Focus Discussion of the Week:
It’s spooky season, aka the Fall Selling Season. Join Builder Marketing Manager Katie and Creative Director Georgia as they chat about the current buyer mindset and a few tips and tactics to focus on right now, like self tours, getting good reviews, and what to share on social!
Hi, and welcome to building perspective with Matt Riley and Molly Elfman. We’re here and to bring value to you and your team by exploring all things, sales and marketing. All from different perspectives.
Georgia: Good morning and welcome to Building Perspective, my name is Georgia and I am joined by the lovely Katie.
Katie: Hi guys.
Georgia: And today we’re going to be talking about tips for the fall selling season. I wanted to talk a little bit about trick-or-treating because we do it every year and everyone might not know where it started, or even if you do, it’s always cool to talk about and remind people that there’s so much history behind [00:01:00] Halloween and why this is the second biggest commercial holiday in America.
And whether you celebrate it, whether you dress up or you have kids. I thought it was really interesting that I learned that, you know, very familiar with the day of the dead and the Mexican tradition, not as familiar with the Celtic origins of trick or treating. So what I learned that I wanted to tell you, Katie and our listeners is that in the Celtic tradition, people would dress up as demons because this was considered their new year around November. And so they would dress up as demons because it was believed that there was an overlap between the living and the dead during the new year. And that if you dressed up like a, a demon or a ghost, they wouldn’t be able to recognize you.
And they would think that you were one of them. And so I just thought that was really cool. And then, um, trick or treating just kind of, you know, came to be from kids adopting that tradition and, and, um, going around [00:02:00] and begging for treats.
Katie: I had heard that before. I think I listened to a lot of true crime podcasts.
Um, maybe some of our listeners can relate and, uh, they were talking about that, you know, Halloween traditions and also the harvest moon. I don’t know if you know. The term harvest moon comes from when it’s like this, the huge, um, moon. It like made it lighter out later, so people could continue to harvest their crops like right before it started to get cold, which I never knew that. Because it’s so big and bright, it’s like almost like a light outside, so they could like work late into the night and harvest all their crops,
Georgia: No, and that’s one of my favorite songs. And I never even thought to, to know what that really meant, so that’s pretty cool .
Katie: So here we are getting everybody prepped for spooky season.
Don’t worry. Our selling tips are not all centered around Halloween, um, or anything of the sort, but I think we have some really great tips. We have about four main points to kind of touch on and, and [00:03:00] hopefully, you know, our listeners can take some of these and, and, you know, start to implement today.
Georgia: And there’s one spoopy thing that I wanted to talk about.
And we always joke in the office about always thinking of ways to present new homes versus used homes. Obviously we all think new is, we know new is better, and we’re always thinking of creative ways to show that to buyers who might not be as familiar with new construction and only considering used homes.
And we would never actually say this, but the truth is that, used homes are way more likely to be haunted. And so, that’s a huge the advantage that new construction has. And, we just, we never talked about it.
Katie: We don’t talk about it enough.
Um, no, that’s, that’s so true. And I think that can kind of lead us into our first, uh, main point. And you know, this, this is what we’re going to share here is nothing new or unheard of, but I think we really want to bring attention to the buyer [00:04:00] mindset and sort of why we, you know, have our builders do these things.
So the first thing that I’ve been talking about with a lot of our, you know, Group Two builders is really to just push inventory, push your spec homes. Now I know there might be some of you sitting here saying we don’t have anything to sell. It’s been happening a lot. A lot of my builders, they sold too quickly.
They can’t get these homes built quick enough. However, one of the biggest things that we’ve started to do is push our builders to push their listings sooner, which it sounds weird. You know, you might be dry walling, you know, you might just be in the stick-built phase, you know, whatever it might be, but get that listing online because the fall selling season, really in the buyer’s mindset kicks off next year’s selling season. So you have to kind of think about people that are saying, oh, we’ll move next year. You know, we’ll, we’ll do this next year. We’ll really, this is the time that they’re starting to look. They’re getting inspired planning their, you know, how much they can spend, where they want to live, the style of home they [00:05:00] want.
