Educating Buyers Is as Easy as Gen X, Y (and Sometimes Z)
It’s no secret that the Gen-X (ages 27-37) and Gen-Y (ages 18-26) generations have grown up knowing how to access information. But how does this affect their new home purchasing decisions?
These young buyers are intelligent and computer-savvy, and a good many of them will know what they want in their homes. Many will want to have a home business or be able to telecommute from home. And home entertainment is probably high on their list of priorities, too.
They also don’t want their children to experience the latchkey lifestyle they grew up with. Instead, many will want a large great room to serve as inviting after-school destination for their children and classmates.
Many also want their kitchens to be downright intelligent. Every device and appliance will have to be able to communicate with the central home computing server. In addition, many of these young buyers will also want an “outdoor niche” or courtyard so they can spend more time outdoors in privacy.
But when it comes to researching the largest, most complex purchase of their lives, the Internet is grossly inadequate at conveying the nuts and bolts of how to buy a home that meets their needs and desires ― i.e., where and when to spend on quality, how to select a good builder, what actions tend to disrupt the construction schedule and why disruption should be avoided.
This can become especially troublesome because the decisions these younger buyers make are about more than the home they want to buy. Each decision is critically important to them because, when they’ve chosen wisely, it enhances their self-esteem.
Education ― Customer Service for a New Generation of Buyers
These buyers will be looking for ways to help them make intelligent choices and decisions about everything that goes into their homes. Successful builders will embrace this challenge by introducing a new dimension of customer service — one that offers the support these (and all) buyers need before they know they need it.
Builders are often frustrated with their buyers’ inability to make timely decisions and their insistence that late change orders be accepted. Builders need to realize that buyers have no experience with the sequence of events that must occur, the importance of quality, especially “behind the walls,” or the absolute necessity to stay on schedule so that each home will be completed on time.
Once they are given the “big picture” of both their job and yours, they’ll be much better equipped to do their part well. This is where their information-gathering expertise can work for you instead of against you.
For example, provide your Gen-X and Gen-Y buyers with a comprehensive, yet easy-to-read checklist description of the entire building process so that they have a level of understanding that allows them to participate cooperatively. For those who prefer an audio-visual approach, offer consumer classes that deliver this information with appealing visuals, explanations and activities.
Organizing the Process for the ‘Sesame Street Generation’
Another aspect of superior customer service you should offer is assistance with getting them organized — and staying organized ― as they manage their shopping tasks and details.
Worksheets that encourage buyers to keep pertinent information organized contribute to efficient, enjoyable, low-stress shopping. Buyers will be able to see for themselves what choices they’re considering and how well they blend with other choices. Coordinating materials, styles and colors of floor coverings, plumbing fixtures, countertops, appliances and more are less daunting and stressful — and don’t disrupt the building schedule ― when managed properly.
This Sesame Street generation is accustomed to instant gratification and immediate answers. Are your current systems able to respond with product information and costs within 24 hours? Today’s computers, used with great skill by your clients, are designed to provide information at the push of a few buttons. Has this superb level of customer service been important enough to motive you and your suppliers to settle for nothing less?
Many young couples get derailed over money and may not know how to create or work within a construction budget. Superior customer service includes a template for budget structuring and an easy way to keep track of costs so that partners are clear on their spending parameters before decisions are made.
Buyer Participation Can Be Profitable
Information, organizational tools and communication strategies are essential components of a profitable and enjoyable building experience. Smart, modern builders won’t want to keep the buying public out of the process.
Gen-X and Gen-Y are here to stay ― and they are ready to spend. Embrace their love of information and let their participation increase your profitability.
Sara Lamia is president of Home Building Coach, Inc. in Fort Collins, Colo. She is author of "How to Enjoy Building Your Dream Home," a workbook for buyers and builders. She has hosted a weekly radio show called, "Building Coach's Corner" and has written a monthly column for Community Business Journal. For more information, contact her by e-mail, at 970-402-2600, or visit Home Building Coach, Inc. Web site.
Excerpted from her article published in Sales + Ideas Marketing Ideas magazine. ©2004
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