Focus Discussion of the Week:
Builder Marketing Managers Alexis Udine and Amanda Druschel take you through LIVE INTERVIEWS with Group Two builder partners from the IBS 2022. Our special guests were all asked the same question, “What’s the biggest change you’ve made to your marketing or sales initiatives in the last two years, that will stick around through 2022?”. Listen to Alexis and Amanda break down these changes in detail to help inspire your marketing strategy for the future.
Alexis: Okay, welcome to building perspective with Group Two. This is season three, episode five, and today we are so excited to highlight a very special episode, right on the heels of the international builders show 2022.
Today we have a recap episode for you and I am joined by my lovely cohost, Amanda.
Amanda: Hey Alexa.
Alexis: Thanks for joining me today. And like I said, this is a special one that we wanted to bring to you all as quickly as possible. But Amanda, let’s start, obviously this was a, a different builder show. This was your first builder show.
So for you, and I know there’s a lot, you could say, but just kind of share your thoughts on your very first builder show, any kind of key takeaways or feelings that you had.
Amanda: Obviously, as you said in my first builder show afterwards, my big takeaway word. Connection being connected on a variety of different levels.
So obviously with Group Two, it was, it was amazing for us to all be together, you know, share that time and, and kind of learn together and then build our partners. So we got a chance to meet and talk and have lunch and all kinds of fun stuff with a lot of our builder partners that were at the builder show.
Some of that face-to-face interaction, which we all desperately craved and wanted. I think we were all so excited to see each other and be together. And then the connection with The House That She Built. So I know that we spent a ton of our time as a group to team promoting the message of The House That She Built and being able to connect with some of the women who worked on the house in Utah, it was just really, really special to hear their message and being able to continue that on with the book and the promotion of that.
Alexis: It was definitely a fun year and a little bit different for Group Two, then what we’ve done in the past.
So I think this is maybe my eighth or ninth builder show. I don’t really know I’ve lost track, but last year it was virtual, as we know. And I think a lot of people weren’t really sure what to expect this year. And I don’t know about. Pleasantly surprised with a turnout, the amount of people and the amount, like you said, our builder partners who went that we got to see outside of a zoom screen was, was wonderful.
So typically Group Two, you know, we have many speaking sessions and this year was no different. We had Chelsea and Nikki and Mollie and Georgia, but typically we’re kind of like home-based and sales central and this year, We’re all over the convention center. We traveled a lot. We did a lot of the book promotion, which was really fun and different and an exciting thing to be part of.
So it, it looked a little different, but as always, our team leaves feeling energized and we’re actually publishing an upcoming blog. You kind of alluded that your takeaway was connection. Mine’s convenience. And we had a bunch of other, so definitely be on the lookout for our blog. What we kind of want you to see is what is everyone talking about?
What are the latest trends like, how has this pandemic shifted our industry? It shifted every industry, but one of the things that we kind of wanted to see when we went there is talk to our builders and our partners and say, what is the biggest change you’ve made to your marketing or your sales initiatives in the last two years that you think will stick around through 2022?
That’s the question that we kind of brought to the table. And as we know, since the pandemic, it caused our builders and many different industries to shift and ebb and flow and change things. But there are some things that we’ve changed and implemented that have been for the better.
So again, we took this question, we have the opportunity to interview some of our builders live and they all had different answers. And so today we kind of want to take you through some of these sales or marketing initiatives that some of our builder partners are implementing and that they’re going to keep in 2022 and beyond.
So Amanda, why don’t you kick it off with our first builder partner?
Amanda: So, first up we have Carl Baker, who is the director of sales and marketing at Tresidio Homes in Boise. So here is Carl.
Carl: At the end of last year, we started using UTour for all of our model and inventory homes. And it’s a really great way to allow a buyer to tour a home unaccompanied by a sales person.
And it’s very easy to use. And that’s something that we’re going to continue to use all of this year and into the future.
Amanda: All right. So Carl talks about UTour obviously. And so they are utilizing it on, as he said, their models and their quick move-ins and they’re starting to gain more and more inventory.
They wanted to make sure that people could get into them on their own time and at their convenience, but they needed to be able to promote that. So what we did was we put this whole campaign surrounding their UTour. And, and really just kind of pushing that message out on all platforms so that people could see what they offer, but also know how it works.
