If your sales staff is getting tired of blurting out the same spiel to every couple that comes into the sales center, listen to how the folks at The Pinehills, a 3,000-plus-acre, 2,877-unit master planned community in Plymouth, Mass., solved that problem. Leveraging Plymouth's rich history as an American settlement, senior sales director Mary Swan and her staff have become storytellers instead of sales hawks, waxing poetic (if briefly so) about the state's oldest unpaved road, located on the property or the stage stop once owned and operated by hunting guide Horatio Wright and his tiny (and some say mentally unstable) wife, among other local lore.
"Rather than recite facts [about the project], we tell stories about the land and the place to draw them into The Pinehills and appreciate what's here," says Swan. "It helps to start the conversation and begin a relationship [with prospects]."
Swan educated and trained her staff and herself on the area's history, and she keeps a file of stories and written scripts for reference. To help maintain staff interest in the concept, each storyteller is free to tailor the tales to a visitor's particular circumstances and motivations for visiting the project. "We rarely tell the same story the same way twice," says Swan.
The Summerhouse, the project's welcome center, aids the experience. Built new, but appearing to be a renovated, centuries-old hunting lodge (complete with a tin roof and stone fireplace), the Summerhouse hides project information from sight and instead features a comfortable great room, working kitchen, views to the area's rolling hills, and quotations regarding the area and its history stenciled on the walls. "We leave visitors to discover those, like they've found a secret," says Swan. "It's all part of the story."
Program: Sales center; Developer: The Pinehills, Plymouth, Mass.; Size: 7,500 square feet, including corporate offices; Cost: $278 per square foot, including interiors; Architect: Scheurer Architects, Newport Beach, Calif.; Interior designer: Color Design Art, Pacific Palisades, Calif.; Advertising agency: Vergason Sojourner & McWaters, Winter Park, Fla.