How to Effectively Deal With the Demanding Boomer Customer
Boomer real estate customers can be demanding. They want answers now, when they need them.
Consequently, you may have to readjust your response techniques in order to effectively market active adult communities and real estate to them.
Long before they walk into your welcome center or sales office, boomer customers will have searched for information online. After that, they may call your office for more details.
This all happens before they decide to visit, of course. And if you don’t respond to their call quickly enough, you and your community can, and most likely will, be taken off their radar screens.
As a boomer and real estate marketing strategist, I tell my clients to follow the basic “R and R” approach ― response and rapport building — so that they can better relate to this demanding customer.
Response ― Be Quick and Be Prepared
Most importantly, respond to boomers’ requests quickly — the same day if possible.
Internet requests for information also require a quick response. If someone’s online message requests that you call, you need to call.
Boomers want information ― now. Get that brochure package out the same day, or no later than the following day. And don’t forget to follow up with them to make sure they received it.
Also, you and staff should be prepared to work evenings, weekends and long holiday weekends — the peak request time for boomers.
Rapport ― If You Build It, They Will Buy
You should begin building a rapport with your boomer customers the moment they call your sales office.
Don’t call them by their first names unless they ask to be addressed that way. Use Mr. or Ms. instead.
Whet their appetites by telling them about sales, if houses are occupied and the number of people now living in the community. Also, find out if they have a timetable. They may say they’re not ready to buy for several years, but don’t be dismayed, they can, and often do, change their timeframes.
Be enthusiastic. Let them know that you’re thrilled they found your community on the Internet. Ask if they would like to give you their e-mail address so you can send them periodic community updates. (Remember to include them in your update list if they do.) E-mail updates are an easy and effective way to stay in touch.
Update and Use Your Sales Tools Effectively
In addition to response and rapport building, review your community Web site carefully to maximize its effectiveness.
You may think boomers are motivated by early registration lists, sales inducements and fly-by incentives, but what they really want and need is as much factual information as they can gather. I frequently spend the weekends researching Internet community Web sites and am often surprised at the lack of salient information on most sites.
Web sites for active adult communities need to peak boomers' interests. Your site should show site plans, floor plans, renderings, pictures of actual homes (if available), amenities and a location map to city services.
Boomers may be looking to relocate from another city and need more information about the surrounding area. It’s important to give boomers information about your location and city. The more links you can include that provide an overview of your location the better.
Be sure to include information about schools for continuing education; potential employers for new career opportunities; airports and what airlines service the airport; and churches, synagogues, recreational and social opportunities.
Many community Web sites don’t post lot size or price ranges. Boomers aren’t interested in playing games or wasting time. It is worthwhile to include introductory price ranges on your Web site. This will help potential buyers determine if this is a community they can afford. They’ll want to know club association fees or other amenities charges, too.
Also, planned communities need to be clear about how the product is sold — whether the community sells home sites with homes, only home sites or homes separate from lots. How communities are sold differs in different parts of the country. Don’t assume your customer understands, especially if your customer base is geographically diverse.
Quick responses and rapport building, along with an informative, user-friendly community Web site, are key tools in meeting and exceeding the needs of the demanding boomer real estate customer.
Janis Ehlers is the founder and president of The Ehlers Group, Inc., a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based marketing and communications company that specializes in real estate development and active adult communities throughout the country. For more information, she can be reached via e-mail, at 954-726-9228 or 703-934-0165, or visit The Ehlers Group Web site.
Save the Date for 2007 50+ Housing Symposium
Mark May 30-June 1, 2007 on your calendars to attend the 50+ Housing Symposium.
The seniors housing symposium is the premier educational and networking event for industry professionals who serve the burgeoning 50+ market.
Visit www.nahb.org/build4boomers for more information.