Homebuilders were all smiles in 2005, 2006
I remember the meeting very clearly…
The exact date escapes me but I believe it was early 2006. I was the marketing manager for a large Utah homebuilder doing around 1200 homes a year in a single market and the CEO had just returned from a trip to Arizona where he was visiting new home communities. We were experiencing a housing boom that had lasted years and seemed like it would last forever. It was our monthly sales meeting and as the CEO stood, the mood turned from celebratory to serious, even somber perhaps… I even remember his tone as he shared with us how he had visited whole communities of new homes during his Arizona trip that were completely built out but completely empty. Ghost towns. Nobody lived there. I realized then that he had witnessed the beginning of the end of a pretty incredible housing cycle. I remember accurate predictions were made by the CEO in that meeting and even some directives forbidding the sales agents from selling to investors in order to protect as much equity as possible for recent buyers in our communities. The boom continued for another couple of years but preparations were made early on to prepare for the downturn. Due to those preparations, we continued to market and even thrive relative to our competitors during the recession, moving from 8 percent statewide market share to around 12 percent.
He shared with us how he had visited whole communities of new homes during his Arizona trip that were completely built out but completely empty. Ghost towns. Nobody lived there.
So the party is now again raging and from all indicators, is expected to continue for awhile if we can dodge additional disasters like we’ve witnessed in Texas and Florida, avoid a skirmish with North Korea and escape any other macro level event that could plunge the market into negative growth territory.
Regardless of how or when, the party will end. We all know it will. So what are you doing on a preparation front to make sure that when the party’s over, you and your company have an active strategy that you can immediately execute?
I’ve always loved marketing, so I will approach this from a marketing perspective… right now you are likely spending less in marketing than you have in a long time. In many areas, there are more than enough buyers, not enough inventory and the labor shortage is stinging everyone. So have you decided to take a break from marketing? Have you considered how taking a break may impact your brand long term? Are you considering the best ways to get your name in front of past and new homebuyer prospects for the smallest investment possible? If you consider these seven questions now as you prepare for the inevitable afterparty (and morning after), you will be in a much better position when it actually happens.
- Do you have a credit repair strategy to stuff your sales pipeline with a slow but consistent stream of newly qualified home buyers lining up to purchase your homes?
- Do you have a comprehensive one-to-one and one-to-many broadcast texting strategy to communicate with prospects in the ways that they increasingly want to communicate?
- Do you have a Facebook event management strategy to bring buyers out to your model homes while saving up to 85% vs. traditional marketing methods?
- Have you created a strategy to inexpensively reach renters of single family homes, townhomes and apartments?
- Do you have a program in place to help your new home buyers lease out their existing unsold residence so they can feel confident moving forward with a purchase?
- Is there a plan in place to actively attract Realtors to your communities and your quick move-in homes?
- Do you currently have a social review cultivation and closing gift strategy to permanently record the positive sentiments and glowing reviews of your current customers that will impact buyer’s decisions now and many years into the future?
Of course, many of the items on this list are already included in current marketing plans but marketing is like a muscle, it needs attention or it can go flat. It’s very possible that your VP of Sales and Marketing is too busy with sales in process to consider these questions and that’s understandable. May I make a suggestion? Commit to having your team put just one these marketing bullets on their list as an item of discussion each month. Add slowly to the list so each item, and others that you will come up with that are pertinent to your market, are able to be discussed in a fairly comprehensive way that can be stored as part of an ongoing preparation strategy.
We’ve been celebrating the demise of the downturn for 5 or 6 years now. By being prepared on a marketing front and having an active plan in place, we can keep this party going for as long as possible, and be prepared for whatever the market may hand us next. Happy selling and happy preparing!