Focus Discussion of the Week:
Relevant as ever, Matt and Mollie delve into being vulnerable online and the importance of not only protecting your assets, but not putting all of your eggs in one platform’s basket. Listen in and think “bigger picture” as we discuss the hard truths about the digital landscape today. Plus, a few special announcements and “all the things.”
Matt mentions the iOS15 updates, which you can review here.
Matt uses a Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa metaphor as it pertains to 2020 data, if you’d like a trip down memory lane you can read about their 1998 season here.
[00:00:00] Hi, and welcome to building perspective with Matt Riley and Mollie Elkman. We’re here to bring value to you and your team by exploring all things, sales and marketing. All from different perspectives.
Matt: All right. And welcome back to another episode of building perspective. I am your cohost, Matt Riley, along with the illustrious
Mollie: I’m Mollie Elkman.
Matt: And, uh, it’s been a hot minute since Mollie and I’ve had a chance to be on the podcast together. So we’re going to have to find our way, like we’re going to have to like find our groove again, Mollie. It’s just been like crazy. [00:01:00]
Mollie: Well, we talk all the time. We just don’t push record when we’re having these conversations.
So basically we’ve had a lot of requests of where’s your podcast, where’s your podcast. So we’re just going to have one of our real regular conversations about all the things, and we pushed record.
Matt: This episode is called all the things that was so welcome to episode, what number, whatever, as we discuss all the things. And these are conversations that Mollie and I have on a, on a weekly basis, just back and forth all the time, but we thought we’d come on here. Like you said, press record and talk through and, uh kind of what we’re thinking, things that you guys should be looking out for, be considering keeping your eye out on, changes all the things, right? So where do you want to start?
Mollie: So before we get into some of the things that are going on in the industry, we have a very fun and special announcement. We did post this on social media, but one of us, [00:02:00] not me is now a home builder. This has been happening behind the scenes for my goodness about over a year, but Matt, tell us about NHI and give us a little update there please.
Matt: Yeah, very excited. And so for all the uninitiated NHI stands for New Home, Inc, which is my home building company that I’m starting, I shouldn’t say starting it’s started and uh building in the greater Raleigh area. So we’ve got homes under construction. We haven’t sold anything yet. But that’s intentional.
We haven’t tried to sell anything yet. It was we’re building floor plans and stuff for the first time. So going through prototype walks and getting things under construction, so the homes all bought out. So anyway, we’re not far away from being able to put some stuff on the market and list it for sale, but super excited to do that.
Obviously, I’ve been away from the home as a home builder for, you know, three and a half years now. And, uh I’ve got some amazing friends and partners [00:03:00] that doing this with. It’s fun and I think the other thing is, it’s also a little crazy, cause I’m not going anywhere. So we’re going to do the Group Two thing and we’re going to do the New Home, Inc thing, and we’re just going to, you know, not sleep very much. That’s all.
Mollie: Sleep! It’s overrated!
Matt: Overrated. I only need a few hours a night. It’s totally fine.
Mollie: Yeah, you never sleep. Anyway.
You know, for me, it’s been so much fun to be a part of this journey with you because you know, I’ve worked with homebuilders my entire career, but it is different with how we work together on a daily basis, and to be able to see really the behind the scenes of some of the things that you have in the works and the conversations that you’ve been having. You know, when, when COVID is a little bit more in our rear view mirror, you know, Group Two is we’re planning to have the team come down and beyond the job site and really have this hands on training experience that we haven’t necessarily had in the [00:04:00] past working directly on site.
So we’re really excited about it, Matt and I have, you know, we’ve been talking about this, the two of us for over a year and thinking about how it has so much value, one for you to really stay with Group Two and continue to have conversations about what’s going on in the industry and continue the podcast.
