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

15 Advancing the Home Buying Experience - Lynne Davis

We welcomed Lynne Parker Davis, Founder, and CEO of NterNow on the Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. By paying attention to the home buyer journey, Lynne created NterNow, a handy tool for home builders and buyers. The NterNow system offers the convenience of unassisted home touring, yet keeps the property secure. We discuss eliminating barriers for prospects and review some surprising stats, including when prospects like to take home tours.

Lynne always envisioned herself as an entrepreneur, she even took MBA courses at Syracuse University in Entrepreneurial Sciences. Later as a Realtor, Lynne envisioned a better way to capture buyers for her new construction listings — and so she created NterNow (formerly Call-A-Key) to satisfy the consumer’s need for self-service home touring. 

As the patent holder for non-wireless secure real estate access, Lynne has grown NterNow to serve dozens of national and local new home builders in 16 states and is set to launch additional verticals. For her inventiveness, Lynne was nominated as one of the Top 15 Innovative Agents in the US by RIS Media in 2017. NterNow was honored with the National Association of Home Builders S.A.F.E. Innovation of the Year Award in 2017 for helping to make onsite agents’ work lives safer, and Atlanta Home Builder’s OBIE Gold award for Best Interactive Tool in 2016. Lynne is a member of the Advanced Technology Development Center of Georgia Tech, ACE Women’s Business Center, and Atlanta Women in Technology. 

Prior to her real estate career, Lynne spent 17 years in cable TV with Home Box Office (HBO), The Disney Channel, Cox Enterprises, and NewChannels Corp. in regional marketing and sales training positions. She won a coveted Cable TV Association of Marketers award, achieved the Atlanta Real Estate Board’s Phoenix Award the first year of eligibility, and most importantly, has three delightful grandchildren a stone’s throw away from her home in Marietta Georgia. 


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

Kevin Weitzel: I'm Kevin Weitzel with Outhouse. 

Greg Bray: And we are excited today to welcome Lynne Davis, the CEO, and founder of NterNow. Enter being spelled N, T, E. R. a little bit of different spin and welcome Lynn.

Lynne Davis: Oh, thank you so much and for spelling our name. 

Greg Bray: Well, I think I did that just cause the first [00:01:00] time I saw it I had to do a, how do you pronounce that moment? And then once I got it, it was like, Oh, I get it now. So, so that's great. So, so Lynn just kind of give us that, that quick, um, introduction of, of who you are and kind of what you do.

Lynne Davis: Well. Um, I always start out by saying I'm a crazy lady. Um, I've been in the real estate world for, uh, almost 23 years, and, you know, working with builders, probably most of that as a realtor and now as an entrepreneur and launching my own business, and I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I mean, I took entourage perineurial science courses at Syracuse University back in like 1981.

You know, I wanted to figure it out. Um, so, uh, it's so much fun to have my own business and to be at a time where we're of great service to the industry, providing, uh, self-service [00:02:00] tours to their futures prospects. 

Greg Bray: So, so tell us a little bit more about that kind of your, your journey as far as how you decided to go from just general entrepreneurship into specifically something in real estate and the builder industry.

Lynne Davis: Well, it was, uh, it's kind of a funny story in 2006, things were starting to come apart here in Atlanta and as a residential realtor, I had a couple of builder properties, and I just had this feeling these two properties had to be sold, or I was afraid he would go out of business or maybe even lose his home.

So I was doing everything I could think of, and fliers were literally flying from the flyer box, 50 a hundred a week. People were really looking at these properties, but no one hardly was calling to go inside. And I felt so bad because 90% of what a [00:03:00] builder spends is inside the house. That's where people really get wowed.

And so I said, there's gotta be a way to let people into home safely. And so I threw some technology together with some friends and launched the technology in 2008 to a couple of builders who basically I helped them sell their last homes and tested it. And then we use the technology to sell new homes that were returned to the sun trust bank.

And so we were serving those, banks for a number of years and then relaunched to the builder world in, uh, 2016 Um, so this is technology that's been proven for over 11 years, and simple kind of service and it's complicated at the same way in the back to make sure that everything, you know, our main goal is to, of course, [00:04:00] only let people in who are not going to do anything to one of these beautiful homes.

