I had a nightmare the other night… it started with a New Home Sales Consultant and a husband and wife smiling and shaking hands as the buyers finished signing their purchase agreement for their brand new home, and then the buyers asked:
“What’s our next step?”
The Sales Consultant then responded:—-You’ll have to make your appointment for color selections with our interior designer. Here’s the number at the design center-just call to set it up.
“What exactly should I expect from my Design Consultant?”
—-You’ll work with one of our “Interior Designers” who will use his/her ASID degree to help you put together the colors in your home.
These two horrible responses made me shake in my sleep as I wished I could burst into the nightmare to give the Sales Consultant better answers to those great questions. But the conversation continued with a steady stream of terrible responses by the builder’s team:
“Do I really need to go in for the Preview/Browse time?”
—-No, but you should. We really recommend it.
“Is it ok if I bring my three year old triplets to the appointment?”
—-Sure. They have an awesome kid’s room, they’ll love it.
“Oh, and by the way, what’s the price for that bookcase in the study of your model?”
—-Don’t say I said this, but if you ask Suzanne, the Design Consultant, sometimes she’ll price that stuff out. You just have to get her on a good day.
Hearing this last response causes my body to toss and turn, yet I can’t wake up and now in the nightmare it is 10 days later and the buyers call the design studio to schedule an appointment and the buyer says:
“WHAT??? My salesperson never told me I’d have to make all these decisions in 30 days and now you’re telling me I only have 2 weeks of that time left?”
–They’re supposed to send an email telling you to call us. I’m booked for appointments for two weeks anyway so you’ll end up with an extra week because I can’t fit you in until then.
I try to wake up, but can’t, and the scene changes. You know how that happens in dreams? One minute you’re standing in your kitchen eating a cookie and a second later you’re in Australia on a bus with five people in Halloween costumes. But I digress. So now I see these same buyers meeting with the Design Consultant in the design studio and as they walk around asking more questions, they get more scary responses:
“Why is level five carpet better than level two?”
—-Well, it comes in more colors…and it’s thicker!!!! It’s definitely worth the extra money.
“Who is A-Plus Cabinets? I never heard of them. Are they making my cabinets?”
—-Yes, and we’ve been working with them for years. They’re terrific. Their salesperson is so nice. He always answers my questions when I call.
The buyer now points to the counter used on one of the workstations and says “I love this counter, what is it?”
—-You’re the third person who asked me that this week. Hold on, let me go find out.
“What are the differences between these two faucets?”
—-Just different styles and colors, so you can pick whichever you like!
“It seems like everything here is an UPGRADE.“
—Lots of things are standard, but we don’t show those in the design studio.
“Can you explain the difference between some of these whole house networking packages.”
—-I wish I could!!! I just never really understand all this high tech stuff, do you? Hold on a minute, somewhere around here I have some information on it.
The buyer looks at a design studio vignette asks “What is this floor? I love it!”
—-Yeah, me too, but that was discontinued 4 months ago and I have been asking FOREVER for it to be changed out. Sorry, it’s no longer available
“What do you think of this combination of materials?”
—-Personally, I love it. It’s just my taste. In my home I have this gorgeous…
“This is so confusing. I just can’t make another decision right now.”
—-I know how you feel. You’re my second appointment of the day!!!
At this point in my nightmare I’m thrashing around in bed, trying to wake up when I hear a bunch of questions around “pricing” (that word alone is enough to cause me to wake up screaming!!)
“My salesperson said that I’d be able to ask for pricing on any item I saw on the internet. “
—-I’m not surprised. The salespeople always say the wrong things. That’s because they have no idea what goes on in here.
“What is the average amount of options most buyers spend?”
—- Design Consultant consults a computer printout, and says “for your model, the average to date is $14, 346, but you know, it varies.”
“Why can’t you just get me a price on the tile that I want even if it’s not one that you offer? After all, I am paying a half million dollars for this home!”
—-We’re a production builder. We are not set up to price those types of requests.
“Wow. That price seems high. I bet I can get it cheaper at Home Depot.”
—-You’re probably right. Some things we have really good prices on, and others are pretty high. To tell you the truth, I sell very few appliances.
Unfortunately, I haven’t yet woken up but at least it’s getting toward the end of the appointment and I hear:
“I’m so nervous that we won’t get finished making ALL these decisions by 4:00. Do we really need to select EVERYTHING in just three hours?”
—Don’t worry, Mrs. Jones, I’m here to help you and I’ll stay as long as you need.
“My head is spinning. Can we finish this another day? “
—-I know you’re exhausted and it’s been a long day, but I’ll need you to sign off on your upgrades today. That’s our policy.
“I’m so glad we’re finally finished…What’s the next step?”
—-It will take me about 45 minutes to input all of this information into our computer system. You’re welcome to wait –we have a TV over there—or I can mail you the form to sign off on and you can just send it back to me.
In my nightmare, I see the frustrated buyers walking away, and then a second later a new scene appears in my mind and it’s a month later and the buyer is home on the phone saying:
“Why can’t I make this change to my previous selections? You haven’t even dug the hole yet.”
—-I know, I’m sorry. It does seem ridiculous, but that’s our policy. Actually, a lot of our buyers complain about it, but there’s nothing I can do.
—Well, actually, I’m not allowed to make that change, but if you contact my boss/the President, or write a letter complaining about it, they’ll probably let you. Just don’t say I told you to do it.
At this point, I jolt awake, breathing deeply and try to shake the nightmare from my mind!
While this is a fictional nightmare, it’s sadly somewhat close to the reality of what is occurring, probably as we speak, at some builder’s sales centers and design studios around the country.
Every single response above was detrimental to 1)the buyer experience, 2)the builder reputation, 3)the chance that the buyers could actually create their dream home, and 4)maximization of per-home revenue
These examples are all based, wholly or loosely, on actual conversations. However, I’ve had builders SWEAR to me that their team members are not making statements similar to these.
As our industry continues to gain strength, please make sure your team is properly trained to create appropriate, accurate, and compelling statements to your buyers which will set proper expectations and result in an outstanding customer experience.
To get you started, we’ll give you a free copy of our famous “Proper Design Studio Terminology chart”, just click on this link:
Good Luck…Let’s turn those nightmares into sweet dreams.
(please leave comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts)
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