This week on The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, Tyler Grundmeier of Hubbell Homes joins Greg and Kevin to discuss effective online sales counselor communication practices.
The roles of OSCs are continuing to increase in importance as more of the home buyer journey shifts online. Tyler says, “people expect when they call into the builder that they're talking to the person that they're going to buy the home from right away. At least I feel like that's who they expected to talk to.”
Tyler says that to be an effective OSC, a person has to not only have dedication, but also an understanding of “what this job ultimately contributes to. Knowing that the appointments lead to sales and focusing on the appointment conversion, and the sales conversion is a big part of this job, too.”
Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about the best OSC communication methods.
About the Guest:
Tyler Grundmeier is the Online Sales Consultant at Hubbell Homes in Des Moines, IA. He joined the team in May of 2021 after spending the previous nine years in the hospitality industry. Graduated from Iowa State University in 2012 with a degree in Hospitality Management. In 2021, a combination of COVID and what that did to the hospitality industry and Hubbell Homes's decision to go to an in-house sales team, Tyler became the first Online Sales Consultant at Hubbell Homes. Silver award winner for the 2021 NAHB Online Sales Consultant Rookie of the Year, Tyler is averaging 45% contribution to overall sales since he started and 55% contribution to overall sales for the first quarter of 2022.
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,
Kevin Weitzel: and I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse.
Greg Bray: And we are excited today to welcome to the show Tyler Grundmeier, who is an online sales consultant at Hubbell Homes. Welcome, Tyler. Thanks for joining us.
Tyler Grundmeier: Hello. Thanks for having me. I'm really excited.
Greg Bray: All right. Well, let's dive into that excitement then. Tyler, tell us about yourself. Who are you and help us get to know you better?
Tyler Grundmeier: Well, I'm Tyler Grundmeier. I'm the online sales consultant at Hubbell Homes. Been here for, I think, about 10 months [00:01:00] now. So, pretty fresh into the industry on that. Before working here, I was in the hospitality industry for the last, I think it was about eight years. Worked in hotels prior, right up until when I came to Hubbell Homes and I was working in country clothes before that too. So, a plethora of different experiences going on here.
Kevin Weitzel: That's how you got there, but two questions. One, did you ever meet anybody famous at the hotel, and number two, I need to know something interesting about you personally, that we'll only learn on this podcast?
Tyler Grundmeier: So, interesting people I met at the hotel. Donald Trump was there at least three times. Didn't meet him, I saw him. There was a bachelor contestant one time. He's from Iowa. He was at the hotel too. So, I've met him. One of the most famous ones, we had, I'm drawing a blank. I shouldn't. Sweet. Caroline. Why can't I remember his name right now?
Kevin Weitzel: Neil Diamond.
Tyler Grundmeier: Neil Diamond. Yes. Sorry. Neil Diamond was there and he was up in the presidential suite we had. We actually helped him get all his stuff up there. He had a lot of stuff he came with. So, some interesting people that were there.
Greg Bray: All right, but don't forget his other part. [00:02:00] Something unique and special about you, Tyler, that they're only going to learn here.
Tyler Grundmeier: Unique and special that they're only gonna learn here.
Kevin Weitzel: Like, are you into curling or ice pond fishing? I love stumping people with this one, and believe it or not we get real crazy answers.
Tyler Grundmeier: So, when I was just graduated high school. I was working at a country club. We had, I think it was called the par tee. A little play on words there for them, and they had a $10,000 putt and I missed it by like 2 inches.
Greg Bray: $10,000 putt. Wow
Tyler Grundmeier: Yeah. From 50 feet, and I missed it by two inches. So, that haunts me every day.
Greg Bray: Oh, by the time you're retired, 10,000 won't seem like that much, but I'm sure in high school it was a lot of money. It's still a lot of money actually, so.
Kevin Weitzel: How do you go from hospitality to the home building industry and more specifically online sales counselor?
Tyler Grundmeier: So, not a very specific answer, but COVID hit the hospitality industry pretty hard. So, I'd been looking for a while. My great wife found this Hubbell job for me. Found it [00:03:00] online. Sent it over to me and said, this sounds like something you'd be interested in. Looked it over, applied and here I am.
