Changes in the process of shopping for a new home is calling for builders to change their sales strategy. More and more, after researching homes on the internet, homebuyers take to their cars and drive-by the homes in which they are most interested. They are independent home-shoppers on wheels, often with a Ipad or phone in hand.
Meanwhile sales center/model traffic is dwindling, stressing the efficiency of the selling team. New lead capture technology allows builders to collect prospects as they drive thru their communities. This new lead capture technology maximizes lead collection and results in more opportunities for pre-sales, no-co-brokerage sales and a steadier production pace. As sales center traffic fades, collecting “drive-buyers” is a smart sales strategy for growth.
Why Capture Drive-Thru Buyers?
Sheer Volume: According to NterNow, one of the leading drive-by lead capture technologies available today, a good rule of thumb is that for every agent who visits your sales center or model, there are 3-5 drive-buyers visiting your communities without an agent accompanying them. BDX research indicates that 46% of internet shoppers start to drive by homes in their first week of home buying. With online and onsite home-shopping happening almost simultaneously, the number of sticky hits on your website and on Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, New Home Source etc. is indicative of the possible size of your drive-thru traffic.
Easier/Better than Capturing Internet Shoppers: The vast majority of internet home shoppers are reticent to engage in online chat, filling out forms with personal contact information or conversing via email. Drive-buyers are more easily persuaded to share their identity information if given the opportunity to DIY tour a locked spec home.
Competitive Advantage and Future Sales: Drive-buyers are often visiting several subdivisions at once so builders often have just one chance to collect this lead before they drive on to another builder’s community. BDX research shows that over 50% of internet searchers/drive-buyers are 6 months or more from making a purchase decision. Thru a strong nurturing program, builders can turn longer-term leads into their customers and possible presales or unrepresented purchasers.
When Do Prospects Drive Thru New Home Communities?
Year round NterNow data reveals that 8.5% of prospects visit before 11 am and 11.7% visit after 6 pm, outside of typical sales center hours. The total – 20.2% of drive-buyers – is well beyond expectations. During summer months, more then 35% of drive-thrus take place when sales centers are closed.
What days of the week do prospects drive thru? As expected, visitors drive-thru all week long and with twice as many visits on a weekend day over a weekday. Often sales centers are closed at least one day a week, missing 10%+ more buyers.
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Drive-buyers’ timetables do not perfectly match up with typical sales center hours or workday schedules. The scattered shopping hours suggest both customer convenience and sales avoidance on the part of these homebuyers.
How Can Builders Collect Drive-Buyers Leads To Maximize Their Marketing Spend?
With as many as one out of three drive-buyers visiting subdivisions when sales centers are closed during key summer sales months, builders must find ways to collect these buyers into their sales funnels or face wasting one-third of their marketing budgets. Capturing drive-buyers calls for either a manpower expansion or the addition of technology to cover these important sales hours.
Extending sales center hours from 9 am to 9 pm during the summer improves the opportunity for lead collection from less than 65% to around 98%. However, the 12 hours-per-day coverage creates a need for additional sales personnel at a time when the industry is experiencing a shortage of seasoned new home sales staffers. In addition, more staff in a subdivision means more commission splits resulting in longer hours for likely less money per staffer.
Another hurdle to overcome is finding a way to convince driving-buyers to park and converse with a friendly staffer. Understandably, staffers are reluctant to “chase buyers down the street” to engage them in a sales conversation but instead wait for drive-buyers to come to the sales center. With sales center traffic counts reducing year after year, this strategy is becoming less effective.
Technology can resolve 12-hour coverage and lead collection issues. Services such as NterNow offer drive-buyers the chance to tour locked spec homes instantly, without being accompanied by a buyer’s agent or onsite agent. The prospect’s collected information is shared with builder’s staffers in real time for immediate follow-up.
Data shows that 95% of drive-buyers will trade their identity information with access services like NterNow and their homebuilder clients for the chance to tour locked spec homes on demand. When surveyed, driving-by prospects used these exact benefit words to describe their experience with NterNow–
– On my timetable
– At my own pace
Homebuyers using NterNow see the win in using the service. Builders also see the win in using technology to provide the full day coverage drive-by customers are demanding, without having to radically change staffing plans. More and better lead collection results in a more predictable build/sell model builders can thrive on.