So security is paramount. And secondly, we look at making sure they have a great experience in accessing the home. 

Greg Bray: Let's take a half step back there. Cause I'm, I'm not sure that everybody, you know, who's not familiar with inter now kind of understands the bigger picture of what we're doing here.

Can you guys give us that, that overview of when you say let them in, what are, what are we talking about? How does, how does NTERnow work? 

Lynne Davis: Let's start it from maybe the consumer's view. So as a consumer, I'm shopping on the internet, and according to the statistics, 80% of the time I'm going to purchase in the geographic preference area.

And I'm looking at it. So after looking on the internet, I'm going to be selecting out communities that I meet my criteria, you know, and also are in my geographic preference area. And it's natural. They're going to get in their [00:05:00] car and they're going to drive through the communities. They're going to see, you know, what are these houses look like?

 We call these people to drive buyers and they have selected these communities to drive through. So they've already, they're a better, you know, kind of prospect than what's, in general, looking on the internet. Cause those people to look all over the place.

Right. But the ones that they drive through are primary hot prospects now, they may not buy immediately. They may buy, you know, six months to a year from now. And Spencer Powell of builder funnel says maybe even 18 months. So the person as they're driving through the neighborhood sees a big orange sign that says one wait tour now, and it gives a phone number it or tells them to go to the Google Play or Apple store and download an app.

 And when they go to the front [00:06:00] door and they call, they get our call centers and we verify their identity first and then give them an onetime use code to put into the lock. The code changes every minute, so they can't return without, you know, queuing up again.

And, we let them in quicker the second time, of course. So we're the second house they go to, and we have many users that will actually, we call them serial users. They go from house to house looking at all the NTERnow homes in their geographically desirable area. Oh, on the, on the builder side, the builder, especially in this.

You know, a period where there's very little onsite work going on. The builder receives, you know, their agents receive a text and an email from us that Jane DOE just toured this home. And usually, that text arrives while the person is still in the home. So they can call the person back or scoot down to the house and chat with them, [00:07:00] whatever they would like to do in this period, every company has their own rules and when we are interacting with the person of the visitor. 

We actually collect a lot of information about them. For instance, we have their name and their current address, their email, of course, their cell number. Um, and we try to find out either something about what they like about the house. Perhaps that's if they're an app user.

The mobile app, or if we're there on the phone with us, we try to ask them a few questions, like, how long have you been looking? Uh, where else have you been looking? Mmm, do you have a buyer's agent yet? Et cetera. And we put that all into our dashboard and make it available so that the onsite agent or the online agent can then just, uh, click through and read all about this customer and what they like and dislike.

Kevin Weitzel: So from a buyer [00:08:00] standpoint, if they're not driving around and seeing those orange signs, how do they find out when you've partnered with, like with a home builder, do you partner with home builders, I assume, but how do they, how do they find out there? Do they, do the builders advertise it on their websites?

Lynne Davis: Oh yes. There's many, many different ways that the builders are advertising that these are self-service tours or unassisted. A lot of builders right now are doing a lot of social media about, uh, NTERnow, and come on by. And you can actually even, um, like in an MLS service, you can put a banner over the picture that gives the, um, you know, that this is an NTERnow house.

And. You know, get that even into the MLS world. Uh, which downloads into Zillow and Trulia, et cetera. So there's a lot of ways to get the word out that these are and NTERnow houses. 

Greg Bray: So Lynne, let's, let's [00:09:00] talk a little more cause, cause again, you've hit a lot of little different points here, but let's talk about the security aspect.

Cause I have to, I have to believe that's probably the biggest concern, at least from my perspective, I'm letting somebody that I don't know, into the house unattended, you know, they're gonna walk off with the microwave or whatever it is they're gonna do.  that, you know, that,  while they're in there, talk us through that, that piece of the process and,  how that works.

Lynne Davis: Oh, happy to. Um, because we're really proud about our track record. I mean, in 11 years we've only had one incidence of loss. that was with a company called Peach Tree Residential, which is still with us today. Uh, they lost a kitchen and a bathroom faucet. Um, and when they called us, they, we, you know, we offer to pay for it right away.

And, you know, it isn't even, wasn't even big enough to call our insurance company. And, um, and they laughed and said, no, we, the only reason we called you is because we [00:10:00] know that we ruined your record And that was about five years ago. but anyway, because of all our security measures.

