veterans Day parades throughout the region; we're sharing Folsom's Wayne Spence Veterans Day Parade with you (and, yes; that's Johnny Cash Folsom!).

This annual parade features marching bands, floats, civic groups and kids -- Jr ROTC groups, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, high school bands and service groups -- the estimate is about 2,000 people are in the parade and thousands more line the streets to watch. 



It's a rain or shine event; 2016 was an absolutely gorgeous fall day!

Enjoy your weekend and join us in thanking our nation's veterans as well as those serving today for their service!









Friday, November 11, 2016

Veterans Day 2016: We Lift Up & Honor Those Who Serve!

Veterans Day gives us all an excellent opportunity to lift up and honor those who served our country -- as well as those currently serving.

Semper Fi!
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.

And, we're giving a shout out to Bob Musa's son, Mike. Earlier this year, he graduated US Marine Corps Camp Pendleton Boot Camp 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 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)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

New Home Construction Web Portals: 24/7 Access for Vendors & Buyers

Are you familiar with the concept of a web portal, sometimes referred to as a neutral platform in the cloud?  Portals provide users the ability to view  and sometimes update  information developed by one or more systems from a single web-based location.
Give Your Vendors 24/7 Access to Schedules & Punch

What would 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.

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

Home buyers, on the other hand, login to the FieldCollaborate Portal to view 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. Great for out-of-town buyers!

Home builders use the Portal, as well, to share information within their enterprise. When we consider the entire set of participants  the builder, vendors and homebuyers. 

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?  Your 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 their vendors. Ask us how FieldCollaborate and Portals can improve your scheduling, communication and efficiency!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

New Home Sales: 91% of Your Buyers Have Something in Common!

Back in April 2015, the Blog highlighted the statistic that 91% of home purchase decisions were made by women.  We noted some of the facts associated with women home buyers: they're more "connected," they're interested in relevant information and appreciate relatable content.

TecHomeBuilder featured an article recently titled The WOW Factor of Women-Centric Building and highlighted key elements critical to the home buying process:
Let Your Buyer Explore & Learn: This is the place for her!

(1) Make an emotional connection -- images really help you tell a story.  Take a look at the interactive touchscreen system designed for John Marshall multifamily property displayed to the left.  At a glance, you're able to put together a set of thoughts about the community, imagine the energy taking place on a daily basis and want to investigate further.

(2) Engage your buyer with stories -- tell visual stories so your home shopper can get to know you;  use language that speaks to her story such as "location, location, location" or "take a look what's available in our new neighborhood!"

We've blogged about relatable content previously: let your buyer know your community is the place for her!  You're going to need to do some discovery to determine not only the demographic of your audience but their drivers, too.  Sometimes, it's schools; other times, recreation, easy access to employment locations or health care facilities.  Take some time getting to know your buyer profile's back story in order to tell appropriate stories to your buyer!

Large touchscreens or tablets: Feel the energy!
(3) Develop and Use a Quality Presentation in your Sales Efforts -- here's where interactive presentations help you engage the shopper! Walk into an office (any office!) with what is called "passive signage" and then walk into another with an interactive presentation -- whether in a kiosk, on the wall or presented via tablet.  You can feel the energy, want to step up, and get engaged to start your own exploration journey!

There's more to the WOW factor -- keep an eye on the Blog!

And, contact us if you'd like to explore how an interactive presentation -- on a large touchscreen monitor or tablet -- can help you tell relatable and engaging stories about your community!

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!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

New Home Agents: How to Start the Conversation with Co-op Agents

Do you recall the recent statistics from a recent Visual Capitalist article regarding Millennials and co-op agents?

They're pretty striking:
  • 90% of Millennial home shoppers use a co-op agent
  • 68% interviewed only 1 agent!
Offer needed resources to your co-op team!
How can you, as a new home sales agent, tap into this valuable traffic and sales resource?

It turns out many resale agents tend to shy away from showing new homes -- and there are very specific steps you can take to unleash this source of traffic and sales! Let's take a look at a couple:
  • Resale agents aren't sure what to expect from an on-site agent.  In fact, many aren't sure how to setup an introduction!
  • Typically, resale agents don't get into the financing process and some aren't clear what is involved in the qualification process
  • Many co-op agents aren't sure how to find out information regarding standing inventory and homes under construction?
Why not use your CRM system to auto-generate emails to every co-op agent bringing in a prospect? You can thank them for the visit and let them know you're available to discuss the community, pre-qualification and inventory. Offer to keep them up-to-date as new homes are released, too. 

