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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Builders: Turn Warranty Data into Actionable Insights

Thinking About Turning Data into a Critical Asset

Data is in abundance and needs to be made sense of in order to realize its full benefits.

Aaron Tan | Executive Editor, APAC

Today, the value of data is well known as effective use can help businesses speed-up decision making and improve the customer experience.'s out there! Then, what?
But.. some might ask: How do I get useful data? and others might say, There's so much data! How can you maximize both data collection and use so there's a positive business value proposition? 

Taking a Discrete Look at Builder Warranty/Customer Service Data

Many builders provide their homeowners with warranty service after the home closes. Typically, this is a one-year period -- although two-years isn't unknown. During that time, builders manage homeowner requests for repair or replacement. There may also have been a builder/buyer walkthrough collecting issues for resolution prior to closing.

As a result, even the smallest builder has data! There are homeowner requests ranging from leaky faucets to squeaky floors to improperly installed appliances.

Yet, do you know how many faucet leaks your homes had over the last 6 months in the Happy Acres community? How about over the last 3 years? And, how many were due to poor workmanship vs. bad materials vs. design issues? 
Do you know how many leaky faucets happened this month?

If you knew these answers, what would you  do to address them going forward?

And, wouldn't your operations be more efficient and profitable, as a result?

Warranty Management Software Provides Analysis Tools

Warranty management software provides a very effective tool for a builder's operations because there's a large amount of data that evolves as a result of homeowner requests and repairs -- and software provides the tools to take large amounts of data and slice & dice & display for effective use.  There really isn't any additional work required to obtain the information; it's a question of how to make use of it! 

Take the leaky faucet issue above. That issue will be recorded as a homeowner request. Software provides the ability to easily review how many leaks occurred -- over a period of time, community-by-community.

The value proposition is significantly enhanced by adding a second step: why did this leak happen? Poor installation, bad faucets, bumped while doors were installed?

Over time, you'll have the data to know the most common issues as submitted by your homeowners. You'll know facts -- not squeaky wheel problems or the "big" ones! You'll also know why the problems happened.

If you're using an integrated software suite, you'll also know the vendor providing the work so you can address these workmanship or material quality issues. 

Take a look at the tablet above; your team could see what problem categories were most prevalent over the last 30 days (turns out drywall was highest, here); you' be able to drill down for the "why" and vendor, as well.

Warranty Software Breaks Down Data Silos

Effective use of warranty software provides a great resource for a builder to be able to examine their operations as well as providing a good opportunity for enhanced customer service. Interested in finding out how you can turn all those requests & repairs into actionable insights? CPS will be exhibiting at IBS2020 -- or you can request a personal WarrantyWatcher software demo here!

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Keeping Sales Process Momentum Positive Over the Holidays

2019 Market is Strong Heading into the Holidays

We're just about to arrive in a double whammy environment for new home sales: less than optimal weather and many competing activities.

The weather might be frightful but ...
Yet, the overall market is positive: website visits are up, sales traffic is up, 2019 sales results are good.

How to keep the momentum going through the next several months?

Home Shoppers are in Your Office Because They're Interested!

A good first step is embracing the idea that home shoppers are visiting your community because they're interested in buying one of your homes... in many cases, today!

It's true: the weather might very well be frightful (while that is probably true in Minnesota, there are other locations where the weather is much better than July!).

And, recognize the power of inviting; take advantage of the holidays and your locale for inspiration. Hot apple cider makes any location seem like home! Add some fresh smelling citrus to up the scent if you're in a warmer climate! A fresh, new look and feel is contagious... and inviting!

Work Your CRM to Drive Traffic

Did you have a chance to read our Top Performer Blog? Our most effective CPS CRM sales manager's tip for success was persistence with follow-up. 

This Top Performer kept in touch with "his team" using his CPS CRM database -- and there's no better time to reach out than today. Invite "your team" over for holiday treats, coordinate a wine tasting, support a fundraiser for a local food bank. You're working to be "top of mind" for your team and any of their friends and family considering a new home.

After All, You're Prospecting for the Long Haul!

That's a Jeff Shore theme: top performers work the small things over and over. Ryan Taft is one of Jeff's sales trainers; he produced a great Blog reinforcing the small and consistent message:
  1. Do it! (that is: start now!)
  2. Personalize the Heck Out of It! (and the holidays make this pretty easy!)
  3. Be Consistent! (get started, now; keep at it after January 1!)

Consider New Tools in 2020!

Take a look at the IBS2020 Buyer Guide: CPS is listed as a member of the 25 Year Exhibitors Club

We're persistent: we're actually celebrating 35 Years as a software vendor to the homebuilding industry! Join us in Booth SU631 and see how our persistence can help you sell more homes, build more profitably and provide more responsive customer care!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Builders: Automated Construction Software Helps Gain Efficiencies

Good News: Homebuilder Order Growth Continues to Accelerate

Have the details at your fingertips!
One of our most recent blogs Homebuilder Construction Rates Accelerating; Let's Talk Efficiency  was developed as a result of two recent Zelman & Associates comments,
"Builder order growth has continued to accelerate; excess speculative inventory has been absorbed and housing starts are picking up to satisfy demand."
"Increasing construction activity always presents the risk of cost inflation and labor tightness."  

Are Your Operations Optimized to Meet the Challenges?

There's nothing quite like throwing ice water on good news, is there?  How are builders addressing cost inflation and labor tightness? Possible to make adjustments and see results relatively quickly?

We'd like to suggest the answer is: YES!

Let's take a look at one of CPS' builder clients currently using our automated construction scheduling software,  FieldCollaborate. When asked how they previously managed their construction process, the CEO replied:
"Email and phone. We were really disjointed. There were disputes among FieldManagers about trades because they didn't know who was working on what, when."