One of the really cool things that we did with them was we created this fun animated video. When you go to their UTour page to see their move-ins, you know, if you don’t feel like reading, you can watch this cute little video. I’m excited as they continue throughout 2022 utilizing this platform and how it drives more traffic and just allows consumers to be able to consume on their own time when they want to, how they want to. And if they don’t actually want to talk to a human being at that point, but they want a tour through either the model or, or quick move in, they have the resources to be able to do that. And I think that that really sets them apart from some of their competitors who don’t offer that to their current.
Alexis: You’re absolutely right. It’s almost like if you don’t offer it, then why not? Like you’re not embracing the technology. And I think you made a couple of good points. It’s all about the convenience for the customer. And at Group Two, we were able to educate, cause you know, th this is all new people didn’t know this kind of way of touring homes existed.
So like you said, with that explainer video, through our marketing, we were able to educate customers on how to use. Feature. And it’s been wildly successful, not only with Tresidio, but I think a handful of our builders are taking advantage of this. And I think there was one session that I attended. I forget what the statistic was.
I don’t want to botch it, but it was something like 65% of people are turned off by a pushy salesperson. And this kind of takes out of the equation by letting them to tour it without any pressures. And again, it’s just something that is very, very convenient, the customer on their own terms on their own times.
And it’s just something that we’re seeing widely adapted. So I think that’s a good one. And I agree it’s, it’s probably here to say switching gears, we’re going to hear from Matt Gilchrist of EG, home and Connecticut.
Matt: So over the last couple of years, the pandemic forced us to develop a by appointment only policy for our sales team..
It is a practice that we’re going to continue to improve upon and expand. But it’s a practice that we’re going to stick with mainly because it allows us to utilize our very talented sales team and leverage them across all of our developments, really embracing the team sales idea and really servicing the customers who are most interested and most ready to buy.
Too often when you’re sitting in a model home, the person that gets all your attention is the person that walks through the door, not the most qualified, most interested, most ready buyer. So in combination with a improved online sales consulting platform and by appointment only, I think we’re really going to transition to a much more effective, more productive, better customer experience sales platform.
Alexis: All right. So by appointment only, obviously this is something that many of our builder partners implemented because he kind of had to, when the pandemic hit for safety reasons and interestingly enough, one of EG Home’s communities was an active adult buyer. So we were super sensitive to all restrictions and things like that. So he went by appointment in the pandemic.
Two years later, guess what? He’s still an in a by appointment only. And we have it posted across their website. And this worked for him for many reasons. He has a smaller sales team and they’re really, really spread thin. So by not seeing at a model eight hours a day, this allows them to cross sell across many different communities in different locations.
That’s the business model that they have in the five appointment allows them to do that. They, as a result, see more quality traffic and they have had more calls, more leads. Their website is converting at a higher rate by having this kind of message. And they’re converting faster and they’re selling homes.
And this is definitely something that they are going to continue. And we talked about changing it, but it’s here to stay. And another thing that EG Home did in the pandemic is they implemented an online sales counselor and then online sales platform and true followup system that enables the by appointment only platform.
And they’re getting more quality people because they’re having these conversations, they’re asking them the qualifying questions. And at the end of the day, they’re just getting people to contract a lot sooner. So if anything, we talked about possibly posting open houses because we still want people to be able to come out and like we have a new model opening and things of that nature.
Go to their website, everything the call to action was by appointment only. We’re going to keep it that way because it’s working for us. And if anything, we’ll promote open houses for people that want to just kind of tour models without that added pressure, like we talked about before. So that is something EG Home is implementing.
Amanda: What I love about that is it really allows the OSEs to do their job. They’re there to qualify and you want the quality over quantity. You don’t just want to have all this traffic and put all of these people in front of the sales team that aren’t qualified. You know, it allows the OSCs to do their job.
And then it allows the sales team to do their job of selling houses to qualified people who are willing, able, and ready to purchase a home.
Alexis: Yep. You’re absolutely right. And again, like if you do have a smaller sales team or you’re spread a little thin, which in this case, they are in like a hiring process, it helped that to take the stress away from their sales team and just build in some efficiencies that they didn’t otherwise have.
So a great suggestion. Who’s up next.
Amanda: Next up, we have Brenna Ryan, the corporate marketing director of William Ryan Homes.
Brenna: So, what we’re doing is we’re taking strides towards buy online.
And it means a lot of different things, a lot of different builders. I just came out of a session, which was interesting.
And they were like, does it mean this just mean that, and it kind of means everything, but what we’re doing right now is really gearing up on our interactive media and then some visual content. And we’re also talking to our ERP provider and our website provider, because we are going to flip those two things up because no matter if it’s just reserving a lot online or doing a full purchase online, we’re like starting to put the pieces into place right now.
