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

111 Focusing on the Full Customer Journey - Chelsea Kimmey

This week on The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, Chelsea Kimmey of CC Homes joins Greg and Kevin to discuss the importance of focusing on the full home buying customer journey.

There is a push to create a stand-alone digital home buying experience. However, Chelsea says, “It will be interesting to see if buying a home online becomes ubiquitous. Personally, I'm not sure if it can ever replace the one-on-one sales experience, but I do explore and plan to bring more of that home buying experience online however we can. It's really beyond bringing the buyer journey online, but also bringing those internal processes online.”

Regardless of whether a home builder chooses to emphasize a more digital or a more personal customer approach to home buying, the focus should always be on the full customer journey. Chelsea says, “I think current market conditions are making us all evaluate the client experience closer than we ever have before. So, industry-wide, I think it's catalyzing something pretty remarkable where the experience of building a home is going to be even better than it has been in years past because we are paying attention to that full journey more closely than ever.”

Listen to this week’s podcast to learn more about being mindful of the full home buyer experience.

About the Guest:

Chelsea Kimmey is the Director of Marketing for CC Homes, one of Florida’s leading privately-owned single-family homebuilders. For 9 ½ years, Chelsea has been spearheading innovative campaigns that have elevated CC Homes’ brand visibility and generated more than 100,000 leads for their 15+ Florida communities. With her tech-focused approach to marketing, Chelsea is always on the hunt for new and cutting-edge digital tools to use and has implemented DIY self-guided tours, virtual reality experiences, custom interactive sales center displays, marketing automations, as well as other sales management solutions into her marketing plans.

Chelsea earned her bachelor’s in Communications from the University of Miami with a second major in Anthropology. She honed her skills in graphic design and writing with auxiliary coursework at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute and New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. Prior to CC Homes, Chelsea worked in the marketing department for Onboard Media, an LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton company servicing the cruise industry.

Chelsea was born and raised in Mamaroneck, New York. When not busy discovering new marketing tools and executing leading-edge campaigns, you can find her hiking on Florida’s nature trails, and cheering on the Florida Panthers hockey team. She also dedicates time and supports several nonprofit and community organizations such as Live Like Bella, Chapman Partnership and United Way Miami. Green space sustainability is another passion of Chelsea’s, and she regularly participates in environmental clean-ups and coastal restorations.


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

and I'm Kevin Weitzel, with OutHouse.

And we are excited today to welcome Chelsea Kimmey. Chelsea is the Director of Marketing with CC Homes. Welcome. Thanks for joining us today.

Chelsea Kimmey: Thank you for having me. I'm very excited to be here.

Greg Bray: Well, let's hopefully not dampen in that excitement. So Chelsea, tell us a little bit about yourself. Help us get to know you.

Chelsea Kimmey: I'm Chelsea, Director of Marketing at CC Homes in Coral Gables, Florida. I'm [00:01:00] coming up on nine years with the firm. I began as a very green assistant back when the brand identity for CC Homes was really in its infancy. Through the years, you know, I've received incredible mentorship and support from top executives, which has really allowed me to take on the role that I have today which is taking care of pretty much all of the marketing operations.

Kevin Weitzel: Thank you for that, but when you're talking about being mentored, who are a few of the key people that have influenced you over the years?

Chelsea Kimmey: Absolutely Diana Ibarria. She's the senior vice president and she is the direct report for the entire sales and marketing department. She has been in the industry for more than 30 years and has actually been working with Jim Carr, one of our founders for that same length of time. She's a phenomenal sales coach and professional mentor for all of us. So, we're really very grateful to have her and the rest of the management [00:02:00] team. We work all very closely together, which I think is what allows us to be so successful in what we do.

Greg Bray: Well, Chelsea, we got to get just a little bit more personal though. That's a lot of business. Kevin can't handle all business, right? So, what's something a little more personal, that maybe everybody doesn't know about you.

Chelsea Kimmey: Well, I actually had my first job when I was 14 bagging groceries. I did hold a job probably just about the entire time since then, and I do think that this taught me a lot about being reliable and helpful to people which has proved really valuable in my career and it made me a problem solver.

Some of the other jobs I've had, I was a lifeguard, a boating instructor, a hostess, and I also spent some time pursuing broadcast journalism and interned with a local broadcast news station and I was shadowing reporters on assignments in the field, and that was a really interesting experience work-wise but I decided, no, I wasn't going to do it.

Greg Bray: So, what made you [00:03:00] decide then to go the marketing route and get into home building? How did that come about?