Kevin Weitzel: Oh, the rest is history. Nice.
Greg Bray: Not only are you here I am, but I believe you also received some recognitions at The Nationals, correct?
Kevin Weitzel: What?
Tyler Grundmeier: Yep. I got the silver award for OSC Rookie of the Year.
Greg Bray: Yeah, so we got a rookie of the year in our midst, Kevin.
Kevin Weitzel: We know all about that silver award.
Greg Bray: It's a big deal. It's a big deal.
Tyler Grundmeier: It's a lot bigger deal than I even knew it was when I went there. That was pretty exciting.
Greg Bray: So, yeah, it demonstrates though Tyler, that you didn't just find a job, you found something that you're actually doing pretty well at. That was one reason that we wanted to kind of talk to you and pick your brain a little bit. So, tell us, just give us some background on Hubbell Homes, where you guys are building, and the type of buyers that you're working with.
Tyler Grundmeier: So, we have a lot of different places that we're building. We're in the Des Moines area. So, we have mostly all the suburbs outside of Des Moines, around the Des Moines area. We have a lot of different buyers. So, we have multiple different products. We have some that are for your first-time home [00:04:00] buyer, and we have some for the people that are retiring, and then we also have some 55 plus communities as well.
Kevin Weitzel: And how close is Des Moines to Des Moines? I'm just curious.
Tyler Grundmeier: Some would say that the same town.
Kevin Weitzel: Oh. Okay.
Greg Bray: They're right on top of each other. It's amazing.
Kevin Weitzel: Right on top of each other?
Tyler Grundmeier: Yeah. It's kind of, it's kind of weird.
Greg Bray: Do you allow people to buy homes who don't know how to pronounce it?
Tyler Grundmeier: We'll let you know how to pronounce it, but yeah, if you want to come buy a house, you don't know how to pronounce Des Moines, we'll definitely help you out.
Kevin Weitzel: So, with such a widespread of products, do you find that you have to kind of switch gears when you are talking with one client trying to look at one product line versus another?
Tyler Grundmeier: Yep. We just brought in the 55 plus a few months ago. Going from your first-time homebuyer to them, it's a little different. There's different expectations. Sometimes it feels like some of the first-time buyers, they don't have any expectations at all. It's their first house, and then sometimes you get those 55 plus people are the people that are looking to retire and their expectations are a lot higher than what you would even expect them to be.
Kevin Weitzel: And I'm going to assume that these are [00:05:00] not the same clients you're talking to, looking at those rooftop deck urban you guys have downtown, right?
Tyler Grundmeier: I forgot about that. They're going to be upset that I forgot about that, but we do have some downtown properties as well. We have two communities downtown Des Moines too. So, that's a totally different aspect as well to what we have in our portfolio.
Kevin Weitzel: I saw social media posts about those and it was a pretty cool-looking product line.
Tyler Grundmeier: Those are really cool. The rooftop patios are really awesome.
Greg Bray: So Tyler, you're coming from a totally non-home building background. You're working hospitality. You're looking for something new and you find this position. What was something when you got started that you were just surprised by about selling homes? Again, just from those fresh eyes standpoint. Anything jump out that was kind of new and different?
Tyler Grundmeier: How many different people are involved in the home building process. Not just from like building the home and the physical home itself, but in the back burner. So, from marketing, all of those different departments that are involved in it. Walking in there and seeing that, that was kind of eye-opening [00:06:00] a little bit there.
Greg Bray: So, tell us then Tyler, when you started kind of guiding people through that process, how did you learn where you fit in that overall piece? All these people that are involved, you know, now you're becoming an online sales consultant, where do you see right now, in Hubbell's buyer journey, where the role of the online sales consultant fits into all that?
Tyler Grundmeier: Yeah, I definitely see it growing. We're the only people in Des Moines, that I'm aware of, that have an online sales consultant, only builder that has one. So, I think it's growing with what people are expecting. A lot of people expect when they call into the builder that they're talking to the person that they're going to buy the home from right away. At least I feel like that's who they expected to talk to.
