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Monday, November 12, 2018

Home Builders: Delivering the Warranty Service Your Buyers Expect!

Home Buyers Want Convenient & Quick Warranty Service

Today, in the age of Amazon and 2-hour shipping, consumers have sky-high expectations regarding customer service.  And, that's regardless of industry says a recent Radial article.  Customer service is now a key differentiator at time of purchase as well as for after-sale referrals

Home Buyers Look For Personalized Customer Service

Home buyers aren't any different than other consumers when thinking about their post-closing warranty service.  Gone are the days of handwritten forms, snail mail and slow turnaround.

Your buyers want convenience and quick problem resolution -- in addition to an environment that is proactive with personalized service.

Self-Service Functionality Is Today's Customer Service Hit!

Self-service is reported as one of the hottest trends in customer care. Consumers love the idea of being able to quickly and easily meet their objectives -- from submitting a warranty request to checking status to being able to review the history of a service item.

Technology Enables Builders To Meet Buyer Expectations

Technology innovations and advancements enable builders to meet these home buyer expectations.  Take a  look at CPS' WarrantyWatcher software -- particularly the Portal -- as an example.  Watch the video here:

Homeowners are able to access the Portal via the builder's website -- 24/7, anywhere/anytime, to submit requests.  No more waiting until Monday morning or someone is off the phone or ….! And, homeowners are able to check request status at any time -- no more calling for info, back and forth voicemail, or missed calls.

The same self-service Portal is available for subcontractors.  Although formal work orders can still be sent via email, it's always possible to log-in to the Portal, download work orders, check associated drawings/photos and confirm availability. 

Self-service channels consistently outperform other channels in terms of consumer satisfaction. Your homeowners love self-service because it reduces friction and provides immediate and consistent answers.

Put Omnichannel in Place!

A builder website-based Portal provides for a personalized, omnichannel experience. That is, the Portal can fit into your business operations seamlessly.  Make it available from your website main page, skin it with your logo and colors, personalize it with team member photos.  It's all about winning and sustaining loyalty!

When Service Exceeds Expectations, Referrals Jump!

Remember: the #1 reason for homeowner referrals is keeping buyers informed during construction and post-closing!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

How to: Offer a Great Home Shopper Experience!

It's Competitive Out There!

Website visits are up, sales office traffic is increasing, 2018 sales are good.

SalesTouch: Differentiating Your Brand with Information
While these stats suggest a positive market, the marked increase in customer touch points and a growing need to standout in a crowded marketplace creates a highly competitive environment.

It's a Consumer-Driven Environment

There's an increasing emphasis on providing a consumer "experience" -- which Retail Customer Experience tells us is set to overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator by 2020.

But.. what adds up to make a great customer experience?

There's Information and then.. there's a Relationship

There's absolutely no doubt that home shoppers want to be able to (1) go and look at a product; (2) evaluate quality and (3) understand the product before buying.

Sales agents are an important part of the home shopper customer experience: they offer the direct, personal relationship surrounding the purchase. Importantly, a good agent, suggests Amy O'Connor, a sales trainer in Jeff Shore's organization, helps the home shopper achieve clarity and certainty regarding the purchase.  Your agent is going to want to determine the home shoppers needs and demonstrate how your product meets those needs.

Personalize the Experience

Today's home shopper -- Millennial or Boomer -- wants to examine alternatives, analyze the lifestyle and dream.  Listening is important -- as is providing tools to understanding the product

Take a look at CPS' interactive touchscreen system, SalesTouch: it offers a unique journey through the customer experience. 

What's your home shopper's particular need? Lower level master? Place for the baby grand? Close-by recreation? Home shoppers using SalesTouch take advantage of a unique process called narrowcasting: every home shopper can locate and examine the information that will help them make a decision.  In the order they want, at the time they want and in the desired detail. Throwing out a wide net, hoping it meets everyone's needs is no longer.

With so many consumers seeking the ability to gain clarity and information before they purchase, the race is on to offer personalized experiences.  SalesTouch provides that differentiating experience that makes your brand stand out!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Builders: Put Tech-based Self Service to Work for You!

Transitioning to Self-Service Takes Getting Used to But.. Benefits Emerge

Great article discussing the transition to a self-service model in Kiosk Marketplace. It's fairly common for organizations to be reluctant to change and adopting self-service is no different. Not everyone knows what's expected and there may be a few lumps in the road but..once the first step is taken, benefits start to emerge and self-service quickly becomes the new norm
WarrantyWatcher: Self-service at your fingertips!

Where are Self-Service Opportunities for Builders?

A recent Radial article notes self-service is one of the hottest trends in customer service.

Isn't homebuilding one industry known for the value of the one-on-one interaction? There's still a place for that type of interaction -- most particularly in the sales process. But.. there's a significant opportunity to transition to more of a self-service model in a builder's warranty/customer service organization.

And, that's because recent innovations in technology provide web-based, 24/7 access for homeowners, vendors and builders to data -- anywhere/anytime!

Consumers Want Interaction, Now!

An earlier Solutions Blog noted consumers love the idea of being able to quickly and easily meet their objectives from submitting a warranty request to checking status to being able to review their warranty history.

