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The home building industry generally has not been early adopters of technology in comparison to others. industries. That said, COVID-19 has forced the hand for many builders who weren’t quite ready to take the plunge.
Builders have had a few months now to evaluate how their existing processes and technology are adapting to the way homes are sold, bought, and built today. With new home sales on the rise, builders who are leveraging technology are the ones that are best able to take advantage of this surge.
Website engagement has always been important for lead generation which is nothing new. However, more buyers are online than ever before. DoYouConvert recently found that there is almost an 80% increase in builder website traffic compared to last year. Buyers have needed to do more of the home buying process online.
To increase website engagement, builders have used site maps to feature their communities. While some have used static site maps, buyers expect more of an interactive experience. They want the Amazon experience of being able to scan through all the options in your community, clicking on different lots to see what lots and plans are available, and at what price creating their own custom experience on your site. They can even find out how the community will fit into their lives by overlaying the lots on a Google Map.
Interactive site maps can also provide seamless integration with their back-office system which means lot information on the website is up-to-date and connects to your CRM so you can automatically capture leads. If the information on the site isn’t up to date, you’re disappointing the buyer—which leads to a poor user experience. No connection to your CRM? You’re missing leads.
Sales are made by giving the buyer the information they need. In a recent webinar, Luke Pickerall of MontaVista Homes, has seen an increase in website traffic and engagement using an interactive site map on his website, as well as leveraging 3D tours to sell the house completely online. It’s also assisting in-person appointments with sales agents using the map on the big screen monitors in the model home.
The interactive nature of the site map also helped Pickerall provide information about the clicks associated with lots, enabling him to make real-time decisions such as adding premiums to lots that are more popular and assisting in increasing profits. And since his interactive site map is integrated with his back-office system, he gets additional operational insights for each lot, quickly able to see the margin or what’s behind schedule. Instead of looking at multiple reports, he can see it all in one system and in a visual way.
While leveraging technology for both the front-office and to improve the buyer experience has gotten a lot of attention, the software you use to run your business can’t be overlooked. COVID-19 has mandated that builders’ technology supports all their processes, even if everyone in the company is working remotely.
Mike Hess from Vantage Homes outlines how using technology to manage business is essential to becoming a more efficient builder and growing the business. As a mid-tier builder, Vantage is competing with bigger builders with larger budgets, bigger market presence, and using bespoke software and systems to manage their build volume. And they are also competing with the custom or semi-custom builder who can provide a level of customization and handheld process. That’s where processes and procedures are important for a production builder—leveraging technology to take advantage of buying power, but at the same time provide some personalization.
Having processes and procedures with a system in place has allowed them to grow and contract. Using technology that supports the business from “dirt to warranty” that’s systemized and integrated across the board is necessary. One software used by the entire team lets them take advantage of repeatable processes to help make production building more efficient.
While it’s more common and easier for builders to use an online portal or scheduler for their supers and trade partners to communicate with each other, this same flexibility should be available across the company. Using a cloud-based integrated home builder software that’s accessible to all users wherever they are working is now a requirement. Purchasing, accounting, supervisors, sales, whatever the department they are in, they need to be looking at the same information in real-time.
Pieced together systems in which each department is using a solution that doesn’t connect seamless with another makes the process much less efficient and difficult when your workforce has gone remote. Being able to accommodate a remote workforce means you can take advantage of talent across the country as well as scaling up and down to manage back-office processing needs.
Given all the changes that have taken place, it leads to the question...are you ready? Do you have the processes and technology in place to stay ahead of the competition? Are you engaging home buyers and providing them with the experience they expect?
The fundamental shift to using technology in all facets of home building is permanent. For builders who were leveraging technology before the crisis, making the adjustment has been easier. For those who are lagging behind, now is the time to find the right tools or be left behind.
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About the Author