Costs and Labor Can Be Better Managed! 

Sound familiar?  What has changed with the implementation of a scheduling system?
"Because you can plan out jobs far in advance (we schedule out 6 months), builders and vendors can forecast materials, allocate labor toward our jobs, etc. The purchasing team can negotiate better prices with vendors as they're able to pinpoint quantities and timing."

Using a Portal to Helps Get Everyone on the Same Page!

We've also talked about the value of SST (self-service technology; take a look at uses throughout a builder's organization in this Blog). FieldCollaborate offers SST with its Vendor Portal. Vendors, using authorized credentials, are able to view their schedules (as well as drawings, photos, notes and the like) up to 6 months in advance.  Builder staff access the same Portal. Everyone's looking at the same schedule, same calendar, same workload.

Critical is the short-term view regarding efficiency:
"The Portal eliminated a lot of phone calls, texts, etc. That extra time allows us to continue to move homes."
Want to find out more about the efficiency and profitability advantages provided by automated scheduling software? Contact us; we can provide a full-featured FieldCollaborate demo!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Homebuilder Construction Rates Accelerating; Let's Talk Efficiency

Builder Order Growth Continues to Accelerate

Alan Ratner, Managing Director of Homebuilding Research at Zelman & Associates, recently delivered great news for homebuilders saying,
 "Builder order growth has continued to accelerate; excess speculative inventory has been absorbed and housing starts are picking up to satisfy demand."
Isn't this great news for everyone associated with the homebuilding industry?

Yet, Increased Construction Activity Presents Risks

Ratner continues,
"Increasing construction activity always presents the risk of cost inflation and labor tightness." 
 If you've been reading our Blog, you might recall a March 2019 article noting Ashok Chaluvadi's comments in Builder,

A key issue cited by 82% of builders is the cost/availability of labor. What's particularly noteworthy is labor replaced building material prices -- which had been the hot topic in 2018.

Increasing Costs and Labor Shortages Turn Focus to Efficiency -- Particularly SST

This environment (increasing costs, labor shortages) provides an opportunity for builders to laser focus on areas specifically under their control --  operations -- in order to increase internal efficiencies (and, in turn, profitability). One opportunity is automated construction scheduling -- particularly SST elements (that is, self-service technology). 

SST had somewhat of a bad reputation in years past.  It may have tried to do too many things in too disparate ways. However, attitudes change; today, demographics and technology make SST an important tool for home builders as they consider that increasing workplace productivity is the option most under their control, today.

SST implies technology and construction management software leverages SST

An effective construction software implementation gets everyone within the building process (and that includes both in-house and vendors) on "the same page" as to which tasks need to be accomplished, in what order and on what date.

Cloud-based software makes the information available to everyone, 24/7, anywhere anytime. That means you can expect a reduction in delays, dry runs, phone calls, texts, misunderstandings

In a sense, getting everyone on the same page is a good first step in exerting organization control.  Interested? CPS' FieldCollaborate is award-winning automated construction software; contact us and we'll give you all the information needed so you gain productivity while experiencing this order growth!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Builders: Let's Explore Selling and Senses

What Motivates Purchase Decisions?

Have you had a chance to read Martin Lindstrom's Buyology - Truth and Lies About Why We Buy?

It's an eye-opening book describing what influences purchase decisions in today's message-cluttered world.

Our "Other" Senses Are Critical

Lindstrom conducted a 3-year neuromarketing study and one element he discusses is how our "other" senses -- smell, touch and sound -- capture our interest and influence purchasing decisions.

Bring the Power of Touch to your Sales Office!
Two key takeaways for us, today:

  • Smell is closely tied to how we experience both brands and products. On one hand, there are the complex options such as sensory branding (the little things like perfume ads in magazines or flyers featuring shampoo and including scent microencapsules) which are becoming more and more common. Yet, just as important is maintaining the "clean and fresh" scent consumers want to associate with a new home purchase when they enter your sales office and tour your models. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this: you might try several (bowls of lemons/limes, scented (but not lit) candles, cookies in the oven). Lindstrom mentions even the subtlest of aromas can have a potent effect on shoppers.
  • Touch is another key sense. Retail guru Paco Underhill wrote in his bestselling book Why We Buy about the critical importance of touching clothing before we purchase. Yet, are you familiar with how a touch screen experience differs from one using a mouse? Your brain actually processes interest differently when touching a selection as compared to clicking a mouse or hovering over the exact same selection.

CPS' Bob Musa's Book Discusses the Power of Touch in New Home Marketing

Bob Musa, CPS' President, authored an innovative book, Creating Customers with Interactive Digital Signage - we'd love to discuss how the power of touch can be harnessed in your sales offices

Take a look at our interactive touchscreen SalesTouch Case Studies highlighting how single and multifamily builders leverage both the power of touch and interactive technology to more effectively engage home shoppers in their sales/leasing offices. Reach out to schedule a conversation!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Celebrating Veterans Day 2019!

Veterans Day gives us all an excellent opportunity to lift up and honor those who served our country -- as well as recognize and thank those currently serving.

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.

Enjoy a Veterans Day Parade!!
First, currently serving: Bob Musa's son, Mike. He graduated US Marine Corps Camp Pendleton Boot Camp in 2016 and he's now at his permanent duty station. Thank you, Mike, for your service!

Remembering the service of:

Bob Strickland, US Air Force

Bob's father, Robert Musa (US Marines, 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)

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Builders: Electronic Signature Key to Improving Efficiency & Satisfaction

Builder Hot Topics: Efficiency, Productivity, Buyer Experience

The Solutions Blog has devoted quite a bit of virtual space focused on improving efficiency and productivity -- particularly on the operations side of homebuilding. Take a look at recent Blog articles:

Efficiency, Productivity to Buyer Experience

We've also been talking about the Home Buyer Experience -- before, during and after the new home purchase:

One key concept emerges from all the articles highlighted above: the builder's universe is expanding! There aren't any islands left, in other words! Thinking about buyer experience is no longer limited to the sales office or marketing. It encompasses operations -- from construction to warranty, too. 