Cause obviously that’s where your passion. And two for Group Two to have access to the behind the scenes of everything that a New Home, Inc is doing, and really be a part of building that brand along with you and the branding looks amazing. The website is almost ready to go. So it’s all really exciting. And I think for our listeners to be able to hear the real experiences of what you are going through and, and challenges and solutions and all of that from more than a marketing point of view from a builder point of view, I think is just going to continue to be more and more valuable to our audience.
Matt: Yeah. [00:05:00] And we’ll share along the way, right? Like challenges that we’re facing or successes or things like that. But, uh, it it’s fun. Right? I mean, it is, it does open up a whole thing that we, the, we is in Group Two, don’t typically get into, and like you said, like literal boots on the ground, in the dirt, in the homes outside of just normal brand and advertising, but truly home builders centric stuff that, that plays into furthering the knowledge and expertise of how to get in front of more prospects and in a smarter better way. And it’s really a direct lifeline straight to the consumer, too.
Mollie: Absolutely. And one of the things, you know, we’ll kind of segue into the next topic that I want to get into, which is really some of our, some digital and marketing vulnerabilities, sales and marketing vulnerability is, but what made me think of that is, a vulnerability when it comes to lumber.
So one of [00:06:00] the lessons that we learned a few months back is maybe a lock up your lumber because Matt, share your story of what happened to you guys.
Matt: So it’s not uncommon, uh, for, uh, right now in general, but especially right now, I mean, like right out of the gate, we had, like, I don’t know, it was like 30, 30 or 40 sheets of OSB walk off a job site, you know, and it, you know, $43 a sheet that can get expensive. We we’ve gotten ahead to get creative with making sure things get delivery. Having like literal containers on site with locks where siding and different supplies, like, cause you’re, you’re getting limited to when you can get things, and so if you have the flexibility to take delivery of something early, because maybe it wasn’t exactly what your, maybe it wasn’t the same color siding that you were going to get, that you were planning on ordering, but you had a great relationship with your, with your supplier and they could get something to you quicker, but maybe it was a little different color combination. Being able to take early [00:07:00] delivery of things, but you can’t just throw it out on the job site because it’s going to go missing. And so having to get creative with cloud-based security cameras and metal cargo containers and things that get delivered and moved around from lot to lot.
You know, I’ve never, I’ve never had to do it like that before. But yeah, just some of the things, I mean, it’s like five, six, 7,000 bucks gone overnight.
Mollie: Yeah, and to me, and, and I was laughing when I said it just cause this is now like, it happened a while ago, but this is such a reflection of just the industry right now.
And something you said really caught my attention. And I want to circle back to it. You were talking about. Relationships with suppliers. And that is something that I’m hearing over and over again from every single home building company. And we talk about relationships in a sales and marketing environment, but we are seeing that the, the companies that have the best relationships with the suppliers, like the [00:08:00] real relationships, are definitely in a better position than those who haven’t cultivated those relationships. So, you know, it all ties back together that the core of business success comes down to relationships.
Matt: You’re exactly right. And so one of the terms that we use with our builders is partners, right?
Like we would call them partners, not just like, well, they’re a client because they pay us. No like we partner together. And that’s one of the things that I think you should have the same mindset around when it comes to your trades and suppliers. Like they are your trade partners, right? They are your partners.
And if you help get them involved in some of the decision-making and let them be a part of the solution, then they will work with you to get you what you need. Right. It’s hard right now because pricings wacky changes all the time. But with those great relationships, They don’t want to raise your [00:09:00] prices just in general, right?
Like they want for that long-term relationship. And I think that if we have that same mindset going in, as they are partners, they will help you manage through your supply problems. Your, your, maybe your people problems as well. It can be very beneficial. And luckily being in the same market, we do have. A decade plus worth of relationships built with the same trade partners and suppliers.
And so they know who we are and what we stand for because we’ve taken the time to build these, build these relationships over time. So it just helps your business tremendously.
Mollie: That leads us into what I want to talk about next, which is really just overall marketing. And we’ll talk about the builder’s show in a bit, but I’m in the process right now of already thinking about my topic for a master session that I’m doing, and really what I’m going to be talking about is the marketing umbrella.
