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Monday, August 18, 2014

Is anyone reading those flyers?

Very interesting article by Jen Kline in a recent DigitalSignageToday (you can read Nobody's reading those flyers here) suggesting it how difficult it is to grab a passing "eye" in today's fast-paced retail and commercial environments with traditional comment/contact boards.

Whole Foods goes beyond flyers to digital Comment Board
In other words, if you're relying on posted flyers in your store or business hallway, you're probably missing almost everyone that could (or should) be interested.  The same, it is argued, applies to occasional emails (the once-a-month sale or every other month employee highlight newsletter).

A digital platform, Kline suggests, allows for constant -- and consistent-- distribution of useful information to your shoppers ad employees.  And, of course, once the platform is established, updates should be straightforward.

Kline argues that a digital process is more exciting and advanced than traditional flyers and emails.  It demands (or at least encourages) attention -- meaning your message has a better chance of being received. And, you're able to add contemporary and eye-catching content, too.

A well-designed board not only displays information, it communicates your business objectives, enhances branding and encourages customer engagement.

Take a look at the latest Whole Foods Market Customer Comment Board; compare it to ones you've seen covered with flyers, cards, post-its and ask yourself: which would help communicate your message, your brand, your objectives better?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Energy Savings is Top of Mind for Buyers; Now What?

We've all read how important energy savings are to today's home shopper.  Some marketing analysts say energy savings are considered right after the floorplan and location -- in essence, the #3 determining purchase factor.

And, today's buyers recognize they're not merely "doing good" with energy efficient features...they can actually save money!  Take a look at KB Homes' interactive touchscreen presentation's display highlighting a specific floor plan's energy savings as compared to a comparable resale home; it's definitely an eye opener!

Buyers want to see the impact of verifiable energy efficiency savings
A recent BUILDER interview with Cliff Majersik, Institute for Market Transformation's Executive Director, highlighted a dilemma facing home builders, buyers and mortgage lenders related to energy efficiency: mortgage lending/prequalification doesn't take these real, month-over-month into account in determining a buyer's ability to purchase.

As a result, these significant, verifiable and month-over-month savings don't translate well into the bulder's purchase price, either.

Majersik contrasts this situation to the costs associated with homeowner's insurance -- which is included in the qualification process.  If a buyer can recognize $400, $800, $1,000 savings in their out-of-pocket expenses related to the purchase of the new home...why not factor those savings into the lending process? And, see an associated increase in the builder's selling price, too.

It's an interesting question; what do you think?

US Senators Bennet and Isakson have proposed legislation (S. 1106 -- known as the SAVE Act) that would include a borrower's expected energy costs when financing a house.  The BUILDER interview as well as information regarding the SAVE Act are available from the BUILDER website here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Putting Digital Tablets to Work in Your New Home Sales Office

Did you know 2015 digital tablet sales are scheduled to surpass PC sales worldwide?  Tablets -- whether iPad, Android or Microsoft Surface -- are changing what can be referred to as the computing world by providing a very user-friendly experience that meets the many needs of today's businesses and their connected customer.

Our Solutions Blog (back in 2012) talked about the Connected Customer as a "class of consumer" whose behavior and habits mimic, says Brian Solis in Meet Generation C, those associated with Millenials in that traditional marketing efforts aren't very influential in their decision-making process.

At a minimum, it appears the traditional marketing "funnels" aren't as effective and that businesses should consider multiple engagement strategies. We've mentioned tradigital previously -- taking traditional marketing processes and applying digital technology for an enhanced result.  Think about the ways your prospects register at the sales office -- why not add a digital registration tablet or kiosk?  Start your CRM process with an engaging consumer experience!

Another idea: take the traditional sales brochure and turn it into digital exploration!  There's an opportunity to take a large touchscreen presentation and use it on a Windows Surface tablet -- or create an entirely new iPad/Android downloadable app for your prospect to browse in the sales office and at home.

An added benefit associated with adding tradigital: adding a memorable customer experience that enhances the sales process for your agents. It's a soft benefit that can result in improved employee morale with long-term profitability impacts through a quicker sales cycle, decreased turnover, reductions in collateral materials and decreased employee turnover.  Those benefits can be calculated!

Creating a community that truly provides a
memorable experience shifts work from a sales-oriented model
to an experience-oriented model.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

It's What You Say -- and How You Say It -- that Can Provide a Competitive Advantage

There's a recent article in the Wall Street Journal by Stefanos Chen (you can read it online here) noting sales agents in Los Angeles seeking a competitive edge might want to brush up on their Armenian language skills.

Trulia reviewed agent profiles across the US and found many salespeople speak languages in addition to English -- and that certain metro areas are now becoming "global markets" in terms of diversity in both agents, buyers and sellers.

Reach out using co-op agents and tradigital tools!
How is your marketing program addressing this increased diversity?  What tools can be added to provide you with a competive advantage?

