FloorPop  - Interactive Marketing Best Practices, June 1, 2005

Vol. 5, Issue 3: Copyright (C) 2005 Blair Kuhnen.  All rights reserved.

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Improve Your Profits by Developing a Pre-Grand Opening Process

I spent last week at the Pacific Coast Builders Conference (PCBC). This is one awesome show. I wish I could have been at more of the educational seminars and workshops. It validates comments I often hear about the many great homebuilding ideas originating in California.

Many of you may have read about VIP programs and other advanced lead management approaches. Some of the best programs were developed by California builders. But, these are not just programs for managing leads in under supplied markets. They can work anywhere to maximize demand and pricing power.

The Benefits

On Tuesday we held a pre-conference workshop at PCBC with 65 marketing and sales professionals. The focus of the session was interactive marketing and creating a pre-grand opening sales processes. Our participants were given an exercise of developing a pre-grand opening process for a community. You can do the same thing in your market. Key to the process is holding off on pre-sales until you are ready to open (usually after models are complete). You work your interest list carefully though to your opening event. Now is a good time for you to consider developing a program or refining your current program. Here are a few key benefits:

Demand is intensified simply because of human nature. People want what they can't have. When people realize others are also waiting, demand can intensify. However, prospects need to have confidence that their place on your priority list is secure so they don't decide to buy elsewhere.

Profit is improved by reducing pre-sale discounts and higher option purchases by buyers who have a chance to see options demonstrated in your completed models. According to Bill Probert, Executive Vice President Sales & Marketing of John Laing Homes, "We think we can make 2, 3, 4% more by waiting and also create momentum."

Sales momentum is established by driving all buyers to an initial event that can far exceed typical pre-selling results. We all hear about fantastic openings in hot markets, but such momentum building openings can happen in more typical markets. In Atlanta, Bowen Family Communities has had a string of successful community openings. According to Bowen's Regional Marketing Director, Kelly Fink, "Being able to say 'we sold 65 in our first week' helps build the momentum."

Finally, customer satisfaction improves because potential buyers are better informed, and more involved in the process. They feel like they are on the inside track. Why do builders take the time to develop an effective process in hot markets such as Southern California? According to Probert, "Primarily because it's what the customer deserves." To do otherwise would be inconsistent with their brand. For many builders this is prime justification for putting a process in place.

The Process

To get started, map out how you want to touch the customer via email, phone, and direct mail from the time the potential buyer becomes a lead until they contract with you. You probably have an idea of when you can open or when the models will be complete. Just back it up. Here are a few example touch-points:

The process has to fit your culture, brand, resources, and the community being marketed. Once you know how you want to touch the customer, adding automation to facilitate the process will be easy and you will quickly see results. Your first attempt at an effective process may not be perfect, but you can evolve your program over time and tweak it for local community considerations. The important thing to do is to get started and put a process in place that is repeatable.

Try it. Remarkable results are possible. If you need help developing a process or marketing tools to make it easy to implement, give us a call (817-658-7698). We would be glad to help.

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    FloorPop is published on the first Wednesday of each month. We welcome your comments, thoughts, and questions. Please write or call anytime. kuhnen@earthlink.net.

    Blair Kuhnen is the publisher of FloorPop and can be reached at 817-658-7698 or via email at kuhnen@earthlink.net.