Chelsea Kimmey: I was born and raised in New York and I went to the University of Miami down here in south Florida. That's what brought me here and CC Homes is really what kept me here. After graduation, I was really aggressive about getting my resume out and seeking interviews. I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do. When I saw the job posting for marketing assistant at CC Devco, that's what we were called at the time, I didn't get much information in the description. It wasn't very detailed and I actually couldn't find the website for CC Devco, so I didn't know what I was applying for.

Then during that first interview, it was made really clear to me that this was something exciting and this was a field that was very special and also I had spent some time completing auxiliary coursework at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn for graphic design and also some [00:04:00] written creative writing training at NYU and the skills that I honed there ended up being impressive on my resume at CC Devco. It has qualified me since I could help bring more of the deliverables in-house

Kevin Weitzel: Let me ask you this because you just said something a little bit funny. I've always been a weird interviewer. I've never had a bad interview in my life. Believe that or not. I'm curious when you have a company that you're going to interview with and their website is horrible like that, and I'm just going to say it's horrible. You couldn't find it. That's gotta be bad. So, do you bring that up during your interview? Like, you know what? The first thing I'm going to do when I take this job from you is I'm going to fix your horrible website. Or was it not on the table?

Chelsea Kimmey: Honestly, at that time, I was really just seeking approval and I was showing my portfolio of work and hoping that they were impressed by me. I was eager to understand what home building was because coming from New York, [00:05:00] it's not as common as it is down here in south Florida to have subdivisions. I really didn't even understand much at all. So, I was really trying to wrap my head around that, and it's truly incredible how much I've learned throughout the years.

Greg Bray: So, Chelsea, you mentioned that the company name has changed a little bit since you've been there. Well, just tell us a little bit more about CC Homes, where you guys are building, the types of homes, and the type of buyers that you target.

Chelsea Kimmey: Definitely. So, CC Homes is a private builder. We service the Miami and greater Fort Lauderdale area, as well as the Naples and Fort Myers market.

We specialize in contemporary, single-family, semi-custom homes in master planned developments, as well as infill locations. Pricing and square footage wise ranges from a two/two for under 500,000 to a seven/six for more than two million. The founders, Jim Carr and Armando [00:06:00] Codina have been doing this since the 1970s. So, they have garnered a reputation that is very respected, not only in the industry but also in the community.

Many of our clients have purchased not only one, but several homes and referred their family and friends to buy with us as well throughout the years. Home design is very central to our business and we're proud of the level and variety of finishes and design choices that we provide our buyers in the design studio. We also include a high level of finishes in the standard base price of the home. CC Homes also has separate affiliated businesses that develop and construct multi-family and commercial projects as well.

Kevin Weitzel: So, from the design side, when you say that you have a lot more designer finishes and stuff in the base price. Is that so people like me can buy a house that are completely fashion stupid and need every bit of assistance of getting it done, like a curated, this is package A, B, and C, or is it just [00:07:00] that, hey, it all includes this base stuff and then you can move up from there?

Chelsea Kimmey: We have professional designers that walk through the process with buyers like you and make it a very fun and impressive experience. Personalizing your home is extremely interesting and extremely rewarding after the hard work you've put into getting to that point to be able to buy a home. Our buyers will say that that's one of their most enjoyable parts, actually, even if they're not creative.

Greg Bray: So Chelsea, that sounds like there's kind of a wide variety though, you know, 500,000 up to 2 million. That's kind of a big, I don't know, it seems like a big range to me, although in Florida, it depends on the land, I guess, too, but tell us, how you, from a marketing perspective, address those different audiences or that variety of offering that you guys have.

Chelsea Kimmey: The sales center experience has evolved tremendously throughout the years. We curate a [00:08:00] semi-custom experience. As soon as they walk in the door, we present to them all the different product and floor plan offerings that we have in a way that's modern and current. These days there's an expectation that businesses will be sophisticated in their technologies and it's pretty obvious when a business is behind the times. So, it's really important for us to present our business as advanced as we are at building homes, which we've been doing for decades.

Greg Bray: So, as the director of marketing, tell us a little bit more about how you've got your team, your role within the company, and how you've decided to structure things.

Chelsea Kimmey: Sales and marketing works very closely with the top executives and with all other areas of the company. We owe much of this to Diana Ibarria, the senior vice president, who's aligned all of us on the same common goal, which is to not only build great [00:09:00] homes but also create very positive experiences for our clients as best as we can.

Our sales teams work closely with the construction managers and project managers in the field, and I work closely with sales to provide them the tools and resources they need to close deals and also to streamline their communication with clients prior to the sale, as well as after they become customers. Aside from our onsite sales team, we have an online sales team whose leadership has facilitated a very smooth handoff for the online leads, converting them to on-site appointments and this has been key for our sales success and also our growth.