In an earlier Solutions blog, we discussed the value of  building a co-op agent team to assist in opening new markets with a focus on demographics unique to your community.  Jim Park, at a recent REALTORS Conference & Expo, reminded his audience that the Asian community is frequently missed when surveying the ethnic market.  He comments, "The last category usually is 'other.' Well, the 'other' community has a lot of people in it."  Asian-Americans have higher incomes, on average, and they prefer buying new homes!

Reaching-out via co-op agents is one strategy; another idea is adding tradigital marketing tools and GO Interactive! CPS' interactive touchscreen system, SalesTouch, offers the ability to display a multilingual presentation.  Put a button on the presentation's "main layer" and offer, if you're in Chicago:  English, Polish and Greek -- or, if you're selling in Southern California:  English, Armenian and Korean. 

An interactive presentation also provides a great way to drill down into the surrounding neighborhood so your buyers know that your location meets their needs.  Highlight schools, restaurants, shopping areas that appeal to your diverse clientele.  Let them know they're Close to Everything that is important in their home search. 

Co-op agent teams, tradigital: great ways to speak your buyer's language and gain that competitive edge!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Turning Customers into Brand Ambassadors

No doubt, you've heard the stories of businesses that Go Above & Beyond for their customers -- handwritten follow-up notes, baked cookies, even gifts at the end of a long airplane ride!

There's a terrific MarketingProfs article about customer relationship initiatives (you can read it here). The author, Brandon Sawalich, points out the key to a good relationship is day-in, day-out engagement.

You've offered either a positive one-on-one experience or some sort of event; now, how do you keep the momentum going.  And, do it cost-effectively, day-in/day-out?

The customer experience doesn't need "big bang" moments all the time...but it does require an ongoing focus on the customer. 

Take a look at the CPS-designed Whole Foods Customer Comment Board image to the right. It solicits comments from customers -- about anything. Store personnel responses are published back to the Board. The Board provides for proactive customer service and the process effectively addresses the 5 key elements of positive engagement mentioned in Sawalich's article:

Listen -- How do you know what your customers want and need? Ask; then listen to the answers.

Engage -- Respond to their answers to #1.  An added bonus: doing it in an inviting manner.

Take initiative -- Anticipate your customer's needs.  Don't you love the businesses that provide an at-the-door umbrella stand when it's pouring rain? Or, the misters keeping you cool at the outdoor restaurant? Whole Foods publishes Weekly Specials on the Board -- as well as a Store Event Calendar. Customers know they can find the latest as soon as they walk in the store.

Personalize -- That's the human touch reaching out to the individual consumer. It doesn't have to be major: address them by name in your follow-up, keep notes in their customer file so you can customize your conversation. The Whole Foods Board encourages shoppers to reach out and thank store employees, by name, for outstanding service.

Get your employees on board -- Sawalich reminds us: you need employees who are willing to go the extra mile. And, encouraging that behavior needs to be something you do everyday.

Big events are great; Sawalich reminds us that "little things" ensure your customers get a consistent, high-quality experience -- and that motivates them to keep coming back for more! 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Twice as many American consumers prefer newly built homes!

Were you aware of that statistic? It's discussed in a recent Builderonline article -- and based on an April 2014 Harris Poll. You can read the details here.

Let buyers tour the Neighborhood with an interactive map!
Top reasons for the new home preference? Modern features (think bigger closets and kitchen islands), customization options (such as kitchen islands or pre-wired bedrooms, kitchens, family rooms) and maintenance/repair savings.

One interesting item is the number of times respondents mention "the neighborhood" as important in their homebuying decision.

How does your new home marketing address these buying considerations?

Here's where "tradigital" marketing tools can enhance your sales office to stand out and address home shopper needs: add an interactive touchscreen system to highlight solutions to these stated home shopper objectives!

Let your home shopper customize their home with interactive structural options (add the bonus room, build out the basement, try on bedroom 4 instead of the den). Then, encourage them to email the results to anyone/everyone! Or, print their customized floor plan in the sales office to review at home.

SalesTouch mark-up encourages buyers to highlight key features
Use CPS' SalesTouch mark-up feature to highlight what's special in your kitchen (the island, the double oven).

Address energy savings in the presentation, too! Millennial and boomer buyers -- both rank energy savings and green in their Top 3 objectives in a new home.

Let your home shopper virtually tour their new neighborhood -- exploring shopping, dining, schools, recreation -- the amenities your demographic prize.

We're available to help design your SalesTouch interactive presentation so you can see how tradigital will maximize your marketing process.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Retail Wait Warp: what can you do?

Retail wait warp? Is this some new Star Trek activity?

Not really, but...the term implies changing your retail customer's perception of their time in a checkout line.

No one likes waiting in line; that's something everyone agrees on. We can also agree that the checkout line experience heavily influences your customer's opinion of the entire shopping experience.

A recent Irisys blog notes, "People's perception of elapsed time when waiting is fairly accurate up to a minute and a half; after this point, they tend to over estimate how long the wait was."   In a sense, people's wait perceptions get exaggerated (one might even say warped!). Thus, it's even more important to proactively manage the experience.

