S3 EP13 | Controlling the Controllable

Show Notes:

Focus discussion of the week: 

Time to shift strategies and ramp up your marketing! Make sure you start by controlling the “controllable”. Amanda and Ali share no-cost things new home marketers should do to take control today. Get the full list on our Group Two blog.

Chelsey: [00:00:00] Hi, and welcome to Building Perspective with Group Two. We are here to bring value to you and your team by exploring all things, new home sales and marketing all from different perspectives. 

Ali: Hi everyone, and welcome to another episode of GroupTwo’s Building Perspective. I’m Ali Quedenfeld, and today I’m here with Amanda Druschel. And we are here to talk to you about five ways that home builders can take control in today’s market. Last time, Matt and I spoke about what we’re seeing in the market, what some builders are doing to get everything organized and get together. And today we’re gonna talk to you about some really specific action items.

Amanda: Yeah. So excited to be here to kind of talk through this. I know we have been talking internally about this sort of normalcy of today’s market. Well, not normalcy, but new normalcy, I guess I should say. And sort of the [00:01:00] past two or so years where we’ve been riding this bit of artificial unpredictable roller coaster, and just in kind of talking through that, what are some ways that we can kind of take control? So we put together five different categories and a couple different tips under each category. We’re gonna talk through today that so you guys can take these action items and put them into place. And these are all things that you don’t have to spend any money on. So you’re kind of in that position where I’m sure most of you are, you know, listening, like things are just so unpredictable.You know, these are things you. Predict and take control. The first category is sort of taking inventory. So the first bullet point here that we’re gonna talk through is just simply Googling yourself. Take a step back and search like a home buyer. We don’t do that probably often enough. So when you do that, what shows up in your search results? What shows up organically? What shows up on the paid side of [00:02:00] that? And what does that look like? What do the site extensions look like? What does the ad look like? Make sure that you’re paying really close attention to all of that. The other tip with this one is to maybe have somebody else within your organization who’s maybe not as like, in the day to day of the marketing piece of that with a fresh set of eyes, look at that. Or, you could even have multiple people do that. But Google yourself, Google your listings, your social media, and just make sure that what you are pushing out there on those platforms is currently what you want to be representing.

The next two tips for the stake inventory, we’re gonna kind of circle back to that at the end. So Ali’s gonna kick us off on our next category.

Ali: Yeah. So obviously you wanna make sure you take inventory. Like Amanda said, kind of start at Google, see what you find when you Google yourself. And then the next piece as we roll into category, number two is really buttoning up your website. So auditing your website, similarly, you can do this yourself. [00:03:00] You can also have someone who’s not as close to the website, do it for you, but really important is to make sure that all of the information on the website is accurate. So whether that is yourself and your sales team, or someone on your OSC team, making sure that all of the community information is completely accurate. And what is your first impression from the website? Matt and I talked about this last episode… A lot of people go back through and change calls to actions on their website, during COVID and soften things so that they were lessening, their leads coming through now is not the time to be doing that. Really taking a look at those calls to actions and also making sure that the information people are seeing is accurate so that even before any conversions happen, people are seeing correct information. 

Amanda: Yeah. And just to kind of like add on to this, I think, you know, I had said on the last one to have somebody else within your organization do this in addition to your marketing team, I think this is another great opportunity to have [00:04:00] somebody who is not in the thick of it,

like you are on a day to day basis. Take a look at it with that fresh set of eyes. The second one here for the website button up category is looking at your inventory, your quick move in homes, your spec homes. So if you are one of those builders that actually has inventory available to sell right now, good for you. You’re already a step up because you have the inventory, but let’s make sure that it is at the top game and how you have it listed. So are your listings accurate? Do they have accurate pricing? Do they have accurate information? Can prospects quickly find what is available? Does it take them multiple steps to get to this? Or can they do that easily? Do your listings have estimated delivery dates? You know, people want to know, okay, you know, you have this inventory home available next month or is it available in nine months? Right. You need to make sure that you’re educating fires on that, you know, and obviously if they are sooner [00:05:00] delivery dates, that creates a sense of urgency that you can create there just easily by having that information clearly stated.

Do they show up to date progress photos? So this is a big one. I know a lot of times we see builders are using renderings, but if this house is under construction, go out and take a construction photo that is perfectly fine. Prospects want to see progress. They want to see real life. And when you have that real life photo, it makes this house real, right. Like I think we’ve gotten to the point where sometimes these inventory homes, you know, they’re just so used to seeing these renderings and nothing real. Like it makes it like an actual home that they can start to picture. And even if it’s just lumber that’s okay. But you have to make sure you go back and update that photo every once in a while. And then obviously if it is a listing that is complete and is potentially staged, or even if it’s just complete and not staged, definitely get photos up there, but let’s make sure your listings are at the top of their game with how you [00:06:00] have them represented on your website.

Ali: I think that’s a great point too, because all of this is going back to like setting expectations for your buyers too. And if you know, you’re operating on a spec only model and you’re showing pictures of like representative photos of finished homes, and then they go out on site and see, you know, just sticks in the air, it’s helpful to have those progress photos. So I think that’s a great tip, Amanda.

