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Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast Digital Marketing Podcast Hosted by Greg Bray and Kevin Weitzel

10 Creating and Leveraging App-Based Customer Experiences - Kody Smith

Creating and Leveraging App-Based Customer Experiences - Kody Smith

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Production by: Josh Williamson and KT Maschler 

Editing by: KT Maschler 

Kody Smith, the president, and founding partner of NoviHome, joined Greg and Kevin on the podcast to chat about opportunities that exist when home builders place importance on the digital experience. With consumers expecting a high level of info on their digital devices, what worked ten years ago may not be the expectation today. Digital tools are the norm in other industries, yet, some builders have not embraced the digital efficiencies and experience that can be leveraged to sell more homes and satisfy customers. 

Kody also talks about getting his entrepreneurial spirit from his father, and he believes it's being passed down to his four children. Kody's background is in entrepreneurship and technology sales within startups.  His experience has spanned many industries, from cash-pay healthcare to data science and B2B corporate sales.

NoviHome, a suite of app-based technologies, drives to enhance the home buying and building process. NoviHome is a visual education and marketing solution utilizing touchscreen technology to enhance the home buying experience. With a one of a kind sales efficiency platform that tracks and engages buyers from the first point of contact to the close of the contract, the technology delivers info, experience, and satisfaction to customers. 

Builders use NoviHome during walk-throughs and open houses to make capturing contact information simple. The app lets you manage leads and track activity for follow-up. Also, NoviHome allows prospects to view company details, marketing materials, community information, drone footage, floor plans and any other content builders choose to feature. 


[00:00:00]Greg Bray : Hello everybody, and welcome to another exciting episode of the Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine, 

Kevin Weitzel: and I'm Kevin Weitzel, with Outhouse. 

Greg Bray : And we're excited today to have wa joining us. Kody Smith, the president and founding partner of Noby home. Uh, Kody, welcome. 

Kody Smith: Yeah.

Thank you guys. I appreciate you having me on and I'm excited to talk with you today. 

Greg Bray: Well, Kody, for those who don't know, you want you just to kind of give us a quick introduction and background about who you are and what you do. [00:01:00] 

Kody Smith: Yeah. I'm a Kody Smith, president of Novi home we are a app-based tech company that is based out of southern Utah.

And um, launched into the builder's space in early 2018. January of 2018. Um, had concept of product prior to that and officially launched in, in the Q one of 2018. 

Greg Bray: So still kind of new then it sounds like a, you know, just a couple of years in, still still . 

Kody Smith: Yeah, definitely new to the builder world. We have a sister company where we perfected our technology in the medical world. So our, expertise in buyer experiences and engaging buyers and digital collateral comes from, uh. In our experience and in the medical world. 

Greg Bray: So you mentioned, you mentioned Southern Utah, you know, I've, I've got a great memory of some hiking in Zions National Park, uh, down that way a long time ago.

That, that Angel's landing hike up there. You've done that one. [00:02:00] Yeah. Yeah. That's a that's a pretty amazing, um, experience there, uh, to, to get up at the top of that and the view that's, that's there. So just kind of. Bringing me back to that. So, so yeah, Southern Utah if you haven't been there, it's, it's, well, once you can travel again, it's a place to place to go. Go see. 

Kevin Weitzel: So when you say Southern Utah, there's a, I noticed that you just say Southern Utah, like an entire range. Are you from one of those towns that you don't want to be proud of, that like, you know, people from York, Pennsylvania, they don't want anybody knowing that they're actually from York. So they're like, you know, around Pittsburgh.

And one of those. 

Kody Smith: Yeah, that's funny. Um, truthfully, Southern Utah, is so small, um. That very seldom do people recognize any of the cities here. And so you say Southern Utah, they instantly relate that to one of the national parks. I mean, that, that just happened, right? And so at least it lets them identify.