There are a variety of methods to reduce perceived wait time. POS activity (messaging, for example) is a possibility -- as is having staff members interact with shoppers when possible.

Key, however, is a single file line -- or multiple lines with a specific target. A single line removes any question about who is next in line.Uncertainty generates anxiety -- and that anxiety negatively influences the experience. Multiple lines with a single target allow your shopper to select a line and know that it will be effectively managed, as well.

Managed lines maximize the wait warp as everyone senses the process is optimized. The wait experience itself is warped!

Talk to us here at CPS about QuikLine -- warp your retail stores with automated line management!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tradigital Marketing: How You Can Maximize Results

Great Tanya Williams blog in DigitalSignageToday (you can read more here) pinpointing the paradigm shift underway regarding the way people consume marketing messages.

We've mentioned the transition from broadcast messaging to narrowcasting; at the same time, Williams suggests traditional marketing might be the conversation starter but digital is the new destination.

Traditional sales centers utilize interactive touchscreens
In other words, we can't think either/or.  It's not "traditional" vs. "digital" -- today's messaging needs to utilize the current and add digital to produce "tra-digital"  to generate better results.

What does this mean in real terms? Let's take a look at supermarkets as an illustration: you still see passive signage highlighting specials as well as weekly promo flyers.  No doubt your Sunday paper (if there is one!!) is filled with these flyers.

That traditional messaging is augmented by digital platforms such as point of purchase digital signage, automated line management systems and digital customer comment boards.

Point of Sales messaging + queue management
Williams highlights digital's ability to enhance the marketing message process (think: updated digital signage in minutes vs. printing, shipping, posting traditional signs) even as she combats "I can't afford to implement digital signage into my business" comments. Her "You can't afford not to!" response might sound a bit glib, at first.

Conduct a cost/benefit analysis, suggests Williams, and perform a competitive analysis, too.  What are your competitors doing? If you walk into your location, how does it compare to a tradigital one? Try a phased approach, she suggests; implement key locations first and tweak as you roll out. But...get started!!

CPS can assist you in this transition: our SalesTouch interactive touchscreen systems complement passive signage in sales/leasing centers; Customer Comment Boards are proactive customer service contact points and QuikLine manages  the "wait warp" inherent in busy retail locations.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Home Builders: Taking on the Search for Skilled Labor

We've been reading interesting articles regarding a labor shortage in the homebuilding trades and seeing suggestions as to how to find qualified vendors.  We'll highlight a few -- as well as ask have you considered how to best manage the resources available to you?

First, the suggestions:

-- Network
-- Encourage current employees/vendors to join in the process
-- Build a pipeline
-- Make sure you're competitive
-- Develop talent within
-- Consider apprentice programs (your own and those in the community).

All great ideas; some will take a fair amount of time to produce results.
FieldCollaborate: anywhere/anytime scheduling & more!

We have one additional suggestion that can generate results almost immediately: make sure you're maximizing your current resources

Automated construction scheduling will not only create schedules and allow you to track/report progress against the schedules.  It will highlight problem areas, allow you to focus attention on trouble spots and help you develop solutions.

Do you know which trades show up on time, have all their equipment available and are ready to work, leave the job site clean and ready for the next trade? Scheduling systems that include quality ratings, punch lists and safety assessments will take you a long way in answering those questions.

How about taking your knowledge and expanding it throughout the supply chain? Make drawings available on line through a Vendor Portal; provide illustrated guides to specialty installations; put your schedules on line to streamline the trade partner notification process and keep everyone up-to-date.

Growing your labor pool is essential; maximizing its effectiveness is critical, too. Talk to us and see how CPS' FieldCollaborate can add efficiency and effectiveness to your construction process.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Touchscreens: Illustrating Livability

We suggested in an earlier blog that a successful interactive touchscreen system helps your home shoppers become more engaged as they find out about your product and more informed when they begin a model tour. 

They're not just looking, in other words, once they're taking the model tour; they're already making decisions.
Help your buyer visualize living in the community

That concept is actually one of the major differences between touching a screen and a mouse click: the brain is making decisions with each touch.

Well-designed touchscreen systems incorporate this powerful concept into their design. No doubt you've heard us say SalesTouch is more than "just a pretty face." Design, when you're thinking about touchscreens definitely includes great-looking photos, virtual tours and video.  It expands to include considering the target market, neighborhood features, selling opportunities.

Energy savings interest every demographic!
Encourage touching by showing information your buyer wants more of: livability items (neighborhood shopping, dining, schools and recreation), home specialty items (lazy Susans, open wire shelving in the closets), green features (tankless water heaters, Smart vents). 

Keep in mind: effective design directed towards encouraging decision-making  has to be oriented towards your buyer demographic and their livability objectives. There's absolutely no sense, in other words, in showing 55+ images to first-time buyers (or the reverse). Both generations are interested in energy savings, however.

 Use the touchscreen to visually describe how your community meets your buyer's livability objectives.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014: Honor and Remembrance

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.

