John Rymer - New Home Knowledge

March 05, 2007
Professional Builder Magazine

Handling the Internet Customer

Housing Zone, March 5, 2007
by John Rymer - NewHomeKnowledge

When I got into this business, there was an assumption that visitors knew very little about the community when they walked into the sales office. Yet today, almost 50 percent of new home customers first learn about us on the Web site before they walk into the sales office.

Is it important to find out if customers have been to your Web site? Do you deal with customers who have already visited your Web site differently from those who were just "driving by?"

We've asked new home sales professionals Dawn Davis, Fernando Moreno and Melissa Williams their take on the matter.

Dawn Davis • Annual Sales: 35 Units • Annual $ Value: $8 million

When I'm building rapport with a customer I ask: "So how much do you know about our community?" That is when they will typically tell me, "I was at your Web site and that's why I'm here." You can treat Web site visitors as "be back" customers because they are already educated on items such as the community and its floor plans.

One thing customers might not find on the Web site is whether a particular lot has a lot premium. Drive them out, walk a lot, walk the community with them. Walk that particular model if you have it and then talk about the features and benefits of the community and home they have selected.

Fernando Moreno: • Annual Sales: 28 Units • Annual $ Value: $12 million

You need to treat Internet customers like a "be back" or repeat visitor to your community. They've already been to our virtual sales center, and they've already started the discovery process with you. They usually know which three floor plans they like the best. They already know what your community specifics are.

They've already started to do all that research ahead of time, so you really do treat them like a "be back."

Melissa Williams • Annual Sales: 66 Units • Annual $ Value: 50 million

The Internet customer tends to be knowledgeable of the other communities in the area — your competition, where all the builders build, what their price ranges are in the different communities. So you really have to be up-to-date not only on your community, but also on the competition.

I have had several customers that have purchased based on what they saw from the Web site. With paper in hand, they tell me "This is what I want to buy."

I've even had phone calls where they never even come to the community and they can purchase right off the Internet.

Because Web sites have become more prevalent, we need to make sure our Web site is current. If there is an error on the site, we should know it before a customer has a chance to see it.

In the News

Leslie Peters
Vice President Sales & Marketing
Engineered Homes
Orlando, Florida
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