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

185 Becoming an Exceptional Virtual Home Builder - Steve Ormonde

This week on The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, Steve Ormonde of Focus 360 joins Greg and Kevin to discuss the advantages of becoming an exceptional virtual home builder.

Currently, home buyers are doing most of their research and making a majority of their home buying decisions online, which has been a dramatic shift in recent years. Steve says, “Eighty percent of the decision process was happening at the sales center, and that's flipped on its head, right? Now, the website is where 80% of the decision is made. That last 20% happens at the point of sale really to make sure that the people they're meeting at the sales center, the neighborhood they're buying in is something that they're prepared for.”

Because of that change, home builders need to be more equipped to help customers experience home options in a virtual environment. Unfortunately, some builders are not taking full advantage of the opportunities that are available to support customers through that journey. Steve explains, “…I can still randomly pull up a builder website and their renderings aren't even renderings. They're just the CAD, you know, the black and white line drawings, the architect produced...My gut hurts when I see that because it's their storefront. People are driving by looking in to see what they do and all they have are these line drawings, but I'm sure they build beautiful homes….Yeah, it surprises me how many builders still haven't really stepped their game up when it comes to their storefront, their website.”

Reasonably priced virtual resources can be created that benefit the home builder and that will meet the needs of the home buyer. Steve says, “This isn't, you know, the early days of 3D. We're doing hundreds if not thousands of virtual models per year at an affordable price. A few thousand bucks and you can have something to show your buyer every single plan. The sooner they jump on that bandwagon, the better they will be because they'll get full leverage on their portfolio of investment plans and the better experience the buyers will get.”

Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about home builder visualization tools.

About the Guest:

Steve Ormonde is the Founder and President of Focus 360.  He began his career in architecture as a Computer Aided Design (CAD) Coordinator in 1983 after receiving an Associate of Architecture degree from Saddleback College.  In 1988, he combined marketing techniques with architectural CAD elements to develop the home building industry’s first “Virtual Model Home” and in January of 1989 launched Ormonde Presentations.  Ten years later, his company had grown into an internationally recognized firm, lauded for its success in serving the residential homebuilding industry.  During that time, the company had been the focus of more than 100 published articles and several network television appearances.  In 2000, the company name changed from Ormonde Presentations to Focus 360, Inc.  In 2012, he was honored with the Max Tipton Award for Marketing Excellence by the Sales and Marketing Council of Southern California. Today, Steve Ormonde is known as one of the leading industry experts and is a frequent guest lecturer at numerous building industry-related functions throughout the US.


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 Zonda Livabl.

Greg Bray: And we are excited today to have joining us on the show, Steve Ormonde. Steve is the president of Focus 360. Welcome, Steve. Thanks for joining us today.

Steve Ormonde: Oh, thanks, Greg. I'm happy to be here.

Greg Bray: Well, Steve, I know a lot of people know you because you've been doing this for a couple of years already, but why don't we start off by getting to know you a little bit, just tell us a little bit about yourself.

Steve Ormonde: Oh, sure. I grew up here in Southern [00:01:00] California, and I currently reside in San Juan Capistrano, California with my wife, Kristi, where we raised our two kids, Maddie and Andrew. One's living, Maddie's living in Dallas, and Andrew's living in Phoenix. I get the privilege of running Focus 360. I started this company back in 1989, so a couple of years ago. I work with about 60 professionals, both here and at numerous offices around the country and around the world. Just love what I get to do working with builders to help people visualize their dreams.

Kevin Weitzel: So, before I get into the question about something personal about you that has nothing to do with the home building industry, because that is the next question, just so you know, so if you want to prepare. San Juan Capistrano, that sounds like one of those places that Lloyd Christmas would talk about from Dumb and Dumber, where he'd be like, San Juan Capistrano. It sounds fancy. Is it all just fancy or do you have filling stations and tire install shops too, just like everywhere else?