Korean War Memorial -- Washington DC
Traditionally, we recognize members of the CPS family who have served our country.
Two family members served during World War II and this year is particularly memorable with  the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Bob's father, Robert S. Musa (US Marines, retired) was a Pearl Harbor survivor and spent his World War II days throughout the South Pacific. Zoe's father, Charles Miller (US Army) served in the Philippines. Memories of their service years served as a constant throughout their lives.

We remember and thank these CPS family members for their military service:

Bob Strickland, US Air Force

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 brother, Wilson Miller (US Army)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Retail Line Queue Management: Disneyland Innovated in 1955!

Did you know there's a person known as a waiting lines expert?"

Actually, it's Richard Larson and he refers to the line management process as "queue calculus."
Both shopping carts and baskets are welcome!
Waiting in line," said Lewis in a recent article, "is a stressful game with mostly losing players and picking the wrong line can lead to queue rage."

Queue rage and simple economics are the reasons you see a "single serpentine line" in many retail locations.  Queue psychology was born in 1955 when Disneyland opened and learned to keep guests happy by having them wait in a single, serpentine line.  That's back when a 45-minute wait for a 2-minute ride was a novelty!

The single line satisfies the most number of people because it "guarantees first-come, first-served," says Larson. And, the single line can drive additional sales of "grab and go" items -- not just in grocery stores but other locations with easily understood and selectable items (as examples, think Best Buy, Marshalls and T.J. Maxx.).

Traditionally, grocery stores have been considered "hold outs" in this customer-service trend (emergency rooms are another hold out).

However, Whole Foods has proven to be an exception -- especially in large, metro areas.  As Larson mentions, their typical consumer "doesn't buy a week's worth of groceries for families." He continues, "You can fit those people into a serpentine line without wasting a lot of valuable sales space."

CPS' QuikLine queueing management system takes the process a step further -- multiple lines feeding a changeable register bank and the ability to differentiate between "express" and "standard" registers. Shopping carts are welcome, in other words!

Meeting your customer's needs, generating additional sales: queue management is an idea worth exploring!


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How Do You Stack Up: 4 Keys to Effective Master-Planned Communities

There's a very thought-provoking article about Johnson Development in the recent BuilderOnline: A Developer of Master-Planned Communities Shares Know How. Read the entire article here.

In the article, Johnson's COO, Douglas Goff, suggests today's MPC isn't your father's MPC.  "There's no secret code," according to Goff, but today's MPC offers features that weren't important 20 years ago.  "Walkability and mixed use are becoming more important," Goff says.  And, Johnson loves to develop communities that can support close-in employment and generate jobs.

What makes a successful MPC today?  Johnson Developments suggests the following:

(1) Cast a Wide Net -- MPCs used to be primarily single-family oriented; now they need to address the full spectrum of potential buyers -- singles, move-down, families.  And, there's interesting info regarding price range: Johnson Development mentions while proformas don't usually pencil out for first-time buyers, upscale rental housing is a good alternative for that segment of the market not wanting to make a home commitment...yet.

Put Your Buyers in Touch with the Amenity Package
(2) Mine the Data -- Data surrounds us today; using is correctly is key.  Johnson collects and analyzes website traffic and on-site visits -- and shares that information with its builders.  They're also taking advantage of QR codes to deliver on-demand information (vs. lots of pre-printed information delivered by a fully-staffed welcome center).

We've talked about today's buyer in previous blogs -- interested in using touchscreen systems and tablets for  narrowcasting (being able to select from a broad range of information to focus on what's of interest) and "green" conscious (print on-demand makes sense as compared to reams of paper).

(3) Fast-Track Amenities -- Sense of place is important to today's buyer.  Remember we talked about "selling the neighborhood"? MPCs, according to Goff, need to invest more upfront in community anchors and enhanced natural features.

This "new but fully-functional" neighborhood is consistent with the ability to compete against resale -- as long as buyers can see what's either available now or planned for the short-term.  Take a look at Neal Communities' Grand Palm Amenity Package -- there's something for every buyer!

(4) Plan for Down Cycles -- Goff suggests that cultural and economic shifts need to be on everyone's radar.  Whether its keeping tabs on the quality of school districts or growth projects, knowing the market via research and attention builds a strong foundation.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Queue Management Enhances Your Customer Experience

It's been said that "creativity can be time-consuming!" an effort to assist in the creative thinking process, here is an outside the box digital signage solution to help you differentiate your business and more effectively engage customers.

QuikLine: Improved wait time; enhanced customer experience
Everyone waits in lines...whether the grocery store, DMV, sporting events, big box retailers. 

Generally, few of us will report a good "line experience." As James Bickers,'s contributing editor reminds us, "The psychology of the customer experience says that when things are bad, it's noticed right away; but when things are good, they often go unnoticed."

When considering lines and looking to improve the customer experience, why not add digital signage to the queue?  Instead of having customers wait and wait and... add digital signage to the process to logically queue customers and send them to the first available location. And, while customers are waiting, engage them with messages, specials, images, too!

The effect: enhancing the wait process and reducing your customer's perceived wait time.  A win/win for this creative use of digital signage.  Technology enabled the task (better queue management) to be accomplished and your customer experience has improved, too.

