That’s an awesome question! Today, options presentation and/or selection software should be an important part of the Home Personalization Experience offered by every builder. Many options software products can enhance the buyer selections experience and provide much-required information on the features and benefits of each Available Personal Choice or Included Feature. Software also provides the convenience of at-home shopping, which works well if the potential customer has already become a purchaser, and has received required preliminary information from the Design Consultant.
Notwithstanding those benefits, today’s demanding customers, who will invest hard-earned dollars to get “more of the home they really want”, expect a retail-level shopping experience where they can see, feel, interact with, and test out the choices which will make their next home just right for them. In fact, they often expect a lot of this information prior to making a decision whether or not to buy your home. Today’s smart builders are not leaving that decision up to chance, software, or the buyer’s unguided interpretation. A properly planned and executed design center can turn hot prospects into solid buyers, increase per-home revenue, deliver an unrivaled customer experience, develop a deeper personal connection between the prospect/buyer and your brand/team, and generate referral sales for years to come.
In fact, many leading builders have design studios as one of their key strategic initiatives for 2012: either revamping their existing design center environments and/or creating new ones, and also training their teams and stepping up operations.. We are excited to be designing more studios this year than in recent years, and the trend doesn’t look like it is going to stop. So….here are 4 of the many reasons to consider offering a tangible Design Studio experience with proper product displays and inspiring simulated lifestyle environments (vignettes) which will encourage confidence that you are a leading-edge, customer-centric builder.
1. Individualism Is Here, and It’s Here To Stay
Today’s buyers are used to having it their way, in everything they buy. We live in a world of mango-orange-strawberry juice, customize-your-car (and license plate), and create-your-own M&Ms. None of the five people living in my house are willing to settle for the same type of shampoo and conditioner as another family member. A composition notebook is no longer the black-and-white print we all grew up with, Nabisco makes Oreos with green or red cream inside, a black tuxedo with white shirt is considered boring, and stretch limos now come in hot pink. There are roughly a billion coffee choices beyond “black or with cream?”. The world is no longer black and white.
In fact, isn’t that one of the reasons they are considering buying from you instead of the “Take-it-the-way-it-is-but-you’ll-have-to-settle-for-someone-else’s-choices” spec home or used home down the street? If so, do you think they’re expecting or excited to invest thousands of dollars into a cardboard box of granite chunks and a pile of flooring samples crammed in the corner of a sales center?
2. Seal The Deal (Leverage Your Design Studio as A Sales Tool)
Today’s buyers still need a compelling reason (ok, many compelling reasons) to prove to themselves and everyone they know that “YES, now IS a great time to buy a home”. Your product, your company, your promised experience, your reputation, and your actions must be so indisputably irresistible that “YES” is the only possible response.
Your design studio provides first-hand proof that you are a quality builder, that you do everything in a first-class way, and that you will expertly guide your buyers through a customer-centric homebuying experience which no other builder can offer. Especially when there is nothing but a pile of dirt out on the site, prove to them that you are here to stay and solely focused on giving them a spectacular homebuying experience.
A proper design center provides the emotional catalyst to overcome doubts and propel the sale toward completion. It eliminates common concerns such as “How do I know I can get what I want and need?” and “Will this selections process be overwhelming and stressful?” Beautiful, strategically-merchandised kitchen and bath vignettes, powerful in-studio messaging and marketing, as well as interactive test-me-out experiences all provide the emotion required to fuel a purchase decision and allow the prospective buyer to conclude “Yes, I can create my dream home with this builder.”
3. In Today’s Market: Differentiate or Die
The design studio is a critical brand extension opportunity. Can you honestly say that your Design Studio environment was created with the same level of intensity, expert advice, creative energy, and attention to detail as your brochures, ads, website, model homes, and sales environment? Does it uphold your corporate mission statement and critical marketing position elements? Does your studio contain the same essence, attitude, style, and theme as the rest of your customer touchpoints? .
Explore and implement impactful and synergistic opportunities to extend your brand into the Design Studio environment and experience. Be creative. It’s not a dentist’s office, it’s a Design Studio. Do you have a transactional “selections environment” simply filled with product, product, and more product? Or do you offer a creative, colorful, playful yet educational space that exudes color, style, energy, inspirational photography, professional signage, interactive displays, creative messaging, expert merchandising, and strategic product specifications?
4. Every Day Your Buyers Visit Highly Sophisticated Retail Environments
Years ago, purchasing a refrigerator meant going to the neighborhood appliance dealer and selecting one with little help from an “I couldn’t care less” salesperson who was sitting in a no frills, dusty warehouse-like store with dirty white walls. Years ago, a faucet came from the hardware store where it was crunched in between the garden hoses and the biscuit joiners (what is a biscuit joiner anyway?).
Today, home product stores feature magnificently merchandised kitchen vignettes with Chefs giving culinary demonstrations. Faucet retailers feature water displays that rival the Bellagio’s fountains. We live in a world where we can buy a $22 bottle of rejuvenating and practically life-altering Raspberry-infused collagen-enriched Vanilla Smoothie body lotion encased within eye-catching and perfectly merchandised packaging. This themed package is proudly displayed on an interactive, multi-leveled, color-coordinated oasis of silk which makes these magic potions simply irresistible. We are conditioned to subconsciously expect a quality
retail establishment (hint: this includes your Design Studio) to have a distinctive level of professionalism, sophistication and sense of style and color in it’s layout, display fixtures, overall merchandising, and varied product offerings. We expect to be PUT IN THE MOOD TO BUY.
Seize the awesome opportunity to use retail techniques throughout your design studio. If you’re going to bother to offer it, present it in a way which increases your probability of selling it.
The Perfect Solution
A professional Design Studio environment and best-in-class selections experience will help drive revenue into your business while providing a remarkable journey for your buyers. Software, while often required both for today’s tech-savvy customers and for streamlined internal operations, cannot provide the retail-level environment that buyers demand. Software should be an important part of your overall buyer selections experience, and should be woven into the physical design environment in many ways. Your professional Design Studio will deliver: 1.increased home sales and decreased buyers-remorse, 2. a deep personal connection between your customers and your team, 3. a first-rate buyer experience consistent with your brand promise and customer-centric focus, 4. smoother and easier buyer decisions on option selections, 5. increased options revenue (high-margin revenue), and much more!
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