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

198 Customizing the Home Buyer Experience - Haley Naebig

This week on The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, Haley Naebig of NoviHome joins Greg and Kevin to discuss how home builders can enhance customer engagement and increase sales through customizing the home buyer experience.

There is little dispute that there is a continual need to improve the customer experience in the home builder industry, especially following the unprecedented last few years. Haley says, “Buyer experience isn't just sales department. It's all the way from the time that a buyer walks in. So, it's marketing. It takes into account sales, then construction is involved. And so, we see kind of a broken buyer experience in a lot of ways. And then, of course, during COVID and some of the previous years, we kind of saw buyer experience fall to the wayside for sure.”

Even if a home builder’s customer experience isn’t completely fractured, it could be greatly improved if departments within the home builder organization worked together more efficiently. Haley explains, “So, I wouldn't say that it's entirely broken, but what I see is it's very segmented, right? These departments operate separately. There's not a whole lot of collaboration between sales and construction. So, it's hard to get kind of consistent communication between the builder and their buyers, meaning there's email threads with different people, there's multiple text message threads. Maybe the superintendent or construction manager is communicating with the buyer one way through one form of technology and then the sales department is communicating with them a completely separate way. So, it's just a little confusing, and not super consistent during the entire process.”

Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about how a more personalized home buyer journey could boost leads and sales.

About the Guest:

Haley Naebig is an award-winning New Home Sales & Marketing Professional, known for her unwavering commitment to elevating the customer experience. With a passion for delivering exceptional service through meaningful connections, she has consistently excelled in her roles, initially embarking on her career in homebuilding as an Online Sales Counselor for a prominent builder and eventually ascending to Director of Sales at NoviHome. Suppose you're involved in sales and marketing for a homebuilder anywhere in the United States and many parts of Canada. In that case, chances are you've received a call, text, video email, and numerous emails from Haley. In her free time, Haley enjoys weight training at the gym, going on long and painful hikes in areas devoid of cell service, impulsively booking flights, and hanging out with her 11-pound Cavapoo, Stella.


Episode 198: Haley Naebig

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 with Zonda and Liveabl.

Greg Bray: And we are excited today to have joining us on the show Haley Naebig. Haley is the Director of Sales at NoviHome. Welcome, Haley. Thanks for being with us today.

Haley Naebig: Hi guys. Thanks for having me.

Greg Bray: Well, Haley, for those who don't know you, why don't we start off with a quick introduction and just help us to get to know a little bit about you?

Haley Naebig: Yeah, for sure. So, I'm Haley. I live now in Denver, [00:01:00] Colorado. I just recently moved to Denver from Louisiana. I've been with NoviHome for a little over a year, but we'll get into some of that information a little bit later, I think, in the podcast. I am Director of Sales, so I sell NoviHome to home builders all across the country.

Kevin Weitzel: Before we get into anything more on that subject, we need to know something personal about you that has nothing to do with work or the home building industry that our listeners can learn about you on our podcast.

Haley Naebig: Oh, man. Okay. Something personal about me. We were just talking before the podcast about skiing. So, I'll talk about that. So, I just learned to ski last weekend for the first time. It was a really painful and humbling experience. That is my new hobby of choice and I am just god awful at it, but I am determined as heck to make it fun.

Kevin Weitzel: And it's kind of a staple in Colorado. You almost have to be a skier.

Haley Naebig: Yeah, there's like an entirely different language among skiers and snowboarders in Colorado that I don't yet [00:02:00] understand, but there's all different types of terms. If I didn't ski, I probably wouldn't see a lot of the people who are important to me during the months of November to May.

Kevin Weitzel: Do you ever drop any of that Cajun on any of those ski instructors?

Haley Naebig: So, I haven't taken any lessons. My boyfriend, he's just been skiing a long time and he's very good, and so he's the one that taught me. He's from Texas, so he gets the Cajun. But I'm actually not from Louisiana originally. I'm from outside of Chicago. But I just happened to live in Louisiana for several years.

Kevin Weitzel: You didn't sound very Cajun. Whenever I hear somebody from Louisiana, I'm like, Oh, Hey, we going to get just some crawdads, you know, something like that. But I didn't hear any of that in your voice. None of it.

Haley Naebig: No, no, not much. The other salesperson at NoviHome, one of my sales girls, her name's Liz, we worked together at the builder that I worked at in Louisiana. Whenever she talks to other builders who are from Louisiana or surrounding areas, she signs off her emails with like, let's go or go tigers. But the EAUX, it's very Louisiana, very Southern.

Greg Bray: Well, Haley, tell us a little more about how you [00:03:00] got into the home building industry. You mentioned working for a builder, but give us a little bit more of that backstory.

