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Editing by: KT Maschler
Kevin Weitzel of Outhouse admittedly calls himself unconventional. When you meet him, you don’t forget him. In short, he’s a lot of fun… he also possesses outstanding sales intuition with experience in several industries.
On top of his successful career in sales, he’s a former professional cyclist and Olympic Alternate as well as a highly decorated former United States Marine.
His many productive years in the cycling industry landed him a prosperous career in the Motorcycle/Automobile industry. His belief in and practice of relationship selling catapulted him from floor sales to GM of the largest Motorcycle Dealer network in the United States in less than 5 years.
Disenchanted with the auto industry due to unscrupulous business practices, he then joined the team at Outhouse and lead the team to the largest sales growth in company history since the downturn. He's an expert in Interactive Builder Web and Marketing Content, 3D Rendering, Animation, Drafting, Matterport, and Print Marketing Collateral.
[00:00:00]Greg Bray: Hello everybody, and welcome to the homebuilder digital marketing podcast. My name is Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine, and I'll be your host today, and I'm excited to be interviewing my cohost, Kevin Weitzel for Outhouse. Hello, Kevin.
Kevin Weitzel: Good day to you, sir.
Greg Bray: Hey, and I'm excited, Kevin, that we're going to be doing this together.
And today's goal though, is to help people get to know you a little better. So are you ready to really dive in deep and share some of your deep dark secrets with the world?
Kevin Weitzel: As long as I don't have to talk about my underwear, I'm good.
Greg Bray: Okay. See, you're already starting to get to know [00:01:00] Kevin. See you a little more when we round.
Well, Kevin. All right, let's go right into that. Can an outhouse, what? What is that all about? That is a name that is just kind of different, or I'll just say with different.
Kevin Weitzel: Definitely different. We have a lot of fun with it, obviously. Uh, but actually put Outhouse is that we have, uh, three different companies.
One was in architectural drafting services, one did marketing and collage print collateral, and another company did rendering and three-D modeling, and they kept running into each other. Separate companies with the same clients over and over again. And they had zero overlaps. So they decided to operate together for about five years under the Outhouse umbrella.
And then, uh, in the late nineties, they decided to scrap their individual companies and then form Outhouse proper. But the name Outhouse came around and with them sitting around and just talking about different names of possibles potentials. And we're an outsource of a services company for production is semi-custom home builders.
So, therefore, if you don't do it in the house, bring it to Outhouse. And that's really where the name came from. And obviously, we have boatloads of fun with it. [00:02:00] Matter of fact, our unofficial tagline is bring your crap work to us.
Greg Bray: And, and do people connect with that when you're doing your sales calls?
Kevin Weitzel: They actually do 'em it's actually funny cause a lot of times people will see like a logo and they're like, Hey, what's Outhouse? What is it? You can sell porta potty. We're like, no, we don't. Here's actually what we do. And we can give them a whole laundry list of the various services that we offer.
Greg Bray: Right. That's awesome. So, Kevin, what do you do specifically for Outhouse? What's your role there?
I'm the VP of business development and sales. So a that's just a big fancy term for the sales monkey. Uh, I literally reach out to, uh, builders, anything from small to gigantic, you know, top 100 builders. Um, you know, Carl building homes out of the back of his pickup truck.
And I basically provide them with the services that we offer, to make their lives a lot easier.
Awesome. Well, Kevin, what, what'd you do before Outhouses? I'm sure this isn't the first place that, that you've been. Tell us a little bit about your career background.
Kevin Weitzel: I'm actually pretty new in the home building industry.
I've only been in the industry for about four and a half years now. Uh, [00:03:00] prior to this, I was actually a competitive and professional cyclist. Uh, you can't tell by my build. I'm a rather Husky guy now, but I was rather slender when I was younger. Um, and then, I was an Olympic alternate and 88. After that, I did an eight-year stint, the United States Marine Corps, where I was a sniper.