Steve Ormonde: I love that because you mentioned Lloyd. I picture him saying, Is that where the pigeons return?[00:02:00] But of course it's not. It's where the swallows return from Argentina every March and we are happy to host them. But no, it's a great little small town. It's kind of a country town. In fact, they say, I don't know how true it is, but we have more horses per capita in San Juan Capistrano than any other city in the country, I'm told. I know they have the largest nonmotorized parade, meaning that there's 200-plus horses that go around the parade track once a year to welcome the swallows back to Capistrano. So, two big things to be notorious for, I guess, in San Juan, but it's a great town. We love it. It's near the coast for about three miles as the crow flies to the ocean in Dana Point in Capistrano Beach. We ride our bikes to the beach on the weekends, and just a great place to live, great place for the kids to grow up.

Kevin Weitzel: Wait, so more horses in this parade than any place? That means there's more shovels in that parade.

Steve Ormonde: There's more shovels and there's a lot of smell if you're not used to it, no question about it. Yeah, yeah. It's like a two-hour parade of horses. There are no cars. [00:03:00]

Kevin Weitzel: All right, my man. So, how about this? Tell us one interesting factoid about you as an individual that is not home builder related, not work-related, that we'll learn about you today.

Steve Ormonde: Oh, gosh, one factoid. I'm not really that interesting, to be honest. I have a couple of hobbies. My number one hobby that you and I have talked about before, Kevin, is mountain biking. I love, I love, love, love being out on my mountain bike. I grew up doing dirt bikes, and as the kids grew up, we had our off-road toys and motorhomes and did the desert trips and all that stuff.

But once they all left the house, we sold all the motorized stuff. I bought a mountain bike and that's really one of my passions. I'm blessed that I can roll right out of my driveway and into the hills above the coast in San Juan and get a good 10 to 15-mile bike ride and 1000 to 1500 vertical feet and see the ocean the majority of the time. So, just one of my favorite things to do.

Greg Bray: Steve, tell us how you got into the home building industry and especially in the kind of visualization tools and things. What's been your journey?

Steve Ormonde: [00:04:00] Sure. No, great question. So, I got into the home building industry by accident. I was actually working as an architect for a number of years. When Kristi and I were looking for our first home, we stumbled upon the ubiquitous sales trailer sitting in a parking lot. I popped out of the car, went inside, and said, Hey, where are your model homes? My wife and I want to buy a home. They handed me a roll of blueprints, a small roll of blueprints, and said, We don't have models, but we do have these plans. So, I'm like, okay, well, interesting. You know, being in architecture, I can certainly read plans and I enrolled them and showed them to Kristi and she had no clue.

Part of what I did in my profession back then was I was an early adopter of 3D technology for our architectural office. So, I built a 3D model of the house and I showed it to Kristi and she goes, now I get it. And I'm like, why aren't they doing this in the sales offices? Thus began my search for the right toolkit to help home buyers better understand the unbuilt.

This may be shocking to your listeners, but in [00:05:00] 1998, there weren't a lot of computer systems to help buyers visualize. So, not only did I have to write my own code, I had to find the right software to play basically a glorified PowerPoint and put it into a system that I can rent to a home builder to put in their sales trailers. So, we were right there with Computers for Tracks and other technology companies that were attempting to introduce computers into the sales process for contracts. And CRM wasn't even existing back then. So yeah, that's kind of how it got started.

Kevin Weitzel: Now, you've been doing rendering since literally the beginning of time. So, when you transferred from chiseling 3D into slate, and then into the world that we now know as computers, what were some of the major hurdles you had to deal with besides some of the technology to just not being there?

Steve Ormonde: Oh, that's hilarious, Kevin. When you were saying chiseling into stone, I'm thinking of some of the original drawings I had to do in architectural school, which was darn close. I mean, we were [00:06:00] chiseling graphite into sepia paper and vellums and blueprints and all that fun stuff, trying to find vanishing points. But there were so many challenges.