So we're not ashamed of it, but it's like telling you if I, you know, I acutely [00:03:00] live in Cedar City, Utah, and if I say that, you're like, Oh, okay, great. But if I say Southern Utah, you associate that with something, 

Kevin Weitzel: I'm glad I didn't accept the challenge cause I do not know where Cedar city is. 

Greg Bray: I do. I do. I'm going on record.

I know where it is. My grandma used to live in St George A. Long time ago, so I've been been around. Um, awesome. Well, um, Kody, tell us, tell us a little bit more, you know, how you may, you just mentioned kind of a medical company. How'd you make this leap from medical to home building? 

Kody Smith: Yeah, great question. so.

Back in and truthfully, back in 2017, I was, I was on the medical side with, you know, it's a family business.  we have a company called touch MD in the medical side. Um, my, my father and a couple of his partners founded it and very successful company and my brothers and myself joined.

The company is doing well, but I was very disinterested in the medical side of the business. It was something that I didn't enjoy. talking about, wasn't really exciting for me. So I started [00:04:00] to look at other areas where we could integrate our knowledge, our understanding of engaging buyers, and delivering digital content in other industries.

Bounced around a little bit. And about early 2017 middle of 2017 we started to land on the concept of entering into the the builder industry. And, and ironically, we Originally landed with planned communities, large planned communities, and then really started to understand that we have a great opportunity and our solution really fits within the buyer experience that builders are delivering on a daily basis.

Greg Bray: Awesome. That's quite a jump though for me, so that's great. 

Kevin Weitzel: It is a big jump. So a Novi home, what's the history behind the name? 

Kody Smith: Yeah. So Novi so our programmers pick that name and the, I think it was either the Greek or Latin term for Novias new beginning. So Novi home, some new [00:05:00] beginning, kind of a fresh start, new industry for us. And that's where that came from. 

Kevin Weitzel: So from a home builder standpoint, what is the difference between the experience that the home builder has with your product versus the home buyer?

Kody Smith: So the home buyer gets a full digital experience with all the builder's digital collateral, whether it be renderings or 3d tours. Photo tours of every model is available on the buyer's following. So the buyer will be able to access everything within two clicks on their phone. That's the way that buyers are trending in the way that they understand how to purchase.

For the home builder, we deliver a great experience for the buyer, but the home builder with our technology can track all the analytics and we deliver real-time analytics back to the salesperson. So, um, Greg, if you came into my model or I was engaging in you. Now it's the online sales counselors engaging from home, and I was to set you up on Novi home and you downloaded the app on your phone or you [00:06:00] access it from you, from your computer, via the email that we send out.

As soon as you start to engage and start to look at renderings or virtual tours or different communities, we gather that data and we push it to the salesperson. So within 20 minutes, that salesperson knows exactly what their buyers looking at. 

Kevin Weitzel: So is it also usable post a purchase or is this something where I buy a home? Can I see like how the construction is going along? Is that, is that interactive with that state too? 

Kody Smith: Yeah. So we, we have the technology to deliver, uh, progression photos to the buyer, um, from the sales team or, and not only do we do progression photos, but we can do videos and we can also highlight or what we call tag those photos.

So the. We could say, you know, Hey the four-way or you know, four-way inspection was completed today. Or um, we broke ground and we can tag those photos and they are pushed straight to the buyer and the buyer on their side. [00:07:00] It's an amazing experience cause they receive a notification of, hey, you have a new video or you have new photos to look at.

Kevin Weitzel: And is there, is this modern uh, not to get too much into your business or know how you spreadsheets work or anything, but is this monetized in any capacity to the buyer, or is this all funded and supplied the experience supplied by the builder? 

Kody Smith: It's supplied by the builder. 

Kevin Weitzel: So the whole buyer wants to see these, these milestone steps. That's just an added part of the service that is just a automatically part of the platform. 

Kody Smith: Correct.

Kevin Weitzel: Awesome. That's fantastic. 