Let us know if you'd like information regarding CPS' creative QuikLine solution tool -- effective line queue management software utilizing off-the-shelf hardware.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Individuals as the Future of Brands

Traditionally, notes Hearsay Social's CEO Clara Shih, corporate marketing teams controlled the brand voice.  Now, Shih suggests, individual voices of employees, customers and the greater public are being empowered and transforming marketing processes. You can read more on Hearsay Social's blog.

It can be argued that the corporate marketing process is being transformed to what can be called curatorial or a facilitative role.  The "silo" approach with centralized control is changing to more of a consumer-directed dialogue.

Customer Comment Board: Empowering the consumer voice
Social networking has been driving much of this change; however, there are other ways to solicit and encourage your customer's voice. 

Take a look at the Whole Foods Customer Comment Board  featuring an interactive touchscreen.  Stores are practicing proactive customer service -- actively asking for input, soliciting advice, encouraging shoppers to highlight particular team members because of their engagement.  Team members respond to every one of the consumer comments, suggestions, requests and Cool Beans recognizing employees. 

It's no longer about putting out fires -- this is about focusing on the opportunity to do better business and stay relevant to consumers.

Are you reaching out to your customers to understand their needs and provide personalized service? What processes do you have in place to actively encourage consumer dialogue and integrate their voice into your brand?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Selling New Homes? How Your Neighborhood Can Win Over Resale

Home shoppers today can find many reasons to purchase new: improved construction processes (think structural reinforcements if you're selling in tornado- or hurricane-prone areas); energy efficient appliances and related savings, customization doubt, much of your sales and marketing attention focuses on these tangible items (and it should!).

Close to Everything: Take a Look at What Interests You!
At the same time, Marilyn Lewis' article, 20 Signs You're Buying in a Great Neighborhood, reminds us "a great neighborhood sells a home"!
What are you doing to promote your new neighborhood? Lewis' article (you can read it here) suggests the first thing you can do is: get out and learn about the neighborhood! Take a walk, pick up a latte, locate school resource guides and, soon, you'll feel comfortable talking-up the area to your home shoppers.

Lots going on in this walkable neighborhood!
Of course, there are brochures, guides and the like but...why not put technology to work introducing your neighborhood to your home shoppers?  Make it an engaging exploration; add personalized touches (we love the John Marshall's "Must Try" pick for their dining examples); Go Interactive!

Take a look at the SalesTouch interactive touchscreen presentation location displays above and to the right: you're able to view the local  area map and select a topic of interest mirroring

Monday, April 14, 2014

What Builds a Customer Relationship? Conversation!

We all can recognize an essential fact about conversations: it's really difficult to have one with someone you don't know!  Where do you start? Do we have a common interest?

Interactive Touchscreens Engage & Start the Conversation
That's one reason we champion interactive touchscreens for use in sales and information centers: they get conversations started.  Between home shoppers, between consumers and sales agents, even between prospects and a touch monitor!

People walk up to a touch monitor when its visually inviting.  They've seen a message they're interested in and want to start engaging.  In other words, they're starting the conversation with your brand!

Take a look at the image above: the home shopper has viewed Camberley Homes' Lakeshore floor plan and taken time to personally note they love the Open Kitchen.

What can we gather from this interaction? We'll suggest that a conversation has been started, the sales

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Homebuilder Collaboration Software: Enhances Office-to-Field-to-Vendor Interaction

Traditionally, there were separate sets of knowledge, requests and data.  Homebuilders developed schedules and assigned tasks to their vendors.  There were faxes and telephone calls to communicate what needed to be done -- with more calls and invoices indicating what had been done.

Shared Schedules, Punch Items, Safety - Anywhere, Anytime

Today, homebuilders are focused on replacing localized data with a central repository of information accessible by authorized team members via the lowest common technology denominator -- software utilizing an internet browser.  This process means that office desktops, mobile phones and tablets are able to share information -- and design drawings have been added to this shared set of information.

CPS' Vendor Portal meets the core objectives needed for effective collaboration: organizational features such as security settings, user authorization and the like; communication features including publishing items such as FieldCollaborate construction schedules, management features including work standards and sharing/viewing/working with design drawings through 3rd party add-ons such as

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Today's Home Buyers are Looking for...Energy Efficiency is in the Top 3

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) recently reported (MortgageOrb summarized here) that today's single-family home buyer's list of most desired features includes: convenience, livability and energy efficiency.

Energy Efficiency: How Buyers Can Save $$
Do you recall an earlier Solutions blog, Bringing Green Out from "Behind the Walls?"

Energy efficiency is right there in the Top 3 desired features -- specifically Energy-Star rated windows, programmable thermostats and Energy-Star rated appliances.

How does your Marketing Plan address these buyer objectives? We'd like to suggest Go Interactive with a SalesTouch system engaging
Show your buyers how a programmable thermostat works
your home shoppers and providing an interactive experience highlighting the "green" features of your homes and the benefits. 