Efficiency can be thought of similarly: how long does it take your sales agents to process a sale? Do you have 25-40 documents ranging from Purchase Agreement to Options Orders to Avigation (yes; that's a real word!!) Disclosures?

Document Processing is More than Creation; Consider These Stats

How long does it take for your agent to generate these documents -- and how many signatures are required? Do you realize that 37% of documents are missing a necessary signature, initials or dates?

And, many people don't always consider the post-signature activities required to support documents: that's the proper collection, filing and retention. 51% of businesses report that some or all of the documents needed are mis-filed or lost!

Efficiency, Productivity Moves Beyond Operations!
In other words, are you certain that Lot 55's purchase agreement package is completely processed, stored properly and accessible?

Electronic Signature Can Go Beyond Purchase Agreements!

You're probably familiar with electronic document signature processing as it relates to purchase agreements (CPS CRM, for example, provides seamless integration with DocuSign to obtain signatures for all documents, distribute the documents amongst all necessary entities in a specified order and save a completely executed set). And, the value is not only for the builder: buyers appreciate the ease and ability to obtain and store a full set of accessible, executed documents. That doesn't even take into consideration processing a sale with buyers in multiple locations!

And, have you considered the value of electronic signature for your warranty/customer service operations? Why not provide your customer service rep or vendors with the ability to accept electronic signature on work orders via phone or tablet? CPS WarrantyWatcher does exactly that -- and keeps a copy in the lot's permanent history file, as well!

There's now another touchpoint (or two!!) for improving efficiency, productivity and the buyer experience!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Homebuilder Customer Service: A Critical Link

Homebuilder Customer Service is a Hot Topic

We've been talking about homebuilder customer service frequently this year; you can see earlier Solution Blogs here (Putting Metrics on Your Dashboard) and here (Add Focus to Actionable Customer Service).

Is Customer Service a Priority?

Value-Unique Motivates Referrals

Today's homebuyer and homeowner expect to receive a quality customer service experience. What will set your team apart is a value-unique experience. That's service that will generate posts, Tweets, and, most importantly, referrals. How to get value-unique?

Are You Prioritizing the "Most Important Department"?

There's a new Hanley Wood Construction Wire article asking, "What's the Most Important Department in Home Building?" and customer service emerges as a top contender! Author Jim Haffner points out that the "last person who interacts with customers leaves a lasting impression."

That doesn't mean that sales or construction (or estimating or accounting, for that matter!) aren't important. What it does seem to highlight is that customer service needs to be considered a critical component of the entire building process -- and that, sometimes, it is regarded as an afterthought.

Metrics: Effective Measurement Tools!
The last contact point can offer the most memorable experience -- frequently because your homeowner expected everything to already be in tip/top shape. No one likes to have to reach out for repair but... it does happen.

Go Quick, Consistent and Memorable

Why not make it as easy and straightforward as shopping on Amazon? CPS WarrantyWatcher provides a 24/7 Homeowner Portal so owners can quickly and easily submit a request directly to the customer service department -- complete with photos! And, they're able to use the same Portal for status updates and request history.

Go the extra step and ask your customer service rep or vendor to include a photo so they're able to check things out on their phone on the way home... isn't that value unique?

Key customer service terms: quick, consistent and measurable. You're able to take care of quick with the 24/7 portal! WarrantyWatcher also provides the metrics that allow for measurable! Do you know your longest outstanding Work Order? How about the most frequent warranty issue? How easily could you locate homes with a recalled microwave? Usable data is your friend in these cases!

Finally, there's the value in consistency as it will pay off in referrals. Your homeowners need communication -- not necessarily conversation! Keep them informed and they will be comfortable with your process -- even if that replacement part is taking time to arrive.

Technology Provides Desired SST

Technology facilitates your ability to deliver on your homeowner's expectations and there's really no other way to meet their need for SST (self-service technology). A recent Radial article summarizes:

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.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Builders: Buyers are Expecting an Enhanced Sales Office Experience

Consumer Expectations Are Changing Rapidly

Our Blog has focused on SST recently --  that's self-service technology (read here and here).

Your Buyers are Looking for Information!
Self-service hasn't always had the best of reputations; however, attitudes, preferences, and expectations change quickly. One reason is changing demographics; another is technology.

In other words, today, self-service is not only a solution but a preference for many. 

Customer Satisfaction is Driving Kiosk Implementation

SST isn't happening in a vacuum, however.

Improving customer satisfaction and customers' perception of the business are top reasons for deploying digital signage. Enhancing the customer experience, improving the customer journey, is driving the transition from a static, pre-set experience to a dynamic, immersive sales office environment fueled by interactive kiosks. 

Meet Your Home Shoppers Need for Information and Lifestyle

CPS has been providing interactive touchscreen kiosks to homebuilders for the last 10 years. We understand what's involved in providing an exceptional, end-to-end experience (in this case, that includes the customer and technology).  

Encourage Your Buyers with an Intuitive Process
Here's what we've learned about improving the customer experience and interactive kiosks:
  1. Interactive -- coupled with dynamic creative -- engages shoppers from the minute they walk in. 
  2. Home shoppers want your product to meet their needs so give them the information to make that happen!
  3. A recent Metrostudy Consumer Insights series affirmed Location & Home Design to be the most significant motivators so use interactive floorplans, drag 'n drop furniture and interactive local area maps with great-looking graphics to tell your story!
  4. The kiosk process needs to be so intuitive that your home shopper wants to engage.  Don't make it too complicated or geared towards sales agent operation!
  5. Interactive is age-agnostic! Boomers and Millennials want information -- the type may vary but they're both trying to visualize how to your community and homes meet their objectives!