Greg Bray: So, Kody, let's, let's step back just a little bit. What, what gave you the idea or, or what kind of drove, um, the need that you saw that, that you're trying to solve with this? Where, where did you kind of say, hey, you know what, the today's process could be better. What did you see that kind of led to that? 

Kody Smith: So, yeah, great question. And, and you know, we started looking at the home builder industry and the, all the [00:08:00] brochures and the pamphlets that are being handed out. And, um, as we started to create focus groups and, and really dive into the industry, uh, the first, one of the first things we did was target the two largest builders in Utah.

And I walked in as if I was a buyer. And I said, look, I'm looking to relocate, uh, have a half a million dollars to spend, and I've targeted these communities where you guys are building. I'd like to go out and look at the homes. And so I walked through the whole process and with the first builder, I literally got a black and white plat map.

And a black and white floor plan. And that was my experience. He did get my first and last name did not get an email or a phone number. 

Kevin Weitzel: And this was 18, 19, 20 years ago. How long ago was this? 

Kody Smith: Right? I, you would think, um, yeah, no kidding. 2000. Late, early 2018. Um.

[00:09:00] Kevin Weitzel: What!! That's insane all right

Kody Smith: Um, the second home builder was the same exact experience, and that's when we instantly knew. Okay. There is a, there is an experience issue within the home building industry. I mean, truthfully, your home is typically outside of those folks that own businesses. Your home is your largest investment in life.

Right. And to go in and get a black and white plat map of the available lots in, uh, you know, like really basic brochure on the floor, planet experience level, when you compare that to other industries is subpar. I mean, it's just so poor. 

Kevin Weitzel: I think in some markets we have a disease in our industry that, well, there's actually two.

There's the good enough. You know, the the builders are like, this is good enough. You know, it's fine. It gets the job done. And then the other side of that equation is that he happened to be on the right dirt at the right time in the right market with the right product where they don't necessarily think they [00:10:00] need to spend any money, but that magic sauce that exists, that perfect scenario, it doesn't last forever.

They might have to buy a hunk of land that maybe is a little less desirable, so they have to sell it now they have to offer those services. So yeah, I see that, you know, in my line of work all the time. 

Greg Bray: I have to just totally agree with you, Cody, that, that in general, and let's not, let's not lump everybody again, there's some builders doing a lot better, but by and far, there are, there's a lot of opportunities to differentiate on your experience.

Um, and I think. You know, when we, when we look, especially in just simpler things, um, you know, what, what do I get when I'm just trying to buy something on Amazon, you know, with, with product photos and, and, you know, different angles and, and I can spend a product around and I can get videos from other people who have used it and, you know, testimonials and all this information to help me feel comfortable with what's going on there.

[00:11:00] Um, and then, like you said, you get this, you know. Black and white printout or on the website, it's a, it's a picture that's so small, you gotta like have magnifying glass to actually look at it and see what's going on. And you want me to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, you know, on this thing that that is just huge.

And again, it would be different if the builder had to spend a hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide that experience.  So I think that's, um, yeah, I'm, I'm right there with you. Experiences is lacking and there's a lot of opportunity to improve for sure.

Kevin Weitzel: I want to spin gears just one quick second. So you started this out of a family business. Now, do you have kids that are going to be sucked into learning all these processes as well? 

Kody Smith: I don't know. My kids are still young time. I'm a father of four. I know it's, it's, uh, some days are great, some days it's 100% worth it, and some days I wonder what I'm doing. 

Kevin Weitzel: But uh, but that is, that is interest. Cause like I had a bicycle store [00:12:00] for seven years and, and uh, I wanted nothing more than my children to learn about bikes and they had zero interest whatsoever. Um, at least on this new tech side, you know, a lot of these kids are, that's all they. They eat, breathe, sleep, smartphones, and technology.

So, uh, I think it'd be an easy transition. You might have yourself, a little family. Novi, Novi home family there. 