CPS' WarrantyWatcher software, with 24/7 web-based access for homeowners and vendors, offers an anywhere/anytime process to submit homeowner requests (including photos!), review open items, track status, close work orders and analyze trends.

And, it's efficient; no double entry, calling back and forth, voicemail or misplaced emails. Everything is in one, easily accessible, location.

Consumer Satisfaction Rates Self-Service Channels #1

Self-service channels consistently outperform other channels in terms of customer satisfaction. Thnk about it for a minute: does anyone snail mail or fax over a list of issues any longer? How recently have you called-in a service issue? Consumers love self-service because it reduces friction and provides answers immediately and consistently.

Self-service doesn't have to be (and, shouldn't be) some generic, one-size fits all process.

WarrantyWatcher's 24/7 Portal provides a personalized, omnichannel experience. In other words, the Portal fits into your business operations, seamlessly. Make it available from your website, skin it with your logo and colors, include photos of your team members. It's all about providing an appealing, easy-to-use solution that fits your homeowners needs!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

How to: Make Your Digital Signage Resonate

Today's customers -- especially those shopping for big ticket items such as homes and autos -- expect an experience that's on-demand and engaging. What can your digital signage project do to meet customer expectations and maximize impact?

Make Your Digital Signage Relevant to the Sale

Do you know your customers? Are you speaking their language? Boomers and Millennials, for example, are  different and unique in both their shopping and buying habits.  What is exciting and a reason to purchase for one may not be for the other. Boomers frequently want to comparison shop and examine purchase alternatives in detail.  Millennials work at warp speed, expect answers quickly and typically examined the alternatives before showing up in your office. 

Such differences don't mean your digital signage should be focused on a single group but... be aware of your audience when designing and be consistent in your approach.
Does Your Digital Signage Jump Above the Noise?

Get Above the Noise

On one hand, we don't really mean noise but... on the other, we do. Every location has noise -- people's voices, phones, construction activity and the like. Try to design your sales area so physical noise doesn't interrupt.

What we're really talking about, however, is visual distraction. Is your signage viewable as soon as a shopper enters? Is it visually engaging? Will it stop a visitor in their tracks? Are similar visuals distracting from the shopper's ability to focus on the digital presentation? 

Take a look at the Minto Harbour Isle interactive touchscreen image: doesn't it grab your attention and make you want to jump in and find out more? 

Make Sure Self-Serve is Enabled

It's frequently said today's buyer is in a rush and easily distracted. That may seem to be the case but keep in mind that today's expectations are shaped by other transactions. They're used to, for example, self-service via phone and website. 
Interactive Encourages Consumers to Get Engaged 

Shoppers want to jump into content and find answers. That doesn't mean sales agents are irrelevant; it does mean that shoppers will search for relevant information and then turn to salespeople for confirmation and the sale. 

Interactive digital content provides the on-demand, engaging customer experience that resonates with today's consumer. Interactive actively encourages shoppers to engage and locate their unique decision factors, on-demand. How would my home look with the optional study, where is the closest high school, are there yoga studios close by? 

Interested in exploring how CPS can help you create digital signage that resonates with your home shoppers, offering interactive content designed specifically to your target audience? Contact us here!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Check Your Buyer Experience Gap: Then, Watch Referrals Grow!

In thinking about the takeaways from Jeff Shore's Sales Leadership Summit, realized there is probably an opportunity to analyze the buyer experience as well as that of the home shopper.

How to minimize the buyer experience gap?

Do You Have A Buyer Experience Opportunity Gap?

Extending some of Jeff's home shopper concepts a bit, 

-- What would be a great buyer experience after the home shopper signs the Purchase Agreement?
-- What is a buyer experience today in your organization?
-- The difference is your buyer experience opportunity gap!

Have you been asked to increase your buyer referral rate? Uncertain where to begin? Closing the buyer experience gap is a great place to start!

Keeping Buyers Informed is Key to Their Experience

Any chance you saw our Solutions Blog: Homebuilder #1 Referral Driver: Keeping Buyers Informed? You can read it here.

Not surprisingly, that Blog is one of our most frequently read! It kicks-off with Eliant CEO Bob Mirman's Builder and Developer article statement: the single largest referral driver for homebuilders is how well the builder keeps buyers informed regarding the status of construction. 

Lack of Information Creates Stress

Mirman asks us to think of the homebuying process as similar to a hospital stay.  No question: both are stressful! Yet, the stress can be mitigated by information.  No one, in other words, feels comfortable in the dark. He notes the #1 buyers' Willingness to Refer a Friend is the builder's ability to keep the buyer informed of their status. 

Communication Doesn't Need to be Complicated

Critically, Mirman notes, you don't need conversation -- just communication

Information is Communication

We'd like to suggest using software to gain the tools necessary to enhance your current communication process. CPS' software Portals take information developed by FieldCollaborate's construction users as well as WarrantyWatcher's customer service teams and make it available to buyers and homeowners via the Internet. 

No additional work required: the construction schedule can be set as available for buyers to view. Warranty requests, status updates and appointments can be viewed via mobile or desktop. In both cases, 24/7, anywhere/anytime. 