I was an 85 41, which, you know, they need Marine Corps guys to know that's a that's a Garrison sniper scout sniper if you will. Um, and then after that, after I got on the Marine Corps, I did a pretty much everything involving wheels, bicycles, motorcycles, and cars, uh, selling. So I've done everything from, you know, being just a general till, on the floor all the way up to a full, General manager of a, of a large international car dealership.
Greg Bray: So of all of those, um, which one qualifies you most to work at Outhouse.
Kevin Weitzel: And I'd probably say the bicycle side, believe it or not. I know it sounds crazy, but, uh, you know, I learned so much about relationship selling and individual needs, whether it's somebody with a large, a large budget to work with a small budget to [00:04:00] work with, and everybody has their own focus that they, that they need to, concentrate on.
So I think that's really the one that helps me out the best in transitioning into the home building industry.
Greg Bray: And where are you guys located today?
Kevin Weitzel: So we are in Phoenix, Arizona. We have, uh, we have what's called an office optional policy. So out of our 35 employees, we have about 12 that work full time in the office.
And even here in Phoenix, we even have people that work from their homes to avoid the germs. Obviously, that's a topic, as of late, uh, also to avoid the traffic and the gas and the wear and tear on the vehicle coming to and from office. It's a for production, like, you know, no back and forth. My hands are grasping.
We can sit in front of a computer. Why make them drive all the way to the office to do it and irony. And here's the really cool part is we actually noticed an uptick in productivity. So it's actually been very well received by everybody in the company.
Greg Bray: That's awesome. That's awesome. So, so tell us a little more than Kevin about exactly what Outhouse provides to, to builders.
Kevin Weitzel: So we're a very multifaceted [00:05:00] services company for a production and semi-custom homeowners. We do work with customs. We do work a little bit with commercials, but for the most part, production is semi-custom where we really shine, and what we do is we offer drafting services so we can do anything for redline revisions, plot plans and lot fit analysis all the way up to full plan management.
So we can draft out full construction documents for builders. Uh, we actually developed a pretty cool system to where. When a builder has us drafting their plans, and they have various options, they can have their clients pick various options, and then within hours, we can get them back a full set of construction documents that are lot-specific.
Um, whereas our competition can sometimes be weeks. Even. We've even heard months in some, you know, in some horror stories that are out there. But in addition to the drafting services, we have a rendering. So we do everything from the simple 2d to 3d and the photo reel. We do virtual tours, both animated and rendered.
we also do, uh, Matterport photography, and hosting. [00:06:00] We have a full commercial press room where we can create the marketing collateral like your floor plan and elevation brochures. Uh, we can model, do that graphic layout, but also provide the collateral for your sales centers. We also do in our interactive side of, of Vous, we have interactive floor plans, interactive site plans, and interactive sales kiosk.
And we have a couple of really cool claims to fame when it comes to the interactive floor plans. Uh, we developed the first interact floor plan for the home building industry more than years over 18 years ago. So we've been doing it longer, better. And more robust than any of the other platforms that are out there.
On top of that, we were the first company to make them fully mobile-friendly. And that's been a, we're looking at seven years now that, uh, we've been fully mobile immersed. And then on top of that, we are also the first company that we're certified for all touchscreen devices. So our interactive content works across all platforms.
Greg Bray: Oh, that's, that's terrific. And you guys have always been leaders, and that's one of the reasons that, you know, we've, [00:07:00] we've partnered with you, um, over the years and gotten to know each other so well, so I appreciate you diving into that. Tell tell us a little more, though, for those who aren't as familiar with the idea of of why they might care about interactive content, you know, what, what are some of the reasons that that people should. Be aware of that and take a look at it.
Kevin Weitzel: So for a typical production home builder, they're going to have a community that they sell their homes in. Might have five or six plans that are available in that community, but they might only have two or three models that you can walkthrough. And the rest of them are just up to the floor plan and a rendering image of the of the home itself.
Maybe one elevation or all the elevations. With the interactive floor plan tool, you can actually select in real-time. In the comfort of your own home or in the sales office, all of the options that you want to have on that home that are available. In addition to that, you can have in that an interactive floor plan; you can have a virtual tour, uh, whether it be a Matterport or a rendered virtual tour to where literally you're creating a model home in a virtual world.
