Back in 2008, I wrote an article entitled, “It is 7 PM, Do You Know Where Your Customers Are?” The gist of the article was that we, as builders, were not positioning our model hours to make it more convenient for our buyers to visit with our sales professionals at the times when the buyers wanted to do so. In other words, to enhance the customer experience.
Even “way back then” we knew that roughly 20-30% of our traffic in our communities were driving through to look at homes, by-passing the sales center, between 5-7 PM during Daylight Saving Time. In many parts of the country, we close our sales centers at either 5 PM or 7 PM. Moreover, for scatter-site builders, it is even harder for our buyers to find us since we don’t always have models in the areas in which we are selling. Scatter-site builders often only have part-time sales agents or worse are using general real estate agents for a few hours per week to host an open house event.
The number one rule in sales is, “SHOW UP!” I would certainly advocate that you show up at a time when your buyers want to be there to get better results. My point is this, do you know what days and what time of day your traffic comes into your sales centers? Do you have a way to track it other than just on your weekly traffic summary that your sales teams write up on Sunday evening as they are trying to remember everyone who came in that week? What about the traffic that by-passes the sales center or comes in when it is closed? How do we track that?
I worked with a team to study traffic patterns in individual communities. We investigated the traffic patterns by (a) physically being in the community at varying times; (b) by not always positioning ourselves in the model centers; (c) by setting up an individualized marketing and tracking plan on all inventory homes; and (d) most important, evaluating our efforts on a week-by-week basis so we could adjust rapidly, as needed. We also used technology that allowed us to know who was interested in each inventory home and what day and times they viewed the homes.
What we learned is valuable information that I believe builders should take to heart. The most important of which is that your traffic is not necessarily inclined to visit your sales center in person during your set hours. As much as we liked to think that our homes sell themselves, they don’t. Many builders have tried to reach buyers by putting brochures in a “Take One” box, in the hope that buyers will call after having collected all the information they think they wanted, without ever having met with a sales agent. In other words, here is the answer to all the questions you think you have; so goodbye, thanks for visiting, we doubt we will ever hear from you again.
Others have put lock boxes on some of their inventory so that Realtors® could bring out clients after hours. A step in the right direction, if you are using digital lock boxes, so you know who accessed the home while you weren’t there, and you have an on-site agent who is following-up real time. However, do you want to rely wholly on a General Real Estate Agent to sell your homes? Can that agent effectively communicate your Unique Selling Propositions? Will he or she be able to convince the client that buying your home over your competitors’ is a good idea, especially when your competitor is offering a higher Realtor® incentive bonus? This is not the best solution, either.
At the International Builder’s Show, my co-presenter at The Master Session, “The Customer Experience Funnel, Chris Hartley, from Trendmaker Homes in Dallas, Texas introduced me to a tool that, used properly, can certainly help provide some solutions to this dilemma. The tool is a one-time access code to an electronic lock for prospects with or without a Realtor®. The prospect either downloads an App or calls a phone number to get the code to open the door. The beauty of this is that they must be pre-screened before admittance to the home. This information can be immediately sent to your Online Sales Counselor or the Sales Professional at the closest model center. You set the available hours, but more importantly, your team of professionals gets the opportunity to interact with the prospect. We could take the automation even further by combining a chatbot follow-up text, but that will be addressed in our Vlog on April 24th, when Chris Hartley and Ingrid Prince join us to talk about the successes they have had using the chatbot service provided by Atlas RTX.
I was so interested in adding NterNow.com to my circle of recommended services that I reached out to the CEO and founder of the company, Lynne Davis to learn more. When I told her about this Vlog post that was working on, she provided me with additional research regarding the busiest times when prospects want to see your homes. Here is what she shared with me:
“In looking at 2018 data, there’s a fairly even distribution of “after 6 pm showings” over the days of the week. After 6 pm showings were heaviest on Saturday! Even more surprising, the runner-up was Wednesday, with Thursday being a solid 3rd. All the other days of the week were amazingly close.
Here are the percentages:
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Friday each 12.5-13.2%
This even distribution means it’s worthless for builders to try to extend coverage a couple of days of the week. To catch the majority of the after 6 pm visitors, they need a seven-day per week solution.
In looking at the data on a monthly basis, August leads the way with 15% and May and September tied for second at 12%. As expected, December and January had the fewest showings with 2% each.”
So, what is the best solution? The best solution is to have a highly trained and motivated sales force that knows how to sell your homes AND to put that sales force out there at the most opportune times to meet customers face-to-face. This may require changing your sales center hours. It may require making sure that you always have at least 2 agents responsible for a given community (and yes, in most cases they can self-generate enough traffic to succeed). Perhaps you might even consider staggering the hours of the agents so that one closes, and one opens on a rotation basis. But even the best sales professionals can’t be in multiple places at one time so that is where we benefit from layering in technology solutions like NterNow.com or Atlas RTX. When you utilize technology correctly, you enhance the customer experience and meet today’s buyers on their terms. Like it or not, to thrive in today’s world, we must have a retail mindset. Since having customers purchase and enjoy our homes is our business, doesn’t it make sense to be more accommodating to the needs of those customers?
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT NTERNOW, PLEASE VISIT: NterNow.com
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ATLAS RTX, PLEASE VISIT: AtlasRTX.com
Kimberly Mackey is the founder of New Homes Solutions, and has the reputation as someone with real-world SOLUTIONS in a competitive and rapidly changing sales environment–SOLUTIONS like “50 Sales per Year before Any Walk-in Traffic”. She is a keynote speaker and published author of many Sales and Leadership articles with 20 years of experience as an executive in the residential home building and real estate industry. She has a proven track record working with Builders and Developers of all sizes –from the local/regional companies to the publicly traded nationals. She also works with Brokers from across the country and is the architect and director of the highly successful Preferred Builder Partnership with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Properties Group where she works with 32 builders, 22 offices and over 650 agents.
For more information, or to book Kimberly for your next event, visit www.NewHomesSolutions.com, or visit Mackey at LinkedIn,www.linkedin.com/in/kimberlymackey; Twitter,www.twitter.com/KimberlyDMackey; and Facebook,www.facebook.com/NewHomesSolutions or on YouTube, www.youtube.com/c/NewHomesSolutions