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

Referrals Are the Result of a Great Buyer Experience

Referrals can be your least expensive source of traffic -- and the most rewarding.  Communication is a win-win as your team communicates results internally -- and they're easily viewable by your most important audience, your buyers!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Builders: Take a look at Fine-tuning the Focus on Your Customer

We just spent several very informative days at the Jeff Shore Sales Leadership Summit 2018 in San Diego. Great group of sales/marketing professionals, lots of discovery, idea sharing and conversation!

What's the Customer Experience Opportunity?

SalesTouch: Leaning-in for the details

The Summit focuses on new homes sales/marketing -- and this year Jeff asked participants to consider the state of the home buying experience.  After all, he asked:

  • What would be a truly awesome buying experience look like?
  • What are today's customers experiencing in your sales centers?
  • Do you see a gap? There's your "opportunity" for improvement!

2018: Let's Focus on the Prospect

What does your customer's experience look like -- from the minute they enter your door?

One takeaway from The Summit: your customers notice things! They really do pick-up on overall cleanliness, the sales agent's greeting and willingness to take a model tour, the value of collateral.  

Another takeaway: the home shopper is actively seeking information! Pricing, availability, floorplan details: they're details and valued by the home shopper.  

Consider this: many home shoppers walking into your sales office are experiencing your product (your brand, in other words) for the first time! They might have researched online but.. this is their first hands on experience. What are you doing to maximize your brand experience?

Make the Move to Consumer-First

During this same week, a new RetailCustomerExperience article suggested there should never be a barrier between a brand and the end consumer. Don't lose sight of your buyer, in other words! 

What are you doing to meet those customer needs (since you control and monitor the customer experience, after all!). Are you providing the information your consumer is seeking? What about an inviting and informative environment? Does it resonate with your buyer demographic?

Take a look at CPS' interactive touchscreen system, SalesTouch as it actively engages home shoppers from the minute they walk in the door.  Today's home shopper enters your door because they're actively looking to make a lifestyle change.  Provide the information they need and make it easy for them: floorplans, exterior elevations, sitemaps -- even a surrounding area discovery zone!

After all: "You never get a second chance to make a first impression."

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Builders: Get Interactive and Highlight Your Best Features

If you don't show it, you're not going to sell it!

That's a suggestion made by Lauren Shanesy in a recent BuilderOnline article regarding new home features and option/upgrade possibilities.

Step Up and Highlight the Possibilities

Shanesy notes, "Buyers in the market for a new home know what they want - comfort, convenience, and an overall better quality of life for their family."

What they don't know, frequently, is what you offer that will enable them to live that lifestyle!

And, Shanesy says, "Show them how a specific feature is a solution to a need that they have to live better, and they'll invest in those features.

Show These Lifestyle Features -- and You'll See Buyers!

What sort of "lifestyle features" are important to today's homebuyer -- whether Millennial or Boomer? You've no doubt seen many; we'll talk about two here with others to come in future blogs.

Open space layouts are number one! Buyers have moved away from the traditional kitchen, living room and formal dining area layout; instead, informal gathering spaces are the lifestyle of choice. 

This move is across the board -- Millennial, Boomer, Gen-X.

Marc Thee calls describes this as "non-compartmentalized living" and it is all about comfortable living.

One other floorplan-related favorite: pet-friendly living! 81% of a 2017 Animal House: Remodeling Impact study reported that animal-related considerations play a role in evaluating lifestyle environments.

Encourage Exploration

An interactive touchscreen presentation provides an introduction into lifestyle possibilities as soon as the home shopper walks into your door. Today's buyer is used to self service; 90% have already started exploring via your website. Today's home shopper is interested in and feels comfortable exploring visually engaging content. Encourage discovery!

Buyers want to know how floorplans work -- how they'll encourage comfortable living. Take a look at the CPS SalesTouch presentation above - interested in adding an outdoor kitchen? How about making the family room cozier by adding a fireplace?

Let your home shopper dream -- and create their new home! And, there's a drag 'n drop furniture feature to zero in on how this dream will live!

Visuals Tell the Lifestyle Story!

Remember the interest in pet amenities? Why not provide some visual focus to capture interest in  a pet-friendly neighborhood? 

Here's your opportunity to incorporate storytelling into your home shopper's journey!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Improving the In-Person Digital Experience in Your Sales/Leasing Offices

Meredith Oliver just released a copy of her BDX Digital Transformation Summit talk, Bridging the Physical & Digital Worlds with Interactive Technology in Sales Centers.

CPS CRM provides data to populate this interactive map!

Home Shoppers Expect a Self-Service Experience

It's well worth a listen as it addresses why builders and developers need to add interactive technology to their sales/marketing process: their home shoppers expect a self-service process.

It's that simple!

Oliver provides an interesting research stat: 76% of consumers have a better experience when the sales person is armed with technology. And, those stats apply regardless of whether your home shopper is a Millennial or a 55+.

Yet, Oliver mentions, many sales agents don't take advantage of the tools to provide this enhanced buying experience!  CPS has been developing interactive touchscreen presentations for over 10 years and we have some ideas to share that will help you develop a more effective set of tools so your home shoppers will start the journey to dream and imagine their new home!