The only thing we could do in the early days was just build a wireframe model of a building. As a wireframe model, think of what you might see on a TV commercial of an auto manufacturer displaying this computer-looking thing of lines that you see right through. You really couldn't make anything of these lines until this thing called hidden line removal came out. And the hidden line removal was the ability to get rid of those lines you really shouldn't be seeing on a 3D object.

And that was right around the time I started the company. We certainly couldn't show a complete transparent 3D line to a buyer, they wouldn't get it. But when the hidden line came out, that was the first step. Then the hurdles was, what about color? Can we fill the walls in? Then what about shadow? Then what about furniture? Then what about reflections? And so it went. We were literally right there at the very, very beginning of the technology development for [00:07:00] 3D models. It was an exciting times.

I remember, back in the day, we were working right alongside the founders of what is now known as 3ds Max, you know, Gary Yost and his team to develop their software. One of my first images in 3D was of the Taj Mahal. I thought, can I build the Taj Mahal in 3D? And it ended up on the cover of Computer Graphics World Magazine, which back in the day was kind of the staple. Kind of like our Builder Magazine is for home building, it was the staple for the CG industry back in the day. So, yeah, lots of hurdles. I can talk for hours on this.

Greg Bray: Well, and this is interesting to me too because this is all predating really ubiquitous internet access as well. You know, and the idea that software tools were about putting a PC on somebody's desk, right? And just having them actually be able to run it and show it and do all of that. There was no connectivity in most people's homes. Even if they had it, it was the modem and all of that. A trailer out on a site would never have had Internet at that time. So, what kind of computer do you still have in the basement [00:08:00] that you're just hanging on to as a souvenir?

Steve Ormonde: That's hilarious. You know, I remember when the one computer, like my highest speed computer back in probably 1990, it's ended up stuffed in a corner and my IT guy comes over and is like, Steve, I need space. Do we really need this little computer? I'm like, Yes, we can't get rid of it. What he ended up doing was taking the chip out of it. It was an Intel 386 processor, and he took it out and he mounted it for me and put a little emblem below that said something to the effect of, Its body may be gone, but its brain will live forever. And it's the chip of the original PC that started this company.

Greg Bray: Well, tell us more about what Focus 360 is today, the kinds of services you guys offer, and the audience that you're serving.

Steve Ormonde: Yeah, for sure. It's, oddly enough, 34 years later, we're doing the exact same thing. Our goal is still to help home buyers better understand the unbuilt environments. We have just a myriad of tools that our builders [00:09:00] use nationwide to help them start their journey on the website. From the very basics of understanding a floor plan and structural options in two dimensions to the 3D model, touring the 3D model in various modalities.

There's still imagery video or gaming engine-type interactivity. Personalizing the home while they're doing the touring and ultimately selecting a home site, learning about the home site size and location. Now we can even reserve that home site as well. So, it's funny to think how dramatic things have changed yet they're still the same, right? The goal is still the same. We just get to leverage the latest and greatest technology.

Kevin Weitzel: Well, some things have changed, but one thing that has changed dramatically actually to the betterment of the home builders is that the speed of which the modeling and the whole process happens has increased radically. Right?

Steve Ormonde: Absolutely.

Kevin Weitzel: And two, the cost has come extremely down. What were those first series of renderings costs time-wise and money-wise? Let's go back in the way back [00:10:00] machine to 1995. What were the typical rendering costs back then, and how long did it take for a series of homes back then?

Steve Ormonde: Yeah. Interestingly enough, the time hasn't changed dramatically for us but the price has, to your point, Kevin. So, I remember our photorealistic renderings that back in the day we were pretty much the only company in the game back then, and we were getting between $1,500 and $2,000 per rendering. And that was simply because that's what it took, right? It took longer to do those to get to that level of photorealism. You really needed an artist's eye that cannot just take a 3D model that came out of the engine of 3D, but also took it into Photoshop and retouched it. It was a very laborious process.