Greg Bray: So, Chelsea, do you guys bring in partners and agencies to help with specific digital tasks, or do you do a lot of that in house, or how do you decide [00:10:00] where that line is of what you want to do with your staff versus partners outside?

Chelsea Kimmey: Yes, we do. We rely on agencies for many areas and we've developed great relationships with those agency partners, which has really been key and made us work more efficiently. In terms of creative, we'll provide direction and brainstorm with the agency what it is we want from our strategic campaigns and they're responsible and deliver that with their creative and content copywriting.

In terms of technology, we rely on experienced programmers to develop websites for us that allow for ongoing maintenance in-house. Content-wise, primarily we'll still rely on them for technical support. In terms of our lead management and sales and marketing CRM, this we've been able to manage in-house [00:11:00] primarily, aside from the API, data mapping, and integration aspect of it.

Kevin Weitzel: So, Chelsea, you know, in today's day and age, a lot of builders are struggling with being able to bring digital assets to the sales centers. Are you guys doing anything differently at CC Homes that allows you to basically empower your sales team at a different level?

Chelsea Kimmey: Absolutely. Bringing our sales center presentation, which is fully interactive on touchscreen displays in-house. Developing a custom solution for us, that is user-friendly for all salespeople has been a real game-changer. I get support on the hardware side from our IT department and it's truly a really fun part of what I do. When Jim Carr, the builder says, I want to see screens on every wall, we get together to make that happen.

Greg Bray: And have you seen some improvement in the engagement with the buyers by leveraging that technology? What type of reaction are you getting [00:12:00] from the customers?

Chelsea Kimmey: Our customers these days expect our information to be accessible across all devices. So, when they see the floor plans and home elevations at the sales center on the screen, they'll ask us, can you email that to us? We'll email it to them and have it packaged in a very digestible, easy-to-access, and navigate way. This is very much appreciated.

We also have QR codes now that have replaced brochures in many of our communities where you can just scan and then download the brochure to your phone. So, buyers, I'll say millennials, but I think it's pretty much everyone expects that digital touchpoint everywhere they go and so at the sales center, it's a no brainer to have incorporated. It allows for ease internally because when something changes, we can just update it right away instead of having to do a reprin.

Greg Bray: [00:13:00] I think that's one of the key benefits of having so much of that digital is that you can have it connected back to your databases and whether it's an inventory that's sold or a lot that's, you know, no longer available or you need to change pricing or whatever. I mean, everybody's changing pricing twice a day right now. Right?

The crazy update cycle of print is so much harder than when you've got these things where you can email them and download them or show them just on the screens in the sales center. Do you find that it's all still challenging to keep different places up to date, or have you been able to connect all of these things in such a way that so when you update the website, you're also updating kind of the sales centers? Are they able to be linked together that way?

Chelsea Kimmey: I definitely won't say our systems are perfect. I'm always looking to improve them and make them function more smoothly and efficiently. We're preparing our data in areas other than sales and marketing [00:14:00] to be as sophisticated so that whatever comes down the road, we're prepared to integrate and deliver a full home buyer journey that is web-based.

Greg Bray: I think that's insightful.

Kevin Weitzel: It is insightful and I'm actually a firm believer of buying it once. You know you pay for that content once, use it everywhere you can. You literally blast it across all platforms. You do the same thing there at CC?

Chelsea Kimmey: There's a few areas that still need to be updated. It's not a one-stop, put the pricing here and it gets updated everywhere. However, I'm able to manage it alone, so it's definitely not too cumbersome the way that we have it at the moment.

Greg Bray: I think it's unique, Chelsea, and you may not realize it because it's just kind of your normal every day, but there are a lot of builders who struggle with that data management piece and being able to get that in a place where you can reuse it in multiple locations and yeah, maybe you need to update it twice instead of 20 times, but that [00:15:00] sounds like you guys are ahead of the game there and, kudos to you for that.

Chelsea Kimmey: It's definitely the engine that keeps everything running.

Greg Bray: Yeah. That data underneath is not very exciting sometimes to talk about, but it is critical to the success.

Kevin Weitzel: Well with that data, Greg, on the side of CC Homes, Chelsea, what are you guys tracking? What metrics are you keeping track of that could, you know, help other builders and ways of measuring that success?

Chelsea Kimmey: I would say there are three success metrics that we track. One being online lead quality and quantity. Two being the number of appointments made and kept as a conversion metric, and third walk-in traffic, the volume of that, and how many sales are we getting?

Greg Bray: Do you also go back to more specific campaigns, for example, with paid search or with your social media, and track anything further upstream for their leads?[00:16:00]

Chelsea Kimmey: It's definitely very difficult to measure what campaign was most successful, but we do follow those touchpoints and that's tracked in our CRM, our sales, and marketing CRM.