Haley Naebig: I've taken a non-traditional path to adulthood. So, I dropped out of college a couple of times. When I moved to Louisiana, I ended up working and starting my career in roofing. So, I worked for a roofer in Baton Rouge for a couple of years. Level Homes, the builder that I worked for in Baton Rouge as well, we did all the roofs for their homes.

And so, when I saw that they posted a job for an OSC to start their OSC program, it was everything that I loved about my job and none of the things that I hated. So, I was super excited and that was kind of my path to working for Level. I saw a lot of success there. Won a couple of awards, had a really great relationship with the whole sales team, marketing department.

I was actually hired and trained by Jen Barkan with Do You Convert? They hired me for Level Homes and then kind of mentored me for a couple of years. And then when I was ready to move [00:04:00] on, I knew a lot of people in the industry from going to all the industry events. And so, my boss now, Cody, mentioned that he was looking to hire someone. And by that point, I had talked to, like, 7 or 8 different people who are all at the same event as him, and they kind of unanimously were like, you should talk to Haley. And so, that's how I ended up at NoviHome.

Greg Bray: Tell us more about NoviHome then, the type of stuff you guys are doing there and the services you're providing.

Haley Naebig: Yeah. So, NoviHome, the foundation of what we build is on buyer experience. The most tangible thing that our builders get as a result of a partnership with NoviHome is a custom-branded app. Pick a random builder that we work with. Well, let's say, Level Homes, right? So, Level Homes would have a Level Homes app that their buyers can engage with from hypothetically the time they walk in all the way through warranty, depending on how they set it up.

Pre-contract, those custom apps typically serve as kind of a digital shopping tool closely near the builder's website. It's going to send back enhanced analytics to sales and marketing teams. And then post-contract through post-closing, it'll serve somewhat as a[00:05:00] customer portal where buyers stay updated on the build of their home with photos, videos, chat between themselves and the entire builder team. And all of that information and all of that communication will push back to the builder's CRM.

Greg Bray: So, why is builder experience something that you guys decided to focus on? What is it that kind of got you interested in that particular direction?

Haley Naebig: It's usually a cross-functional type of decision. There's multiple parties involved, right? Buyer experience isn't just sales department. It's all the way from the time that a buyer walks in. So, it's marketing. It takes into account sales, then constructions involved. And so, we see kind of a broken buyer experience in a lot of ways. And then, of course, during COVID and some of the previous years, we kind of saw buyer experience fall to the wayside for sure.

Kevin Weitzel: Greg and I take a lot of pride on this podcast that there are never advertisements for various suppliers, but you know, obviously our listening audience wants to know about what the product is and what you guys do. [00:06:00] So, from a user standpoint of a home builder, when you said that it keeps the buyer updated on photos on statuses and stuff, is that something that you guys are doing, or is it the platform that houses it so the builder can populate that and basically that be the liaison between the buyer and the actual process?

Haley Naebig: Yes, that's correct. So, we are kind of the liaison. All of that is going to be personal one-to-one communication between the builder and their customer. We are the liaison. So, we're just kind of a landing place for a lot of that communication, and then we push that communication out to other technologies that the builder uses where it's important to have that data as well. So, for example, like Lasso or HubSpot. So, that when sales managers, or whoever it is that's kind of monitoring buyer experience and buyer updates and things like that, they have all of the information about what's going on between their salespeople and their customers.

Greg Bray: You used the word broken a minute ago, Haley, about the user experience, the buyer journey. What is broken to you from what you see? You now have the opportunity to [00:07:00] not only have worked for a builder yourself, but you talk to a lot of builders and you kind of get that insider view as you try to explain to them what you can offer, learn how they do it today. You see some of them, I guess, evolve as they try tools like NoviHome to improve it. What's broken, in general, from your perspective?

Haley Naebig: I feel like maybe that was a little bit dramatic. I think for some builders, it a hundred percent is. Most of the people who partner with us though, they're just trying to get better, right? They already have buyer experience on the forefront of their mind. They know that they need something that's going to better communicate with their buyers.

So, I wouldn't say that it's entirely broken, but what I see is it's very segmented, right? These departments operate separately. There's not a whole lot of collaboration between sales and construction. So, it's hard to get kind of consistent communication between the builder and their buyers, meaning there's email threads with different people, there's multiple text message threads. Maybe the superintendent or construction manager is [00:08:00] communicating with the buyer one way through one form of technology and then the sales department is communicating with them a completely separate way. So, it's just a little confusing, and not super consistent during the entire process.

Kevin Weitzel: So, you're connecting silos, in essence, and you're not necessarily like you're saying that the word broken. It's not that you're broken on the side of the road with, you know, your axle falling off. You're basically just making the engine more efficient so it gets better fuel economy.

Haley Naebig: Correct. Yes. I like that, Kevin. Thank you.

