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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Let Your Interactives Help Foster Sense of Community

Recently, Mary Cook, writing in Builder Developer, noted that Millennials are finally ready to move out of their parents' home and find their own. Her firm is known for creating innovative environments targeted to market demands and her article focused on 7 Ways to Design Residential Developments for Millennials. 

What was top of her list? Foster a sense of community!

What's behind that thought? Cook notes that many Millennials telecommute -- finding them with little interaction with co-workers and managers. The typical, work-related social interactions are missing. And, like many new home buyers, they're probably relocating (even if a relatively short distance). As a result, they're looking for their home (both specific and general) to provide relationships.  That's driving the popularity of amenity-rich communities as community pools, tech centers, fitness centers encourage residents to gather and engage.

Do you recall the Solutions Blog about walkable neighborhoods (or Walkups)? Consider using your location as a way to encourage thinking of the new neighborhood in terms of walkability and its benefits from a social interaction perspective:
  1. Offer Walk Abouts: One of walkable neighborhood's driving forces is access to convenient, interesting and unique shopping and dining venues.  Think of the possibilities -- run into or invite neighbors as everyone is learning the area! Why not create an "It's in the Neighborhood" map highlighting 15 close-by locations that are probably new to your home shoppers? Think: ethnic restaurants, unique bookshops, unusual hardware stores.  Let your potential buyers explore (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 type of visual introduction to the neighborhood.
  2. Shine a Light on Educational Institutions: Here's another opportunity for introducing a new way of thinking about community! And, these opportunities don't need to be just traditional colleges and universities. Think outside the box and consider adult education and interest-focused centers, too. Look for places like innovative yarn shops, photography studios, art centers.  Let your home shoppers explore neighborhood learning opportunities and imagine the opportunities available.
Let an interactive touchscreen presentation tell your community story -- from amenities to neighborhood "hot spots" to all sorts of educational possibilities. Take a look at a CPS' SalesTouch  presentation's aerial photo detailing shopping, dining, recreation and community options in Richmond (above); can't you see your buyers virtually exploring and enjoying their new community?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Builders: Mobile, Proactive Customer Service & Referrals

Today, we're building on thoughts developed in a Solutions Blog How to Improve Your "Refer a Friend" Rate (read it here) and by Eliant's Bob Mirman regarding the referral impact associated with keeping customers informed.

Both articles focus on the value of what we call "proactive customer service" -- that is, not waiting for an event to offer specific, customer-focused attention.  
Mobile Enables Proactive Customer Service moments!

A recent Innovative Retail Technologies article sparked a new thought: the value of mobile relative to proactive

Have you heard of the "First Dibs Opportunity" study suggesting 46% of mobile usage sessions start with no real aim? Author Christine Kern also mentions 70% of respondents use their mobile devices to "kill time." 

The study concludes "if smart phones were smart, they'd do a better job of giving us something useful!"

On the other hand, software can help builders turn mobile time into proactive customer service moments! Your homebuyers can grab a minute or two, while waiting in line at the store, to check out stage of construction photos. And, can't you see your buyer getting excited to see a completed roof and turning to the next shopper and saying, "Check this out! My new home's roof was just finished!"

That's a refer a friend moment! Or, how about the impact of a homeowner browsing their service requests while getting a hair cut and seeing a completed service request complete with photo?  Wouldn't that be a "Wow! My builder is letting me know the bathroom repair is complete!" moment?

CPS' FieldCollaborate and WarrantyWatcher Portals can help you easily create these proactive customer service events --  and help your referral rate jump! We're happy to show you how!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Builders: How to Improve Your "Refer a Friend" Rate

Did you see the recent Solutions Blog: Homebuilder #1 Referral Driver: Keeping Buyers Informed? You can read it here.
Keep in Touch & Watch Your Referrals Grow!

Not surprisingly, this Blog is one of our most read posts as it summarizes Bob Mirman's comments (he's Eliant's Founder/CEO), in a Builder and Developer article, that the single largest referral driver for homebuilders is how well the builder keeps buyers informed regarding the status of construction. 

Mirman suggests: think of the homebuying process as similar to a hospital stay.  Both are stressful -- and the stress can be mitigated by information.  No one, basically, likes to be in the dark.  And, with today's social media, bad experiences can be broadcast all too easily.

The same can be said for good experiences, suggests Mirman in the June 2017 Builder and Developer. He notes the #1 driver of buyers' Willingess to Refer a Friend is the ability to keep them informed of their status.

Importantly, Mirman notes, you don't need a conversation -- just communication.  CPS' software Portals take information developed by Field Collaborate's construction users and WarrantyWatcher's customer service team and make it available to buyers and home owners via the Internet.  No additional work required: the construction schedule is available for buyers to view.  Warranty requests, status and appointments can be seen, as well, via mobile or desktop. In both cases, 24/7, anywhere/anytime!

Want to add additional information, become more user friendly? Go the extra step and take stage-of-construction photos and attach them to construction milestones. Add post-repair photos so your homeowner knows how things look before getting home after work.  After all, your buyers have Portal access 24/7 so they're up-to-speed as the work is completed!

Referrals can be your least expensive source of traffic -- and the most rewarding.  Communication is a win-win as your team's results communicate results within the organization -- and are easily viewable by your most important audience, your buyers.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Millennials Are Buying; Are You Using Millennial-Friendly Marketing Tools?

Did you happen to see the recent Sacramento Bee article: Elk Grove millennials buck national home ownership trend in a big way?

Get Interactive and Highlight Your Millennial-Friendly Plans!
Author Thomas Oide cites's studies indicating Elk Grove (a suburb south of Sacramento) is the No. 1 city in the country for homeownership for those under 35.  That's the Millennial demographic everyone is focused on! found Elk Grove to be No. 2 with another Sacramento suburb, Roseville, in as No. 4!

Smartasset attributed the high rate of Millennial homeownership to the strong Sacramento job market (finally!) as well as the relative proximity to San Francisco. Note that median home value is $390,000.

Not every community has the San Francisco factor available for their marketing campaign, however. Builderonline offers suggestions for the rest of us in Redfin's Whitney Bennett's How to Make a Home More Appealing to Millennial Buyers.

We'll focus on Millennial-friendly Suggestion #1 and follow-up with others, soon: Create an Open Floor Plan.

Bennett (and NAR in 2014) says most younger buyers are interested in large, open spaces with fewer walls and partitions. Why? These buyers like entertaining in large spaces and are also interested in multi-functional rooms.

How to market that open floor plan? Let's look at a recent CPS SalesTouch installation at Cornerstone Homes' new Agave community in North County San Diego. You'll notice a great open first floor area as well as a second floor flex space -- along with the ability to interact with the floor plan and drag and drop furniture letting home shoppers dream and create their new living space!

Encourage your Millennial home shopper to design their home using interactive tools -- moving away from the standard brochure plan by mixing/matching structural choices, adding furniture, marking up the plan -- and making it their own!