Amanda: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And the other thing I thought of too, just for, cause I know some of my builder partners, you know, this information feeds in from other places and sometimes those feeds break. Right. And so we have to consistently check them to make sure that the right description is there and that somebody can get a true, accurate, a representation of, you know, what is this home? What is this community like to help them visualize? Okay. If I bought this house in this community, how is that going to improve my life? And what is that gonna provide for me and my family, right?

 So important right now, our third category here [00:07:00] is follow up. So I know we talk a lot about follow up and we have been able to get a little lax over the last couple of years, because leads were pouring in and we could barely even keep up with these leads at time. So that has reversed and the leads are not flowing in, but we see that the leads that are coming in are quality leads. And I know you and Matt talked about this on your last podcast, if somebody is making the effort to fill a form, make a phone call, right. There is something in their life that has changed that they need to buy a house, whether it’s they’re relocating, whether they have just completely grown out of their home and adding new family members, they need a house. And so we need to make sure that we are at the top of our game with our follow up. 

So Ali, I think you’re gonna kick us off with our first point here. 

Ali: Yeah. So really like making sure,  just like we’re doing with the website, just like we’re doing with what comes up in Google search results, we really wanna take a look and take an inventory of what’s happening in that follow up process. So does the [00:08:00] messaging that your OSCs, or maybe your sales people, if you don’t have OSCs, does the messaging that they’re putting out there during the follow up process, reflect the state of what’s happening with your inventory or with your listings today? A lot of builders during the last two years had changed that follow up process, again, to be a softer process, softer messaging Join the interest list, we’ll let you know when we have inventory. If you have inventory, it needs to be clear in your process now because we’re trying more than ever to push through those sales. So we really wanna make sure that one you’re reviewing what the actual messaging is, but two also taking a look at how frequently you’re following up and potentially adding in some additional touch points that you may have taken away during COVID.

And beyond that, you know, it’s not enough to just make sure that that messaging is updated. We really wanna get back to personalizing messaging, making sure that your OSCs are adding in extra touches of each buyer’s situation, [00:09:00] taking the information that we have from their CRM system or previous phone calls and putting that into our sales process and our messaging that we’re getting out there.

If you know someone’s looking for a specific floor plan, make sure you’re putting that floor plan in front of them during each follow up step. All sorts of different things you can do to make it really feel like a personal experience. 

Amanda: Yeah. And in talking about the CRM, Ali, I think it’s now really we see the importance of you have to have all of that information, the notes accurately notated within this era, because when we’re in a time right now where, you know, we need to re engage people and we need to be able to sort of grasp on to whatever we can in the timeframe that we didn’t do that.

Unfortunately we don’t have as much of that information. So I think we’ve now kind of learned a little bit of a lesson in, and even when we’re in those good times, Still critical to keep all that information about prospects in our CRM, because the good times are never consistent. Right. We’re gonna ebb and flow.

So, all right. The [00:10:00] second point here in follow up is our walk-in leads, right. So I know some organizations, the walk-in leads sit with the onsite sales team and they’re not being followed up with our OSC. What does that look like for you and your company? And do you know that? And if you don’t, that’s fine. But I think, you know, we need to make sure that you do know that because if those walk-in leads are sitting with the sales team and the sales team isn’t consistently following up with them, checking back in, reengaging them, nobody is. And so let’s make sure that that’s not happening at all because, you know, you paid for that lead to walk into your model.So let’s make sure that you’re getting every engagement out of that, that you possibly can.

Ali: All of it  ties together, whether it’s online, onsite, you know, whole purpose here, follow up, follow up with those leads no matter where they’re coming from and really take a look at that process overall and see where you need to add on the next point we wanna hop into is your online listing. So, similar to what we’ve been talking about with each of these other [00:11:00] steps, really make sure that you’re taking a health check of your current online listings, whether it’s Zillow, News Home Feed, any other tool that you’re using or listing service that you are currently paying for, you’re paying for those. And even if you’re not, you wanna make sure that those are accurate, that the home is listed with all of the content needed. Amanda, I think you’ll probably talk about that a little more in detail, but making sure that that listing is maxed out. If you have the opportunity to put in photos and videos, make sure they’re there. If you’re running a promo, a lot of builders are running incentives with their lenders right now, Zillow has a place where you can add those. So making sure that all of that information is filled out on your listing, not only makes for a better buyer experience or user experience on those listing sites, but also actually helps kind of push your listings to the top. The more filled out they are, the more your listing will kind of work its way to the top of search results, because it will be a complete listing. 

Amanda: Yeah. [00:12:00] Yeah, definitely. And, and as we kind of talked about doing that, that audit of, you know, sort of the website doing these audits of these listings is critical. I know I used to do these monthly when I was on the builder side, because things break. Just like we talked about them breaking, with the feeds to your website, the feeds to the syndicate sites break, you know, you can’t assume that it’s a one and done. You put it in, you check it. It’s good. You have to continue to go back in and make sure that everything is still accurate in pulling through next one here for online listings is talking about our photos. So do we have our best forward with our photography content? So are your photos professional quality? So that’s kind of a big one there. I think with Zillow and so many people being on Zillow over the last few years, they come to expect this sense of quality and just the amount of photos that are on there too.

