Going from good to great, and what’s REALLY getting in your way

Article written by Jane

“Oh yeah, we’ve already got something like that…”

When I talk about design studio operations and documentation with builders, “something like that” is a phrase I hear all the time:

“We’ve already got something like that Welcome to the Design Studio document”

“And we’ve already got something like that Included Features List, too, and we have an email that goes out to confirm appointments also…”

But what many builders don’t realize is that there’s a big difference between having “adequate” documentation, and having excellent operational standards that set customer expectations, reduce objections, and minimize disruptions — not just in the design studio, but across the entire buyer journey.

So let me ask you:

Those operational standards that you already have in place — the documents, the templates, the policies, processes and more…

– Are they truly serving you and your customers as well as they could be?
– Or are they just slowly leaking money, time, and customer satisfaction one day at a time?

If you don’t love the answer… keep reading. Let’s start with some examples.

How to save time, set better expectations and wow your customers…
with a single document

Can a single document make your design studio more profitable for you, and more fun for your customers?

Yes! (Sometimes I can’t resist answering my own rhetorical questions.)

So let’s talk about two examples of documents you’re already using — and how they can be adjusted to create a more profitable experience for you, and a more enjoyable experience for your customers.

Example 1:

Your “Welcome To the Design Studio” document

Have you ever thought of your documents as expectation-setting tools?

With some tweaks, your Welcome to the Design Studio document can front-load expectations in a way that ensures your customers are well aware of your policies, deadlines and how things work… before their first appointment.

If your documents don’t set expectations as well as they could, it’s likely that your consultants are spending time re-explaining these policies during appointments, and taking customers out of the buying mindset as a result.

Example 2:

Your Included Features List

I’m sure you already have one. But have you ever thought of your Included Features List as a critical expectation setting document, too?

Here are some quick suggestions for how you can tweak your Included Features List to set stellar expectations for your customers (before they’ve even stepped inside the design studio):

  • Organize it into buyer-friendly categories that chunk together similar and related items.
  • Ensure it is written with carefully selected words that reinforce the value of your products.
  • Highlight the high quality brands you partner with.
  • Consider ending the document with a statement like, “in addition to this extensive list of high-value included features, you’ll have the opportunity to further personalize your home at our state-of-the-art design studio”.

These are just two of many examples of how your existing documents and procedures can be optimized. So how we do make sense of them all? How can you capitalize on these opportunities to improve?

Shifting from documents to systems that engineer a stellar experience and sky-high satisfaction

Each document, procedure, and policy in your business doesn’t exist in isolation. They are all part of a system of verbal, written and digital communications — one that has the power to set expectations in buyer-friendly language that dramatically reduces lost time, while delivering a world-class experience to your customers.

The question isn’t whether you have a system, but rather, how well your current system is working for you. Regardless of what they already have in place, every builder I’ve spoken to has room to improve in this area.

Consider this:

  • If you were to add up all of the different documents you have: the templates, the scripts, the brochures…
  • Then add up all of the procedures and processes that your staff follow each day…
  • Plus all of the homebuyer conversations with the sales or design team members that (purposefully or inadvertently) set expectations about how things work in your company
  • And all of the pieces of paper that your customers interact with as part of your design studio experience…

How many operational opportunities are there for you to capitalize on and improve?

10? 20? 30? Even more?

What would it mean if you could fine-tune those documents, policies, processes, conversations and so on — and make just half of them more effective? More profitable? More customer-centric and likely to result in a great experience for your buyers — and less costly for you?

Suddenly, those tiny opportunities for improvement aren’t looking so small any more.

And THAT is why something like that is not enough if you want to reach true operational excellence.

Action steps: review your “good enoughs”

Take some time to review how many documents and templates you’re already using in your company— especially the ones that can (or could) play a better role in setting customer expectations

(Hint: it starts with your website language and continues through your purchase agreement and continues through the design studio experience to Late Change Requests and beyond).

Check in with your team: your design studio consultants, your sales team, management, even your past customers, and ask them:

  • How could we convey this information better? Where did you get stuck? How can we improve?
  • How can we go beyond getting the basics done and functioning well enough… to raise the level of our documents, emails and verbal conversations to a level that is every bit as fabulous as our buyers deserve?

World class customer experience comes from delivering a cohesive, expertly mapped-out homebuying experience (before, during, and after the design studio visits themselves) that guides your buyers to success. Your documentation, processes, procedures and policies CAN become powerful tools that shape expectations and deliver the experience your company strives towards.

The first step is acknowledging the areas in which your existing operations aren’t supporting you or your customers as well as they could be.

Each document, procedure and policy may seem small on their own — but together, they can work as a powerful, streamlined system that delivers the outcome you desire and the experience your buyers deserve — reliably, consistently, and profitably.

Here’s to your operational excellence!

Go deeper with the Design Studio Best Practices WORKSHOP:

If you aren’t sure how to take back control and increase customer satisfaction at the same time, let us show you how. We’ve done it successfully with hundreds of builders and we’d love to support you in streamlining your processes and delighting homebuyers with win-win policies that keep you in control.


Learn more here about the November 13 – 14, 2019 WORKSHOP.