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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 staff member, reviewed a 2016 National Association of Realtors report and noted, in a 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!