[00:08:00] So it's funny that when sometimes builders will say, Oh, we don't know if they have in the budget to do virtual tours. Like if you have three model homes. Knock it down to to make your, make your purchasing manager and the guy that writes the check every single month to how much that land costs, and you're going to be beneath what they're spending for a single a single model home to have 100% of your plans in virtual and interactive.
Greg Bray: No. I think that's a great point that you know, it costs a lot to build a model on these days, doesn't it build
Kevin Weitzel: not just build it but then also to convert it back to a sellable home and then to be sitting on that dirt, you want to, you know, the the name of the game is to turn that dirt, build and sell it.
So every month that you're sitting on that model home, just sitting there, that's taking away at money, just coming right out of the coffers.
Greg Bray: But do people actually really engage with these tools, Kevin? I mean, come on and, you know, yeah, they look nice, and they're cool, but do, do customers actually use these things?
Kevin Weitzel: They actually do. Um, we, we even have [00:09:00] case studies, uh, that we can share with anybody that ever wants to see some of them. Builders have not only seen a radical increase in structural options sales, which obviously is a higher margin item than just the standard bill. But we also see a radical increase of time spent on-page, which is hugely important because there are a lot of independent studies that show the more time that a buyer spends on a builder's website, the more likely they are to convert into a sold.
Contract. Um, and then, in addition to that, also that we provide with interactive floor plan tool, it provides more leads directly to the builder. So they have more invested, buyers instead of just say, Hey, they randomly stopped by a model home when they're out, out and about on a Sunday afternoon. Uh, now they actually will come into the builder with all floor plans.
They're customized, uh, interactive floor plan and say, how much is this house. Trust me. That is a much easier sale than somebody just driving by hoping to find out some information.
[00:10:00] Greg Bray: Oh, for sure. Do you see salespeople using some of these tools as well in the sales center to help people understand their choices?
Kevin Weitzel: They should, and they should have their hand firmly slapped if they're not. Um, it is such an easy tool, not only for the lead generation but also for the interactive engagement. The buyer has with that plan. You know, it's not the old days where you're just handing somebody a slip of paper saying, Hey, here's my card.
Here's a floor plan of that, of that home, and sometimes detached options. Sometimes there are no options on the page whatsoever. And instead of that, and now you're giving them a fun, engaging toy, if they will, when they're at home that they can play with and have a good time and, and envision themselves buying into that home instead of just looking at a piece of paper.
Greg Bray: So tell us, Kevin, about a time when, when things were just like amazing, where you helped to build or get some of these tools in place, and you just saw some, some incredible results that you're just really excited about and proud to talk about.
Kevin Weitzel: Yeah. I'll give you one. We do have permission to give this [00:11:00] information, but it was Couto Homes down in Texas.
They build a, what we call an Arizona McMansions to cause they're big, beautiful brick homes or they're just amazing. Um, but they had some, some struggle years, and they chose in 2014 to implement our interactive floor plan tool. And in doing so, they increase their first sit down close ratio from 30% to 65%, so more than doubled their first sit down close ratio.
That is a ridiculous number. Yeah, that's amazing. It's totally amazing. On top of that, and this is a soft cost, but it is a real cost cause its time. The owner of the company, Donnie Couto, he was spending, on average, six hours per day. Weak on looking at just a single project for each customer. So six hours per customer per week, uh, that he was spending with the architectural department and going back and forth.
Now post implementing our interactive floor plan is reduced that time to one hour. So he's spending one six, the amount of time that he used to spend. So [00:12:00] now instead of just working on these different projects and trying to keep them all in place, he's freed up, freed up his time to work on his business, and for his business instead of just for the project.
Greg Bray: No, that's terrific. That's a great, that's a great, uh, story there. And you need to tell that more often. That's some, that's some great impact. So, uh, I want to take a little bit of a turn here because you know, the interactive tools, the floor plans and, and the virtual tours, I think people kind of have seen some of those out there so that, but let's talk about printing for a second.