Greg Bray: Well, but Kevin, that's for the smart builders that are trying to improve it, right? There's a whole bunch of other builders that won't take her call. Those builders are on a whole different road somewhere, right?

Kevin Weitzel: There's a term for those though. They're not going to be in business 10 years from now. That's the term for them.

Haley Naebig: Maybe. I don't know. I'll keep calling them though.

Greg Bray: You're being nice Haley, not saying everybody's broken. Of course, there's this huge continuum. You mentioned before that during COVID they were so busy that people just kind of said, sorry, if you don't like the way we do it, then move out of the way, there's somebody behind you in line ready to [00:09:00] take this house. And now, we've had to step back and go, oh my goodness, we may have overdone that a little bit and need to be a little nicer to the people who are bringing us money and trying to buy our homes.

Haley Naebig: Yes. A hundred percent. Now, like, especially with interest rates. I'm not going to say anything that probably people on your podcast haven't said before. It's a lot easier or it can sometimes make sense for buyers to cancel on their homes, to not purchase a home. And so, some of this over-communication, this over-emphasis on buyer experience is super, super important when sales are a little bit harder to come by and harder to keep.

Kevin Weitzel: Did you seriously just say the C word on a home builder podcast? You can't say that.

Haley Naebig: Cancellations?

Kevin Weitzel: You just said it again! You're not supposed to do that! That's like saying 7 at a craps table! Haley, come on! We don't use the C word, the cancellation word. Shh! We don't use that word with home builders.

Haley Naebig: We don't?

Kevin Weitzel: We can't do it.

Haley Naebig: I feel like I was reading something or I saw something on LinkedIn. I don't know if it was Zonda data, but it [00:10:00] was just kind of the cancellation year-over-year change from last year. I know I'm going to keep saying it.

Kevin Weitzel: She said it again, Greg.

Haley Naebig: I'm going to say it again.

Kevin Weitzel: Where do we find these guests?

Greg Bray: Sorry, we can do like a bleep thing or something later when we edit it, so.

Haley Naebig: Is there a better word that I should be using? Is there like, you know, instead of saying price reduction, you say price improvement, is there a more PC way to say cancellation?

Kevin Weitzel: Yeah. I'm just being silly.

Greg Bray: It's the reality that communicating well with customers is part of that whole piece of helping them feel good about what's going on and helping them improve. Why did you guys think a mobile app would be the way to do that as opposed to like a CRM tool or some other type of process? What was kind of the thinking that went into the development there?

Haley Naebig: Yeah. I just think so many people and so much of our phone usage is on mobile apps now. One of the biggest objections that I get from builders that I talk to, they're like, well, is somebody really going to download an app? [00:11:00] And our favorite stat to pull out is 85 percent of what everybody does on their phone is app-based. There may be a little hesitancy to download apps, but I mean, at the end of the day, everything you're doing is app-based for the most part.

So, I think there was a gap in the market there. There's a lot of really great websites, a lot of really great interactive design tools, and things of that nature on the sales and marketing side for home builders, and there wasn't really anybody that was building apps. The only home builder apps that I've seen are ones that big national builders have paid half a million dollars, a million dollars for to develop that takes years and needs a whole development team. So, we're able to basically white label our functionality for the individual builder, push it out in 45 to 60 days and get them up and running, and have a custom mobile app for their buyers.

Kevin Weitzel: That brings me to a point where I have to ask a question. So, when you offer your service for a builder, you're white labeling it, so the name NoviHome isn't a customer-facing [00:12:00] name. So, Coal West, on their app, it's going to be the Coal West app, not the NoviHome app, correct?

Haley Naebig: So, the only thing that's going to show NoviHome is the name of the app itself that they download in the app store. Once a buyer logs in, it can change to the builder's logo. But in order for us to kind of not have to keep up multiple apps with app store compliance and things like that, you get into those higher costs that way. But everything, once a buyer logs in, it's going to look like the builder.

Greg Bray: App store regulations are nuts. I'm just saying.

Haley Naebig: Yeah, I'm not a software developer. Whenever a builder asked me about that, I'm like, I don't really understand all of that different language, but apparently, yes, it's very hard and requires a lot of work.

Greg Bray: Yeah, you almost have to sign away a child to actually get something approved in the app store. It's fun. Well, and it's a value you bring, right? You've already gone through that hurdle. If somebody is trying to do their own, you know, they have a lot of learning to figure out how to make that happen and to get that out there.

Haley Naebig: Yeah, a lot of learning. And then anytime they need to keep something compliant, regulations [00:13:00] change, there's development costs that go into that. Anytime they want to make any kind of update or, hey, we want to add this functionality there's additional development costs. Those are things that we just kind of do because we're developing our product, because we listen to our builders and we make changes and pivot as builders request things. So, that's just kind of built into our pricing anyway.