You fast forward to today, the steps that we take have been minimized to probably less than half, but the rendering time takes a little bit longer than it did back in the day because you're rendering more detail. So, the price of that same rendering is, you know, under 500. So, a dramatic decrease in cost.

 Virtual models are kind [00:11:00] of the same. You know, the virtual model home, I remember charging $7,500 for a virtual model home back in the early days, which is a ton of money 30-plus years ago. Today we do that same model for about 3,500 bucks. The buillder gets something that's leap years ahead of what we had produced back in the mid-nineties.

Kevin Weitzel: Now, one thing I admire about you is that you are very intimately involved with your company. You're not just a set-it-and-forget-it kind of guy or, hey, I've got my minions out there selling this stuff so I don't have to worry about it. You know, you're constantly and consistently involved with your clients, which I admire very much so, and I give you a salute for that.

Do you find in your inner workings with builders, especially as maybe some of the less sophisticated builders, that you're like, brother, you've got to update this stuff? You're renderings, these are 12 years old. I don't even have some of the artists that we used back then, and you guys still have these on your website. You've got to update these. How often do you see builders that just aren't keeping up with the times with tech?

Steve Ormonde: Wow. Well, I think we all see it, right? Probably people even listening in where [00:12:00] I can still randomly pull up a builder website and their renderings aren't even renderings. They're just the CAD, you know, the black and white line drawings, the architect produced.

Kevin Weitzel: Don't ping my ears like that.

Steve Ormonde: Oh, dude, I'm right there with you, man. My gut hurts when I see that because it's their storefront. People are driving by looking in to see what they do and all they have are these line drawings, but I'm sure they build beautiful homes. At the very least replace those darn things, you know, one or two photos of your actual product.

Yeah, it surprises me how many builders still haven't really stepped their game up when it comes to their storefront, their website. And don't even get me started on the customer journey once they arrive at a sales center. They're all part and parcel to a good experience. And they, of course they want the buyer to rave about the process they go through when they buy and build a home so they can share it with their friends and then get that repeat business. But it starts at the very, very beginning.

So, you hit the nail on the head to say that not only are there builders that are missing out on the opportunity, there are even builders, that perhaps were clients of ours back in the day, that are still reusing the same images. [00:13:00] I'll say because we're based in the southwest, it's a bit different out here that builders don't reuse a lot of plans and elevations. Almost every community is a brand new one. So, we don't see a lot of legacy imagery. But certainly, our builders out east have the legacy imagery. And they're pretty progressive. I mean, if they're working with Focus 360, there's a darn good chance that they're not going to have things that are stale on their website or part of their customer process.

Greg Bray: So, Steve, let's drill in, though, to this idea of these builders that are still using the line drawings. Again, you know that the home doesn't look like that when it's done. It has color. So, at least hopefully they didn't paint it black and white stripes. Right? Where is the disconnect in their desire to help the customer visualize this that they don't want those tools?

Is it they just feel like they're too expensive? Is it because they can see it when they look at that kind of a picture? You know, the way you could see the plans as an architect, but your wife couldn't because she didn't have that training. Why [00:14:00] aren't we trying harder to make this connection easier for the buyer out there?

Steve Ormonde: That's a great question. I think all of the items you point out are probably true. I can't speak for those builders, but what I have heard, there's definitely a price quotient to it. It's just cheaper just to snippet the CAD file and put it on their website. I have heard that they're just so darn busy. They don't have time, they don't have a staff to support getting those images created. Certainly, they don't have to spend any more money than necessary to get things lifted. They're not going to. But again, I think they're short-changing themselves when it comes to the process of the customer journey.

I think everyone wants to be better in some way. It just takes a little bit of effort. One of the things that we really push hard on, Greg and Kevin, is that our clients don't have to do the level of effort that they might with other vendors. We tout a concierge approach to our process, meaning just give us some names and numbers, we'll take care of the information gathering for you. We will save you a ton of time [00:15:00] in the rendering process, in the virtual model process, in their interactive process just by pulling that information from their vendors so they don't have to do that digging themselves. So, the more we can help them get the tools that they need for their website and for their sales center, the more likely they are to do it. That's really one of the cornerstones of the Focus 360 approach.