Because is printing dead in the age of the internet? I mean, what's going on with printing? You said you mentioned a full-service print shop.
Kevin Weitzel: Absolutely. It's actually funny that you mentioned that because it is a very heavy misconception that printing is dead. Used to be where you just get a giant stack of floorplan marketing brochures, and then when they became obsolete, you know, you change your pricing or whatever you.
Pitch all those and start all over again. So with digital printing, number one, you can work in much smaller quantities, so you don't have [00:13:00] to break the bank number two, much faster turnaround and higher quality. And there is a psychological aspect of purchasing or going through the buying process, a procedure that when you were handed something, it. Sets off something in your brain that makes you feel appreciated.
So when you just say, Hey, hopefully, you come back, Take a look through our model. Here's my card, whatever. When you hand them that brochure, that shows them the tactlessness and the the rich, backgrounds, and colors that are there. Uh, they have something. It is a small, like, microstate of ownership, so printing isn't dead. Just has to be rethought.
Greg Bray: No, I think that's, that's great. I've, I've seen some studies on that from kind of the catalog world. You know, people always said, Oh, e-commerce killed the catalog but, but the catalogs keep coming. My mailbox is still full of catalog. So, so I think definitely the idea that printing is dead is kind of a misconception, but you're right, it's all about the strategy, right?
Where does it fit [00:14:00] and using it appropriately. And maybe that's changed a lot. Absolutely. So well. Well, Kevin, let's, let's get a little more personal now. We've talked a lot about what you do at work, but what do you do for fun? What's, what's kind of your, your weekend go-to hobby
Kevin Weitzel: well being than I was a professional cyclist. Uh, I used to ride a lot. I replaced cycling with golf. I love golf, and I think it just comes down to the fact that maybe it's my Marine in me that I love smashing the snot out of that little innocent ball that never did anything to me. I think it's my release. I think it's just my way of getting out that anger and aggression.
And the thing is, is that just like with being a sniper, it's not about just shooting a whole bunch of bullets downrange. It's about accuracy and control and consistency. So I think that's why I really fell in love with golf. So, uh, that is the one thing that I really love doing is often as humanly possible.
The only hiccup in that is that because I have also enjoyed a lot of eating. I've put on a bunch of weight, and I've also, uh, caused a little damage to my back. So, [00:15:00] uh, I just had back surgery this last year, which required a lot of recoveries, and I haven't played golf since, but I will. I will as soon as the doctor gives me a yay.
Greg Bray: Yeah. Now, no. Are you on a Walker or a cart writer?
Kevin Weitzel: Oh, partier. So, therefore, I'm a cart rider, but I'm a cart ride for a different reason. You know, here in Arizona, we have a lot of heats, you know, in summer golf. Here we have, we have world-renowned golf courses here, but in the summer, because it is so.
Crazy hot. Uh, the rates go down just right to near nothing. I mean, you can go to a, to a five-star golf course and spend $20 and you know, play what normally would cost you two to $300 to play. Um, so you're riding the cart and when there's nobody on the course because it is hot. You can play round after round after round and hole after hole.
Uh, I've done 36 holes of golf in about the same amount of time that it takes to do about a round and a half.
Greg Bray: Wow. That's, uh, that's terrific. So are you, are you prepared to share like your handicap or anything?
Kevin Weitzel: I'm a, I'm a 12 year [00:16:00] kneecap on a plane regularly. Uh, I have, uh, three hold ones in my life. Two of them on the same hole on the same course. It has to be the same course, obviously. And then one of them was the third-longest recorded, and it's the keyword is recorded hole in one in the world, which was 355 yards.
Greg Bray: Nice. Who, who records that and keeps track of that for you?
Kevin Weitzel: When you go to tournaments? Uh, whether they be gentlemen tournaments or, you know, it doesn't have to be PGA, but if gentleman's tournament and, um, the force that you're in, uh, when I hit the ball, we were just looking at, it's like, man, that ball's really, he got ahold of that thing, and then it just disappeared.