Build a Strong Foundation to Promote Effectiveness

Meredith touched on an important thought in her BDX talk: how many times have you walked into a business and the technology wasn't being used?

We'll be talking about ways to maximize the value of your interactive presentation's investment over several blogs; here we'll focus creating a foundation for an effective presentation -- that's used by your agents and home shoppers!

Corporate Collaboration Improves Efficiency and Buy-In

Oliver mentions she's a "tactician" implementing builder's dreams; CPS has particular experience in digital signage.  We've found 3 key items contribute to establishing the foundation for a successful self-serve experience:
  1. Collaborate on objectives and design: The 2018 Housing Leadership Summit focused on corporate collaboration. It doesn't make sense to drop a new tool into sales offices without considering cultural and behavioral elements.  The more people involved in the initial stages, the more buy-in and desire for success! And, you'll need to provide training to provide everyone with the details as to why you've incorporated interactives at the sales office and how to effectively utilize them in a sales presentation. 
  2. Build-in meaningful hardware management: We've all run into situations where we've heard: our system is down! Yet, you can take steps to make those days few and far between: automated hardware management so Maria doesn't turn off the system and Ted doesn't know how to turn it back on; remote monitoring systems so a tech team can analyze issues remotely and make changes long-distance, as well.  Get rid of the housekeeping, in other words!
  3. Incorporate integration: In a recent Builder article, Hyphen Solutions' Felix Vasquez suggests that automated connectivity results in a more efficient home builder production environment.  Why not have your CRM or inventory management system provide unit status and pricing info (vs. having a sales agent manually input)? Maximize tools already in-house to provide consistent information without manual intervention

Monday, June 11, 2018

Get Digital Benefits (and then some!) with a Social Media Wall

"You never get a second chance to make a first impression."

Do you recognize that well-known Will Rogers saying? Debbie Wilson-Dewitt suggests, in a recent DigitalSignageToday article, that it makes sense to apply it to digital walls, as well.  

Digital Signage Helps Your Brand Stand Out

Wilson-Dewitt says digital walls are intended to create a strong impression -- and that's consistent with the benefits associated with digital signage.  You're able to capture customer attention immediately and promote your message and content.

Social Media Wall at Wendell Falls
A Social Media Wall Engages, Entertains & Starts Conversations, too

Digital Amplifies Visual

Digital signage -- with its captivating color and graphic motion -- is typically a head-turner.  It grabs attention and provides a unique customer experience.

Did you know that a recent I Am Omnichannel study reports that 70% of customers think digital signage is entertaining? 

Social Media Enhances Community

CPS offers Social Media Wall -- a unique, ever-changing combination of digital signage, traditional marketing copy/images and social media content.  The walls offer an engaging focal point at locations that see a lot of traffic such as sales and leasing information centers.

How Can You Take a Wall Up a Notch?

Apart from size, what else needs to be considered when thinking about effective digital signage and a wall?

  • Size matters, initially; but content keeps people engaged. That's where social really pays off!
  • Walls can greet as well as provide information
  • Use walls to communicate and reinforce branding
  • Answer questions through wall content and images; it keeps audiences engaged, longer.
  • Be Sure the wall is designed for your audience!

Take Advantage of a Value-Add!

Walls, says Wilson-Dewitt, are an incredible value-add and any kind of organization will benefit from one. You're able to take advantage of previously developed content, images and messaging -- and present them in a unique, digital format that will attract all sectors of your audience!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

How to: Make Your Digital Signage More Effective

Are you a digital signage fan -- or evaluating digital signage as a part of a newly energized marketing program?

Designing to Maximize Engagement!
Interested in reviewing a few tactics to improve your digital signage program? We're not even 50% of the way through 2018 so... there's time to evaluate and plan for success!

Make Sure You've Identified Your Audience

It makes sense that even digital signage can't be everything to everyone.

There's no benefit to repeating a message or including dynamic video in the hopes that your audience will accept it. Be sure to design and build for your target audience -- their wants and needs relative to your product.

Here's an example: a new home sales office (or, a multifamily leasing office). Home shoppers are looking not only for a new home because their family is growing (or shrinking) -- they're interested in the details that will motivate the purchase such as features (does the Master Bath include a Jacuzzi?), options and upgrades (outdoor kitchen, den in lieu of bedroom) and whether their bedroom furniture fits into the new master suite.

Then, you want to be sure to address the other factors impacting their purchase decision. What's going on in the neighborhood? How about schools? Are there parks and playgrounds near for the children?  Answers to the ancillary items build their level of interest. 

Have You Determined Your Objective?

Everyone wants their audience to engage with digital signage.  But, there's another objective out there for your project; do you know what it is?

Let's take a look at the home builder idea mentioned above -- that's CPS' target audience for the interactive touchscreen system, SalesTouch. We like to say builders have several objectives with their sales office touchscreen system: engage, inform and kick-off the dream.