And part of that is because of what is happening right now. And really it’s nothing new, [00:10:00] but what is happening in a more aggressive way with digital assets, data, online marketing, really online in general. So what we’re seeing is. A lot more vulnerability for people and businesses when it comes to online.
And you know, everyone has seen a friend who says my account was hacked, or don’t accept a new friend request from me. It’s really, really common. It’s almost become weaponized in a way. I mean, I hate to use such an aggressive word, but there are people in this world who are very desperate. And when there are credit cards attached to accounts, they are very savvy in trying to get into these accounts and use the credit cards, knowing that it’s going to be fought on the owners end, but having, you know, the ability to run ads or do something, utilizing that [00:11:00] information.
So that’s a huge vulnerability and just like your lumber and we’re talking about, you know, protecting your assets digitally. What we tend to do as humans is make our log in and everything is easy as possible.
And we have multiple people who, you know, to have access to account information and. The fact is we have to be very aware of our digital assets as well.
I just had a story shared with me. I don’t know who the builder is, but our executive officer of our HBA here shared this story because we’re going to have a program on cybersecurity coming up.
So this is crazy, Matt. I haven’t even told you this yet. So we had a builder here whose information was hacked and they got a ransom letter from the hacker demanding money. And they said, no, we’re not paying you. Like, keep it, keep our login to Facebook. [00:12:00] And the hacker followed up and said, we will start posting bad things about your company. We’re going to do X, Y, and Z. And that’s a really tough situation because that can be extremely damaging to a business. But in a market like Philadelphia, that isn’t really something that is going to be taken seriously. Cyber crime is not high up on the list when you have over 400 murders in a year. That is a really big problem to be in.
So how do you make sure that all of your digital assets are protected and that you’re constantly changing your passwords and all of that, it’s a really timely topic. And that leads me into the moral of the story is Matt and I have been talking about this a lot. You cannot have all of your marketing in one spot.
You can’t be so dependent on any third party platform. [00:13:00] And right now we’re talking about Facebook or Google ads or whatever it is, you really need to spread out your marketing dollars and your marketing reach because being that dependent on one platform really puts you in a tough situation if something happens.
Matt: And the tendency is, especially with digital marketing. I want to say digital marketing. I think all marketing now is digital, but we’re talking about like, Paid ads specifically. So Google or Facebook or Instagram? Yes. Those are impactful tools. What can happen is it’s easy because that’s the quick hit.
It’s easy to just be like, well, this is working over here and then. All your time and energy and focus, transitions away from other things. And the next thing, you know, you look up and like all your eggs are in the Google basket or all your eggs are in the Facebook basket. And you have neglected your brand.
You built continuing to [00:14:00] build your brand and your reputation and your SEO and all the other things that are super, super important. And then you get hacked, right? Someone takes, you know, the whole Philadelphia scenario that you were just talking about, like, what do you do? Like you’re, you’re literally shut down.
I mean, you think about this happened a few months back here in the Southeast, if you remember the colonial gas pipeline, they hacked it, it shut down gas lines all the way up the east coast. Like we ran out of gasoline here in Raleigh. Like you couldn’t find gas to go anywhere. And so Amy and I, we would only take one car and alternate, like when you drove.
So we luckily had two cars or two full tanks of gas. We would only take one car out at a time and keep the other one parked. But we knew we always had a tank. Cause we didn’t know when it was going to be a couple a week or two weeks maybe before gas lines got put on it. So anyway, that was our only supply of gas coming in to this area and then all the way up the east coast.
And it’s kind of the same [00:15:00] way. Like if something gets, if you get ransom, right? What are you going to do? Like, are you people do this, they take over servers and web domains and all, you know, there’s all these things that you can talk about that happen. That can be real, real problems. But like you said, if all your eggs are in one proverbial marketing basket, it’s not healthy in general.