Kody Smith: That's right. My, uh, my, uh, dad, I call him a serial entrepreneur. He's, he's been, uh, he's done very well for himself and, and built and sold a few companies in his life. And I think more than anything, my kids will get that ingrained.

In them, um, whether it is a bicycle shop or, you know, what are, I think that is in our, in our, um, that is in our blood, maybe more than the technology, but I even talking that with them today, they're like, yeah, I want to own my own business. My daughter's 10. And she's like, yeah, well, she said to me, I want to be a, what was the term dad I want to [00:13:00] be a CEO woman when I grow up?

You know? So I think that is. More what they're getting out of this, and maybe the tech side is the dream of owning, owning your own business, and that desire. 

Kevin Weitzel: Yeah.

Greg Bray: Oh, that's awesome. So Kody help us, um, kinda go back to the experience, right? You talked about that, that opportunity you saw, you know, that we still see together, we all, we're all seeing it.

How then, you know, do you take a step forward as a builder and improve that experience? What, what is it that you think that the customer really wants or expects. 

Kody Smith: Well, we, we all understand that the customers are now looking for homes prior to even calling the builder. They want to know what's available.

They want to, um, be able to get in and kind of mess around with the communities. I truly feel that all builders need to have multiple digital experiences for their buyers, whether it's renderings or it's photo tours or, [00:14:00] um. You know, virtual tours. Virtual tours is a huge one right now. That's the hot button.

Um, but those, that technology and the ability for buyers to access that from their personal devices, in the past it has been websites, right? And websites are very vital. But now there's this, the millennials and, and the, the gen X that are coming out that are on their phones all the time. So how do you deliver the traditional website experience along with something that is on their phones? 

Greg Bray: Yeah, we're, we're certainly seeing a huge increase in phone traffic on websites. You know, mobile traffic is by far over 50%, if not higher, for the vast majority of our clients. Um, and so absolutely getting a better mobile experience is only going to help.

And, and there. It's not just millennials. They're certainly addicted to their phones more than others. But, uh, but, even my parents who are going to be in that boomer category are [00:15:00] using their phones and the iPad a whole lot more than they're getting on the desktop computer right now. 

Kevin Weitzel: You know, I, I look at analytics a lot on our interactive floor plans, uh, across tens of thousands of plans that are live 24, seven.

And I think the only real difference between millennials and the active adult as far as those far ends of the spectrum is that the active adult will find it on their cell phone. So we have active adult communities that they find it on their cell phone and the analytics all show this, that their first touch, their second touch is a cell phone.

Uh, then you'll see that they go home, and then they follow up on their interactive floor plan by play with the furniture planner on the desktop. Um, so we see that a lot. The difference is that on the millennial side, we find that they're literally doing just 70, 80, 90% of that interaction on their cell phone.

So, so I'm right there with you. I do believe that that, and not only that your platform works, but even on the website, that builders need to have a website that is mobile-friendly. You know, if they're not if their website is a mobile front. Greg, do you know anything about making a whole friendly website?

[00:16:00] Greg Bray: That's another episode, but yeah, we can talk about that sometime, 

Kevin Weitzel: but no, it doesn't need to be mobile-friendly. And, and, and, uh, especially in today's day and age and, and if builders aren't stepping up to that plate, you know, John Burns says it best. If you're doing business the same way today that you did a 10 years ago, you're not going to be relevant or in business 10 years from now.

And that 10-year window is shrinking every time we see this major shift in technology. So. So I agree with you 100%  

Greg Bray: So Kody, um, tell us a little more about your, your platform. When you talk about tours and renderings, are you providing all of that or are you just providing the framework where, where the builder provides the content that goes into it?

Kody Smith: Yeah, great question. So we are not in the business of creating content. So what we do almost becomes a marketing hub. Our expertise is apps. So everything we work with, and when we launched in 2018 for the first eight months, I would go through our sales pitch and I explain that we're an app-based company.