For instance, the lock expects a new code every minute and you can't use that code on any other NTERnow lock. You are always aware of when an NTERnow user is going in there's no question.

Kevin Weitzel:  Actually how fast do the, do the builders receive information that somebody has entered their home.

Lynne Davis: As soon as our, um, service, um, clicks off. So if they're calling in and, and we hit save on the record, you know, that Jane DOE was, you know, all Jane Doe's information is in there. The text goes out immediately, uh, and an email if they have requested an email. So it's usually within one minute to, even if they have really bad service, 10 minutes.

Um, [00:11:00] you know, and that has to do with the phone company delivering texts in the overloaded system today. Um, but generally we almost, I mean, you just heard a ding in the background. That was an NTERnow person going through.  

Um, what we do is just try to get them the text and email as quickly as possible, and it goes out instantaneous from our service. It's just then we have to, along with as the delivery  

Kevin Weitzel: You know, it's funny, in the motorcycle industry, they call that stock. You would come on a motorcycle Chrome cleaning, uh, where you just walk around with a rag and you're cleaning the Chrome on a motorcycle and you'd be like, Oh.

Hey, I just didn't notice you guys are here. Can I help you today? You know, one of those things,

Lynne Davis: Well, the notice reminds the onsite person who's in a locked sales center, um, to go and clean the house afterward. You know, that someone has come through and now it's time to disinfect it for the next person who's coming through. So, um, so that's been very helpful too, that they, instead of setting a two-hour window, which some [00:12:00] companies.

Rivals of ours do. Then um, you know, that really limits whether people can go back in right away. 

Kevin Weitzel: So are you tracking when they leave as well then? And doing a notification of how long they've been in the home 

Lynne Davis: It's been a, a good question.

Um, that has come up mostly because of the virus here. We know when people leave the geo-fence. Uh, you were asking about, um, security a moment ago. We, we know that the person is standing in front of the house and their phone is there.

And they are who they say they are. We geocode the house. We were geocoding the phones. We know all that, so nobody can fool around and hand a code off to someone else or whatever. But in this, in this world, um, we do know when someone leaves a home because we have the phone geocoded, but it is stocking according to the privacy rules.

For instance, a target [00:13:00] knows that you go to target, but once you're in the store, they're not supposed to follow you, that's a no-no in the privacy rules. 

Greg Bray: So from a, from a builder's perspective, you know, ignoring security issues and things like that.  what kinds of concerns do you, do you hear from this idea that, well, I need my person to be with them. You know, we don't want them to be alone because who's going to answer their question or how are we going to create that relationship? Or are those times, do you hear those types of concerns. 

Lynne Davis: Oh, very much so in that, that has been the tried and true traditional way of selling homes, which is kind of thrown out the window today, um, by the Coronavirus, unfortunately. But that just means that the builders are transitioning now to more of the way consumers want to shop. I mean, if you look at another type of industry like ours that has [00:14:00] salespeople, et cetera, you look at the car business and you look at the different customer journeys, the different customer experiences that you can have in the auto purchasing. 

You can go to one of the dealerships and you know, you're going to have to talk to a salesperson, you know, and you face that. Now a lot of people in their journey, you don't want to do that until they've really made a decision, right. You know, when you go shopping, do you want to. Talk to a salesperson right away, probably not.

Research says people want to be two thirds to 90% of the way through their decision making before they want to see a person face to face or even talk on the phone to a salesperson. That's a shame because our salesperson, people in the builder world are so helpful. It's all wonderful, but this is how consumers feel today.

Amazon has trained them to do it themselves. 

Kevin Weitzel: That's exactly right because, uh, people ha it's what it is, is as a sales [00:15:00] professional doesn't want to give up that control. And that's, that's really what it comes down to. It's that fear of the unknown. If I give up this control, will I still get a commission check?

Will I still be able to sell a product? You know, do I get that interface time with the customer? And what it really comes down to is just like what you said, and I hate the evil empire, Amazon, but Hey, they're an evil empire to me. I'm a buy local kind of guy. But, uh, when you look at that. Look at the sheer number of people.