Visit CPS at PCBC 2019

We'll be at PCBC 2019 in San Francisco starting May 29; visit us in Booth 141 or contact us for a one-on-one demo to see how we can work together to create an enhanced customer experience!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Memorial Day 2019: Remembering Service & Sacrifice

President Harry Truman's Memorial Day message to the nation is as appropriate today as it was in 1945:
Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices. 
Vietnam Memorial, Washington DC
Additionally, here at CPS we take every Memorial Day as an opportunity to recognize and thank service members associated with the CPS family:

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

We honor the service of:

Bob Strickland, US Air Force
Bob's father: Robert Musa (US Marine Corps, retired and 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 realize 50% of today's high school youth aren't aware of World Warr II? Why not take the time to encourage friends and family to remember -- with a bbq, picnic, memorial park visit or concert, join a parade or run a race to support fundraising efforts?

Let us know who you are remembering this Memorial Day!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Customer Service: Expand Beyond Vanilla!!

Chip Bell Talks Out of the Box About Customer Service

Chip Bell, a well-known authority on customer loyalty and service innovation, has some interesting thoughts regarding customer service:
Outside the box customer service = retention, referrals!

Make Service Neopolitan, Not Vanilla!

Bell suggests: Walk on the wild side with your customers! In other words, provide a customer experience that is not only good but innovative -- which translates to meet customer expectations and then go for the unexpected!

Innovative Service Brings Rewards

What's interesting about customer service, from Bell's perspective, is a quality service experience will be met with customer loyalty and Tweets, referrals and all sorts of positive items for the organization.

Homebuilder Opportunities to Deliver More

How can you step out of that Vanilla box
  1. Key customer service terms: quick, consistent and measurable! Do you know the average age of your homeowner warranty request? Can you drill down and find out how many times broken windows were installed in your community? Information (or, data) is key to being able to provide consistent, quality service.
  2. Make your warranty process frictionless! Does your homeowner need to call between 8-5? Or, submit a written list of issues? How many times does your team trade voicemail messages? Do they know what's scheduled? Keeping homeowners informed is the single best way to obtain referrals!
  3. Keep your vendors in the loop, 24/7 -- and make that process as easy as possible. Typically, vendors have their own processes and you can't really customize yours for each of theirs so make sure your vendors have everything they need anywhere/anytime, 24/7. Work orders, drawings, photos, contact info.

Software Will Help!

Homebuilder customer service is a day-in/day-out process. You'll want to have tools to expedite the heavy lifting so it's possible to move beyond vanilla!
Frictionless is 24/7 Homeowner Access!

CPS WarrantyWatcher provides cloud-based warranty management that's available 24/7 on all platforms (tablet, phone, desktop) so your team and vendors are able to respond quickly. And, your homeowners get a seamless process, too with 24/7 access to submit and monitor their requests!

Visit CPS at PCBC 2019

We'll be showcasing WarrantyWatcher at PCBC 2019 May 30-31; visit us at Booth 141! Or, reach out to us and we'll schedule a one-on-one demo.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Delivering an Exceptional Customer Experience

What's a Value-Unique Customer Experience?

Do you recall one of our Blogs regarding Value-Unique customer experiences? You can read it here.

Creating an environment to visualize the future!
Those experiences are when customers get more from their purchase and process than they expected and it's unique and innovative. When people encounter a value-unique experience, they're super enthused and want to talk and Tweet about it!

You not only have a happy customer but one that's actively engaged in marketing for you!

Designing for Exceptional Customer Experiences

How can you provide value-unique? Joe Schultz, VP Sales, Harbor Retail, recently provided some interesting thoughts regarding delivering exceptional customer experiences. Key, he says, is thinking about items that enhance selling probability.

It's more than product and not necessarily your sales team, in other words, although those could be critical drivers. What does success look like? Are you trying to educate, show off your latest design, provide product differentiation? Analyze your objectives: once they're clear, you're able to create an environment that makes success possible

Consider Customer Experience Strategies

Take a look at the photo above: aren't those home shoppers engaged in evaluating what the homebuilder is offering? In addition, don't they look comfortable?  Don't they look like they'd be happy spending time finding out more about this product?

Schultz suggests several items to consider when developing a customer experience strategy. We'll focus on two:

(1) See your space from a customer's perspective.

The interactive touchscreen kiosk that's part of the builder's customer experience center is accessible and easy to navigate -- even when there are 3 people present! We frequently say it's encouraging home shoppers to cozy up and find out more! 

(2) Give your customers a glimpse of the future.

CPS' interactive system, SalesTouch, gives home shoppers an easy-to-use way to visualize their new home with interactive floorplans and drag 'n drop furniture. 

In other words, the floorplan is no longer a brochure or an image on the wall: home shoppers are able to mix 'n match structural options (den in lieu of bedroom 3, expanded kitchen island, covered lanai) and then drag furniture into their created space.  They're able to visualize how this floorplan will live; it's become "their" home, in other words!

Interested in finding out how you can create value-unique homes shopping experiences? We'd love to give you a one-on-one demo; let us know a convenient time here!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Builders: Let's Add Pets and Up Your Marketing Program!

Furry family members are influencing home-buying decisions!

Did you see the results from a recent SunTrust Mortgage:

33% of Millennials purchased their new home to have more room (either an improved space or yard) for their dog?

Let's call this a Pet Welcoming community!

What are you doing to make this important connection for home shoppers?