I think the people that are calling in, they're liking the process of it, liking having somebody that's going to help them with everything. So, if this house that they called about isn't a fit, then we can help them find another house in a different area and all that. I think it's helpful for them, kind of a one-stop-shop to find a house.
Greg Bray: So, that's kind of surprising though, that you're the only builder in your area [00:07:00] that has OSCs. There's some people that think that everybody has them and there's actually a lot of builders who still don't. So, you're saying, if I understood you correctly though, you see that as an advantage over the competitors?
Tyler Grundmeier: Yeah, absolutely.
Greg Bray: All right. So, we will not have any of your competitors listen to this.
Tyler Grundmeier: Yeah, that's fine. Yeah. We'll make sure.
Kevin Weitzel: So, being that you came from outside of the industry, is there any advice you would give to any new OSC, people that are considering that as a career pathway, as to lessons you've learned just in your time in that role?
Tyler Grundmeier: If you're going to come in and do this job, definitely have to be ready to be told no, and be comfortable with not everybody's going to get back to you. Try to manage that.
Kevin Weitzel: So, you're suggesting that when I call home builders, they should call me back or answer the messages that I leave them? No.
Tyler Grundmeier: Yeah, I mean that's probably somebody whose expectation. That would be my expectation if I was going to go buy a house that somebody would call me back.
Kevin Weitzel: So Tyler, you know, I've been told no several times. So, the fact that you bring up,[00:08:00] you know, being told no, you have to have thick skin and get used to it is one thing, but when you're being told no, are there specific items that they're asking for or that you're asking them that you're getting told no about?
Tyler Grundmeier: Getting told no about, a lot of people call in for specific communities. They're looking for this specific community in their price point and with everything that's going on now, sometimes those price points are increasing a little bit.
Greg Bray: Or a lot.
Tyler Grundmeier: Yeah. Increasing a lot. Yeah, and they kind of have to temper their expectations a little bit. In some cases, they may have to lower those expectations a little bit.
Kevin Weitzel: So, hypothetical, let's say a client comes in and they want that urban property, and I think those are mid-fives, I think, somewhere around there.
Tyler Grundmeier: Yep.
Kevin Weitzel: Do you have a product line you can shift them to? Like, I call you up. I want to relocate to Des Moines, Iowa. I'm coming from Arizona. I only can make that trip one time and I'm having to buy online and virtually. So, when I'm going through this process, and you know that I can't buy that property when I say I'm looking for something in [00:09:00] the fours and I love the look of that stuff. What do you shift me to?
Tyler Grundmeier: From downtown to there's a few communities that are not too far from downtown. So, I would probably say, Hey, I got this property that's in the suburbs area. It's not downtown Des Moines. It's out there. You're only probably about a 15-minute drive. Would this be something that you'd be wanting to look at?
Kevin Weitzel: Versus just a sorry, you're broke, buddy.
Tyler Grundmeier: Yeah. Never just say no, you're broke. Sorry. We can't help you. Always try to get them to go somewhere else. So, that would be another thing that I would tell them too is if an OSC came to me, a new one came to me, asked for advice, one of the things I would say is if you get to no, it's not always no. There's times when it may be no for that specific property, but you may have something else in your pipeline that's going to help you out.
Greg Bray: So Tyler, how much of your interaction with prospective buyers is phone versus email versus kind of real-time chat on the website? How do you typically communicate?
Tyler Grundmeier: Typical communication, try to use all of them. Try to use phone, email, text. Text seems to be [00:10:00] one of the better ones that I'm having right now. It seems like people get back to me really well on there. Live chat is something that has become just awesome for us. I believe last time I checked, live chat was actually number two next to realtors. So, realtors is where we got most of our sales from. Live chat was number two. So, live chat has been something that has been awesome for us. I feel like it's a really good tool for us that we use.
Greg Bray: Do you guys do any of the co-browsing feature at all, where you can look at the website together with the buyer? Is that something you're using with live chat?
