By Gordon Henderson – 149Photos
My wife and I were recently on vacation in the southern United States and decided to take a few hours to check out some of the model homes from the builders in the area where we were staying. Being from Michigan, we often dream of what it might be like to live in a warmer climate, and visiting new homes certainly stokes those ambitions. We weren’t intentionally doing any “secret shopping”, but by the time we were done, it kinda felt that way given our attachment to new home building. We couldn’t help but analyze the performance of the builders we visited.
Let me tell you, there was a wide range in the performance of these builders. I’ll focus on two of them.
Honestly, the first experience was a complete disaster. It was a cold, and very unengaging experience. Upon entering the office, the salesperson didn’t really engage us, and simply said, “to see the model, simply go through that door, walk next door and go inside.” It was what we were after anyway, so we didn’t think too much of it. Of course, the model home was very beautiful. It was well decorated and showed really well. The product was very impressive. The engagement was not.
After we toured the home by ourselves, we went back to the sales office looking to get a little more information. We asked the sales agent some questions about pricing, options, availability, etc, but the impression we were left with was, “Hey, I’ve got nothing to sell you.” Which of course, was true for that community right now, but certainly wouldn’t be at some point in the future. As we left that sales office, what was most striking to us was that the salesperson never got up out of their chair the entire time we were on the property. Wow, what a turn-off! We left feeling like they were completely uninterested in our business now or in the future.
Now, a much different experience.
We drove for about two minutes and had a very different outcome. As we entered the sales office, the sales professional was standing and engaged in conversation with another couple. He made eye contact and shortly thereafter engaged with us. Soon into our discussion, he explained to us the situation in the current market. He explained how it would be about two months before we would receive a call to select our floorplan and lot, and set expectations for price fluctuations between now and then and the expected production time. He did a great job setting expectations right upfront and making us feel like he wanted our future business. He explained the various models and floorplans that were available, highlighting their differences, and we toured them all. We walked out of there feeling very excited about this builder and the community.
There will never be a market in which customer experience doesn’t matter.
The first salesperson lacks a long-term view and understanding of this market that we’re in. Focused on the right-here-and-now, he has nothing to sell me. So why bother? Why waste the calories to even get up out of the chair?
The sales professional at the second location has taken a much longer, more strategic view. Although he may have more qualified prospects than homes to sell, that can quickly change. There’s so much fluctuation in things outside our control like interest rates, inflation, and challenges in the supply chain. But there’s at least one thing that doesn’t change, and fortunately, it can largely be within our control; and that is the customer experience. And it will always matter.