Greg Bray: Have you had an experience where you wanted to try something new with the technology and it was just way harder than you thought it was going to be to get people installed and up and running and to use it or has it always been just easy to try something new for you?

Chelsea Kimmey: Definitely not. I think the biggest challenge has been that everything we do, we want done boom, boom, boom. We want it done yesterday and adopting new technology just isn't that quick. It's a process and so we've come to understand what that process is and have set the expectation internally and also with our partners on what we need and when we need it by.

Partnering with an agency [00:17:00] long-term or with an agency that understands our industry does save time and is easier. Of course, we're always open to working with new people because there is benefit there as well, but understanding that deadline and setting those expectations and being aggressive is really important.

Greg Bray: It's never as easy as it's supposed to be. I think that's what I heard her say, right?

Kevin Weitzel: Oh yeah. You know, we had another guest on one time and I was actually kind of floored, and I honestly, It's slipping my brain on who it was, but they said something along the lines of that they value relationships, but shame on them that they kept a relationship with the same marketing company for like 10 years. What's your philosophy on that? Is it better to nurture and have a partnership with a an outsource company that understands your operation or do you see the, also the benefit of having new fresh ideas, change of ideas that are coming in?

Chelsea Kimmey: I do think it's important to work on those relationships you [00:18:00] have with agency partners. Treat them with respect and patience because if they don't understand the industry, it's going to require some. I think, trying new methods and strategies is crucial. So, identifying when something isn't working for you and pivoting is really important.

Greg Bray: So, Chelsea, are there particular trends that you're watching and getting ready for now that you see coming that you guys are trying to position yourselves to take advantage of?

Chelsea Kimmey: It's really hard to predict what the world of marketing is going to look like in a year from now, but I'm definitely very curious to see how we're going to identify and reach online audiences through display advertising, and if any new insights are going to emerge on how to measure intent with those audiences.

It will be interesting to see if buying a home online becomes ubiquitous. Personally, [00:19:00] I'm not sure if it can ever replace the one-on-one sales experience, but I do explore and plan to bring more of that home buying experience online however we can. It's really beyond bringing the buyer journey online, but also bringing those internal processes online. I think current market conditions are making us all evaluate the client experience closer than we ever have before. So, industry-wide, I think it's catalyzing something pretty remarkable where the experience of building a home is going to be even better than it has been in years past because we are paying attention to that full journey more closely than ever.

Greg Bray: We're paying more attention. I think it's true. More people are talking about that and paying attention to it and you're right, it's going to make it different for buyers in the future.

Kevin Weitzel: Well, I think we've commoditized so many things that I'm actually fearful that this race to go to a buy online and a buy now button [00:20:00] kind of environment cheapens the quality of product that you're buying. I think, I think it's just commoditized to where it just becomes a, who can build this certain square footage for X number of dollars and be done with it and I think that's a bad move in our industry.

Chelsea Kimmey: I'm a full supporter of innovation. I think a lot of us have had time to develop these solutions and I don't think they're going to disappear when the market becomes more difficult for us. I hope that we can find a balance where we're innovating internally on that whole journey and also finding new pathways to acquiring new clients.

Greg Bray: Well, Chelsea, where are you looking for your new ideas? What are some of the places that you go for inspiration?

Chelsea Kimmey: Media-wise, I am a big fan of reading Medium and Marketing Brew, and Adweek, but as a marketer, you have to find [00:21:00] inspiration everywhere and I'll see what works for other companies, even in other verticals and get inspired.

Purchasing a new home is such a unique experience. So, when we look at the evolution of Ecommerce and think, okay, we're just different. I try to keep an open mind and think, okay, maybe there's something that we can adopt that disrupts the norms of new home sales in a way that makes things better for us and for our customers.

Greg Bray: Well, Chelsea, you've been very generous with your time today and with your insights and we really appreciate it. Do you have any last words of advice for marketers out there, to help them with their home sales?

Chelsea Kimmey: Try not to be a know it all. Be flexible and open-minded when it comes to tweaking your strategy and processes. That's key. Communicate with your sales team so you know what's working and what needs improvement as well.

Greg Bray: Well, thank you, Chelsea. If someone wants to get in touch with you and connect, what's the best way for them to reach out?

Chelsea Kimmey: Shoot me an email. [00:22:00] That's the most direct and quickest way to reach me. My email address is C K I M M E Y at C C homes.com.

Greg Bray: And we'll drop that into the show notes as well for folks so they can find it there too. Well, thank you, Chelsea, for sharing with us today, and thank you everybody for listening to The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast.

I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine,

Kevin Weitzel: and I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse. Thank you.

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