Consumers come to us today with an expectation that they will have some control over the purchase; that they won’t need to compromise in the arguably the most emotional and expensive investment of their lifetime. So the ability of the builder to provide the home that the buyer really wants is becoming a differentiation tool, particularly in markets dominated by used, foreclosed and spec homes.
None of those can be personalized; buyers understand that they’ll have to give up what they want for price. The opportunity for builders is to offer levels of personalization that leverage the buyer’s innate desire to get what their home the way they really want it. Personalization, then, becomes a very powerful concept and a growing trend.
Since homebuyers have their wants and desires clearly in mind, “the goal would to create discontent with taking something ‘off the shelf’ and to creating value in the idea of creating a unique, personalized home,” says Meagher. She offers some tools that salespeople can use to do this:
One effective way to do this is by asking probing questions that focus on what the buyer really wants and needs – “getting them to ‘dream the dream’ and talk about their preferred lifestyle and how the home could allow them to express their own sense of style. What we’re really doing is reframing their decision-making criteria. Then, when they look at the alternatives, they ask themselves, ‘Why would I settle? Maybe I can get what I want, even if it costs a little more.’”
Breaking the cost difference down to “the ridiculous – monthly, weekly, even daily” cost difference – makes the new home look that much more appealing compared to an existing home. Carefully worded scripts that include compelling statements of differentiation and that support the benefits of personalization to the buyer can help accomplish this.
Leverage Your Website.
“Even if you don’t have a state of the art design studio, you can still leverage the concept of personalization,” says Meagher. “For example, you can have a video of the company president talking about how committed the company is to the buyer’s desire to get more of what they want in their home.
“You can have photos of your models, products and options, or testimonials from happy buyers talking about the products that they invested in that made their home perfect for them.” Including these on your website primes the buyers so that when they come into your sales center they’re already thinking in terms of personalization. “The flip side is that anything else they look at will fail to measure up to their ideals and so create discontent.”
Using a Design Studio
An exciting trend that Meagher sees builders embracing is “the idea of front-loading the whole concept of personalizing the home into your sales process” by using their design center as a sales tool. Prospects are toured through the design center prior to the purchase of the home where they can see that they will have enough choices to satisfy them; that they can be excited at the opportunity to be guided by a professional in a one-stop shopping environment. They start to get inspired and excited about getting a unique, personalized home and that get that much more excited about buying a home that can’t be duplicated anywhere else.”
Your design center can showcase your products in other ways. Does you have a gourmet kitchen on display? Then, have a chef come in and do demonstrations or give a cooking lesson. Or, hold Realtor events or Chamber of Commerce after-hours meetings there to show off what you do. “There really are so many things that you can do with your design studio environment that supports your business.”
Some builders are taking the idea of a design studio to the next level by creating a Design Studio/Welcome Center/Sales Center staffed with sales personnel as well as design staff. This showcases the builder’s professionalism and ability to personalize up front. In fact, in many cases this is the starting point for the sales process and heightens the expectations for a truly personalized experience for new prospects.
Although Meagher fully endorses this concept, she offers this warning: “I’m not promoting that your design studio be opened to the public without proper sales support. Touring new prospects through the studio should not interfere with design appointments with buyers.” However, with the right balance the design center can accommodate both new prospects and buyers, and give you as a builder a highly professional image.
Design Center on a Budget
Although Jane Meagher is a professional studio designer, she is the first to admit that not all builders need or will benefit from a large design center, and that very effective studios can be created on a budget.
“Many of the design studios we’ve created over the past couple of years have been much smaller in scale. We’re seeing a lot of them being built inside the corporate office where there is existing office space, or in high-visibility locations as part of a sales and welcome center. There are great opportunities for builders of all sizes to be able to leverage the studio as a sales tool to differentiate themselves, to increase customer satisfaction, and to maximize revenue through the sale of options.”
Interested in learning how a design studio can enhance your business? Contact Jane Meagher at www.opt4success.net.