Then, do a bit of research to obtain contact info for local co-op agents and use the same CRM system to introduce yourself and extend an invitation to a community tour complete with information packet detailing your community, introducing your lending team and highlighting your on-line inventory resources.

Remember: co-op agents need to be able to sell your community, homes and features just like you do! Make it easy for them by providing the materials needed. 

And, make sure your CRM system enables you to identify and track co-op agents and their prospects. Then, you can send targeted emails as well as manage special events and get-togethers.  If you need assistance, talk to us about CPS CRM -- designed for homebuilders with the tools needed to reach this co-op agent audience!


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Downtown: Calling Boomers!

It turns out that, like many other things, today's retirement location is not your father's retirement community!

Clare Trapasso, a Realtor.com staff member, reviewed a 2016 National Association of Realtors report and noted, in a Realtor.com article, an increase in the number of buyers aged 50-59 purchasing homes in urban areas -- and there's been an almost 10% increase year-over-year.

And, it's not unexpected, to some extent.  Boomers have changed many things over the last 50 years; why not retirement living?  Instead of moving to traditional retirement areas in the South and Southwest, Boomers are moving to urban centers from the suburbs in increasing numbers.

And, they're looking for many of the same amenities as Millennial home shoppers: walkability, amenity-rich environments offering shopping, dining, cultural venues and opportunities for learning -- through both traditional colleges as well as learning centers.

What's a builder to do?  First, minimize all of the entanglements associated with suburban living -- maintaining all of the amenities, driving to shop, locating services and the like.  And take a serious look about incorporating elements at the top of Boomer wish lists:

  • On-site services -- think fitness centers, on-site pet and housekeeping services and a concierge. As well as "neighborhood" rooms for cooking lessons, wine tastings and book clubs!
  • Neighborhood walkability -- this is key; in many cities, Boomers are revitalizing the historic downtown as they have the money to spend to dine, shop and enjoy museums, concerts and theater. While employment hubs aren't as important to this buyer, the ability to live life without relying on a car is critical. 
  • Flexible floor plans -- Many Boomers are downsizing but they're interested in designing their new home around current interests and needs.  And, cookie-cutter doesn't work.  One person's second bedroom is another's craft room and another's home office.  
Communicating these new urban amenities and features requires thinking outside the traditional sales office static signage -- it's not your father's sales office, either!  Engage your buyers with SalesTouch -- an interactive touchscreen system designed to highlight community amenities, the surrounding neighborhood and flexible options available in your floor plans.  


What about involving your home shopper in the conversation surrounding your neighborhood and community lifestyle? Take a look at CPS' Social Media Wall -- designed to merge traditional marketing content and copy with social media to focus the discussion on what makes your community talk to these new urbanites! #GetSocial!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Multifamily Demand Reaches Beyond Millennials and Boomers

Ask most people working in the multifamily industry about demand for their communities and many will say there are 2 basic and key demographic segments: Millennials and Boomers.
SalesTouch showcases amenities as well as location!

But, a recent Multifamily Executive article by Stacy Stemen notes that even though those groups generate significant demand, there's a third, sometimes overlooked, demographic in the demand equation: divorced people.

And, it's a population that shouldn't be ignored by multifamily marketing given that almost 50% of marriages in the US end in divorce.  One or both of the individuals involved in a divorce are likely to move back into rental housing.

Have you taken this market segment into consideration in designing and marketing your property?  Have you considered what amenities and/or features would make a property more attractive to this third demographic? Stemens suggests incorporating the following elements in a property to attract the third demographic:

  • Include child-friendly amenities -- You could become a divorced parent's top choice with this one item alone! Parents want to be able to provide a "sense of home" as well as gathering places for their children so you'll see real interest in community spaces, pools and party rooms as well as fitness center/playroom combos.
  • Focus on walkability -- Millennial and Boomer consumers are known to value easy access to the surrounding area's amenities -- and divorced individuals value both the sense of community and the need for easy access to schools, shopping and employment centers.  
  • Incorporate on-site services -- Services can range from time-saving items such as concierge services, on-site dry cleaning and in-house housekeeping services to activities including movie nights, wine tasting events and other engaging activities that encourage social interaction and reduce the time needed to go off-property.

Wondering how to effectively communicate these demographic-friendly elements?  Talk with us about SalesTouch -- CPS' interactive touchscreen system designed to showcase your property, features and amenities!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Builders: Add Drone Photography to Your Social Media

Saw an interesting statistic today:

Drone listings receive 60% more leads than traditional photographer listings!

The stat was accompanied by this thought:

The most important element is to capture the energy!

SalesTouch: capturing the energy generated with drone imagery!

