LotVue® software helps take marketing and internal productivity to the next level
- Needed to give customers as much detail as possible about the lot, house, and options
- Needed to be able to engage prospects online
- Weekly plat updates took at least half a day
These are good times for Steve Dunn and his team at Indianapolis-based Westport Homes. The company closed 843 houses in 2017, up nearly 25% on the previous year, while total revenues in 2017 reached $203 million, a 35% increase.
Founded in 2003, the company today operates branches in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and Columbus, Ohio, in addition to its Indianapolis headquarters. Chris Dunn, Operations Manager, says Westport is on track to keep the growth curve pointing in the right direction in 2018, with every expectation of breaking the 1000-close mark.
There are several factors driving Westport’s recent growth surge, Dunn explains. These factors include an aggressive land-acquisition effort as the company focuses attention on developing its own master plan communities with 200 to 300 lots; the ability to provide high quality, affordable housing to a wide-ranging demographic—from first-time buyers to empty nesters looking to downsize; and a family based business culture that emphasizes customer care.
Also, the key to the company’s recent success: a willingness to embrace technology and use it to maximize internal productivity and efficiency, and to deliver a superior customer experience from the initial point of contact all the way through to closing and delivery.
Case in point: Westport’s use of the LotVue suite of visual display apps.
Westport has been using LotVue since November 2016 and, Dunn reports, it has not only helped boost productivity and freed up valuable time for employees internally, but the program has made it possible to engage with customers far more effectively, both online and on site.
Using the latest technology keeps Westport ahead of the game
The construction industry in general, Dunn notes with a wry smile, is not always quick to embrace new technology. The initial response from the sales team when Westport rolled out LotVue was guarded at best.
“Our people looked at it and all they saw at first was just one more thing to keep track of,” Dunn says candidly. It didn’t take long, though, for attitudes to change dramatically.
“Once they recognized the potential LotVue offered and the way our customers were responding to it, our sales team soon got a lot more enthusiastic,” says Dunn. “Today, our salespeople are big LotVue fans,” he reports.
“They really like the way prospects come in today who are informed and at least partially pre-sold thanks to LotVue,” he continues. “Those prospects have already seen the house online and, with LotVue, we are able to give them far more detail than we ever were before. Our prospects know the lot they want and the lot premium associated with it and they know the house model and the options it comes with.”
LotVue has given the Westport team a whole new way to engage with prospects, says Dunn. “The internet has become an important resource for home buyers when they’re researching what’s available and it’s only going to become more important in the future,” he contends. “LotVue provides us with a way to keep people on our website longer and more engaged. It’s definitely giving us an advantage over other builders in the market whose idea of visual display is not much more than just an overlay on a Google map.”
LotVue has improved branding, marketing, and efficiency
LotVue has also proven to be a valuable resource for Westport from a branding perspective, says Dunn. It positions the company as a forward-looking, innovative user of technology and is playing an important role in enhancing the customer experience at the company’s model homes.
“We’ve spent a lot of time recently working on re-branding our model homes and creating a consistent look and a clean presentation,” Dunn explains. “Part of that effort has involved running LotVue on big video displays in our models and that makes telling our story so much easier and more professional. If a potential customer walks in and finds our salesperson already working with a prospect, they now have access to a great interactive tool they can use to learn more about what’s available and get some of their questions answered ahead of time while they’re waiting for the salesperson.”
LotVue is not only helping to take marketing to the next level at Westport Homes, says Dunn. It’s also making life easier and more productive for the company’s marketing team.
“Before we implemented LotVue, our marketing people would create a PDF of the plat indicating the status of the various lots that would be posted to the Westport website and updated weekly,” he recalls. Making those updates, Dunn points out, was a manual process that was both time-consuming and rich in potential for human error.
Switching to LotVue for plat updates is not only saving Westport’s marketing department as much as a half-day a week during peak selling season, Dunn estimates, but it’s also giving everyone in the company far more confidence that the information being posted is actually accurate and up to date.