Basically, SalesTouch guides the home shopper's journey towards a home purchase. The touchscreen engages prospects from the minute they walk into the sales office -- it's colorful, typically provides an interesting initial view and large enough to attract attention. Then, the home shopper is presented with choices: explore the neighborhood, find out more about the particular community and examine specific floor plans and their options/upgrades.

The last objective is to encourage the dream of home ownership: select a floor plan, mix/match structural options and upgrades, drag and drop furniture -- take that standard plan and make it your own, in other words! 

Make Sure You Are Designing for Engagement

Digital signage varies from small monitors to large touchscreens -- with video walls in there, too!

What platform are you utilizing and how do you maximize its potential? As an example: we've found home shoppers really like large touchscreens mounted into a slightly angled table. They're able to step in and get close -- some people lean in, occasionally, there are special purse and drink stands. It's all about making your audience feel comfortable and exploiting the physical hardware as appropriate.

Regardless of the physical platform, focus on grabbing audience attention -- right away.  Remember: visuals are key as they spark the imagination. And, we're back to kicking-off the dream!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Home Buyers Want Convenient & Quick Warranty Service

A recent Radial article notes, in the age of Amazon, consumers have sky-high expectations. And that's regardless of industry -- customer service is a key differentiator at time of purchase as well as after-sale referrals.

Enhance Your Customer Service Ops with Self-Service!

Home Buyers Look for Personalized Customer Service

Homebuyers aren't any different than other consumers when thinking about their post-closing warranty service.  

Consumers want convenience and quick issue resolution -- in addition to an environment that is proactive with personalized service.

Self-Service Functionality is Hot!

Self-service is reported as one of the hottest trends in customer care. Consumers love the idea of being able to quickly and easily meet their objectives from submitting a warranty request to checking status to being able to review their warranty history.

Technology Helps Builders Meet Buyer Expectations

Innovations and advancements in technology enable builders to meet these expectations. Take a look at CPS' WarrantyWatcher software  -- particularly the Portal -- as an example. Homeowners are able to log-in, 24/7, to submit requests. No more waiting until Monday morning! And, they're able to check status at any time - no more calling, voicemail or missed calls.

The same Portal self-service is available for subcontractors. Although formal work orders are sent via email, it's always possible to log-in to the Portal, pick-up work orders, review associated drawings and photos and confirm availability.

Self-service channels consistently outperform other channels in terms of consumer satisfaction. Consider this, for a minute: does anyone snail mail or fax over anything, anywhere any longer?  How about calling?  Consumers love self-service because it reduces friction and provides answers immediately and consistently.

Go Omnichannel!

And, the Portal provides for a personalized, omnichannel experience, as well.  In other words, the Portal can fit into your business operations, seamlessly. Make it available from your website, skin it with your logo and colors, include photos of your team members.  It's all about winning and sustaining loyalty.

Referrals Are Yours When Service Exceeds Expectations!

Remember: the #1 referral reason for homeowner referrals is keeping buyers informed during construction and post-closing.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Builders: Collaborate to Increase Your Referral Rate

Have you been asked to increase your buyer referral rate -- and not quite sure where to start?

Keeping Buyers Informed is Key

Any chance you saw our Solutions Blog: Homebuilder #1 Referral Driver: Keeping Buyers Informed? You can read it here.

FieldCollaborate Is All About  Communication!
Not surprisingly, that Blog is one of our most frequently read as it kicks-off with Eliant CEO Bob Mirman's Builder and Developer article comments:  the single largest referral driver for homebuilders is how well the builder keeps buyers informed regarding the status of construction. 

Information Mitigates Stress

Mirman asks us to think of the homebuying process as similar to a hospital stay.  Both are stressful -- yet, the stress can be mitigated by information.  No one, in other words, feels comfortable in the dark.

The same applies to good experiences, suggests Mirman in 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.

Collaborating to Enhance Your Communication Process 

Importantly, Mirman notes, you don't need conversation -- just communication.

Buyer communication -- in an organized and consistent manner -- may be easier said than accomplished -- and that's where corporate collaboration can assist. Did you attend the Housing Leadership Summit in May 2018? A great session suggested collaboration is more than "working together"  as it involves a commitment to structural change involving both cultural and behavioral elements.

Information is Communication

We'd like to suggest adding software to provide the tools to enhance your current communication process. CPS' software Portals take information developed by Field Collaborate's construction users and WarrantyWatcher's customer service teams 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 via mobile or desktop. In both cases, 24/7, anywhere/anytime!

Want to take things up a notch, 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 Traffic Source

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

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Memorial Day 2018: Honoring Service and Sacrifice

Memorial Day has been set aside as a day for us to honor and remember the sacrifices made for our country by our military and recognize their service.

Vietnam Memorial, Washington DC
Traditionally, here at CPS, we recognize and thank service members in the CPS family:

Bob Musa's son is serving in the US Marine Corps; Mike is at his permanent duty station in North Carolina.

Remembering the service of:

Bob Strickland, US Air Force

Bob's father, Robert Musa (US Marine Corps, retired & yes; that's 2 generations!)
Chris' father, Michael Lott (US Navy, retired)
Michelle'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, join a parade or run a race to support various fundraising efforts?