And if you don’t have any. To show they’re already, they already might be writing you off, even though they’re not planning to move January or, or spring, people are already planning. So even if you’re like, Hey, we don’t have anything that’s going to be completed until April, May get it online, listing it coming soon.
You know, even if you don’t have the price, you know, you can always do priced from the low 300s or pricing to come soon. You know, contact us on this home. Again, this isn’t going to help you sell a home tomorrow, whether you have that home or not, but don’t push. Pause is kind of what we’re saying. Just because you don’t have a lot right now, or because we’re going into a slower, you know, holiday season, this is the time to keep everything ramped up. There’s so many people that probably have on their to-do list to move next year. Just kind of waiting for all the past two years, craziness to, to level out.
So yeah. Get your information online, have accurate information, Georgia, I don’t know if you have anything to add. I know we talked a little bit about blogging and, you know, website.
Georgia: You know, [00:06:00] talking about the buyer mentality and the buyer mindset, like Katie said, I think of this personally, that fall really does feel more like the new year than the actual new year.
You know, people are coming back from summer vacation. They’re starting to think about change. Like Katie said, they’re starting to dream. They’re starting to look for ways to be inspired. And even if they aren’t moving until next year, and this is when they’re starting to think about it, they’re starting to look so blogging is so important to make sure that you’re giving buyers that source of inspiration and being their source, making sure you have current content and, you know, making sure you’re, you’re putting out there that things about your homes that are inspiring, that would make people want to add you to their lists.
So now’s a really good time to get back in front of your audience because they’re, they’re looking.
Katie: Yeah. And I, I think it’s always sometimes been a builder mindset, you know, like, like I said, Hey, the holidays are coming up. We’re just going to kind of take things slow. Wait til January, wait till this, the spring selling season, [00:07:00] quote unquote picks up again.
And we just don’t think that’s true. There’s no reason to stop your marketing. You should always have a current stream, whether it’s just general branding, whether it’s, it’s like we said, listings that are coming soon, getting people geared up to join a VIP list. Even if that community is not launching until next year.
Like there’s always something that you can have out there. And just this year, especially, I truly think you do not want to miss out on this chunk of, you know, these next three months of buyers and people that are about to start their search. And I think the other thing we talked about as well was making sure your website’s up to date and Georgia mentioned blogging. A lot of builders put pause on a lot of what they were doing throughout the summer because they were selling too quickly or they didn’t have anything. And I’ll look at their website and they haven’t posted an article or a blog since April in a buyer’s eyes that looks like, Hey, oh, is that builder done?
You know, did they stop building? Do they not have anything? You know, you always want to put your best foot forward and make a great first impression. So if your website’s really not up to date, if you have old homes on there that have sold, [00:08:00] you’re already sort of giving signs for that person, that buyer to look elsewhere in this time where it’s so important to capture that, that buyer, you know, right away, you want to make a great first impression.
Georgia: And back to what you said too, about putting homes up earlier than you may have. Traditionally, just in general. I think people are starting to plan ahead further than they may have used to, especially in the used car market with, you know, home selling so quickly. I mean, it being so hot and competitive people are aren’t expecting to get a home right away.
So it’s very normal now for someone not to expect to move for nine months to a year. So it’s totally reasonable to expect people to plan that far ahead.
Katie: So again, biggest takeaway, push, whatever you’ve got right now. Even if it’s not something that’s going to be ready until next year. That’s okay. As long as you’re very clear about the timeline. Have your salespeople start to educate anyone that’s calling about what you guys have gotten the pipeline again, before this might not have been as important because you just wanted to sell what [00:09:00] you’ve got right now, but you might not have anything right now. So just, just push your listings.
Georgia: And now what I would love to talk about are some really specific examples that we’ve been doing for builders that, you know, might give you some ideas. And especially when it comes to some tactical ways that you can get more buyers into your homes. And so Katie, if you want to go into one of your builders at starting to do something, that’s not totally new, but we’re seeing a lot more builders implement the self-tour.
Katie: Yeah. And this is not new. I mean, this was something we talked about since the beginning of, you know, last year when everything started, the pandemic started. So not new by any means, but I think a lot of people thought that was just a, you know, limited time type deal, the self-tour options. But no buyers are expecting that.