A super interesting article in suggests Millennials are particularly focused on including pets in their homebuying decision-making. FushionHappens asks: what are you doing to make this important connection:

  •  Are you offering low-maintenance flooring?
  • How do you message pet owners?
  • Do you include happy dogs and owners in your ads and on your website?
  • What about dog parks?
CPS SalesTouch is an interactive touch-based kiosk system designed to engage home shoppers from the minute they enter your sales office; don't you think this pet-friendly Parks & Trails section at Newland Communities' Tehaleh encourages a new pet-focused visitor to consider their community?

Go the Extra Step: Talk About How Your Floorplans Fit Their Lifestyle!

Millennials (and Boomers, by the way) are particularly interested in how a new home fits their lifestyle. For some, a family-focused kitchen is critical. For others, it's the "extra" room that can be a craft space, or a tasting room or a "man cave."
Yes! There's a Pet Room option here!

And, for pet owners: do you offer doggie doors or dog washing areas?

There's a great way to enhance your marketing for these lifestyle-focused buyers: interactive floorplans

Let your home shopper try out lifestyle ideas with touch and mix/match structural options and drag 'n drop furniture. Consider something as simple as re-purposing the "mud room" label!

There's nothing better for a potential buyer than seeing that you recognize their lifestyle is important. You might not know which element is critical but offering your buyer with the ability to visualize it is critical

Add Lifestyle Visualization to Your Sales Offices!

Interested in finding out more how you can help buyers see how your homes meet their objectives? CPS offers one-on-one demos; use this form and we'll schedule one with you!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Builders: Put Metrics on Your Dashboard!

SST Emerging as a Preference 

Concise, actionable information - 24/7
We've been talking about SST -- that's Self Service Technology -- recently; you can review Solutions Blogs about migrating your homebuyers towards SST customer service options here.

There are a couple of key elements associated with the trend towards SST; demographics and technology. Cloud-based software applications are making information available 24/7, anywhere/anytime.

Preferences and expectations are changing, too; what was once viewed rather negatively is now seen as not only a solution but a preference!

Builders Have 2 Audiences Looking for Information: Buyers and Their Own Team

The benefits of SST apply across the builder audience:  homebuyers and your own team of field managers, operations staff, accounting, corporate management. 

Homebuyers Obtain Concise, Personalized Information via Portals

How can that be? Your homebuyers have access to information through web-based portals with data published through web-based software applications.  It's concise, time pertinent, personalized and available 24/7. 

Portals recognize their participants through credentials. So, it's straightforward for your buyer to locate stage of construction photos or warranty issue status.  They're able to use their phone or tablet and there's no digital clutter: their specific and unique information is presented clearly and concisely.

Metrics Deliver for Corporate Team Members

A business metric is defined as a quantifiable measure used to track and assess the status of a specific business process. Every business area has unique processes that need to be monitored.  Sales, for example, track marketing and social media metrics; senior management tracks key financial results and trends.

Metrics encourage your organization to become more data-driven -- and that's particularly true when SST features are built-in to your software applications.  Think: visual and interactive
Portals: Personalized status 24/7 for your buyers

What might your warranty team need as metrics?  Submitted requests, requests turned into work orders, open work orders?  The team doesn't necessarily want all the details at first glance; they're interested in scope and outliers.

Customer Service Rep "A" has 150 open work orders with 20% over 30 days; "B" has 260 open orders with only 5% over 30 days. That's easily viewable in a pie chart, for example, Then, drill down for details; you might find "A" has a community's worth of "manufacturer microsoft recalls" and is waiting for replacements.  

You're able to locate that type of information using a software-generated visual dashboard such as those provided by CPS' WarrantyWatcher. 

Visual Metrics Focus Attention and Investigation

SST means personalized, concise information 24/7, anywhere/anytime. Setup your dashboard to measure the data that's critical to your business -- adjust the timeframe, drill down for details, focus on what's important, offer Portals to your buyers -- that's CPS WarrantyWatcher!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Builders: Consider Value-Unique Customer Experiences

Good Customer Experience is Appreciated; Noteworthy Gets People Talking

Have you run across Chip Bell? He's an author, speaker and consultant focused on customer loyalty and service innovation.

Bell suggests that good Customer Experience is appreciated.

We knew that, right? Yet, good service rarely results in people mentioning in -- or posting or Tweeting about it.

However, when a noteworthy customer experience moment occurs, people talk, post and Tweet about it all the time. does your customer service become Tweet-worthy?

Move-Up to Value-Unique Experiences

Today, customers expect their experience to be value-added.

Taking what your customers expect and just adding more isn't enough to generate anything beyond satisfaction and.. that's why it isn't generating posts or Tweets.

When customers get more than expected and it's unique and innovative, Bell suggests, that's value-unique.

And, value-unique has a lot more value.  That's when people start talking and Tweeting about it!

Customer Focus Also Drives Revenue Growth

A recent McKinsey & Co. study concluded that customer satisfaction also correlated with company revenue growth. One idea that emerges from that study is the importance of employees as brand ambassadors. What is your organization doing to foster this concept?

Encourage Employee Engagement

One idea is to make sure you're providing the tools to facilitate employee engagement. Implement tools, in other words, to foster employee engagement and, in turn, you'll see value-unique service.

What sort of tools? Keep in mind your customer's expectations are changing at rapid speed. 

Builders must now account for an increasing number of factors ranging from having more information on the website to conversational commerce to providing an engaging in-sales office experience. And, your employees need to take advantage of  those digital engagement tools so your brand emerges as value-unique!