Let us know who you are remembering this Memorial Day!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Adding An Emotional Context to Sales and Leasing Offices

CPS SalesTouch: Adding Emotion to the Sales Center!
No matter how the numbers and facts line-up, a good portion of the home shopping experience is based on emotion.

Humans are Influenced by Emotion

It's in our nature. It's worth considering how to add emotion to your marketing messaging as sales/leasing offices are often the first place visitors encounter the full range of your brand and product.

Include Storytelling Features

Storytelling is one of the best content strategies for creating an emotional connection. Stories are tactile and create a visual picture.

No doubt you've heard stories and imagined yourself within that context. That's what makes a good story as it pulls listeners in and actually makes them a co-creator of the message. Stories make content more interesting and more memorable

Make Sure You've Maximized Color

While there are many psychological studies as to color messaging and impact, it's enough to say that color has an impact and should be a major factor to consider as part of your emotional context.

Incorporate Social Proof

We've mentioned collaborative consumption when discussing today's empowered consumersToday's home shoppers bring friends -- just as they always have.  But, in many cases, they're "cloud" friends! These advisers are available through social media -- providing feedback, offering reviews, providing info as to sales and trends. 

Your story needs to be part of this social cloud.  One of the easiest ways to provide social proof, if you aren't displaying social media onsite, is to incorporate testimonials. 

Get Interactive!

Scroll back to the top -- emotion is tactile! Take a look at Cornerstone Communities' interactive SalesTouch kiosk: can you imagine the conversations? What a gorgeous sunset! Do you like fishing? I'd love to walk that every evening! Are there restaurants on the pier?

Interactive touch presentations encourage emotional connections. Did you realize using touch generates entirely different (and more positive) brain activity than using a mouse? Take a look at Bob Musa's book, Creating Customers with Interactive Touch Screen Digital Signage, for more on the power of touch!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

How to: Stay Competitive with Today's Empowered Consumers

You've probably seen and read articles about today's key words: market disruption. 

Technology is Driving Market Disruption

Social Media Wall: A Tool for Collaborative Consumption
We're going to address the type of market disruption being driven today by technology. 

All of us have experienced the shift in the balance of power between businesses and customers -- and much of that is a result of new and growing use of technology.

If you think about today's consumers, they're empowered -- by access to information and data.

Information is Available 24/7, Anywhere/Anytime

Today's shopper can locate the latest sales, pricing and availability -- without ever walking into a retail store, sales/leasing office or car lot. Some of that information has been offered by traditional media - radio, newspapers, magazines. Of course, access was constrained by publishing schedules, once/day delivery and the like.

Now, all of that information is available 24/7, anywhere/anytime -- and consumers also have the ability to test and compare information, too.  And, it's not just from the distribution side -- there are a wide variety of sites available to review, compare and test products and services.

Take a Look at Collaborative Consumption!

Also new is what's been called collaborative consumption. Today's shoppers bring friends -- just as they always have. But, they're "cloud" friends! These advisers are available through social media -- providing feedback, offering reviews, providing info as to sales and trends.

Take a look at CPS' Social Media Wall. It offers social content as well as traditional marketing images and copy. What's unique? It's curated so the business has the ability to determine how much and which social content to display. Your sales office now has the ability to collaborate with home shoppers, buyers and homeowners -- you've extended your data reach!

Social Media Walls are an Incredible Value-Add

Walls, says Debbie Wilson-Dewitt in a recent DigitalSignageToday article, are an incredible value-add. Walls can greet as well as provide information, answer questions and reinforce branding. CPS can help you design a Wall to meet your empowered audience!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Builders: Kick-Up Engagement with Digital Content

Your audience -- whatever the product, whether they're new new home shoppers or retail customers -- has a short attention span. Shoppers want content -- in short bursts -- and they want it now.  Reading through brochures is so 2000, in other words.

What can you do to improve your approach to content and make it relevant to your audience?

SalesTouch offers attention-grabbing, actionable content!
Consumers want an experience -- offer something they can touch & feel -- this need is seen across demographics but has been made imperative by the emerging purchasing power of Millennials. 

Focus on grabbing their attention -- right away.  Remember: visuals are key as they spark the imagination.  Let your customers know there's a story unfolding in front of them -- make sure your copy and content is relevant to their lifestyle, goals and aspirations.

Provide actionable information -- and, be sure it's approachable. Your customer is there because they want something new -- they want to find out how your product (be it a new home, an appliance or clothes) will improve their current situation.  Help them explore your solution. If you're a new home builder, that means interactive floorplans, furniture placement, design center features.  A grocery? There's recipes, nutritional information and new cooking methods.

Motivate them to take the next step -- make sure you've defined it.  Do you want prospect registration? A tour, follow-up meeting or an email in a month? Make the next step realistic, identifiable and easy to locate.

Take a look at the CPS SalesTouch interactive touchscreen presentation above: what can you tell about the audience, their goals and aspirations and the next steps? 

We've put SalesTouch case studies on our website so you can see how effective content grabs a home shopper's attention and encourages them to take the next step on their path to home ownership.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Builders: Do You Share These Pain Points?