Greg Bray: Hey everybody, this is Greg from Blue Tangerine and I just wanted to take a quick break to make sure you know about the upcoming Home Builder Digital Marketing Summit that Blue Tangerine is hosting together with OutHouse, October 18th and 19th in Denver, Colorado.

This is gonna be an amazing event full of digital marketing insights, knowledge, best practices, and most importantly, some fun. So, be sure that you get registered today and come hang out with us, an amazing team of speakers and presenters that are gonna be together. Again, that's October 18th and 19th in Denver, and you can learn more and get registered at buildermarketingsummit.com. We'll see you there.

Kevin Weitzel: [00:16:00] When you're out and about and you see a builder, and I'm always curious on a different angle on this. So, when you see a builder that has a couple of really nice photoreal renderings and then you see some line drawings peppered in and some photos peppered in from different angles, different light, my advice is, Hey, if you're going to use, you know, a few key renderings, at least have that consistency. What do you say to the builder that has very low-quality renderings? There's no secret that Focus 360 does some of the best, if not the best photoreal imagery in the industry when it comes to both stills and VRS in animations as well. But what do you say about the consistency messaging? Is good enough, good enough when you're at least consistent with the product line?

Steve Ormonde: That's a great question because I do see that. I will see builders that have less than best quality imagery even using the line drawing guy, for example. If you're going to be a line drawing marketer, then be consistent with your [00:17:00] line drawings across the entire website. Don't pepper in a photo taken by the salesperson on that foggy morning of one of the spec houses. Be consistent. And if you're going to use affordable renderings that aren't of best quality, then do it across the whole site, or at the very least across the community. I think that's kind of marketing 101, isn't it? Be consistent.

What drives me crazy is the good enough comment because, like you guys, I just can't handle good enough. We're always striving to be the best that we can. I'm certainly sure that a home buyer that's going to invest 300,000, 400,000, or in our case, a million bucks here is entry-level in So Cal on a house, don't want the construction to be good enough. They want it to be the best construction. So if they're expecting the best construction, the best home, the best living experience, you would think that would start at the very beginning and offer the best customer journey, the best imagery on the front end to help the buyer better understand what they're getting themselves into.

Greg Bray: So, inconsistency is [00:18:00] then one of the mistakes that you see people making where they're just kind of throwing stuff, this was made yesterday, this was made today and it's different came from a different vendor, different person. Are there any other common mistakes that you see builders make as they try to find and create the visuals that they're using to put out there for their homes?

Steve Ormonde: Just to clarify, like I said, I don't think the builders intend to be inconsistent, it just kind of evolves. It could have evolved because staff changes and whatnot, but certainly from the marketing standpoint, they want to revisit their sites and make sure that they can minimize, if not eliminate those inconsistencies.

Other mistakes that builders might make in marketing tools. It's similar in that inconsistency in the depth of content. For example, if you're launching a new community with half a dozen floor plans and one or two have a Matterport tour because you've built them before, but the other three or four have nothing to show the buyer the interior. For Pete's sake, throw something in there. [00:19:00] Use a virtual model, even if it's the most basic of virtual models. Use a couple still images, give the buyer some idea of what the inside of the homes are going to look like.

If I had my preference, I would say, Hey, if you're going to do Matterport for one or two, you know, we have a product called Multipoint that basically mimics a Matterport for unbuilt homes, put that alongside. It doesn't cost a ton of money. If you have just still image gallery photos of existing homes on two of the plans, get some still images from any of the providers out there so you have consistency for the consumer.