Wouldn't you want to walk into a sales office featuring the Brisas interactive touchscreen system highlighted above -- and see not only gorgeous creative but interactive floorplans, what's happening in the neighborhood and an up-to-date sitemap? Leveraging digital tools such as CPS' SalesTouch doesn't diminish your sales agent's role; it amplifies it by associating the brand with a value-unique experience

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Builders: Increasing Productivity Helps Offset Labor Costs & Availability Issues

Builders Rank Labor Cost & Availability Top Issue for 2019

There's a great article by Ashok Chaluvadi in a recent Eye on Housing article in Builderonline describing anticipated challenges facing builders in 2019; you can read it here.

SST is one option designed to increased productivity
A key issue cited by 82% of builders is the cost/availability of labor. What's particularly noteworthy is labor replaced building material prices -- which had been the hot topic in 2018.

What options are available to a homebuilder to counteract labor's increasing cost/decreasing availability -- particularly in the short run?

SST Helps Builders Impact Productivity

We know the number of trades people is limited; a significant number of experienced workers are "aging out"  and there haven't been enough Millennials entering this specific workplace.
Automated Quality Inspection Tools add focus

SST (that's self service technology) had somewhat of a bad reputation in years past.  It may have tried to do too many things in too disparate ways. However, attitudes change; today, demographics and technology make SST an ever emerging tool for home builders as they consider that increasing workplace productivity is the option most under their control, today. SST implies technology and construction management software leverages SST:
  • SST takes advantage of 24/7 cloud-based information: An effective construction software implementation will get everyone within the builder's organization and their vendors on "the same page" as to what tasks need to be accomplished, in what order and on what date.  Cloud-based software makes the information available to everyone, 24/7, anywhere/anytime.  That means you should expect a reduction in delays, dry runs, phone calls, texts and misunderstandings.  In a sense, that's the first step.
  • SST provides a focus on the builder's scheduling process: This might seem strange to be #2 in the list.  However, it's sometimes difficult to modify processes, implement software and drill down into issues all at the same time.  Some builders start operating in a SST environment and then examine what can be done more effectively as they reap the fruits of 24/7 information and a consistent, measurable pace. Developing a schedule provides consistency and accountability; you're able to see (24/7!) the status of every job and employ metrics to highlight problem areas. You should also see the benefits from your vendor's perspective: they can look ahead and plan. You're working more collaboratively! Expect to see both decreased cycle time and a further reduction in dry runs as your team refines their build process.
  • SST facilitates Quality Inspection Tools: We can all agree call backs are inefficient, cost money and can impact buyer satisfaction.  There aren't many things worse than finding punch items at the buyer walk through! Why not add a short check list alongside key tasks that provides an accessible, consistent way for your field managers to evaluate completion and direct feedback for the vendors? If there's an issue, CPS Field Collaborate, for example, auto-generates punch items that are emailed to the vendor and auto-tracked until resolved.  Again, everyone (builders, management, vendors) is on the same page, 24/7, looking at the same issues and focused on resolution. SST continues to provide reminders to your field managers of outstanding issues and continues to email vendors until resolution
CPS' FieldCollaborate is the 3rd version of our construction scheduling software designed specifically for homebuilders and offering the 24/7, anywhere/anytime access we discussed. Interested in finding out how it can increase your team's productivity? Use our contact form to schedule a one-on-one demo.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Why Implement Interactive Kiosks in Your Sales Office?

SST: Attitudes are Changing About Self-Service Technology

Our Blog has been talking quite a bit about SST recently --  that's self-service technology (read here and here). Self-service hasn't always had the best of reputations; however, attitudes, preferences and expectations change quickly. One reason is changing demographics; another is technology.

Interactive meets the need for fast & concise information!
So far, we've focused on the operations side of homebuilding as technology provides builders with a new way to make information available 24/7 to their vendors, homebuyers and staff within their organization as they're able to leverage cloud-based solutions.

It's communication without conversation!

Interactive Kiosks are Self-Service and More!

Interactive technology provides many of the customer service benefits associated with self-service.

Whether your demographic is Boomers or Millennials, your home shoppers want fast and concise information. And, they're interested in content that's tailored to their specific situation: that's personalization! That type of information delivery adds up to a new level of customer service that's actionable and personable!
Interactive reaches across demographics!

Interactive technology goes a step further as it delivers content that's engaging, exciting and impactful.

Why Interactive is a Must for Homebuilders!

First, it's engaging! Take a second to ponder what are you more likely to look at and consider: a static sign with pre-determined messaging or a screen that offers you a choice of content (and that's designed to be tailored to your objective)?

81% of survey respondents say interactive displays grab their attention more effectively than static

CPS has been providing interactive touchscreen systems since 2008 and we've always said: interactive grabs your home shopper's attention from the minute they walk in the sales office door!

And, it's not just that there are gorgeous graphics! Grab your attention means providing the type of information your home shopper is seeking!  They're able to drill down beyond those gorgeous graphics to the details behind your floorplans (yes; there's a Jack and Jill bath; yes: the bonus room can turn into a 5th bedroom!), drag 'n drop furniture to see how your plan fits their lifestyle and email/print the results!

They're locating actionable and personalized information, in other words.  That's what interactive digital technology is designed to provide.  Our next Blog will focus on how exciting and memorable signage will further your sales efforts.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Smaller Builder Part 2: Take Advantage of Knowing Your Ground

BuilderOnLine Talks About How Smaller Builders Can Prosper

Frank Anton had another great BuilderOnLine article talking about smaller builders; you can read it here.
Gear Up Your CRM Reach!

His theme: many smaller builders survived the downturn, they've prospered and can continue to do so.

But, Anton suggests, there are 3 keys to ongoing success and smaller builders should  sharpen their focus on these critical items. Our last Solutions Blog talked about #1: Actionable Customer Service.

Maximize Being at Ground Zero!

Anton reminds: Remember that knowing the ground is a decisive factor not only in warfare but in homebuilding, as well.

