My friend was committing one of the biggest mistakes builders make: running the company according to the business won without considering the business that’s being lost. He didn’t have a clue about how many potential customers weren’t knocking on his door or why. And you won’t have any idea about your lost opportunity either unless you ask your customers and prospects for feedback. Only buyers and would-be buyers can tell you what it’s like to deal with your company.
Customer feedback yields other benefits, too. Unique customer data can help guide builders’ designs, community locations and price points. Builders also use this insight to understand their buyers and refine their sales process. The best ones consistently survey their customers to shape their business plans and market more effectively.
Don’t Just Gather Feedback, Act On It
Builders who survey their customers realize they must act on the survey results — and let their customers know they’re not just sitting on the information. Home owners view the survey as a mechanism through which they can affect change and, as a result, are more inclined to participate.
The process is a symbiotic one. Builders receive information to continually fine-tune their operations, sales process and homes, and customers get a better company with better processes — and a better product.
So what can we learn from big builders?
First, let’s start with the assumption that all big builders started as small builders. They got big by building on successes.
- Experience has taught them that to compete in the big leagues of home building they have to listen to their customers. When a home buyer tells them they think locating a computer area in the kitchen is a good idea or making the powder room near the main entrance 6x6 feet instead of 5x3 feet, they listen instead of blowing it off. They see feedback as an opportunity instead of a problem.
- Big builders have learned they can’t run their business on market data that’s dated — or worse yet — on no customer feedback at all. As one high-production builder says, “We do everything we can to understand what makes our customers tick — their needs, their hopes, their dreams. We live to wow them.”
- Big builders look at the big picture. They understand business is not about what they like, it’s about what their customers like and want. Big builders realize that if they figure out what matters most to the customer, they aren’t conceding to a whining customer; they are winning in the long run.
All the previous points lead to this one: Successful, profitable, high-volume production builders understand that they don’t have to offer the cheapest house on the block to be successful.
Big builders don’t view customer feedback as optional. They know that customer feedback is fundamental to the home building process. They understand that home buyers are their most important source of information and they must listen to them.
Paul Clem is national sales director for MyBuilderInfo, an Overland, KS-based full-service market research company specializing in Web-based customer satisfaction surveys. For more information, e-mail Clem or call him at 913-469-0070 x14.
'The House That Service Built,' Available from BuilderBooks.com
"The House That Service Built," available from BuilderBooks.com, shows builders how to enhance profits by creating the kind of loyalty that only comes from exceptional customer service. "The House That Service Built" is a comprehensive reference that introduces the latest concepts in customer service. You will discover the necessary action steps and concepts you need to establish an effective service-oriented culture in your company.
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