“Our job would be so much easier if we didn’t have those damn customers to deal with.”
-Construction manager with a public builder

I’ve heard variations of this statement several times over the last 30-years, most often in jest. But, my Dad always told me that there is a little truth in every humorous story.

For those of you holding deep-seated anxieties about working with those crazy, demanding home buyers, I have good news and bad news. The bad news: Those wacky home buyers are here to stay. The good news: Those wacky home buyers are here to stay...YEAH! There’s a lot more of them than there were three years ago!

And that means we need to get better at understanding and managing our buyers: there’s nothing worse than allowing our customers to control the pace and set the standards. Now is the time to set clearer expectations; become more transparent in response to an increasingly distrusting customer base; and learn to create an ‘Apple-like’ purchase experience for home buyers looking for value in a rising market.

Managing Staff Expectations
We need to set the expectation for our staff that the customer experience we deliver today will create referral sales tomorrow. To be frank, I don’t think we can afford sales people who think their primary job is to sell a home to every customer who walks in the door. We need big-picture sales people who recognize that their job is to sell each customer a home today ... and another one to his best friend tomorrow. Long-term perspective is a big change for many builders.

If you’ve lived in a city in which a Nordstrom is scheduled to open in the future, you know consumers often experience a level of anxious anticipation, if not outright excitement about the upcoming opportunity. This can also occur with a new Starbucks or a Costco opening.

Does this happen when you announce a new community? Why not? Soooo ... How’s your reputation?

Selling Homes by Referral and Reputation
Bottom Line: Many of our builder clients are selling 40-50% of their homes from a referral. 40-50%...you read that correctly. And they are doing this year-after-year. They not only deliver an incredible customer experience, but they have decoded the secret sauce for maintaining this level of service on a consistent basis.

The secret sauce? Well, it ain’t rocket science, but it’s darn tough to execute consistently. Nevertheless, a number of tenacious, visionary builders have figured it out and created an impressive customer-centric culture: MBK Homes, The Olson Company, The New Home Company, McCaffrey Homes, Robson Communities, David Weekley Homes, and other unique builders. Their high percent-of-sales-from-referrals is the ultimate confirmation.

Meet the Customer Champions
Come talk with some of these visionary builders at the 2014 Housing Leadership Summit, May 12-14. And on May 13, sit in a one-hour roundtable discussion with the leaders of three “2014 Homebuyers’ Choice” award winning firms:

• Scott Laurie, President & CEO, The Olson Company; Eliant’s #1 ranked ‘Large Builder’ for (1)Construction Quality and (2) Customer Service
• Norm Carraher, Director of Customer Service, The New Home Company; Eliant’s #1 ranked ‘Medium Builder’ for (1)Construction Quality and (2) Customer Service, and (3) the Overall Purchase& Ownership Experience.
• Dan Hanson, EVP, imortgage; Eliant’s #1 ranked North American lender for homebuyer satisfaction

This will be a discussion of the best practices among all the builders attending this unique roundtable discussion, including a free-for-all Q&A with the three moderators.

Customers are here to stay...thankfully! Let’s create a new-home purchase experience they will take delight in sharing with their friends!