Are there actionable possibilities, here, as well?  There are many but we'll focus on sales team actionables to start:
  • Gear-up your CRM software with a focus on local co-op agents: Get creative, make a Taco Tuesday event in the sales center and raffle off a Margarita basket! Co-op agents in many areas are responsible for over 50% of sales traffic.
  • Fine-tune your local agent reach: We've talked about demographically-focused agents (see an earlier Blog) -- they develop groups of interested home shoppers that are always available. Try tapping into several of those groups.
  • Keep up your reminder emails: There's a tendency to think: well, I emailed those home shoppers already...what else can I do? IBS2019 speakers reminded us (and there's plenty of articles about this, as well): one time isn't enough! Two or three aren't either! Develop a set of focused emails and create a campaign for ongoing interaction.

Market Your Ground!

Your Team is on the ground: highlight what they know!
One thing we've learned in the 10 years of providing interactive touchscreen kiosks: home shoppers want to know more about the location! 

CPS SalesTouch provides an engaging way to tell your geographic story and we encourage builders to include items that go beyond the basics: the local craft store, interesting museum, fun restaurant.

Go the extra step and suggest a popular appetizer (one client highlighted a Gotta Try: for each restaurant!) or highlight what makes a particular recreation location appealing (is it the great fishing, the sandy beach or terrific mounting bike trails?).

Reach out and let your home shopper know what's particularly interesting around your community because your team is on the ground and knows it! Your team knows the area so they're able to highlight the local restaurants, unique shopping spots, great recreation areas..everything that helps your community stand out!

Remember: home shopping can be stressful because of the fear of the unknown.  You're building a good product and you want your buyers to know that you care about them. Let your local, on the ground, knowledge help mitigate the stress!

Interested in finding out how you can put some of these CRM and touchscreen kiosk actionables to work for you? Contact us to schedule a one-on-one demo so we can show you!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Builders: Smaller in size? Add Focus to Actionable Customer Service

Smaller Means You Can Be More Nimble

Recently, there's a great Frank Anton article in Builderonline: Three Ways Small Home Builders Can Be Big Winners --  it's worth reviewing; you can read it here.

Anton notes he's "big" on stats & trends -- and in the 45 years he's been around the the housing business, he's usually been on the right side of predictions.  One he missed: how large the "majors" would become.

But, he says, smaller builders and those in smaller markets are in a great position. They're not occupying the same "space" as the NYSE builders.

Smaller Allows You to Focus on Personalized Customer Service

Anton suggests smaller builders have an opportunity but.. they need to focus on key metrics and one of the most critical is customer service. And, to be honest, it is one of the most controllable!

He goes a step further and suggests thinking of the process as concierge service!

SST is a Preference for Many

SST (that's Self Service Technology) provides smaller builders with a manageable way to connect with home shoppers and buyers -- and the price tag is reasonable!

Self-service hasn't always had the best of reputations. However,  attitudes, preferences and expectations change quickly. One reason is changing demographics; another is technology.

Self-service is one of those quickly evolving expectations.  Today, self-service is not only a solution but a preference for many -- regardless of age. 

Use SST as Your Concierge

What? How can SST (that's self service, isn't it??) provide concierge-level service to home shoppers and buyers? 

Your customers want fast and concise information. Communication doesn't have to mean conversation! They're also interested in information that's tailored to their specific situation: that's personalization! It adds up to a level of customer service that's actionable and personable.

Take advantage of technology to facilitate delivery of the types of information that will make your customers feel your attention!

SST Delivers Information Quickly, Concisely and When Requested

What sorts of personalized information can technology provide in this concierge service idea? Here are a couple to consider:
  • Online, real-time sitemaps - Let your home shoppers know the details as to what's available; over 90% are going online so why not provide key info from the get go?
  • Construction status updates - How about using your construction software's Portal to deliver weekly "stage of construction" photos?
  • Stage of the sale updates - Use your CRM system to deliver automated emails letting your buyers know where they are in your 10-point buying cycle
  • Focused Warranty reminders - Setup a schedule using your warranty software for automated email reminders: Fall gutter cleaning, Holiday light tips, Spring lawn advice, Summer air conditioning advice are just a few examples. You might be sending them to multiple individuals but they're offering specific, actionable information that your homebuyers can put to use.

Remember: Referrals are the Most Cost-Effective Source of Traffic

Happy home shoppers and buyers will have you "top of mind" when talking about their home shopping experience!

Interested in finding out more about technology options facilitating this type of concierge service? CPS can help you; contact us to schedule a one-on-one demo and what your customer satisfaction and  referral rate grow!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Builders: Grab Your CRM Tools for Spring Selling Season!

Might be Frightful Outside but..Spring Selling Season is Here!

We have to admit: the weather outside -- whether you're on the East or West Coast -- doesn't exactly encourage getting outside and going home shopping. Even if you're in Las Vegas -- it's snowing!

Take advantage of slower traffic today & get ready for Spring!
But, why not take advantage of the slower traffic and take stock in preparation for your Spring marketing efforts?  We have some ideas to start generating visits to your sales offices and engaging home shoppers once they arrive!

Start Reaching Out to Realtors & Other Neighborhood Sources, Now

There's a great, recent Frank Anton article in BuilderOnLine noting, "Remember that knowing the ground is a decisive factor not only in warfare but  in homebuilding as well."  

Do you know your local Realtor community? Why not get acquainted and start putting together a "Get Ready for Spring" open house and offer a "spa event" raffle for attendees? Or, a "Wine & Cheese" evening with a case of your favorite? Keep the buzz going: don't stop with one event! If you start now (in dreary February), you'll be ahead of 90% of your competition!

Here's where your CRM system can step in and help! Make sure your local Realtors are in their own section so you can easily email and measure your success in terms of visits, home shopper tours and sales.  Not sure how to do this? Let us know: CPS CRM is laser-focused on co-op agent features!