Right? Because then you’re like put in a weird position where I can’t do anything because this thing over here happened, but we know, marketing, building a brand and your reputation is, is more than just one singular thing anyway, but the danger is. With paid advertising specifically, it’s much more like a faucet.
So it’s kind of the easier button, easier, not easy. It’s the easier button and you can crank it up or crank it back and increase the flow or decrease the flow. And you forget about the other things that are, that are a lot, a lot of work that are still hugely impactful.
Mollie: You know, I just had a call with [00:16:00] NAHB because they had asked me to do a master session at the builder show.
And I wanted to make sure that they understand my point of view right now, because when I started speaking at the builder show, I really was talking about the opportunity is with social media. I mean, that was before there were business pages and I told them, I just want to be very clear. I want to give a very broad.
Scope of marketing opportunity, because I think as an industry, we have gotten so fixed on specific opportunities that we have lost sight of the bigger picture. And so that’s really this marketing umbrella kind of content that I want to make sure that we know all the things that we should be doing and not just those easy ones. So, um, I think that that is all extremely important. And I have to say, I think this is going to become the new normal. And I [00:17:00] think that, you know, a lot of people don’t know this, but if you have Facebook, you have had a data breach, 100% of Facebook users were breached in April of this past year.
So if you think this doesn’t affect you, you’re wrong. It may just not be on the side where you have credit cards, but your data has been breached. And I have to tell you, I personally, when I found that out, I tried to go back in and delete some of my old content and minimize it. It’s very hard to get rid of years and years of history online to protect your photos and your posts and your content and your data. So if you have a Facebook account, you have already been in this situation, whether or not you even realize it. And I think that’s the freaky part.
Matt: Absolutely. So I, a couple months ago switched my cell phone provider from, AT&T to T-Mobile.
And right after I did, T-Mobile had a data breach, they got. They sent me an email. [00:18:00] Good news. Your credit card information was not compromised. However, we’re unsure. If your date of birth, your driver’s license number, your home address, we’re unsure if that was compromised or not. And I’m like, I would rather my credit card information be compromised because I’ll cancel the credit card, you know, or put a stop payment on it.
And so part of their solution was they gave a free year’s worth of, um, a credit monitoring service and all those. Lock my credit kind of deal. So have signed up and you can put your phone number, email, like you can monitor all of these things. At least this has been a couple of months, I’ve gotten at least five alerts.
So far that have said your email address was found on the, the dark web, right? Like you start getting these random spam emails. You’re like, how am I getting all these random stuff there? Security breach. So I’ve been amazed how many times I’ve gotten flagged that said my phone number and my email address for [00:19:00] found on the dark web.
You think about you get those, your car, you know, your auto warranty has expired, you know, those crazy phone calls, that’s where that’s coming from these data breaches. And then they’re posting it out there on the dark web and these companies are going out and grabbing it. And that’s how you’re getting these.
So anyway, if you’ve gotten your, your automobile is warranties expired, you more than likely were part of a data breach somewhere. That’s not what this episode’s about, but there you go.
Mollie: It’s a weird spot to be in because just like in life, like you don’t want to live in fear. You want to live and use the internet.
It’s meant for convenience. You know, you want to be able to use it the way you use it, but it is something to be aware of. It can be hard to not let it freak you out. When you think about it. I think. I shared a little bit of the information with my dad. Who’s in his seventies and he’s very tech savvy, especially for his age.
He’s like, well, what do I do? What do I do? And I’m, you know, there really isn’t, obviously you can [00:20:00] protect yourself, you can change your passwords, don’t duplicate passwords, there a whole list of things, but this isn’t going anywhere. And if anything, it’s going to get more and more savvy. So I think just being aware of it and knowing and planning for it, you know, it’s not one of those things that happens to everyone else and not to you.
It’s going to happen to you.
Matt: a big thing. You see companies like Apple making huge security changes and iOS 15, right? For example, You can create a, what are the, you know, like if you get a phone that you’re like, you’re going to use and throw it away, they call it a burner phone. If you have their iCloud plus subscription for backups and all this kind of stuff, you can create unlimited burner, email address.