You know? And then the guys on the green are looking back at us. So they flagged down the ranger, and then the ranger came and measured from where my tee was to the hole, and it was 355 yards, so recorded. So it's not just one of these, yeah, I was playing with this guy, Billy can smash the ball. You hit it 500 yards, you know?
It's none of those those windy days stories.
Greg Bray: Yeah. Well, well, my golf, uh, uh, story is simply that I played nine holes, and I was telling people my score, and they all [00:17:00] assumed I'm an 18. And so he thought it was a good score, but it because I had only played nine, it actually wasn't all that great.
But, you know, anyway, we won't, we won't go there. So, Hey, Kevin, tell us a little bit about, uh, your family and what, uh, you know, what drives you and motivates you every day.
Kevin Weitzel: So I'm a little bit of a weirdo and I'll, I'll tell you why. Because, um, I've been pretty much a hippie my entire life. Uh, minus my, you know, a stint in the Marine Corps where it's obviously much more rigid than, you know, just being carefree and do whatever you want to do.
Um, but after that, I've kind of found a pretty basic balance in my life of, you know, being relatively carefree, yet having structure and some rigidity in certain aspects of my life. Uh, you know, I'm very happy that I have two very healthy kids, both of them in college. So I know all about going broke, um, you know, and redirecting retirement money toward college funds.
Um, but I've got a son who's in his third year at Northern Arizona University. He's a lumberjack. And then, my daughter is currently in her third year at a [00:18:00] community college. Uh, she decided she was going to go the community college route and then a four-year university because she did not have the same ethic.
That her brother had in grades, so she is now brought herself up to speed, and then I'll pack up to par with what she needs to do to go to a four-year university without just dropped the ball and abandoning it.
Greg Bray: That's great no, they learned a lot those years, don't they?
Kevin Weitzel: But yeah, as far as my personal time, I like to eat.
I like to drink wine, and I love work. Believe it or not, I'm one of those weirdos that love coming into the office. I mean, we're office optional, and I'm sitting in my office right now because I prefer to come into the office and. You know, it has a comradery of the people that are there.
Greg Bray: So, Kevin, if you had like a piece of advice to, to kind of give to the folks that are listening today, um, especially as they're trying to decide, first of all, do they want to keep listening to this podcast of ours?
Uh, but, but second, you know, how, how can you, how can they help make their, their home building businesses better? What's, what's one big tip you can give them?
Kevin Weitzel: My best tip that I give to literally anybody, it's, it's multifaceted. But it's not being [00:19:00] afraid of change. You can create budgets to pay for any kind of asset that you want to have.
A, if you know, if affording a, you know, a series of renderings is outside of the budget, you have much bigger problems than whether you should be doing renderings or not. Um, so what I really, when I, when I'm selling my biggest, uh, hurdle that I have to jump over, it's not whether or not it's me, you know, with Outhouse versus company X, Y, or Z.
It's more along the lines of. Are we willing to make that change? Are we satisfied with what we've been doing? Is it good enough? You know, good enough? Oh, I can't tell you. Good enough is rarely good enough. Uh, so my best advice would be don't settle for good enough and definitely don't be afraid of change because when you implement these changes, you are going to keep yourself relevant in the world of homebuilding.
Greg Bray: No, that's, that's terrific advice. Change slows us all down for sure. Well, Kevin, thank you so much. Uh, I've, I've gotten to know you better. I mean, we've been friends for a [00:20:00] while, but I learned some things about you today. I didn't know. Um, and that's always fun and, and hopefully, uh, that'll be the kind of thing that we can do together.
And I'm really excited about working with you and, and the kind of people we're going to talk to on this podcast as we get it going.
Kevin Weitzel: Well, looking at the, uh, looking at the calendar of the various people that we have on the blotter. I am ridiculously excited about the content of this podcast, so I'm looking forward to it and thank you. I appreciate your time today.
Greg Bray: All right, everybody, we'll have you back soon, and thanks so much for your time today.
Kevin Weitzel: Thank you for joining us on the homebuilder digital marketing podcast.