As builders, we strive for a model home filled with potential buyers “oohing” and “aahing” over what they see, because we know that emotional connection is the first step toward a purchase decision. Some builders do much more than others to ensure that outcome. Some builders let their merchandiser select whatever he/she thinks will “look good” in the model, without providing enough strategic guidance about what to choose other than a few suggestions of specific products the builder wants to show. Some builders don’t provide their New Home Consultants with any training on how to maximize the use of the model home. So here are a few helpful tips to ensure that your model home is an effective and powerful tool which helps you generate new home sales, maximize per-home revenue and deliver a powerful, enjoyable and memorable customer experience.
Of course your professional interior merchandiser should partner with you to ensure you are offering and showcasing the latest and hottest products. Your merchandiser is ahead of the curve in identifying trends. Often, products are specified for your model 3-6 months before that model opens, and styles and trends can move quickly, so don’t play it safe and be outdated before you open! But “what’s hot and looks gorgeous” is only one part of the equation.
Follow these strategy guidelines as a checklist to determine which products to specify (showcase) in your model homes:
1. Support your company’s brand position in the marketplace (value builder, design-oriented builder etc.)
Ex: A convenient potfiller faucet over the cooktop, or a gorgeous glass vessel sink in the powder room sends the message that you’re up on the latest trends, you offer a wide variety of personal choices, and that you cater to and understand the more sophisticated end of the market….
2. Speak to your target market’s design preferences and lifestyle needs
Ex: A “drop zone” near the garage door, accessorized with tennis gear for Brittany, soccer equipment for Jordan, and dance things for Taylor shows that you offer lifestyle solutions for your customer’s busy lives. The master bath tower cabinet, raised height vanity, and performance shower system showcase how awesome it will be to start each day in the luxurious, well-appointed master bath they’ve always dreamed of.
3. Address the strengths and weaknesses of the architectural design of the plan:
Ex: A two-story stone fireplace draws the eye up and highlights the volume space; the closet storage solution shows how to remove objections about small closets.
4. Pay attention to where this plan falls in the product line
Ex: If the largest plan has an especially grand entry foyer and dramatic staircase, then make sure it feels special by showcasing a ceiling detail and special trim package in the foyer. A full oak/maple staircase with a higher end railing and volutes or a special newel post will maximize the entry impact inherent in the floorplan.
5. Play off the style or aesthetic theme of the model merchandising (intended to motivate the prospective buyer to a purchase decision).
Ex: Make sure you offer and showcase linear stainless cabinet pulls for the euro-style cabinet, a backsplash featuring mini subway glass tiles and a stainless hood over the cooktop to make the kitchen perfect for the modern –oriented buyer your merchandising is targeting.
6. Consider how important it is to your company to maximize per-home revenue :
Ex: The more important this is to your company, the more you’ll want to make sure you take full advantage of showcasing higher end products and the widest reasonable variety of them.
7. Take into account the number of model homes you have at that location (and potentially in a general area)
Ex: With more than one model at a particular neighborhood, you can target the homes more specifically and have products featured which uphold different buyer profiles and levels of investment.
The product specifications are only important if your prospective buyers notice all of these awesome, high-performing products, and then think they want them in their next home. So here are 5 ways to bring attention, build value, and create desire for the products specified in your model homes:
- IDENTIFY EVERYTHING. Provide a comprehensive model home product identification form identifying all products, features and finishes shown in the model home: not just the granite counter in the kitchen and the hardwood in the foyer but even the countertop edge profile, the transom window over the front door, the cabinet hardware in the hall bathroom, the larger crown in the study, the roll-out shelves in the kitchen. Don’t leave anything out on this list, except of course, the investments (you’re not calling these “prices”, right?)
- MODEL HOME ORIENTATIONS. Give your New Home Consultants every chance for success by making sure that the Design Consultant or Manager , Sales Manager , and Model Home Merchandiser walk through the model home to teach the New Home Consultant how to speak intelligently and accurately about the products shown in the model.
- GENERAL DEMONSTRATION TECHNIQUES. Make sure your sales team is trained to deliver powerful model home demonstration techniques such as the proper order to walk through, where to stand, how to use the model home as a sales tool and at the same time highlight the key included and available products in the model.
- CONVEY SPECIFIC PRODUCT PERFORMANCE AND PRODUCT PROMISE. Design teams are taught how to convey product performance (helping the left brain justify value) and product promise (helping the right brain build desire). Sales teams should be able to do this for the model home products as well. To identify product performance, the New Home Consultant must be able to point out functional and technical benefits of higher level flooring products, appliances, windows, etc. Even a higher-level front door handleset has higher-performing security features that help to justify the increased investment. To highlight product promise, the New Home Consultant must be able to articulate, in a compelling way, how using this product will enhance the prospective buyer’s in his/her new home.
- BUILD AFFINITY AND MEMORY. Prompt interactive experiences between your potential buyers and your model home and its products. Here’s a few experiences you can encourage your buyers to have:
Turn on the monitor in the master bedroom to view who’s standing at the front door.
Take a large platter out of the kitchen’s lazy susan and see how effortlessly it fits in the extra-deep upper corner cabinet.
Let them take off their shoes in the master bath and feel the warmth of the radiant heat floor.
Have them relax on the family room sofa and turn on the fireplace using the remote control.
So by applying a winning combination of design and strategy and by understanding that it’s partly an art and partly a science, your model homes will drive sales, profit, and customer satisfaction.
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I love the articles in your newsletter! I read each newsletter cover-to-cover and I always discover something I can apply immediately. This article in particular was very insightful. I love the Left Brain/Right Brain example.
Thanks for providing so many great insights, examples and resources.