Tyler Grundmeier: No, not something that we have. I can see where they're at. Whenever they start a chat, I can go onto our traffic and just see where they're at and then help them. I can at least see what they're looking at. So, then I can talk to that instead of going into it blind. So, that's one reason that I like that so much.
Greg Bray: So, is there a particular place on the website where you feel like it starts to trigger more questions than other places or more interactions or opportunities for you than others?
Tyler Grundmeier: Yeah, [00:11:00] absolutely. Some of the things I'm seeing on there is when they get to an actual home. Sometimes the basement gets them. So, there's not a very clear is the basement finished? Is it unfinished? We've added a few things that say on the side that says total finished square footage and then total unfinished square footage on there. I still see some people that are getting stumped on that.
So, that's one spot, and then the other spot that we have some confusion, some frustration on their end is the stage of the house. What stage of construction is that house in? They're looking at a house on there that shows a picture of a finished house and price and all that stuff, and then they start talking to me, I'm like, oh, that house is just in the framing stage. So, I can see that as being a spot where some people might get a little frustrated on that.
Greg Bray: And are you able to take that feedback to your marketing team, the web team, and say, hey, you know what? I'm getting the same question over and over again about this particular page. Can we do something different here to maybe provide more detail or to clarify it? Is that an opportunity that you have as an OSC to provide that feedback?
Tyler Grundmeier: [00:12:00] Absolutely. Any feedback that I have about our website is very much welcomed is what I would say.
Kevin Weitzel: So, speaking of feedback and structure, do you report more to the marketing side of the family or more to the sales side of the family? Or are you like me where I literally work for everybody at OutHouse?
Tyler Grundmeier: So, I report to the sales side. I also bring my ideas back to the marketing side, but I do agree that sometimes I feel like I'm working with everybody at the company. Which is fine. I like that side. I like that part, being able to help everybody out.
Greg Bray: And Tyler, are you the only OSC, or are you part of a larger team?
Tyler Grundmeier: The only one. If we had the opportunity to hire one, then that would be something that we would look into, but we're just not at that point yet.
Kevin Weitzel: So, not only are you a silver award winner, but you're also the absolute best OSC at Hubbell Homes.
Tyler Grundmeier: Yeah, hey, I like that. I'll put that on my email signature from now on, the absolute best OSC at Hubbell Homes. I'm going to put that on there.
Greg Bray: Well, we'll vote for you for [00:13:00] sure.
Tyler Grundmeier: All right. Awesome. I'll take that.
Greg Bray: So Tyler, have you been able to see a change in how educated the buyers are by the time they get to you as far as how much information they've already researched and learned on their own and is that continuing to change? What kind of trends are you seeing there?
Tyler Grundmeier: When I started, I didn't expect people to be so educated about the houses. I don't know why that was something I didn't expect, but people are coming in very educated about the houses. I see a wide difference between how educated the buyer is based on where they're calling from.
We have an inventory signage in front of every house with a number that dials directly to me. Those people are coming in like fresh. They haven't looked at anything. They just saw a house in the side of the street and those are the people that really take a lot of time. They have to go over a lot of information. People that come in on that live chat, they're ready. They come in the live chat, they've already looked at the house online. They've maybe drove by it, and they've said, you know, I really like this house, just want a little bit more [00:14:00] information on the house.
Greg Bray: Now, how do you take a phone call and do a live chat at the same time?
Tyler Grundmeier: It doesn't happen. I've tried it. When I first started, I was like, okay, I can do this. I can be on the phone and on live chat at the same time, and now, If I'm in a live chat, I don't answer the phone. It gets really hard to balance both of them. Vice versa, if I'm on the phone, I don't do the live chat. I don't turn it off or anything. I just let it go. I guess it is just the way it is with that.
Kevin Weitzel: A very valuable lesson I learned a long time ago, Tyler. This was when I was a young pup on a sales floor is that you want to help everybody. You want to grab every sale you can, but here's the brutal truth is that the most important client you have is the one in front of you right now because they're the ones you're talking to. Even if you see the Joe Moneybags walking through the door, you have to help the person that's in front of you.