Get specific: show them how much they can expect to save with new energy-efficient appliances.  How cool a room stays with low thermal emissivity windows.  How a programmable thermostat works and why it is so useful in a new home.

And, how about incorporating these "green" features into a "green" marketing program?  Go Interactive  provides print on-demand brochures as well as e-brochures. Build your "green" brand as you provide energy-efficient solutions at the first consumer encounter as well as within your homes!

Monday, March 31, 2014

What's Trending for Customer Service? Think Proactive, Omnichannel

It's been said that effective customer service is both a strategy and philosophy as much as a major business function.  As a result, it makes sense to monitor trends and understand new channels in order to evaluate whether it makes sense to modify your customer service strategy. We've seen two major trends emerge over the last year:
Interactive Touchscreen: Proactive Customer Service

(1) Proactive interaction -- Most agree that customer service shouldn't focus only on "putting out fires." It's about developing relationships from the first point of contact. Providing proactive interaction shows you support your customers and reduces the number of fires long-term.  Utilizing"self-service" throughout your engagement process allow customers to interact at their timing. You'll start the conversation as your consumers provide feedback, suggestions and requests ahead of a critical item. Using technology (such as a knowledge base) lets your customers engage with you and each other. Your customers will tell you about their interests and concerns when presented with the ability to interact.

(2) Omnichannel customer service -- Zendesk reports 2014 is shaping up as the year of omnichannel. An interesting blog suggests consumers are becoming more comfortable interacting with companies via email, phone, in store, etc.  What's really interesting to read is how companies benefit when providing multiple engagement channels -- that is, there are economic benefits: 75% of

Monday, March 24, 2014

Kicking Off Spring's Selling Season

Are you ready to kick start your Spring selling season?

Yes; for many, it's been a long, cold winter with ice storms, record cold and history-busting snowfalls. Hopefully, we're past the worst of that and can start generating Spring marketing efforts.  Here are several that should resonate and can start generating visits to your sales office:

(1) Reach Out to Realtors -- We've talked about the value of co-op agents before (take a look at an earlier Solutions blog entry --  Builders, Co-Op Agents: Reaching the Asian Community.) 
Co-op Agents: Give them a reason to visit!

BuilderOnLine reports Spring is the busiest season for Realtors and suggests offering incentives to make sure they spread the word about your community.  How about putting together a "Get Ready for Spring" Open House -- offering a "spa event" raffle for attendees?  Or, a "Wine & Cheese" evening with a case of your favorite?  And, keep the buzz going: don't stop with one event!  Follow-up with emails announcing the winner and promoting your next event -- as well as your community.

Don't forget that Realtors often focus on a specific demographic -- relocations, ethnic or religious groups, 55+ buyers, etc.  Reach out to these demographic-centric agents, often.  They always will have a group of interested buyers available to visit your community -- provide them with a reason to stop by.

(2) A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words --- Mollie Elkman, a Philadelphia-based marketing expert, reminds us that pictures offer "virtual curb appeal."  Why not take one step further and Go Interactive with a touch screen system? 
Go behind the walls -- and beyond the floorplan!
You'll start engaging prospects from the minute they step into your sales office and can continue the conversation with interactive floor plans, the ability to select and place furniture inside your homes and e-brochures. 

Take your home shoppers "behind the walls" and visually talk about your location, amenities, and features.  Show them you're "in the center of town" and what that offers -- or your rural location and the great amenities provided by the HOA. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Bringing Green Out from "Behind the Walls"

Incorporating green into building has been gaining momentum -- particularly, according to a recent Constructech article -- among residential homebuilders.  Builders, says Constructech, can market green from a cost savings perspective -- thus, a gaining a competitive value add in the marketing equation.
What drives consumer interest in green?

A recent Navigant Research study (discussed in a Constructech article here) suggests home energy-management systems have had a difficult time gaining traction in the market. But...Navigant suggests increased awareness will drive future growth.

How can you provide the critical increased awareness so your home shoppers will want to buy-in to your energy-saving options?  Take a look at what Navigant says are the primary drivers: the desire to reduce electricity bills as well as utilize smart thermostats.

Consumers have signaled their interest -- how are you responding?  One great way to

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Townhouse Construction Increasing: Weather Can Motivate Buyers

A recent Eye on Housing report from the National Association of Home Builders projected the share of  townhouse construction to increase from its current 4%  (do you remember the days of a 12% share back in 2004)?

NOAA 2/2014 Average temp comparison!!
Now, take a look at the NOAA February 2014 weather map on the left!

What might that map suggest to you when marketing your new townhome community? Some parts of the country usually factor in  weather but.. who would expect agents in Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte or even Myrtle Beach to develop new selling points focused on weather?

We'd suggest go interactive and provide an Advantages of Townhome Living section.  Your home shoppers typically look at floor plans and sitemaps; however, they might not focus on all of the advantages your townhomes offer.

You might visually mention: No Shoveling, No Exterior Maintenance, Community Gym Available (no driving at the end of the day!), Community Clubhouse Available (sense of community available here!),  Underground Parking (no scraping!) and the like. Maybe another No Shoveling Necessary image could cycle through!

