Be prepared not scared. There is never a second chance to make a first impression.
When you meet a potential customer for the first time, many builders may be nervous. You know you have value to offer but imparting that to your customer may be uncomfortable for you. It’s not uncommon for builders to have risen through the ranks of task oriented work and not had much sales training. Timing and approach are extremely important in getting your message across. Is the first meeting strictly about you selling yourself to a new client or is it about making sure you and the customer are a good fit? I believe it is an exchange of information that builds rapport, and trust, between you and your new client. The client is making the single largest purchase of their life. This is a decision that will be a place where their family feels safe and is “home”.
To prepare for this initial exchange, you may need to do some thinking about how you define yourself and your business. While a mission or vision statement sometimes helps with this, I prefer to think a simpler, clearer, definition can be applied if you answer some questions about what your business is, and perhaps, what you want it to be. Healthy businesses evolve and self-evaluation may help you determine what you are today and where you want to go.
Questions you should ask yourself
Are you primarily a full custom, semi-custom, production or speculation builder? I know you may find yourself engaged in many of these areas depending on your business backlog or the building climate, but I do think it is important to ask yourself. When you go out to eat, do you like places that advertise Mexican, Italian and American cuisine at the same restaurant? Maybe your customers are looking for a specialist and not a “one size fits all” builder. Do you specialize in first-time homebuyers, move up buyers or luxury product? What makes your company different in your chosen category?
Do you work with architects or plan designers? Do you buy ready made plans online, can the customer customize a plan they find in the literature?
Does your company have access to interior designers to help the buyer with decisions? Does this extend to products on the exterior of the home?
How long have you been in business? How many homes, and of what type, have you built? Do you have a portfolio of work to present to the buyer? Does your website encourage interest in a face to face meeting?
Do you have a design studio or will the buyer be visiting your trade affiliate’s showrooms? Does the interior designer “tie” all of these decisions together? Buyers are anxious about making decisions before their home is very far along, and you need a system to make them feel comfortable with the “process” of building just as much as the end product. This will breed referrals, which are the lifeblood of a growing business.
Questions you should ask the buyer
- Has the buyer been pre-approved by a lender?
- Does the buyer have a home to sell?
- Is the buyer living in an apartment?
- Is the buyer moving in from out of town/state?
- Has the customer looked at the local subdivisions?
- Does the customer have a desired school district or area of town?
- What type of lot does the buyer prefer: flat, daylight or walk-out?
- What is the customer’s desired price range?
- Does the customer have a house/floor plan?
- Does the customer prefer a ranch, two story, 1 ½ story?
- What size garage is desired?
- Desired possession date?
All of these questions will likely create a dialog and chance for you to elaborate on your building company strengths to help put your best foot forward.
Builder Built has created a much more detailed list of topics of discussion you can use in your customer orientation. The importance of this sit-down meeting cannot be overestimated.
Be prepared, not scared. Build trust and create a new relationship. Capture the business for your company.