Interesting recent BuilderOnline article by John McManus noting that the benefits of the current recovery in homebuilding appear slanted towards the very large, production homebuilders.

FieldCollaborate Quality Inspection Wizard
CPS FieldCollaborate:
Cycle-time Improvements Start Quickly

Market Gains Aren't Equal Across the Builder Landscape

Today, smaller builders, says McManus, are working harder and have a bunch of "math basics" working against them.  Larger builders are able to optimize finance structures as well as relationships with land sellers, vendors and distribution networks.

In many cases, the result, for smaller builders, is a profit squeeze. Labor and material costs are increasing and builders report usable lots aren't as available and are more expensive.

Technology Investment as a Tool

Are these some of your pain points? There's a few more: McManus goes on to say that many of the "smaller builder positives" such as local land knowledge, long-standing vendor relationships and local homeowner referrals don't hold as much sway as previously.  And, there is the Millennial home buyer with all sorts of different objectives, priorities and shopping patterns.

Add to that, larger builders have invested in sales, marketing and operations-focused technology -- and the results are making for a much more competitive marketplace.
Interactive Technology lets you eliminate static displays

Dial-up Your Motivation to Locate Solutions

One solution, McManus suggests, is locating capital partners to achieve better margins. That's certainly an option for some.

Another is reviewing and evaluating current operations. Are you still operating with pen/pencil on the operations side? There are relatively inexpensive, easy-to-use construction management software products such as CPS' 2018 Constructech award-winning, cloud-based FieldCollaborate that can be implemented quickly and start paying off in decreased cycle times and increased communications with vendors and buyers. Buyer referrals still resonate -- grab them as a result of technology use! Available anywhere/anytime for field managers, vendors, home buyers, corporate users.

Take the opportunity to examine how well you are telling your home shopper's story, as well. Step away from tired, static displays and utilize an interactive presentation -- consider an iPad or Surface tablet  if a larger display isn't feasible.

Upgraded marketing tools create an environment appealing to the ever-growing Millennial buyer and responding to their need for new ideas, designs and uses -- and, interactive technology is the way they're used to purchasing.  Adding interactive technology doesn't need to be an incremental increase in cost -- you're able to eliminate the wall-mounted floorplans and pre-printed brochures with products such as CPS' SalesTouch

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Multifamily: Doubling Down on Marketing Effectiveness

From a multifamily perspective, 2018 has experienced positive economic growth. There's near-term confidence, according to a recent RCLCO Sentiment Study, in the underlying economy despite background concern regarding increasing interest rates and the equities markets.

CPS SalesTouch: Marketing Tools for Your Connected Consumer
Adam Ducker published a thought provoking article in Builder and Developer Magazine titled Outlook Landscape. He suggested asking if there's an upcoming correction in the multifamily market and what developers should consider in advance.

It's Very Difficult to Time Any Market

Ducker commented that while it's always alluring to try to outsmart market cycles, it's very difficult to do so. He did suggest, however, that multifamily developers take steps now to be prepared for any change in market conditions.

One suggestion makes sense in any market: double down now on marketing effectiveness and customer knowledge tools.

In Ducker's opinion, it's too late to start looking at the latest marketing tools when things get competitive.

Engaging, Interactive Marketing tools are Available!

CPS has been offering SalesTouch, an interactive touchscreen system, to multifamily developers since 2010.  They're an engaging marketing tool, designed to connect with today's consumer and particularly effective in areas with weather (and it doesn't matter if that means too hot, rainy, or freezing cold!).

Why not offer a virtual tour of the property -- and surrounding neighborhood -- when it's frightful outside?  You're already prepared with property view images, virtual tours, drag 'n drop furniture and neighborhood hot spots! Add in on-demand brochures and the ability to display the presentation on your website on on tablets've combined marketing effectiveness with customer knowledge tools! Your leasing office has just been kicked-up from static signage and stacks of pre-printed brochures!

Invest Now When Cash Flow is Healthy

Ducker makes an additional point: when markets get competitive, it's too late to up your game.  Now is the time to invest in these new tools: when cash flow is healthy and equity partners are open to exploring new directions.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Homebuilder Construction Scheduling: The Glue to Successful Operations

Scott Sedam always has interesting thoughts on homebuilding and how to improve operations. 

Back in 2011 he wrote in ProBuilder, "The best builders are the best schedulers."

A considered schedule helps address labor, costs and homeowner satisfaction

We suggest that thought is as true today as it was thenWhether you're concerned about cost increases, labor shortages, homeowner satisfaction...a thoughtfully created and consistently used schedule can be the glue that keeps your operation performing successfully.

Where Do I Start?

We're frequently asked: Where do I start when thinking about putting together the type of schedule that helps me address all of these questions -- and maintain my margins?  We'll start with the basics -- and add to them in subsequent blogs:
  1. Keep It Simple: Yes, the KISS theory applies to scheduling, too. Whether you're building entry level or high-end, focus on determing key steps -- eliminating additional steps, paperwork, trips, etc.
  2. Get Buy-in: From your corporate team -- and vendors.  There's no sense in creating either an unrealistic or unacceptable schedule. Everyone wins when the schedule is accurate and reliable.
  3. Remember your buyer: Make sure you include "meet the buyer" activities and develop steps to keep your buyer informed! They'll be happier -- and provide referrals, too.