I think they're what, 38% of all online purchases are all from Amazon, or I think it's 38% 35%. Uh, all purchases are done on Amazon. And trust me, they're not seeing anybody on that website. Nobody knows that one salesperson there's selling, they're pre-selling that pre-qualifying themselves. So, yeah, I, I hear you.

Lynne Davis: So when you look at the auto industry and what's happened there, you know that you definitely can go to a dealership and chat with, a salesperson. But you may be really far along in the process. In fact, the research that I've seen is that, um, [00:16:00] most customers who go to a dealership, um, test drive one car or zero cars, it's like 53% of people go in and test drive one car.

They've made their decision. They already know what they want to buy. It's their confirmation. That's all they're looking for. Um, and then you look at something like CarMax, which is a different customer experience, right? They are very laid back in terms of sales. You can, you know, search through all the cars on their car lot or on their internet.

They'll bring in the car to show it to you, et cetera. And when you're ready to talk to someone, you have to go find someone. I mean, that's how they work. So they let you do everything that you want to do until you need them. And then finally you look at Carvana where you shop right off the internet without any test drive.

And those kinds of different, purchasing experiences [00:17:00] are wanted by our home buyer, consumers also. And so NTERnow opens up the door to one of these different experiences, which is self-service touring. Yes the follow up personally, onsite agent, or the online agent is going to follow up and they know that.

Um, but they get to do one more step in the process by themselves. Hey, I want to throw one bit of, um, data. Volume about the auto industry could tell you how much people, um, dislike talking, getting the salespeople. I saw this on a, a study called the BP, a study that said that 24% of the 35 to 44-year-olds would rather get a root canal than talk to a sale auto salesperson.

Kevin Weitzel: Now are these people that have actually had root canals before.

Lynne Davis: Well, they [00:18:00] also, 56% of millennials say they'd rather clean their homes, versus, wait in line at the DMV, then talk to a, an auto salesperson. People have certain people, especially the younger they are, they would really like to do it themselves and NTErnow allows them that well where they're still being immeshed into the sales process.

Just a little further down the experience.

Kevin Weitzel: You know, it's, it's funny, I preach all the time selling the services that I sell, obviously, and when I'm talking to, uh, you know, homebuilders as my potential clients, you know, I'm, I'm putting on long purple flowing ropes, and I'm like, you got to have quality renderings.

You got to have interactive platforms. You got to have a quality website. You know, it's, I mean, it's, it's nuts because they, it's amazing how. Often I run into builders that don't realize that the world has changed around them and they think these old marketing plans work and they really don't. So products like NTERnow or the, you know, services I NTERnow [00:19:00] are definitely at the forefront of that customer-driven sales process more so than a sales-driven sales process.

Greg Bray: Lynne, quick question for you on timing. what type of hours do you typically find people interested in? How often is that happening? When the sales office is actually closed and there's not even someone there who could have shown them around, um, if they didn't have NTERnow.

Lynne Davis: And, and I, I know what you're asking. And I'll, and we did a five-year data study on that. And when we look at a sales center being open from 11 o'clock in the morning to about six o'clock at night, um, we still see 80% of people using NTERnow during that time period. they still love in, it could be that they're sent from the sales.

But most people are just driving through, um, at those, um, 11 to six. And of course, [00:20:00] Saturday and Sunday are equal to Monday through Friday. Most people do drive through on the weekends. Now, when I say 80% during sales center hours, remember that, well, we're sunup to sundown, wherever that lock is.

Okay. So. We actually collect 20% of our leads on average throughout a whole year before 11 or after six people are using under now. So those people never fell or probably never fell into the builder's sales funnel unless they, um, reached out, you know, later on. But in this case, with NTERnow, the sunup to sundown collection adds 20% to their funnel.

And they're still good buyers, you know, even though they're coming, either because it's convenient for them or deliberately outside of sales center hours. Um, you know, we've all shopped for cars on Sunday because there's [00:21:00] no salesperson around the lot. 

Kevin Weitzel: So when you're saying sunup to sundown, does that mean that somebody can't, uh, go at, you know, let's say 11:00 PM and just take a nap in a model home?

Lynne Davis: Yeah. Or, um, you know, met someone nice at the bar, wants to take them somewhere. 

We answer the phones 24 seven but we don't allow people into homes unless there's an appointment set by the builder.