So that forward and connect to your main email address. So if you’re going to go and create all these accounts out there, you don’t actually have to use your real email address. It’ll go out and create burner, email addresses that you can literally go in and just turn off and kill at a [00:21:00] moment’s notice, but it links to your personal.
So like if someone sends you an email, you can still get it, or you can use it for all these different account log in. So if you have these data breaches that are out there and something gets compromised, your email address, if it got compromised was a burner email address, you just literally turn it off.
What Apple does everyone else follows suit within a year, everyone else follows suit. For instance, we’ve talked, you know, you’ve probably heard about the iOS mail changes in privacy with the new iOS 15 that comes out where you can actually block the ability for the sender to see if you’ve opened the email.
Well, it doesn’t really block it. It actually just spoofs your data. So what it does is it tells the pixel that you encoded in your email, that everything got open. So you’re going to see your email open rates, go through the. Over the coming months, knowing that because iOS is the predominant user out there as for specifically for Mac mail, the, the Apple mail app.
So you’re going to see your open [00:22:00] rates go up, but that doesn’t mean you’re doing a great job. That means you have to focus on the right things like click-through rates. But what I’m getting at is all of these privacy things are changing because data breaches are becoming so common are so commonplace and ransom where, other companies like Apple and Google and everyone else is going to have to get on the bandwagon of helping protect consumers. Otherwise they’re going to be out of business.
Mollie: And this brings us full circle back to what you said. When we first started about relationships, we have to remember that Facebook is not the end. All Google is not the end, all the, the real relationships and the sales team and the face-to-face that is going to only become more and more important and real true connection and an effort on creating that within your team, as well as within the buyer experience. So things that just changed so much from year to year and then with everything that’s happened in the past couple years.
It [00:23:00] just continuing to change, but it just always seems to come back to that connection and likability and relations.
Matt: If you don’t have that, you’re you’re hosed, right? Because, so in a market where you can just start to build something and you have 40 offers come in, you don’t need relationships.
Right? Cause you’re just like, it’s a transaction, whatever who’s ever going to me, the highest possible price I can get, whoever’s going to be the lowest possible maintenance customer. I could get my hands. But it’s, that’s not the reality of our world and where it’s going to stay. I mean, we’re seeing things, you know, Redfin just posted some articles about a week or so ago that I was reading it on the resell side of things.
Again, nationwide, they’re saying that the multiple offer scenarios are coming in are lower. So, if you were getting, you know, the average you’re getting like 30 offers on a house now they’re getting like four right now. The good news is if you, you only have one house to sell, you only need one offer. So it’s not that big of a deal.
But what that tells us as things are starting to settle back in, I mean, as we [00:24:00] look at our Group Two aggregate information, as we look. All of the builders we work with and the data that we tie into across the country, we are seeing that we pulled we, the collective industry pulled forward transactions in 2020.
We see that some of the cooling off we’re seeing some of the normal market fluctuations from a seasonability standpoint, people going back to school taking last minute vacations, we have dropped officially below the 20, 20 traffic high water mark. And we’ve now stayed there since about June or July.
As things start to settle back into normal, whatever the new normal is. But the good news is we’re still up over 2019, but if you go back and listen to old podcasts from a year ago or blogs that we wrote, or when we were just putting out what seemed like 40 pieces of content a week when COVID first hit, cause we didn’t know what the heck was going to happen.
Once we saw, we were like, this, isn’t gonna stay around forever guys. Like this is the land of make-believe. Now you’re getting into the spot of the year where you’re comparing year [00:25:00] over year data. So you’re comparing 21 over the peak of 2020, and it’s down. And what we’re finding is people for forgotten how to do their jobs, right?