As we know, buyers have very short attention spans. They want convenience when it comes to not just home searching online, but home shopping in person [00:10:00] now. So I have a couple of builders that have started to implement this and they’re actually branding it their own way. So they’re using, you know, a certain type of, of self-tour lock, you know, things like that, where there’s a code and, you know, people can get it on their phone and they can enter on their own tour on their own, but they’re really turning it into a sub-brand for their company.
So it’s something that people start to recognize, whether it be the sign out front of the home. Whether it be the little self-tour logo that’s on each home. So right away, people know, okay, this home is open for me. I can go tour it whenever I want.
I think the biggest thing that we’ve learned is, again, it’s, it’s not just pandemic. People want this all the time. The holidays are coming up. You might not have the manpower or the staff to staff all of your models, your specs during the holidays. Cause obviously you want to give your team time off, but with something like this with the self-tour option, you know, you don’t have to have that home staffed during the entire week of Thanksgiving, but you’re not missing out on the buyers who do have off cause it’s a holiday.
So it’s a win-win [00:11:00] for your team, and also, you know, your perspective home buyers as well. So something super easy to implement. You know, again, I have builders put these on all of their models. I have some builders that just do it on their fully completed, you know, spec homes, but yeah, there’s definitely a way to do it and market it and.
Make it as easy and convenient as possible for people who have such busy schedules and busy lives.
Georgia: This particular example that we’re talking about this builder is using this lock and they’re branding it as a sub brand. Of their company. So they’ve have a logo, colors, signs that are branded as their own.
And what I love about it is now this idea of convenience, of no pressure of making the process easier. Isn’t just something that they’re giving to their buyers. It’s also part of their brand now. So their buyers are now going to associate them with this is going to be easy. They care about [00:12:00] my schedule, all the things that, you know, kind of a company that the feelings that they get from just being able to do this whenever they want, especially with the younger buyers, without having to talk to somebody. A lot of, you know, the millennial generation and first time buyers, they may be intimidated. And so one of the things that we’re seeing with these types of programs, whether it be enter now or another lock type program like this is that builders are seeing more people coming back a second time and feeling more comfortable going to look at the house again, and then just getting this to this comfort level where they’re feeling like they are going to make this decision on their own without being sold to.
And it’s really creating a very positive relationship between the buyer in the builder. So, yeah, it’s just that, it’s a great thing. That’s kind of come from the pandemic was how it kind of kicked off, but it now it’s definitely become something that we are recommending all builders [00:13:00] offer to their buyers.
And in fact, I bought a house during a pandemic. I know I talk about this all the time, but when we were looking and we bought in Jersey. When we were looking in PA you actually weren’t allowed to go into the house with a realtor. You had to, you had to go show yourself around. And there was something that was really fun as a buyer of a being able to almost like pretend that you lived there and not having to feel weird.
And there was a fun comfort of, you know, just showing yourself around and being able to maybe look at some details that you might not have felt as comfortable looking at. If somebody was.
Katie: One of the biggest pushbacks that we sometimes get. From builders on, you know, wanting to do this is, you know, oh, who’s going to point out all the great features? Who is going to answer questions and things like that.
And yeah, you’re not going to have someone on staff. However, as long as you’re putting your OSC’s phone number, clearly within the home, on the sign saying, Hey, tour at your own pace, but we’re here for any questions. So if someone does have a really important question, they [00:14:00] can call that number and it’s, it’s your OSC.
They’re there to answer questions almost any hour of the day. So as long as you have that phone number, clearly people are super comfortable calling or texting. You know, if they really have a true, important question.
Georgia: Yeah, and it’s never going to replace of course, the guided tour, but for the people who want it.
The other thing that makes me think of is how important model memory points are and something that we do for a lot of our builders is these very detailed descriptions of certain features of your model that are your homes that make it stand out and things you want to make sure that. Your buyers are aware of. You know, windows, light switches features in your home that that really set you apart.
