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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!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

How to: Make Your Digital Signage Project a Success

Daniel Waldron hit the ball out of the park in a recent Digital Signage Today article: your digital signage success hinges on creating a unique user experience for your customers.

Staying Consistent with Your Customer's Journey!

Making a Unique User Experience

What's needed to make your customer-facing digital solution noteworthy, unique, worth the investment?

Take a Look at the Basics

Waldron suggests there are several key pieces of advice:
  • Ask: is your digital solution attractive?  That seems fairly basic but.. you'd be surprised! Is the actual hardware visually appealing? Too often, in the interest of perceived cost savings, you'll see monitors that are too small for the setting -- or have been touched too many times without cleaning. Stay on top of details! And, of course, make sure you're taking advantage of high quality visuals and high-res monitors.
  • Incorporate Social Media into the digital experience. Have you seen the Digital Information World statistic: 71% of consumers refer to social media for purchasing decisions? Linking digital signage to social media, Waldron suggests, creates trust -- as social media recommendations carry positive weight and show you're committed to engaging with your customers. 
  • Stay Customer Centric. Don't try to do everything, in other words! If you're a homebuilder, for example, stay consistent with your customer's journey: they're at your sales office because they want to make a lifestyle change. Show them your homes, let them try on various options, help them find out about life essentials in this new neighborhood (where are the local schools; how about shopping?) -- and make it easy to do! Add some fun, where possible!

Keep Your Salespeople Involved

Take a look at CPS' interactive touchscreen SalesTouch system designed for Cornerstone Communities' Aventine sales center. Wouldn't you agree it is visually attractive? And, consistent with prospective home shopper's life journeys?

Although most interactive presentation systems are designed for self-service, it is critical that your sales team is knowledgeable about their operation -- and proactive in getting home shoppers engaged. Bob Musa, in his Creating Customers book, notes that the sales process has always included making the customer aware of the product, creating interest in the product and creating intent in the purchase.  Today, home shoppers want to be educated about how your product will meet their lifestyle needs -- both system and sales agent are actively involved in that process!