If you go back and listen to some of these podcasts where like, Skimp on the basic, still demo. Still qualify. Have your OSC still fight. Everybody follow the process because everybody’s going to get out of practice. Well, guess what? Everybody’s out of practice. That same, no followup strategy that was happening when there were 8 million leads is still happening right now.
Right? Like we’re not getting back.
Mollie: Should we almost just like throw 2020 out?
Matt: I think 2020 should be the, uh, uh, here’s my baseball reference. It’s the mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa asterisked of the home, the home run or Barry Bonds, the record of the home runs cause he was all juiced up on steroids. Yeah, you won’t get it. His number doesn’t count because they think he was on steroids or he was. And so, you know, it’s kind of 2020 has an asterick you almost have to [00:26:00] just enjoy what you had, um, and throw it out when you’re thinking about comparing. Year over year or transactional data, you just have to throw it out the window because it was the land of make-believe.
It’s just not that way. And we have to get back to the basics. I’m such a, such a believer in the basic fundamentals of making sure you’re more, more sports analogies for you, basic blocking and tackling the really, really fundamental thing. As a builder years ago, one of the things we talked about, even in great markets, you know, we worked with Myers Barnes a lot and he came in every month and did trainings and he would, you know, when he said, what do you want, what do you want to train on this week?
I want to train on how to properly meet and greet and qualify somebody. It’s like, really? Like, we’ve gone over that. Yeah, I know. But it’s the basics. If we lose focus of what we have to do on a daily basis, then when times like this happened, when the, when it kind of comes back into reality, we’re going to do a crappy job because we’re out of practice.
Mollie: I love that it’s like, you’re never actually an expert. You have to [00:27:00] continue to practice and put in the work.
Matt: There’s a reason why major league baseball players who get paid hundreds of millions of dollars, that they hit off of a tee , right? Like when you’re four and five year old goes to play T-ball they hit off a tee and then you’ve got someone who’s making hundreds of millions of dollars doing the exact same thing.
Why? Because it’s the fundamentals of, if I have a really crappy swing, I can’t hit it off the tee the right way. Right. And so it’s the exact same thing. And we’ve gotten out of. Throw 2020 out, forget it ever happened. Uh, and, and get back to the basics and understand the, what you have to do on a day-to-day basis.
And don’t be in all your eggs in one basket. Don’t use the easy button, focus on the things that you need to focus on, and if you don’t want to do it, it means you probably have to do it.
Mollie: That’s true.
So we’re going to be getting more in depth on these topics, especially coming up at the builders [00:28:00] show, we are making plans for the builders show already.
I know not everyone is going. I know a lot of people are going, we would love to hear from you because Group Two of course will be there. And we would love to connect with you. We have at least five programs. We have a lot going on with Builder Books and NAHB. Of course I have to talk about The House That She Built, NAHB’s, fastest selling title that they have ever published that was put together by myself and Georgia, who is our creative director, in sharing the story of the home that was built in Utah by the Professional Women in Building of Utah.
So, if you haven’t heard of that project, definitely check it out at, shbuiltbook.com. We’ll be doing a lot of events at the builders show, focused on workforce development and careers in construction. It is now October, which is Careers in Construction month. So these are very timely conversations and making sure that [00:29:00] we are all sharing the successful people who have careers in our industry, because that’s important for recruiting the next generation. All topics that we want to continue to dive into.
Yeah. It’s good to be back and connecting with our audience again. And we want to hear from you any questions or topics you want to make sure that we cover, just let us know. And that’s it!
Matt: That’s it for all the things. And maybe we’ll get into more detail of the things later, but I really do agree, Mollie. You said if there’s something that you guys want to hear us talk about, email us, call us, put it on Facebook. We will dive into it. If we need to bring a guest in to talk through it as well, we’ll absolutely do that. You can hear like an outside opinion on things as well. If you’re seeing some patterns, just some things you want to, you want to hear more of let us know. We’d love. We’d love to talk to you about it. And we’d love to talk about on our podcast.
Thanks for tuning in until next time. And we appreciate you listening.[00:30:00]