PART 2 OF 3:
So, did you think about the question I posed at the end of my last blog? “Does your current options strategy reflect a builder-centric or buyer-centric position? And do your buyers agree?”

If I were a builder, here’s the message I’d be relaying: “Mrs. Jones, while other builders today might be cutting back, our commitment to providing you with a superb homebuying experience is unwavering. Our professional and knowledgeable design consultant(s) will guide you through the exciting process of personalizing your home, working with you to select from a wide array of high-performing choices to create a home which will support the lifestyle you and your family desire and deserve and allow you to express your own personal sense of style. You’ll visit our state of the art design studio, where you can enjoy a one-stop shopping experience, really visualize your selections as they’ll be in your own home, and learn about each Available Personal Choice so that you can make easy, confident and informed decisions. We’re here to help you create your dream home.”

Sounds good, actually, it sounds almost too good. Because that experience
is only being offered by small segment of leading builders today. The reality often looks like a section of the sales center with a jumble of small cabinet samples, granite chunks, carpets, faucets, stone and brick thrown in the corner, and a salesperson who is trying not to let the buyer know that he or she would really rather be working the hot prospect list than spending the next few hours faking his or her way through questions about carpet warranties, appliance performance, antimicrobial countertops and color trends for 2009. What the buyer hears, even though you might not be saying the words out loud, is this “We need you to get the job done. Here’s the stuff. And please don’t take up too much of the sales consultant’s time”

This reality reflects a builder-centric approach, rather than a buyer-centric approach. It reflects a supply-based mentality, rather than a demand-based mentality. It reflects an outdated outlook which will no longer work in the buyer-controlled market of today, and the foreseeable future.

I can hear some builders reading this and saying “We are not in the business of cabinet hardware, console sinks, exotic hardwoods, and specialty shower faucets. We’re builders. We build a quality home and we’re darn proud of it. We offer that other stuff as a convenience to our customers. We’ve built a reputation on quality and we think buyers will continue to see that.”

To which I’d say “Really? Good Luck with that. Because you ARE in the business of providing a complete home and it IS your business to be knowledgeable about every component which goes into that home, not just the studs and joists and sheetrock. I’d argue that many buyers today have more questions about their countertop choices than about how you install sheetrock. And whether this should or shouldn’t be the case doesn’t much matter, because it is, likely, the reality. So you can jump on board now, or drag yourself on later. Are you a leader or are you a follower? Your survival may depend on the answer to that question.


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