That’s something that, that should be up in your model, even if you do have guided tours, because it helps your sales staff remember the things that they need to point out and it carries your brand through the entire house. And even if it’s something they’re saying out loud, that reinforcement of seeing the branded signage on, on those [00:15:00] particular spots. Your buyers are more likely to remember it and especially standing out against your competition.
If you have those really important signs and your competitors.
Katie: No great point. So yeah, biggest, biggest takeaway convenience. You know, the, the self-tour is, is huge and it’s still huge. I have, like I said, these buyers, they didn’t even actually implement it during the pandemic just because they couldn’t get completed specs on the ground.
So we’re, we’re finally here and it’s something they’re going to continue for as long as they can because they realize it’s important.
Georgia: And now Katie, I would love to talk about social media because it’s obviously something that we’re always going to be talking about and it has a ton of different uses, but specifically when it comes to the fall selling season, we wanted to talk about a couple of our recommendations.
Katie: One of the biggest things with social media that we’re trying to do right now is just keep it fun and lighthearted and do some fun contests, games, videos. A lot of times [00:16:00] our builders want to push sales, sales, sales all the time and only post about their listings and their grand openings and things like that.
And that is important too. We don’t ever want to not highlight something that they have to sell. But it is social media. It’s a social platform. People come to it because they want to see your personality. They want to see your company. They want to see this different side of you that they can’t necessarily get from your website or your signs or things like that.
Now more than ever as we get further into the holidays and it’s Halloween it’s fall. It’s. It’s fun. Do some fun things on social media, do costume contest, do games like a hide and seek game on a picture of your home. Like hide little tidbits and the first person to find it on your social, who comments gets a Starbucks gift card.
There’s a million things here. That’s just one example, but there’s tons of stuff you can do. And it’s not fluff content. It’s fun content and it shows a fun side of you. Hence part of the reason that people come to your social media, they want to get to [00:17:00] know you better. And it also makes you as a company feel more real and relatable, and really just brings this personality to your homes that you don’t just get from a picture on your website. And it’s been awhile just with everything that’s been going on since communities could get together and do this and do events and share them. So anything that’s happening amongst your homes, your team, team building events, things like that this fall, just share it and get your followers involved because someone’s going to remember that.
There is a difference when you follow a company online and they post once a week, and it’s the same picture every time, versus a company who is very engaging and fun to follow and funny and again, relatable, and it’s only going to help in the end when your buyers truly do look at you more as a resource and a partner versus just this big corporate company or entity.
Georgia: I was going to say on top of all that fall is [00:18:00] again a time when I think community starts to come together a little bit more. There’s more events, there’s fall fests. There’s tons of things that, that tend to be happening in smaller and bigger communities and all around. And so this is a great opportunity for you to show what type of community your homes are.
So if there are events, if there are neighbors getting together, if there are people out trick or treating, or have pumpkins outside of their homes or, or things that just make your communities and homes feel more homey. If you’ve decorated a model for fall, this is the time to really play that up. Because I think as they’re looking to see where they want to live, they want to see, you know, what type of community it is and how come together. And that actually makes me think of how Group Two has Halloween costume contest every year. And it’s my favorite thing, and I don’t want to take this time to brag, but I do tend to get really into it. And last year [00:19:00] we had our costume contest over Zoom and I was the leave button. And so I just made a cardboard cutout of like, it was red and it said leave.
And my face was the “A”, and so we pretended like everyone pressed me when we left. And so, Katie, are you dressing up for Halloween this year?
Katie: I would like to, so I, but I don’t know what I’m going to be. This is my first year in our new home that we will be able to partake in trick or treating and having candy outside. And my husband and I recently got a dog, so I’m trying to figure out a group, costume, for all of us.
So we’ll see. We’ll see. I will definitely share photos to our Group Two social, if it ends up being great.
Georgia: My family, my son and husband, and dog are all being skeletons this year because my son really wanted to be something scary, which is the first time that he wants to be something that isn’t cute.[00:20:00]
So he wants to be really scary. So we’re all, and his classroom is really cool. It glows in the dark. He has a scary mask, but last year was a bumblebee. So it was kind of a lot cuter, but it’s okay.