Yeah. That's the only reason after dark. Um, and during the summer, by the way, people come with a much longer day, 35% of the leads fall before sales center or after-sales center hours. So that's a significant number of very important leads that we've always been capturing. Now we're seeing the, the numbers shift with the stay at home orders.

We are seeing tremendous usage, but a lot of it has shifted more to the weekends and more to later in the day. So, [00:22:00] um, we've had to re rework our staffing so that we could make sure, you know, we'd be able to cover people. Um, all the time. 

Now I want to tell you that we just don't collect leads that are, you know, Oh, they would eventually come into a sales center anyway.

Um, you know,  they're, they've been sold by the virtual tours. Hopefully, the community is sold them. And now they walk through the house itself. Um, many people can make a decision at that point, uh, or need that one appointment or maybe to a point than to make a decision. We've been following some data in a couple different, uh, parts of the country.

And one small builder in Chattanooga has collected since March 14 which was a date that we started this collection because we thought everything was shutting down at that point. And I'll, um, [00:23:00] so he started promoting NTERnow through lots of social media and posting everywhere. You can still come to tour our homes by yourself.

And so we have numbers that he's averaging. 14.5 showings, I'm sorry, unique leads a week. And they are, let's see, almost 32 tours. So each person has visited at least two homes in their tour to NTERnow homes. He's written three contracts and he's had five feedbacks, and, he's delighted because before NTERnow he was, um, he was experiencing between eight and 10.

Unique people, new people per week, registration cards. Before the 14th. 

Greg Bray:  That's great data to,  to kind of see the impact. And that was, uh, you, you preempted, one of the questions I wanted to ask is what type of, of results have people seen? So, [00:24:00] so thanks for sharing that work. We're getting a little, um, near the end of our time here, Lynne.

So, so just want to, a couple of other questions. Just are there any restrictions on the geography that you can serve. 

Lynne Davis: Well, we're hoping not to do a Hawaii and Alaska right away. Um, but we can serve. Canada and the US at this point, so anywhere except for Alaska and Hawaii. so we're, we're willing to help everyone that we possibly can. 

Greg Bray: Awesome. Well, what would be one piece of advice that you'd like to leave 'em with those who are listening today? 

Lynne Davis: Don't be afraid to actually launch yourself, even in a small way into this alternative customer journey. You know, the consumers that are out there still looking for homes, because, gosh, if you're bored, you're thinking about purchasing, right?

You're on the internet, you're enjoying yourself searching. They're going to get in their car and they're going to [00:25:00] drive-by homes. Why not give them the opportunity to, um, you know, do some self-service touring on their own and as this Chattanooga company found, maybe even increase the number of unique, leads that you're collecting even during this, um, Covid-19 crisis.

Oh, and can I throw in one more thing? Another company that we're tracking data for on the West coast. Um, they've had NTERnow since November. Again, not a big company, but they, um, they've had 25 sales, so they've had about five sales a month, and only five of those have had buyer's agents because in many cases we collect people who are early in their process, you know, at the end of their process. Yes, they like talking to salespeople, but we're collecting people and all kinds of, um, you know, all stages, shall we say. Um, [00:26:00] so. They've nurtured people into so far, 25 sales, and 20 of them have been no co-brokerage sales. 

Kevin Weitzel: That's a pretty big saving on commissions there.

Greg Bray: what's the best way for somebody to get hold of you, Lynne, if they want to learn more? 

Lynne Davis: Um, well, I'm. Because of our funny spelling. I'm going to spell it out. Um, you can go to our website at www.Nternow.com so enter now without the first E and they can also pop call our hotline. And that's an easy number to remember.

It's 678-910-1811 and you'll reach one of our great staffers. 

Kevin Weitzel: Ah, the famous pre-war of 1812 

Greg Bray: well Lynne, thank you so much. Um, I think it's been a fascinating discussion at something that is new and [00:27:00] exciting, in how we can share homes with prospective buyers.

So thanks so much for your time today. 

Lynne Davis: You're welcome. Thank you for letting me ramble all over from the auto industry to our building industry, to my craziness about being an entrepreneur. Thanks so much.

Kevin Weitzel: I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine, and I'm Kevin Weitzel with Outhouse

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