And at the end of the pitch, the builder [00:17:00] would say, okay, so you're going to build me a website? No, no, that's not what we do. Um, so our technology is app-based. So we are, we are built to be on the buyer's phone. We are built for easy engagement. Uh, we're talking one, two, three clicks from your, uh, of, of your thumb on your smart device, and you're in the rendering.

And then what we do is we take all the builder's collateral. Um, whether it be renderings or be photos and, and, and the verbiage. And we basically create a marketing hub, um, that allows the builder to have a personal app, their app on the buyer's phone. 

Greg Bray: And how does, how does that work together with a CRM system?

Kody Smith: Great question. So we've got multiple relationships with CRM. So Salesforce lasso, um, focus three on the East coast. And basically what we do is we are a great data capture tool. So one thing that we did see was a major issue is. Walking into a model home and seeing a yellow [00:18:00] registration card and watching a sales agent go up to a buyer and say, Hey, can I have your first and last name, your email address?

How much do you make a year? Um, how much are you looking for? That is such an awful experience. So we've recreated how builders can engage and capture that data, right? We recreated that mousetrap. We have a better mousetrap, and then once we capture the registration information, we push that right into a CRM.

Greg Bray: So what type of questions do you typically get from, from builders who say, you know what, Cody, you're right. My experience isn't great, but I don't know about it. All the time it's going to take to implement, you know, your, your type of solution. Do you have kind of any intermediate steps or ways they can get better as they move forward?

Kody Smith: Yeah. So that was, you know, as we launched this company and we were all excited and the tech was working, which that's a [00:19:00] whole other story, right? Making sure all the tech works and, and you're rocking and rolling. And we launched into a builder and when we first started we said, hey, we'll just do webinar training for you.

That'll be fantastic. Art technology, super easy. Um, and, and what we noticed is agents have a bit of an issue with adoption. So our biggest, biggest fear we see from builders is they love the technology. They love the idea of it, but I don't know if my team is going to adopt this. And so we put a bunch of stuff in place, some steps and processes that, that help eliminate that adoption issue.

Greg Bray: So do you have, then the individual sales agents have a role to play as far as implementing the technology? It's not just the buyer downloads and does something on their side. 

Kody Smith: Yeah. So it's a, it's a two-way engagement between the buyer and the, and the salesperson. Um, for the sales agent, it's very easy once they start [00:20:00] receiving analytics.

After about the fifth buyer that's logged in, and they can see exactly what that, that buyer is looking at, which models, which renderings, which photo tours. Um, there was a dopamine addiction there and all about that. Um, and so agents catch on very quickly. Buyers love, love it also.

Kevin Weitzel: You're talking even baby boomer agents.

Kody Smith: I know, right? Those are my favorite testimonials. I think I've got five of them on our, on our YouTube channel. 

Greg Bray: Dopamine knows no age or restrictions. well, um. Cody, obviously today things are a little different from people with the stay at home orders and you know, some of the challenges were have what, what kinds of changes are you seeing, if any, related to kind of that new state of the sales environment?

Kody Smith: For us, it's very exciting and I say that, um, with as much consideration to what our economical environment is today. Right. Um, it is very exciting for us because. Builders in the past, [00:21:00] in my opinion, it has been so good for the last three years and basically every market that you could put a for sale sign in front of any new spec or new model and it was going to sell, and now builders are more open and they understand, Hey, I've got to figure out the a way to have a virtual selling platform to deliver a virtual community and information to my buyers when my sales model might not be open today. And, and so I think that this has been an accelerator in the builder industry, um, for all digital companies that are delivering digital collateral. Um, as it's opened up the minds of the builder and possibilities.