Greg Bray: So Tyler, I bet from time to time, you hear things about other builders from the buyers that are talking to you, right? They kind of let you in on what frustrated them or what they did or didn't like about [00:15:00] the guy down the street. What are some of the things that you've heard that frustrated buyers that send them to you as opposed to the competitor?
Tyler Grundmeier: The easiest one is they never got back to me.
Greg Bray: Ooh.
Kevin Weitzel: Nice.
Greg Bray: Ooh.
Tyler Grundmeier: I called this builder last week and they never got back to me. I saw your sign a few blocks down and I called you and you got right back to me. You answered the phone right away. If not, then you called me back within five minutes. It's easier to get ahold of us is one of the big things that I hear from other people.
Kevin Weitzel: That's the high road. You take the high road approach. Thank you, and yes, that's one of our goals is to make sure we get back to you. Whereas I like to say, yeah, them guys down the street are turkeys. You're going to get that response every time and that response is no response.
Greg Bray: Wow. Anything else that comes to mind besides a response time?
Tyler Grundmeier: The quality of our build. We have a good reputation for the quality of our houses that we put out there. One thing that people, I went down to this house and just didn't like the build. Checked out a model home of yours in the same area or a few areas down then said, what other communities that you guys have?[00:16:00]
Greg Bray: Do you guys have a specific goal or target on your response time where, you know, you try to get back to everybody within a certain period if at all possible that you're measuring?
Tyler Grundmeier: My goal would be to get back to somebody within five minutes. So, whether that's a text message, phone call, live chat. Get back to them within five minutes. That doesn't always happen. I like to think that it always does, but it doesn't always happen, but I definitely try to get no longer than a day between when you reached out to when you hear from me, and that happens very rarely that it takes even that long.
Greg Bray: And so, do you work like 24 7? Is that how you do it?
Tyler Grundmeier: It seems like it. It seems like it. I take it easy on the weekends. I say, take it easy. So, I'm still taking phone calls, live chats, and all that, but I'm not doing all my follow-up stuff on the weekend. So, that's how I give myself a little bit of a break there.
Kevin Weitzel: That's a good question. Are you in-house or do you work out of your home?
Tyler Grundmeier: I work out of my home. That's been one of the biggest blessings for [00:17:00] me. It makes it a lot easier to be flexible on the weekends with doing that cause I have everything right there in front of me and then during the week it's just really nice to be able to, I call it controlling the distractions. When you're in the office, there's a lot of distractions that you can't control, but when I'm at home, I can control the distractions that I have. I think that has led to at least contributed a lot to the success that I've had.
Greg Bray: I am amazed at how many builders struggle with getting back to people. This is not some grand, super complicated idea. not like we have to figure out a whole new way to do business or something. We just have to respect people enough to answer the phone or to call them back or answer their emails.
Tyler Grundmeier: If I called a builder, I'd want to be called back. So, I feel like that's definitely something that they're expecting. When they call, they're expecting a callback. Yeah.
Greg Bray: Yeah. Yeah.
Kevin Weitzel: So, I have a question about that because I call builders on a pretty regular occasion, obviously. I'm amazed at how many builders when you call their direct line from their website, that it sends you into this gauntlet, this [00:18:00] giant maze, this labyrinth, if you will, of how to get to somebody. Do the calls just literally fall right into your inbox? Do they hit you directly or do they go to like a community first or how does that work?
Tyler Grundmeier: So, we have multiple different lines that we use. So, we have an inventory signage line that is the sign that's in front of the yard and that rolls directly to me. If you call our number that's on our website, that's where you go to what you said, like the gauntlet, but ours is press one for sales, press two for HOA, press three for warranty. So, then if you press one, it goes directly to my phone, and two goes directly to HOA, three to warranty. Based on some of the stuff that I've seen out there, I think that's a pretty good system that we have for that.
Greg Bray: So Tyler, what is the process for you to then hand off the buyer? What comes next in that sale when you've finished your piece and they're ready to go to the next step.
