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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

How to: Keep Home Sales Momentum during the Holiday Season

The Thanksgiving-to-New Year holiday season is upon us -- and some new home builders can see a slow down in sales office traffic and sales activity during this period.

Weather doesn't need to be an objection! doesn't have to be so!

While some home shoppers might drop out during the holidays, a recent BuilderOnLine article suggests that many others find the season a good time to shop.

Why? Take a look at the reasons and see how you can turn potential negatives into traffic and sales:

  • It's the holidays! It might seem counter-intuitive but...time away from work can mean time home shopping.  Take advantage of people visiting during the week and build on the season: add cookies, hot chocolate or even a special holiday options/upgrades program to encourage visits.
  • Isn't it frightful outside? Yes, it's true: the weather in Minnesota can be chilly during December really isn't that bad in many other states (and, might even be better than mid-summer in some locations!). Turn to the holidays and your locale for inspiration.  Hot apple cider makes any house seem like home! 
  • Are decorations necessary? You really don't have to take on a specific holiday or tradition; add some family-style photos (or adventure vacation shots depending on your demographic!) and festive bowls of lemons, limes and oranges for fragrance and atmosphere.  A fresh, new look and feel is contagious!
  • Doesn't 2017 means change? While some might be concerned about changes in 2017, others are energized.  Be prepared to talk about new mortgage loan limits (yes, they're higher!), up ticks in home sales volume and any/every thing that's happening in your new community.  You can be the catalyst for thinking 2017 means exciting new adventures!
Now is the time to put your CRM system to the test, as well!  Send out a holiday appetizer invite to your co-op agents, zero in on those prospects hitting the "old" conforming loan limit and let them know both Freddie and Fannie have increases on the horizon, deck your halls and encourage last summer's prospects to drop in on a (otherwise slow) Sunday for cookies and hot chocolate.

Need help finding a CRM system that can assist you in these efforts?  We're happy to show you how CPS CRM will make your holidays bright!

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 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, 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, 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, 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!