Your Construction Schedule Helps Create Best Practices

Putting together and utilizing a good schedule is the first step to best practices.  You'll also want to evaluate results: did Lot 12 deliver on-schedule; which subs performed/which didn't; how many punch items were generated; how did the homeowner rate satisfaction?

Construction scheduling software will help you put together the schedule -- and evaluate results. CPS' FieldCollaborate is a Constructech 2018 award-winner: we can help you be a better scheduler and, in turn, a better builder!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Builders: Using Software to Help Ease Margin Pressure

Are you a homebuilder focused on the entry-level and first-time home buyer market? That portion of the new home market is hot -- and the Millennial home shopper is more focused on purchasing than ever before!

Are you experiencing price increases on basic materials? How about difficulty in obtaining labor -- especially in critical trades? Labor shortages lead to price increases -- and these factors mean you're seeing margins being squeezed.

Now is a good time to focus on Operational Excellence

Recently, John McManus had a great article in BuilderOnline. McManus notes there's an opportunity today to motivate apartment dwellers to purchase homes. Home shoppers prefer new -- and apartment dwellers don't need to sell their current home so there are fewer strings attached to the purchase.

But, these buyers are at the first-time, entry level price point so price increases on the builder side indicate a need to be extra focused on what could be considered controllable costs to maintain margins. McManus notes builders are "doubling down" on items under their control such as construction cycles and workflows.

Construction Scheduling Offers an Effective Management Tool

Cycle time doesn't live in a vacuum -- and can't be determined or measured in the abstract, either. Do you have a published schedule -- do you track progress against it? Does everyone look at the same schedule or are there multiples floating around within the organization? If so, there's where inefficiencies multiply!

If there's one schedule, not only can you measure cycle time but you're able to provide consistent, reliable schedules to your vendors. That's a win/win as your vendors can rely on your schedule to book their crews. That lets your vendors get and stay efficient.

Construction scheduling software will help you develop the tools so there's only one schedule (for everyone -- within and outside the organization). Not only can you track and measure against it but..your vendors will have easy access to it and can rely on it.

CPS FieldCollaborate: Award-winning Construction Scheduling Software

We're available to provide a FieldCollaborate demo -- and we'll show you how to implement and use software that has resulted in up to 30% cycle time reductions -- day in/day out!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Let's Put Some Spring into Your Sales/Leasing Office!

Spring Mean Sales!

Spring might finally be here and with it: Spring Selling Season!  No matter what you're selling, says Amy O'Connor of Shore Consulting, Inc., people like buying in the spring. Buyers are ready to shake off the last days of winter and ready for something new!

From a visual vocabulary to virtual curb appeal!
Where to start? Amy is clear: the key to spring selling success is starting strong!

CPS adds: Work to Create a Great Buying Experience!

You want to be your customer's #1 choice; what can you do to make that happen? First, embrace the idea that home shoppers visit your office because they're interested in buying one of your homes.. in many cases, today!

Next, we'll suggest that it makes sense to start looking at your sales office as a customer does. What will help you stand apart so the home shopper rates your community #1?

Consider: Virtual Curb Appeal

What are you doing to create a great buying experience? From the minute a prospect drives (or walks) up to your office, they're using all of their senses to evaluate the experience...from smell to sight to touch!
 SalesTouch uses visuals to appeal to home shopper emotions!

Mollie Elkman, a Philadelphia-based marketing expert, reminds us that pictures offer "virtual curb appeal."  Why not build on standard imagery and Go Interactive to make your office stand apart and grab home shoppers' attention? An interactive touch presentation actively engages 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.

CPS offers SalesTouch, the interactive touchscreen system for both large and small (think tablets) screens. We're here to help you kick off (and up!!) your Spring selling season.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Keeping Customers Happy -- Even When There are Lines

QuikLine: Keeping Customers Informed with Line Management

Businesses take lines seriously

They have to.  No one wants grumpy customers annoyed about wait times and abandoning their purchase, because of a line.

Automated line management systems are available to make the wait process more efficient.

Typically, a well-designed system will provide a 15-35% improvement from end-to-end.  Everyone likes the idea of less time in line but … reducing a 3 1/2 minute wait by 25 seconds might not register as a significant improvement for the average consumer. It’s still a wait, in other words.
That’s where queuing management comes into play — and it isn’t just about shortening the line.  Queue theory, a 100-year old field of study, has transitioned from the purely mathematical to more of a psychological analysis of lines and their impact.

As a result, line management considers perceived wait time — the psychological component of line management — as just as important as time in line.

There can be up to a 40% decrease in perceived wait time with a good automated line system keeping customers informed about what to expect and both occupied and distracted by marketing and informational messaging.  It’s play-off season; who wouldn’t mind waiting when they knew they’d see the latest game score? Or, learning about Friday night’s free wine tasting!
What’s your business doing to keep your lines moving — and your customers happy?  Take a look at CPS’ QuikLine automated line management solution!