Tyler Grundmeier: Yeah. So, I've got that set up pretty well, I think. I got my Lasso that I use. I have my [00:19:00] notes put in there from the call. Set up the appointment in Lasso and then I do a calendar invite for the person. So, I put down the meeting with the sales professional. I put their name in their address. Have a message down there that gives them all the information they needed to meet at and send that off to them and then send them a day before reminder. Sometimes that's text, sometimes that's a call. I'll call them and then they have the appointment.
Then the day after the appointment is where I start my little bit of follow-up with them. So, I follow up with how the appointment went and then give them a few days after I talk to them at that point to follow up and see if they're still interested. See where they're at.
Some of that varies too. If I'm having a conversation with the sales professional about that appointment. The salesperson said, hey, it went really well. I'm still in contact with them. I might not do my follow-up with the client and just let it go from there, and if the sales professional says, hey, I haven't heard from them for a few days. Then, I'll take back over and reach out to them.
Greg Bray: Okay. So, there's some back and forth thereon the follow-up piece, as far as [00:20:00] you helping continue with that depending on what happens next. Interesting.
Tyler Grundmeier: Yep.
Greg Bray: You're not just letting go of it saying, here sales professional, you got your appointment and you're moving on.
Tyler Grundmeier: Nope. The idea of that is I want to make sure that when they went to that appointment, that was actually something that they liked. So, I don't want them to go to one community and say, oh, actually, you know what? I've never seen this. I don't actually like that community. I want to make sure that if they didn't like that community, that I'm trying to find something else for them in another community that we have and get them back out that way and see if that one works better. You can talk and talk on the phone with them all the time, but it's just the nature of our business is, we can't physically show them the community.
Kevin Weitzel: So, at the onset of the OSC, a lot of sales professionals were worried that the OSCs were going to steal their thunder and mess up the sales process. Obviously, historically, now we know that that's not true. It's actually the exact opposite of that. You become their rockstar. You make their jobs so much easier. Has anybody called you up and [00:21:00] said, Tyler, thank you for being a total rockstar? Where do you want to go eat lunch today?
Tyler Grundmeier: Nobody's invited me to lunch.
Kevin Weitzel: What? Do I need to send April an email or something and say, hey, you need to take this dude to lunch?
Tyler Grundmeier: No, I think, on the sales professional side, I've been really blessed with that too though, because we started in-house sales at the same time. I started a few months after our first sales professional was hired, and then when I got in there, there was still more sales professionals hired afterwards. So, we all started at the same time. So, it was integrated into them, or told to them that, hey, this is how the process works. So, it was really nice and it works out. Everybody likes the appointments So, it's good.
Greg Bray: So Tyler, what are some of the places that you're going and looking to continue learning, to help you become a better OSC, to get more engaged with, you know, the whole process? What are your resources?
Tyler Grundmeier: Leah with Blue Gypsy Inc. is a big resource for me. She's the trainer that we have at Hubbell Homes. Every month she has an OSC get-together or we get together with all the OSCs that she works with and just talk about what we're [00:22:00] seeing and all that stuff and that's a really good piece for me.
Another one is just our sales professionals. Talking to them, seeing what they're hearing from people, seeing what's going on in their community, and that's something that really helps me a lot. Knowing, hey, this community has this going on. We have this house that we really want to sell, and I can kind of direct people towards that house.
Greg Bray: Any last pieces of advice for OSCs out there or people who are thinking about this as a career path?
Tyler Grundmeier: If you're thinking about it and you've been on the fence, definitely go for it. It's really fun. It can be really rewarding too.
Greg Bray: What do they have to do to win a silver award at The Nationals?
Tyler Grundmeier: Definitely have to have some dedication to the job. I think understanding what this job ultimately contributes to. Knowing that the appointments lead to sales and focusing on the appointment conversion, and the sales conversion is a big part of this job, too.
Greg Bray: Well, Tyler, if anybody wants to reach out to you, get in touch and just chat together, what's the best way for them to get connected with you?
Tyler Grundmeier: Email would probably be the best way. Tyler dot [00:23:00] Grundmeier at Hubbell Homes.com
Greg Bray: We'll drop that in the show notes as well. All right. Well, Tyler, thank you so much for sharing with us. It's been great to get to know you better and learn a little bit more about what an award-winning OSC does all day, so, 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.