Tongue in cheek? Sure...but, we all know there are all sorts of motivators in the purchase process!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Interactive Touchscreens: Branding Dives Deeper than Marketing

Previously, we've talked about how using an interactive touchscreen system at a sales or leasing office or a welcome center provides builders and developers with a unique branding opportunity
Branding:  providing benefits to customers

Branding is at the core of a business' marketing strategy.  More than logos, colors, web designs, sales office styling... branding reflects your business purpose, values and culture.

How do those big picture concepts get translated to an interactive touchscreen? We've always said SalesTouch is more than a pretty face -- although the introductory screen presented here is certainly attractive! 

Is your market first-time buyers? Your home shoppers might not be familiar with your community or the surrounding neighborhood or the financing process .  They're just getting started in the purchase decision process: let them engage and explore using the touchscreen.  Storytelling is key for this demographic!

Now to the opposite buyer profile: 55+ buyers: they're just as concerned about the surrounding neighborhood; however, their specific interests probably differ than the first-time buyer. Schools give way to golf courses, local attractions to golf courses.  Financing might not be as much of an issue as available structural options: is it possible to convert bedroom #3 to a flex room? What makes your amenity package attractive?  Details are critical to this demographic.

A well-designed touchscreen system helps you respond to your homeshopper's objectives; it benefits your customers -- and isn't that your brand's objective?

Want to continue thinking about branding and the relationship to marketing strategy? There's a very interesting branding discussion in a recent Kissmetrics blog located here.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Homebuilders: Managing for Quality Task-by-Task

Task level quality scoring -- on the jobsite, using an iPad!
Homebuilding, says Carl Seville, faces difficulties few other industries encounter. What other industry has to build their product in the rain, using dozens of other companies, each of which hires their own employees to perform the work? If you watched GE build a refrigerator in your front yard, Seville asks, would you buy it?  Read his Builder Online article here.

High-performance (think: quality) construction, Seville posits, will provide long-term benefits such as happier clients, fewer callbacks, decreased warranty issues...but how do you achieve it?

One suggestion is a commitment to quality from your entire team -- and that takes time and requires processes.  Everyone in the organization

Monday, February 17, 2014

House of Cards Offers Construction Strategy, too!

Recently, Koka Sexton wrote that the much-anticipated second season of Netflix' House of Cards offered some interesting lessons as well as sales strategies;  you can read his article here.

We're going one step further to suggest some of those same House of Cards strategies might apply to your construction team, as well!
Vendor Portal: Information as Networking!

Which ones?  How about #1:  Know (and grow) Your Network? Sexton suggests selling is a team effort -- and new home construction is certainly a team effort with architecture, estimating, field management, subcontractors and accounting (amongst others!) actively involved.

How does this concept of construction networking play out?  We're suggesting collaboration is key; keeping subcontractors in the loop, providing up-to-date schedule information, offering real-time access to drawings and other construction related paperwork. It's the classic win/win approach as both builder and vendor become more efficient with all the related benefits accruing to both!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What Can the Girl Scouts (and their cookies!) Tell Us About Marketing?!?

Jason Forrest, with Forrest Performance Group, offered a great blog recently, Five Sales Lessons from the (Girl Scout) Cookie Trade.  You can read it here!

The blog suggests Girl Scouts are learning 5 lessons about keeping the sale sold. We're going to focus on 2 of these lessons here:

#1: Communication Comes From More Than Words -- we all have heard sales people should make eye contact, smile, stay approachable. We've also heard a picture is worth 1,000 words.

Very few words; lots of communication!
#2: Spice Up Your Presentation -- You've all seen the folding table with box upon box of Thin Mints, Trefoils, Samoas, Do-Si-Dos.  Just looking at them brings back the taste, childhood memories, even a personal first selling experience!

Spicing-Up a 55+ Information Center!
How about combining these two concepts with an interactive touchscreen in your sales/leasing center?  Touchscreen systems are engaging, approachable and full of images (photos, video) about your product, your location, your selling features.  People will walk up and start touching because they want to find out about your community, what is unique.  The touchscreen will help you keep the sale sold.

Communicate your uniqueness; Spice Up your sales center! Find out more about CPS' interactive touchscreen system, SalesTouch, here.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Construction Technology: Providing the Extra Edge

What does an automated construction scheduling system offer a homebuilder? Are construction managers getting extra value from smart phones and tablets on the job site?
FieldCollaborateMobileTools for more effective field personnel

Of course, there are the basics: consistent scheduling and tracking, notifications to subcontractors, management reporting, automated payment notifications, punch lists, safety assessments.  Those are the factual aspects of an automated system.

Then, there are the impacts of the process: more effective field personnel (as they're not spending so much time talking when technology can notify, remind and cajole), more efficient subcontractors (because they know when to arrive, what to do and when schedules are changed), decreased cycle times, increased carry rates, fewer dry runs.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Where are you? Employee-Focused Sales vs. Leave Me Alone, I'm Shopping

Thought provoking article in a Wall Street Journal article regarding retail marketing; you can view it here.