It’s awesome. So that’s what we started on and we will definitely continue to do.
Alexis: And what’s the customer feedback.
Brenna: So right now we just have like the minimum pieces we implemented Dreamweaver. It’s by Vdx. It’s where you can select your lot through an interactive site plan. And then that takes you to pick your home.
And then on your home, you use the interactive floor plan. And I don’t have what a data right now, but the verbal feedback from like our sales reps, they use it in their sales presentation. The kiosk is that it’s just really nice. And it’s something that all the information is in one spot and that people aren’t really seeing that much of anymore.
I think the negative side to it is because it’s not super popular yet. It is also kind of like, okay, like, what am I doing? What do I do now? We’re, we’re excited to kind of keep developing it. And then I picked up some nice tips from the builder show this year. You know how to guide people through.
Alexis: I think a lot of it will probably just be like education and how you educate people about how it can be more convenient for them.
Brenna: I know, a great thing is that we, as a society, we’re so used to online shopping, we’re such quick learners, our buyers aren’t stupid. They just don’t tolerate inefficiencies.
Amanda: All right. So Brenna talks all about buying online. I remember back to pre COVID buying online was like this elusive thing nobody even thought of, and now I think everyone is like mindset of how do we do this?
And what I really like about what she said is how they are tying together, all of their ERP, their website provider, all of that, to create that seamless user experience. I think when we’re talking about buying online, it’s really important to make sure that you get it right. Because there are so many opportunities for things to fall through the cracks and to create an experience for home buyers that could potentially be frustrating.
So I know that they’re thinking through all of those different things and how if effects what the buyers are doing. Also a part of that is what do your customers want? Do they want it to be able to fully buy a house online and never talk or interact with the salesperson? Do they want to just reserve a home site? You gotta really know your buyer and what they want and they need, and then deliver on that.
Instead of just trying to like go for all of it and make sure that you know, what you need to do specifically for your organization, and then just make sure that it is a great customer experience all the way through.
Alexis: I think if you said like five years ago, you could buy a home entirely online, or I think people would laugh at you, but it it’s, it’s crazy.
I mean, I know for me, I don’t go to the grocery store anymore ever. I do everything online. I used to go to target like daily and now I have target comes to me. And so it’s just interesting how people’s buying behaviors and patterns have changed. And we always say that the home building industry is a little bit slower to adapt, right.
So we see all these other industries doing it. And so it’s coming and if you don’t have these tools and resources on your website. Again, if you’re online and you’re shopping for a home and you’re looking at five different builders, well, the one that has the content rich website that you can play around with an interactive, it’s going to give you a better experience.
And at the end of the day, Stand out and win the sale. So you don’t have these tools in place and you don’t have this content rich website, you’re kind of falling behind.
Amanda: Yeah. As you said, the home building industry is obviously behind and where we usually always are, but we have become so accustomed to just that ease and flexibility of being able to consume and purchase different things in all these other industries on our phones, on our laptops, so quickly. And when it comes to purchasing a home, obviously that is the biggest purchase you’re probably gonna make in your life. So you’re, you’re going to expect some differences there, but you can’t negate all the things that we just come to expect when you’re purchasing something online.
And we definitely need to make sure that we’re offering up some of these same tools and resources to keep buyers engaged.
Alexis: Yeah, it’s almost like immediate gratification. People are impatient. So if we can’t see the lot that we want and we can’t place our home on it, then we’re like kind of dissatisfied.
And so it’s giving people all they can to like envision what their new home and their new life would look like. And I did ask Brenna about feedback on this, and I know it was fairly new, but with these processes and all this technology, I would urge builders to get feedback in real time, like, what did you think of our website?
How was your user experience? What did you like? What didn’t you like? What was missing? I do think because all of this is so new that people should get regular feedback from their customers on their experience and then make tweaks from there based on the feedback.
Amanda: Yeah, 100% because you know, we’re not purchasing homes every day.
We have this mindset of we need to be providing for our customers, but that consumer who has just purchased a home and has gone through the process of searching online and doing all the research, like they are the person that we need to be asking these questions to tweak and, and really perfect that experience.
Alexis: Absolutely. All right, last but not least. We have Beth Byrd of Beacon Homes in Oklahoma. She’s the director of sales and marketing for that team. And here is what Beth had to say.