Start Thinking About Demographics, too!

Don't forget: many Realtors focus on specific demographics or groups -- relocations, ethnic or religious groups, 55+ buyers, etc.  Try reaching out to the demographic-centric agents, often.  They always have a group of interested buyers available to visit your community -- provide them with a reason to stop by -- again and again.  CRM will help here, too: establish Rating groups so you can sort through your database and focus on specifics.

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 are visiting today 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?

Think about: 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!  We'll talk about touch in the next Solutions Blog but.. make sure that your "curb appeal" is upfront, clean and appealing!


Have you seen the stats? Only 50% of home shoppers hear back from the sales office they visited! Even a simple Thank You! gets you in the top 50%! Think about the value of  an automated & templated followup with a short, cell phone video with a quick tour -- you're in the top 10%!

Do you recall an earlier Solution Blog with Ryan Taft's CRM tips? Take these quieter times to start a top performer habit:
  1. Do it!
  2. Personalize the Heck Out of It!
  3. Be Consistent!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Builders: Tips for Migrating Buyers/Owners to Your Self-Service Options

Self-service is a Preference for Many

We've been blogging recently about the paradigm shift in the self-service concept.  Frankly, it wasn't that long ago that self-service wasn't popular -- for either businesses or customers.

However,  attitudes, preferences and expectations change quickly. One reason is changing demographics; another is technology.

Self-service is one of those quickly evolving expectations.  Today, self-service is not only a solution but a preference for many -- regardless of age. Take a look at the 55+ community in the photo!

It's About Customer Experience and More!

Good self-service platforms can both improve the customer experience and save businesses money.

And, effective organizations are pushing forward with new customer paradigms as they recognize the need to engage customers amidst the current digital clutter is a way to enhance their brand.  

Get Proactive About Offering Self-Service 

It goes without saying that it doesn't much sense to just drop a self-service function into an organization.  The result would probably be similar to that of Coke Classic back in the day!

There are a few ideas that will make self-service work more effectively for your customer and your organization:
  1. Make Self-Service Visible (and Visual, when possible): Sales offices have been challenged to enhance the home shopper experience.  Jonathan Wilhelm suggested, in a recent Builder article, that interactive kiosks provide an enhanced buying experience. Not everyone considers them to be self-service; yet, they're a tool to engage your home shoppers and provide all sorts of sales/marketing capabilities. CPS SalesTouch starts with interactive floorplans and goes from there with drag and drop furniture, local area maps, etc. Design is critical to engagement -- as well as functionality.
  2. Offer Features that Will Maximize Use -- and Solve Problems: Self-service platforms are like any other product -- the more they satisfy a customer's needs, the more they'll be utilized.  Take a look at CPS WarrantyWatcher, as an example.  Not only do homeowners have 24/7 access via a builder-branded Portal to submit requests, they're able to see request status and history. No more calling, voicemail messages, emailing!
  3. Get Employees On Board: Increasing employee buy-in involves showing how your new self-service platforms provide more streamlined processes -- for everyone.  Sure, a phone call might resolve a specific issue for one homeowner but.. help your team focus on how the new self-service platform adds customer value (such as allowing homeowners to submit photos illustrating their warranty issue) as well as business value (employees are better able to focus on "high touch" situations).

Use CPS' Self-Service Tool for More Info!

We try to practice what we write: reach out through our Portal to schedule a discussion or demo here!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Homebuilder CRM Top Performer Tips

Top Sales Performers Are Frequently Top CRM Users

A local Northern CA homebuilder's top sales performer (he's retired now; let's call him Jack for this Blog) was probably the single best sales agent user of CPS CRM.

Jack certainly knew how to work with home shoppers, using CPS CRM loan information to discuss financial alternatives to facilitate the home purchase and taking advantage of the one-stop Contract Wizard to quickly generate purchase agreement documents.

Consider CRM Database as "Your Team"

But, the reason we're suggesting he was the "best user" was his persistence with follow-up.  Because Jack sold homes for about 10-years, he built-up a considerable CRM database of home shoppers and buyers.

Jack kept in touch with what he called "his team" -- sending announcements of new releases to home shoppers and new communities to previous buyers.

He went the extra step to make sure his data was useful so he could send out "Happy Home Anniversary" messages based on their Close of Escrow date. There were no doubt other personalized emails celebrating birthdays, children, college graduations and the like!

Of course, Jack used the "system" to auto-generate all of this followup; he created templates for his followup activities and relied on CPS CRM to keep in touch with his team.

Consistent CRM Use = Top of Mind and Consistent Referrals

The result? Jack was "top of mind" for anyone on his team thinking about a new home -- and he was the recipient of many referrals as friends and relatives started their home buying journey.

Recently, Jeff Shore completed a new sales training series; his latest is Prospecting for the Long Haul (always informative; watch it here). His message: top performers work the small things over and over.  

Ryan Taft is a sales trainer on Jeff's team; he has a great Blog and recently included 3 tips reinforcing the small and consistent message:
  1. Do it!
  2. Personalize the Heck Out of It!
  3. Be Consistent!
Didn't Jack take those tips to heart and play them out, every day? He took the tools provided to him in CPS CRM and was persistent! As Jeff mentions in his Prospecting session, it's the small things that, when practiced daily, generate results.

IBS2019: CPS is Persistent! We're Celebrating 25+ Years!

Take a look at the IBS2019 Buyer Guide: CPS is listed as a member of the 25 Year Exhibitors Club! We're thrilled to be included and invite you to join us at Booth SU631 as we talk about our award-winning CRM, construction scheduling, warranty management software and interactive kiosks! See how our persistence can help you sell more homes, build more profitably and provide responsive customer care.