I don't know if you've done this but I've walked a lot of sales offices in my days where when I walk in, the salesperson has one model to demonstrate. They probably have a favorite plan that's not modeled, and when that neighborhood gets built out, guess which plans are on that streetscape? It's those two or three plans, period. Here the builder invests all this time and money and energy in designing five, six, ten plans, and half of them never get built. If I'm a [00:20:00] builder, I'm like, okay, wait a minute. I got to figure out why is this happening. How can I help the consumer better understand those unbuilt plans and that's why companies like Focus 360 exist.

Greg Bray: I love that idea that we might have a self-fulfilling prophecy loop going on here, right? Because, oh gosh, look, these are the most popular ones, everybody wants these three. Or is it because those are the ones that we have the materials and support to actually educate the buyers on and help them visualize and connect with, and we don't have that for the others? So, therefore guess what they buy, the ones that they're able to visualize and understand.

Steve Ormonde: That's exactly right. And you know, it ends up with a neighborhood that just looks like every other neighborhood. There's no uniqueness to it. The buyers miss out because they don't really get to experience a plan that might have been better for themselves. They just had no way of knowing that. And today there's absolutely no reason that you can't do a virtual model for every home you offer. You'll hear Molly Carmichael from Zonda praise this all the time. [00:21:00] It's, Hey, you guys, it's affordable now. This isn't, you know, the early days of 3D. We're doing hundreds if not thousands of virtual models per year at an affordable price. A few thousand bucks and you can have something to show your buyer every single plan. The sooner they jump on that bandwagon, the better they will be because they'll get full leverage on their portfolio of investment plans, and the better experience the buyers will get.

Kevin Weitzel: So, there was a paper written at the University of California in Davis. I like to read scientific papers. I'm not a reader, but that's the one thing I actually like to read every once in a while because I like to see the findings. On this study, they took a cafe and they took a diner scenario, and in both scenarios, anytime there was a photograph or a picture of the food versus just a description or line item of the food, it was 71% more likely to be selected than something with just a line item description. Seventy-one percent. So, there you go. That's why [00:22:00] those same two models are the only ones that are selling than any of them.

Steve Ormonde: No, you nailed it. We're visual people. I mean, we have to see things to better understand them. God gave us two eyes for a reason. I love the fact that we can help buyers better understand the unbuilt. Given the tools and the acceleration of the technology and the speed of processors and GPUs, it's getting better and better and better. It's exciting to see, not just a buyer's eyes light up when they look at a plan that hasn't been built yet, they literally think they're touring something that's physically built and it's not, the reaction from the sales team is even better. I can't tell you how many quotes we get that are emotional quotes about their ability to help a buyer find the home of their dreams using this technology.

Greg Bray: Let's dive into that just a little bit more then Steve, because lots of times we think about this as something that goes on the website, these tools will go on the website. Talk to us about how builders use these tools in the sales office, and how they can integrate that into some of their presentation flow and the things that they're talking to the buyers about.

Steve Ormonde: [00:23:00] Yeah, it's been fun for me over time to watch the transition of websites becoming the first place for buyers to visit. Back in the day, it was just to find a builder in a neighborhood they wanted to go build into now it's really the place where they vet the builders, right? In the early 2000s, they'd make their shortlist of builders to go look at, and then the sales office is where they made their decisions. It's where they walked a model. And back then, that's where our toolkit was super important, you know, displaying these images on big screen TVs, helping them tour unbuilt plans, you know, do the lot selection at the point of sale.

Eighty percent of the decision process was happening at the sales center, and that's flipped on its head, right? Now, the website is where 80% of the decision is made. That last 20% happens at the point of sale really to make sure that the people they're meeting at the sales center, the neighborhood they're buying in is something that they're prepared for.

So, for us, we've watched our tool kit flip. All of our web-facing tools are designed to help the buyer not just [00:24:00] understand the plans, but actually begin to personalize them and get emotionally attached to those homes so that when they arrive at the sales center, it's a confirmation of what they did on a browser. So, they're seeing it on a much bigger screen, they're experiencing it in a much more diverse way through this larger screen, and then they get to back it up with one or two model homes that say, yeah, this builder knows what they're doing. I like the quality of their cabinetry and I do like this neighborhood. So, yeah, and the evolution continues. It's gonna be interesting to see five, ten years down the road, how we continue to improve upon that process.