The author, Elizabeth Holmes, describes a new shopping paradigm for Clinique, as an example of the changes underway in retail.  Most women can relate to "old school" cosmetic shopping: almost everything was behind glass and available only with a salesperson's assistance.  Prices were invisible.  Product demos were generally limited to those provided by a Clinique consultant.
Open Selling: your buyers are actively engaged with your product!

Now, Clinique is moving to an "open sell" environment.  Items are out front and available for testing.  One-on-one selling is going away -- and it's not because Clinique is trying to economize.  They're also adding "experiential" components such as iPads and other self-service capabilities.

"Open selling" recognizes shoppers want to shop in different ways.  And, Clinique reports the new strategy has increased sales in many locations -- some in the double-digits. 

How does your sales/leasing office respond to the desire to "shop in different ways"?  In previous blogs, we've talked about "narrowcasting" -- the opposite of traditional news and information broadcasting as the seller allows prospects to determine what they want to view in order to influence the purchase decision.

Interactive touchscreens hit both of these points -- shoppers can "pull" information of interest and shop at their own speed.  Want to find out about local schools?  The information is there!  Interested in the local arts scene?  That's available, too!  Over 55 and want to shop in a quiet location at your own speed?  Try our bar height touchpads!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Understanding your target audience: women as "relaters"

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.

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.

Here's a relatable story: complete with best dish to try!
However, all sorts of other bits of marketing data are emerging, as well: women are the "most" connected audience (throw out your preconceived "geek" ideas!).  That fact alone might suggest modifying your marketing approach: more mobile, less print; more Facebook, fewer mailers.

In addition, a series of 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 the story's details matter as much as the outcome.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Gen Y and Housing..beyond Tech to Location!

Gen Y, Echo Boomer, Millennial...regardless of label, we're looking at z population demographic whose members were born between the late 70's and early 2000's.

Much has been written regarding their approach to just about everything: technology, shopping, relationships, family.

Of course, they're more tech-savvy (although many "connected consumers" aren't part of this demographic). A current term is "digital native" (as compared to digital immigrant, for example).

As a result, according to a J Turner Research Study, What Do Residents Want? Trends in Resident Technology and Communication Preferences (read it here), Gen Y members shop using smart phones, laptops and tablets.  And, they use these devices when searching for a home, as well.  In fact, it might be noted that the younger the prospect, the more likely they will use social media and the internet to search

What's nearby? Try highlighting the neighborhood!
We'd suggest "test driving" your marketing processes on some of these devices; how do you measure up?

What has also been found when analyzing housing "hot buttons" for this group is: Gen Y housing wants/needs aren't that different from previous generationsBuilder, in a 9/25/12 article, suggests "satisfying the needs of those prospects still seems to be an exercise driven by community location and service reputation."

Location trumps design and amenities and McDonald states "location, efficiency and adaptability" as critical decision points.

Monday, January 6, 2014

What To Do to Get More Customers?

Traditionally, salespeople would answer this question by saying: have a good product, put together a great marketing program, cold call get the idea!  All over the place, in other words.

Leo Widrich, in a BufferApp blog available here, suggests we need to spend time understanding how our customers think -- and increased sales will result.
SalesTouch: Light Up Their Brain..and Go Green, too!

He talks about 10 things you can apply today to get more customers; we've narrowed his list down to 3:

(1) Use Urgency the Smart Way -- creating a sense of urgency or scarcity is known to drive up sales (think: iPad, Elmo, Wii). 

What Howard Leventhal suggests is critical: people tend to block out urgent messages if they aren't given information on how to followup!

There's a message for every builder: put your CRM to use! That means schedule follow-up activities for your agents (emails, phone call reminders, hard copy mailings) -- whether agent-generated or automatic. 

(2) Make Their Brains Light Up 'Instantly" -- It's your brain's frontal cortex that is highly active when we think about waiting for something.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Builders, Co-op Agents: Reaching the Asian Community

We've all been reading about our ever-increasing diverse population; but, have you considered there's a diverse homebuyer demographic, as well?

Were you able to attend the recent REALTORS Conference & Expo? 

Jim Park, President of the Asian Real Estate Association of America, noted that, when hearing people talk about diversity, the Asian community is frequently missed.  He comments, "The last category usually is 'other.' Well, the 'other' community has a lot of people in it."
Reach out to your co-op agent team

17.3 million people in the US are of East and South Asian descent, according to the 2010 US Census.

And, according to Park, Asian-Americans are a great target market for home sales.  Household income is higher than other households and...they prefer buying new homes! Park notes, "Asian-Americans are more likely to live in non-Asian communities."

As a homebuilder, how does your marketing respond to this information? We'd like to suggest a couple of ways: use CRM to help manage your prospects and, more importantly, utilize your co-op agent team to reach out to this community.

Co-op agents often specialize in specific markets -- ranging from relocations to 55+ to Asian-Americans.  They consistently work with their target market and become known in their community as a reliable agent.