Kevin Weitzel:  It's funny you mentioned that because in my world, when I'm selling, you know, IFPs and renderings and stuff, I have a lot more competition. You know, out there then wouldn't, Novi home would have, you know, cause you have a pretty unique platform. But I don't really worry about my competition. You know, [00:22:00] you're either in the right spot, the right time, and talking to the right people or you're not.

And you can put your wares up against somebody else's wares. And it's either competitive or it is. However, I battle with a, and it's not even budget, it's not about budget anymore. It really isn't. I bought it with, we don't need it cause we're selling homes so fast that why would we spend any more money?

And again, that comes down to that magic scenario that they're in. And then my other one that I battle with mostly is just fear of change, fear of implementation. Um, what do you encounter, you know, out there, because again, you don't have, you know, 13 other companies you're competing against with your platform.

What, what, uh, what pushback do you get from, from builders on a regular basis? 

Kody Smith: Well, you know, there's, there's a couple of big push backs that we'll get. Oh, well, I already have, um a CRM or already have a website. I don't want to add another process. I don't want to add another layer. And that is because, truthfully, that builder probably didn't need to, you know, they were, they were going to sell all the, uh, [00:23:00] every home they were going to build in 2018 or 2019.

And I understand where they're coming from. So we, we get that a lot when we first launched. Again, I'll go back to. People didn't understand the buyer tendencies. And I think people within the industry did, but a lot of builders, um, were adapting to the concept of, I need a mobile-friendly website. I need to be on my buyer's phones.

And so the, our technology is, you know, with us being app-based and, and really the desire to be on. Why are phones, um, it took a little while for builders to warm up to that, and this very out of their comfort zone? 

Kevin Weitzel: Do you have a, do you have a specific builder out there that you would consider a rock star user that you know, give you a solid testimonial.

Kody Smith: Yeah, we've got a few. Um, I've just off, I just got off the phone with Perfection Builders in Wichita, Kansas yesterday. great team out there. It was fun for me. I'd never [00:24:00] been to Wichita before, so I had to go out there and interact with them. Um, but they're a great one. 

Kevin Weitzel: I spent three years in Wichita, so I'm right there.

Okay. I know that. I actually know those guys, so that's awesome. 

Kody Smith: Yeah. Okay, perfect. 

Greg Bray: So, uh, you know, Kody, we're, we're getting kind of near the end of our time here. Um, do you have any, you know, if you had just one piece of advice that you could give to builders, you know, just one takeaway you want them to remember, what, what would you share.

Kody Smith: I think the, you know, the overall big picture takeaway is, is builders really need to be engaging in a buyer experience and understanding it and not just creating the buyer experience and stopping there, but then how do we leverage that buyer experience to increase ourselves, right? Whether it's through analytics, whether it's through referrals, um, there's a number of ways to do that, but I truly feel, um.

In my short time in the industry and experience in other industries, that this is going to be something that's not going to [00:25:00] go away. You know, virtual tours and the ability to deliver a digital experience to your buyers. That's not going away. So if you haven't figured it out or you haven't started to put thought into it, I would, I would recommend that you do.

Kevin Weitzel: So buyer wants or a builder wants to get a hold of yeah, how do they do that? 

Kody Smith: Yeah. Um, so our, our website, www.novihome.com. Uh, there's a ton of testimonials and collateral there. I'm on LinkedIn. Um, my information's on the website, and is it okay to give out my phone number, or do I go that far? Um, so my phone number is 435-590-9100

Greg Bray: awesome. And, uh, Kody, you're going to have, uh, some members of your team joining us at our Home Builder Digital Marketing Summit in October as well. So for the people who are, you know, going to be joining us, there'll be another chance to, to connect with you guys and learn a little bit more. [00:26:00] Well, thank you so much for being with us.

Um, we, we really appreciate, it's been really interesting too, to learn a little bit more and, and, uh, understand your, your technology better.

Kody Smith: Thank you for having me on.

I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine 

Kevin Weitzel: and I'm Kevin Weitzel with Outhouse thank you.

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