Beth: Yeah. So we implemented two tools for our design process, our design packages and an online design center that gave the customer confidence that we had options that they liked and that the process was going to be easy.
And it’s been so good, but that was kind of 1.0, we’re going to do 2.0 this year. We’re gonna expand our online design center program and the next level, the packages, because it’s been such a huge success for our customers. They love it.
Alexis: What’s the customer feedback on it.
Beth: The feedback is they love that they can come to their appointments, knowing what their choices are and prepared rather than feeling overwhelmed by all the decisions all in one fiscal meeting.
They’d rather lay in bed and look at the different tile options and then come to the appointment, go, okay. I just have a couple of questions. I just need confirmation that what I picked is going to work so design times have really cut in half face-to-face and it’s not that people don’t want to spend time with us it’s that they come better prepared and they’re much happier.
Alexis: Okay. This was a really, really fun one because we were very involved in the marketing of this. So she talks about two different things. And the first thing is design packages. And so she came to us with this idea of, we have these design packages and Group Two’s job was to create this visual, almost like a mood board.
So you have, the “modern farmhouse” that “after 5:00 PM” the “light and airy,” and so Group Two develop this look and feel, and then we put it everywhere. So it’s on the website. We shared it on social media.
We put it in their stories and really just showed this offering. And the design packages had a great effect because they got people excited. And the next builder didn’t have these like detailed and thought out curated design packages. You’re kind of walking into a design appointment blind, right? You’re all on your own.
As much fun as designing a new home can be one thing, and I know this from working for a builder, it is so overwhelming and something that you think is so fun can be a very daunting experience for the customer. So our job as builders and marketers is how can we make this exciting and stress free and a fun process.
Beacon first talked about these design packages. We spend the time like curating them, develop them, put them on their website. And that was kind of like step one. And as a result, people were less overwhelmed, more prepared. They had an idea of what they wanted. Oh, I’m definitely the modern farmhouse or I’m this or on that.
And so they had an idea and a vision in their head. But step two of this is something that we worked on with the launch of their new website is an online design studio. So people can view on their own time. That’s kind of makes the call that people can be in their bed late at night, rather than scrolling Facebook, they can be looking at the tile.
That way they are a more educated, more prepared buyer. And so they come to the design appointment and they’re not stressed out, they’re excited and they have a better idea of what they want. By putting these in place, it’s a win-win for all, because she says that they cut their design time in half, which is huge.
Think about having 10 customers, dividing that up and splitting that time, that’s giving your team more time to focus on other things. So not only is it a better experience for the customer overall, it’s building in efficiencies to your team. And so now again, like having that online design studio is also a differentiator and not only preparing that customer but, if I’m looking at two builders and I can play around and see all of these things, that’s putting you one up again. You’re just setting the experience and the stage for a better customer journey overall.
I love this one. I think this is something that all builders should be taking advantage of and for marketing purposes, it was super fun to kind of bring this to life. I think that this is something that’s almost a must and I know Beacon has had a lot of success with it.
Amanda: Is like a, a curated, almost like a Pinterest board that they have prepared for their clients, specifically with what they offer.
We know that they’re scrolling through like you said Facebook, but when they’re in that home buying mindset they’re probably throwing it a little bit more of that Pinterest and Houzz and scrolling through those. So it’s builders can take those design features that they offer and really custom curate them together in that sort of board option. I think it really helps consumers to be able to think of that as easily digestible.
Alexis: I agree. I agree.
And the best part of all this was talking to our builders face to face in person. I know. And you know, it’s so funny. It was actually hard because we were on the move. So I had to like, make sure I cornered this person there. And so if we didn’t talk to you, you know we’ll get you next time. But I think these were all really great takeaways and things to share.
So any kind of overarching message. Amanda, do you think for these?
Amanda: Yeah. Yeah. So all of these are different answers, but they have sort of a consistent overarching message, which has these systems and processes that builders should and can be implementing to create an overall better user experience, better home buying experience. So we know these things are out there and they exist. It’s just taking the time to do what’s right for you as a home builder and right for your consumers and implementing them.
Alexis: Yep. I mean, you said it, it’s all about the customer experience and it’s our job as marketers to make sure that we’re promoting these great tools and resources and educating people because it differentiates them from their competition.
So I think these were a great mix of ideas. Sometimes the pandemic and change forces us out of our comfort zone, but I think this is proof that these tools and these strategies are here to stay. So. We thank you for joining us on this very, very special episode of Building Perspective with Group Two.
We’ll talk to you soon.
Amanda: See you later.