Katie: Keep it fun. Keep your costumes fun. Cute, scary. You know, whatever you like, just share it, share it with your following and your current buyers, your prospective buyers, whoever might be checking out on social.
Last but not least, I think one of the big things that a lot of builders forget about is keeping your current buyers happy. And I don’t know, you know, I’ve had a lot of builders realize this the past few months, just with how quickly they were getting homes on the market and selling, they had a lot more people that they were, closing homes for a lot more warranty requests, all this crazy stuff that they really weren’t a hundred percent prepared to deal with at the volume that it came in. And a lot of builders are finding out that they’re getting some negative reviews when that normally wasn’t a problem for [00:21:00] them. So the thing I’m getting at is. just be a, resource for new buyers or buyers, current buyers educate them how long things are going to take, educate them about the delays that are happening from all different industries, all different vendors, things like that. Set expectations. Over communicate. And again, a lot of this does fall on the sales team. It’s not necessarily your outward marketing. There are some things obviously you can do from a marketing standpoint, but it really takes a lot of input from your sales team as well. So don’t forget about your current customers. We’re always interested in getting new buyers through the door. That’s super important, but your current customers, your past buyers are going to be as loud as possible when it comes to just tiny things, even going wrong, it might deter your new buyers.
So keep an eye on your reviews. Keep an eye on your buyers. We talked earlier about blogging. That’s so easy, an easy way to educate people. You can put out every week, update. Here’s the current market update. [00:22:00] Here’s what we’re dealing with this week. Windows are delayed and we just wanted to let everyone know. The more you communicate, the happier your buyers will be.
Everyone is kind of expecting delays. Every industry is delayed from couches to food. So yeah, just keep a pulse on everything and keep your buyers engaged and let them know what’s going on.
Georgia: Yeah. And then the one thing I wanted to add to that too, is that when you have made a buyer happy, your number one priority, obviously after selling them their home that they’re in love with, is getting that review from them.
Because people who leave reviews online almost only are compelled to do it when they’re unhappy. If you have bad reviews, Google reviews, one, you will be crossed off somebody’s list immediately. So if you have a low star rating, that obviously should be your number one priority before anything else, because you can try to sell all you want, but if your buyers are leaving bad reviews, if your buyers aren’t happy, [00:23:00] you know, it really should be your number one priority to make sure that people who are happy have a louder voice online than the people who, you know, it has.
And the people who tend to leave those bad reviews usually are the ones who maybe do have a legitimate concern, but may not be the best voice obviously for your company. So offering incentives for leaving reviews, following up with the people who you know you can get a great review from are so, so important because we don’t want to see any builders losing sales or losing buyers to somebody who you interacted with one time and you don’t even know who they are and they felt compelled to leave, but we know who the bad reviewers are. They’re not usually normal, not usually normal people, but sometime they are. I mean, there’s legitimate concerns and, and we have a, we have a ton of tips for how to address negative comments, which we can probably do an entire podcast about, but really just focusing on those good reviews because they’re so, so important.[00:24:00]
Katie: And a lot of times the bad reviews could have been alleviated if your team over communicated kind of what we were just talking about. If, you know, there was some more information out there, they wouldn’t necessarily feel compelled to do the negative review because they might’ve already known the answer to their question or why something was going a certain way.
And Georgia talked about incentivizing people, buyers to leave reviews. But the biggest thing that my builders have had success with is incentivizing their sales team to go out and get their review. So maybe it’s this month, whoever gets the most Google reviews gets a thousand dollar bonus.
And maybe you do that every month. Maybe you do it every quarter. That right there, I have seen it work wonders. I’ve had builders get 30 reviews in a month just because their sales team was out there trying to get that bonus or gift card or, whatever it might be. Extra PTO days. I don’t know, whatever you know is going to incentivize your sales team. That almost a hundred percent of the time works for getting, even if it’s three new reviews.[00:25:00]
Georgia: I love that. That’s our final piece of false selling season advice is let’s all make some fall review incentives. That’s such a great point to end on and thank you so much, Katie.
Katie: Yeah, thanks, Georgia!
Georgia: And tune in next time.
Katie: Thanks listeners! Happy Fall!