Greg Bray: From a budget standpoint, Steve, I can feel one of our listeners and you know who you are, right? Raise your hand. One of our listeners is going, I need this stuff. I need this stuff, but I can't get the budget approved. I can't get the higher-ups to buy in, to understand. They just think it's whiz-bangy, flashy stuff, and they don't really know how it's going to help. What do you say to that marketing executive or director who's just trying to get some buy-in from the people who control the purse[00:25:00] and how these tools are going to help drive more sales?

Steve Ormonde: Yeah, it is tough. I mean, we have to admit there are a lot of old-school builders still in business, and they don't quite understand the new generations and how they're used to consuming products and using digital technology, so they don't want to spend the money. If it's worked this far, it'll continue to work for them.

But, you know, there are a number of things that we've seen builders do to get budgets approved. The first one is I've seen them cut the number of models down by one. You lose one model and you just paid for an entire model complex virtually, right? I'm not a fan of removing models specifically because I do think that they play a key role in a home buyer's journey, but that is one thing I have seen.

Others, it's allocating maybe just a little bit of money for that first virtual model. Let's just do one and test it out and make sure you do with a good company. You know, we're not the only ones that do this, but make sure it's a reputable company that can provide great product that you know your sales team can easily use and a consumer can easily [00:26:00] use on your website.

And make sure the realism is such that there's no confusion of this being a physical home versus a computer-generated home. Back in the day, when the models looked like they were computer-generated, the buyers were less likely to get emotionally attached to it. Now today, there's no reason for it to look like a CG or computer-generated home, it should look real. So, make sure you're finding a reputable vendor. Make sure the imagery is top notch and make sure that that company can scale with you as you begin to grow.

So, you set 5000 aside on a marketing budget, and pretty much anybody can do that for a project. You get your feet wet with a good company. The proof will be that that home will outsell the other unmodeled homes. I see it all the time. Once that happens, then they're like, okay, maybe we'll do two the next time and then three, and the next thing you know, we're doing their whole portfolio.

Greg Bray: As long as we don't have just that home going down the street. Right, because it's the only, it's the only one that sells, right?

Steve Ormonde: You know who you're, we talk about that.

Kevin Weitzel: You know, it's crazy Greg, on that point [00:27:00] though, when a builder is considering their budgetary, all you have to do when you take a typical builder that has two, three models, you eliminate one model. The cost of the dirt carry alone, the cost of dirt carry alone could make every one of your homes in that whole series 100% virtual.

Steve Ormonde: Exactly.

Kevin Weitzel: So, the excuse that it's not in the budget just does not fly in today's day and age. It really doesn't. Now for that builder that only can afford to build one model and they're barely holding on on the shoestring budget to try to, you know, stay in business. Sure. Okay. Maybe that model doesn't work, but you know, the average builder out there is doing two, three, sometimes four models, five models a community. There's no excuse. There really isn't.

Greg Bray: To that point, there's so much of this, it's like, we only have to sell how many more new homes to pay for this comparatively? One, right? One per community, one per community per month? It doesn't take very much to pay for this stuff.

Kevin Weitzel: It's even better than that, and Steve can attest to this. The number of structural options that you can sell, and that's a higher profit margin item on a home, just the structural options you sell on one home can cover the cost [00:28:00] of these things.

Steve Ormonde: You're absolutely right. And helping a buyer visualize options is so important. We see all the time, just in the finishes, think of just the typical floor tile. How many of the buyers have picked out a floor tile, walked in their home, and saying, this isn't the tile I chose? Well, now that you see it across the whole floor, it looks completely different. So, no, you're absolutely right.