Right. I mean, I, I’m sure we all kind of fall into [00:13:00] this thing where we can just keep scrolling and scrolling and scrolling as long as there’s stuff to keep scrolling, we’ll keep scrolling. So, you know, make sure that you have those high quality images. 20 to 30 is ideal on these as syndicate listing sites, because we want to not only capture people’s interests, but keep them there.Right. Keep them like, oh wow. The kitchen. Oh wow. The master bath. Keep them going and keep the images updated too. From time to time. If it’s a listing that maybe it’s not an actual spec house, but it is more of like a floor plan listing. You’re just promoting a floor. Update those photos from time to time, you know, as you have new photos of that floor plan or a new model of that floor plan, add them in, keep them fresh. And as Ali said, that will continue to keep those listings getting pushed to the top of the feed so that they’re being shown. 

So our next category, our final number five category, is attitude. So, you know, in all of this, as I kind of said in the beginning, a lot of these things, so much out of [00:14:00] our control, it’s kind of this scary, confusing time, but one of the things that we can control is we can control our attitude. And so we just wanted to kind of bring that into our thought process here, as we’re talking through all of these other things.

Ali: Yeah. And I love this one because it is the easiest, but yet, probably most difficult for builders to take a step back and do right. We can’t control what’s happening with interest rates or market conditions right now, but we can absolutely control the way that we’re presenting information out to our buyers and our prospects. We’re not selling interest rates right here. We don’t have to worry about that. We’re selling the home, we’re selling a lifestyle, so we need to make sure we’re really keeping that at the forefront right now, both in the sales and the marketing process. How we’re educating buyers on home ownership is really up to you, the builder, making sure that we are still selling the emotion of home ownership is so important right now. And that can be done in all of these [00:15:00] different places that we’re talking about. So on your website, on your listings, even through your photography, really, really making sure that we’re still keeping this and exciting and the fun process that it is buying a new.

Amanda: Yeah. Okay. So I’m going to circle back to our first category of taking inventory. So we have two more bullet points here that we wanted to kind of end up on. So the first one I’m gonna talk through is our OSC follow up. My question to you is, do you know what your OSCs full follow up process? And again, if you don’t know the answer to that, that is fine. But find out now is the perfect time to secret shop and see what happens. Create a free Gmail account, set up a Google voice. It’s really easy to do that way. You can know for sure if they’re sending a text message or a voicemail, you don’t have to respond, but see what their full follow up is. And [00:16:00] if you don’t necessarily have time to do that, or you wanna see the results, like now go into your CRM system and pull an online lead from two months ago. So see, give them a full 60 days and, and see what kind of follow up they left that online lead over the last 60 days. Again, you don’t want to assume that you know what the follow up process is or what it should be, but what is actually happening. And going in and just taking a check of that and, and you may find some opportunities for improvement there, you know, based on the current market and doing what we should be doing today, kind of what we’ve been talking about as far as the follow up and making sure that we’re doing an, a plus on our follow up here. So check that, find out what your follow up process is and see what, see what your OSCs are doing.

Ali: That’s a great point. And, you know, even beyond just following up and making sure you know, what your OSCs are doing, make sure you know, what your onsite sales [00:17:00] people are doing We’ve talked to a couple people recently who are in sales training space, and they’re working with sales people who they secret shop and the sales people don’t even get up from their desk. When someone comes into the office, they haven’t had to necessarily work as hard for their sales in the last two years. So really kind of stepping back and just making sure that, you know, the sales people on site are also following process. Even, we talked about this last episode, making sure that you have people in your models is the first step, but shopping them too, just like you would your OSCs. You can send in a friend or a family member if you don’t want to pay to have a secret shop done, super easy to do. And you can get some honest feedback from family members or friends as well.

Amanda: And I think we assume that these things are being done or we hope that they’re being done, but don’t let that be the end, all like go find out for yourself and kind of dig into some of these areas just to make sure, because in this market, you can’t not know those pieces of information and [00:18:00] ensure that these parts of the process are being accurately done from a sales from the time that they become a lead through, you know, through sales.

All right. Well, I think that covers all of our five topics here. So I wanted to let everyone know that we did just give you a snippet of a couple of these, but we did create more ideas that we’re going to be putting together a blog. So stay tuned for that. We’re gonna be releasing a blog that will have even more tips and ideas from each of these categories that you can implement.

And again, these are no cost ideas. You know, just kind of implementing as you have time and, you know, you probably get a little eye roll there of, we never have time for anything, but I think these are, critical times that some of these things we need to make time for to make sure that we having our best forward. And I know I keep saying that, but the things that we can control, just kind of take that control back and really make sure you. what you’re representing out there to [00:19:00] clients.

Ali: Love it. So just to kind of circle back to all of that first take inventory, second button up your website. Third, follow up, make sure you’re addressing your follow up process.Fourth, check your online listings and five check your attitude. So like Amanda said, we will be posting some more tips on grouptwo.com. Check it out there. Thanks Amanda, for your time for hopping on today.

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