Wouldn't you agree the same thought applies to a new home community, master plan development or multifamily property?  Your marketing collateral needs to speak to your buyer's emotions and there's no better way to encourage a home shopper to start considering how your community meets their needs than visual stimulation.

Home building is a natural for visuals -- telling a story inside and out.  Most builders utilize still photography in brochures and on their website. Have you considered upping your WOW! factor and adding drone photography?

Take a look at the downtown Richmond image used in the John Marshall interactive touchscreen system -- add in a "Try it!" highlighting specialties -- and who wouldn't want to start exploring how to be a part of this energy?

A recent article notes there's a fundamental shift happening in the real estate industry -- just as videos changed the music industry, professional video is transforming the internet and real estate industry. Consider that thought: there's a profound change and corresponding consumer expectation underway. We all need to include, at the minimum, an analysis of how drone photography might improve current visuals.

And, if you'd like to consider adding drone imagery to a SalesTouch interactive touchscreen presentation highlighting your community, any of us at CPS can assist.  Or, expand the use with our Social Media Wall combining traditional marketing copy/images with shared social media content.  We're able to capture the energy initiated by drone imagery and translate it into an engaging, interactive exploration of your community!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Social Media Marketing & Homebuilders: Turn the Funnel Upside Down

Spencer Powell had a great article in TMRDirect highlighting why social media works for homebuilders; you can read it here.

Social Media Turns the Marketing Funnel Sideways!
Powell suggests social media is somewhat of a game-changer in the marketing world. Previously, the traditional marketing funnel described client acquisition, conversion and retention.

Today, Powell suggests there has been a pivot to focusing on retention.  Social media has created a process for consumers to interact with a company's media platforms and obtain as well as spread information through digital word of mouth.

It used to be that word of mouth engagement was a slow, individualized process -- and it utilized traditional media (newspapers, magazines, broadcasting) as well as actual conversation!

Today, builders are able to effectively start a conversation and disseminate information using visuals in social media.  Some of the more popular uses -- in addition to images of your homes (inside and out!) include:
  • Post Community Updates  -- Your home shoppers want information so let them know about Grand Openings, community activities, Phase Openings.
    • You might see a "Check Out My New Home" image in return!
  • Highlight Neighborhood Events -- Sharing information about the local area gives a sense of the area -- which is key to purchase decisions.
    • Should encourage local area businesses to get involved with your community!
  • Give a "Behind the Scenes" Tour -- Here's another way to showcase your homes as well as the building process.
    • Showcase a Field Manager providing a walkthrough!
Social Media Wall Starts the Conversation!
Take a look at CPS' Social Media Wall bringing social media platforms inside the sales and information center.  Your home shoppers have a single location to check out recent posts & Tweets as well as traditional marketing images and copy -- and add their own.  They're now part of your conversation!


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Builder Sales Offices and the Ever-Changing Consumer Landscape

Generally, we focus on the new home sales, marketing and construction management landscape. Today we're adding a bit of a more "retail" experience focus kicking-off with a recent Jane Meagher (she's with Success Strategies) comment,

In 2016, builders need to think like retailers selling new homes,                                                     rather than construction companies building homes they then sell.

Are you starting to think like a retailer?
 Meagher continues,

Let's strategically focus on influencing our buyers...like all smart retailers do.

Couple those thoughts with recent  Doug Stephens (he's known as a retail and consumer futurist) comments. Stephens analyzes trends -- financial, media, demographic, technology -- in order to provide insight into consumer and brand relationships.  

Stephens was asked, in a recent Retail Customer Experience interview, how to describe today's consumer and what is the top expectation in a retail transaction (remember: home builders are being encouraged to think like retailers!).

Try taking your immersive tools out!
Stephens suggests that, regardless of age, geography or economic strata, consumers are empowered.  And, it's not just technology doing the empowering, it's what he labels an unprecedented level of access to choice and information. 

One final thought, for today's blog, is Stephen's idea that consumer's expectations depend on what they're buying.  Stephens breaks the purchase experience into two categories: 
  • fast, easy and frictionless (you might think website or fast food here) 
  • exclusive, personalized and immersive (sales offices and design centers should be here)

Meagher mentions further, We need to thrill and delight our buyers with their (options) selections experiences.  

Would you consider evaluating your sales office experience in light of these thoughts?  Stephens says many organizations are intellectually aware of the need to change but plagued by process inertia. CPS can help you look at exciting, innovative and effective consumer engagement tools -- from interactive touchscreens to social media walls to tablet experiences.  You can adapt, innovate and keep in sync with today's changing consumer objectives!