Kevin Weitzel: That's an interesting point that you made there. So, can you expound on the fact that there's a lot of builders and I don't know why they don't understand this concept, but then they'll tell you that, well, why does the Sherwin Williams paint number 212 look different on this plan here versus on my salesperson's screen over there or when we print it on a flyer? Can you expound on that a little bit because a lot of people truly don't understand why there's variation?

Steve Ormonde: Oh, that's our nemesis in this business. There are so many variables when it comes to a color palette, forget pattern, just solid color. When I take a picture of my home, a physically built home living room with a certain color, and I put it on [00:29:00] three different TV monitors, I'm getting three different versions of that color. Even if they're the exact same monitors, if one monitor is in a room filled with light and the other monitor is in a room that doesn't have windows, it's another two different sets of colors.

So, it's nearly impossible, oh no, I'll come out and say, it's impossible to have a consistent color representation across multiple screens. Period. It just can't happen. So, what I push is the relativeness of the colors. It's the color palette in conjunction with the other colors. So, when I look at a nice beige home with a red front door and I put the beige home with red next to another monitor, those two look similar. They're both going to look beige. They're both going to look red. If you get down to just the red of the doors, they're gonna look a little bit different, but relative to one another, they look consistent. And that's really our big push when it comes to doing like finishes programs or visualizers, as they've been coined, is that it's not having the exact color [00:30:00] representation, it's having it be relative to the other colors within the palette the builder is offering.

Greg Bray: I mean, if we're honest, that's not just a computer screen issue. As a do-it-yourself painter, there's been many times where we're finishing painting the room at night, and the next morning when the sun's up and there's light in the window, It's like, oh, my gosh, this is a totally different color than what I thought I was painting last night on the wall. Right? And that has nothing to do with the computer screen, right? It's just all about lighting and the way that light interacts with color and all those things, and it changes. So, yeah, it's a tough one for sure.

Steve Ormonde: Just to expand upon that, if you don't mind, is what's become really popular are these dusk renderings for the exterior elevations. So, you nailed it. Lighting also affects color. So, if you're going to do a midday rendering, the color is going to be a lot more accurate than if you choose to do the more emotional dusk rendering where the hues of the colors begin to shift.

Greg Bray: Well, Steve, we really appreciate your time today, and it's been a great conversation. Any last thoughts or words of advice that you want to leave for folks before we wrap [00:31:00] up?

Steve Ormonde: Oh, gosh, we covered a lot. And I really want to thank you guys for giving me an opportunity to just chat with you. It's been a lot of fun. But in terms of wrapping things up, all I can say is that look, there are a lot of great vendors out there that are producing amazing work. As you begin to adopt these technologies for your home buyers and to help them better understand your unbuilt plans and options, just be sure you do your research on companies. There are, like I said, a lot of great companies out there. Find one that you're comfortable working with, that you know can scale with you, and give your buyers the tools that they need to better visualize your homes.

Greg Bray: Are you okay if we quote you saying line drawings stink? Is that okay?

Steve Ormonde: We need to come up with a better quote, but something similar to that. I'm totally down for that.

Kevin Weitzel: I like the term craptastic. Oh, I see you use craptastic renderings for your homes. Do you build in the same manner?

Steve Ormonde: I love it. You guys crack me up. It's been a lot of fun. Thank you.

Greg Bray: Well, Steve, if somebody wants to learn more and connect with you, what's the best way for them to get in touch?

Steve Ormonde: Well, [00:32:00] they can email me directly. I'm accessible, steveo@focus360.com, or they can hit our website at focus360.com. If they really want to see what's going on at the company, follow us on one of the social media channels. We're all over on LinkedIn and Instagram, et cetera, TikTok, and all those fun things. So, we're pretty easily accessible.

Greg Bray: All right. Well, thanks again, Steve, and thank you everybody for listening today to The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine.

Kevin Weitzel: And I'm Kevin Weitzel with Zonda Livabl. Thank you. [00:33:00]

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