Greg Bray: So, when you're talking with builders and they have this objection or concern, I guess, about will anybody actually download it? I think it really comes down to the fact we will download anything that we think will help, that we think will have value, that we think we'll actually use. Right? It's the stuff I don't see any reason for it. So, how do you help the builder communicate the value to the prospective buyer of why they should install and use this app versus some other type of communication process?

Haley Naebig: Part of a partnership with Novi is that once implementation for the builder is done, our national trainer flies out or drives out or whatever and spends an entire day on site with the [00:14:00] builder's team. So, that's anyone who's going to be using it from the builder side, whether that's construction, sales, admin, marketing.

Koi, our national trainer, is I think like the secret weapon of NoviHome. Like every single person loves Koi. Anytime we go anywhere and we bring Koi, everyone's like Koi! So, he's fantastic and he spends a lot of time during that training with sales, doing role-playing of how salespeople can be introducing the app to their buyers in order to sell value to them. Koi is just so great at teaching builders how to do that.

Greg Bray: You get the builder, the marketing team, and all that all excited about it, but now you're trying to get the sales folks to use technology. Have you ever run into issues with sales folks being a little hesitant to embrace new technology? How do you work through some of that? Or is that Koi's problem and you don't have to worry about it, right?

Haley Naebig: No, no, it's definitely something that I run into. [00:15:00] And I'm going to say something controversial because I talk to builders every day and I talk to owners who are like, well, my salespeople, I can't even get them to use a CRM. And I'm like, okay, it's almost 2024. Salespeople that won't use a CRM should not be selling for you anymore. I'm shocked. I'm like, why do your salespeople run your organization? Like, find somebody else.

So, anyway, I still hear that all the time. It's like, well, my salesperson, I can't even get them to use a CRM. And I'm like, okay, well they should be fired first of all.

Kevin Weitzel: Instantaneous.

Haley Naebig: But usually the analytics that we send back to sales teams makes it really easy for them to be efficient with their follow-up, so we're giving them something in return for it as well. Because I'm a salesperson, right? So, I sell for a living, but then I sell things to my friends all the time. Like, I don't know, Lululemon. I'll tell anybody I know how much I love Lululemon. I'll tell you why you should wear Lululemon. I'll tell you what would look good on you. I will sell anything.

Once NoviHome and usage of the app helps them sell one more home, they will sell it to every other salesperson in their organization. They'll talk about [00:16:00] it in sales meetings. And then at that point, the work on our end is kind of over with making sure salespeople use it. But once once person in an organization, it really helps, we see a big adoption among all the other salespeople as well.

Kevin Weitzel: I can validate that, Greg. I ran into Haley at one point and I said, Hey, so what Lululemon product should I use? And she said, turn to the left. Then she said, turn to the right. She said, denim. You need to wear large coverage of denim. And, and I said, wow, where is that in the Lululemon store? She goes, it's not. Go find a store that has burlap sacks and denim. I don't know what it is about my physique that she said is not Lululemon-worthy, but I don't know.

Haley Naebig: This is a Lululemon Novi shirt. So, now NoviHome, all the women have Lululemon Novi apparel.

Kevin Weitzel: There you go.

Greg Bray: I'm waiting for Kevin's next Facebook post of him in a Lululemon store, just browsing. Some video clips there. That'll be a good one, Kevin. Well, Haley, as the sales team is part of it, you also mentioned you get all the way into warranty and customer service at [00:17:00] that point, or where it is kind of your piece of the journey end?

Haley Naebig: It depends on how the builder sets up the technology. Like we were talking about earlier, we're a liaison between buyer and builder. The builder can choose to weave us in wherever they want. There is a lot of different things that we do. No builder uses the technology the same and not every builder uses every piece of it. So, warranty is one of those things that I've never dealt with a more polarizing topic in the builder industry.

So, they can set up their warranty portal to feed into the app so that buyers can file claims there, or they can turn it off. They can not have that be an option. But usually, it's once somebody closes, is kind of where a lot of the hands on work ends in Novi.

Documents that are saved to a buyer's profile will be saved in there forever. So, we see buyers, honestly, logging in like months, if not years after they've closed looking at photos of their home under construction that they've lived in for a year. It's funny. And you don't think [00:18:00] that, but people they're at dinner parties that, you know, they're hosting their friends and they're like, let me show you what my house looked like while it was under construction. So, we see people in there who closed a long time ago. But typically that, like I said, the hands on work stops once they close.

Kevin Weitzel: Now, for the people that are still logging back on, I can see doing that if you had photographs of framing and you want to see exactly how the framing was stacked up behind the drywall.

Haley Naebig: Yes.

Kevin Weitzel: I get that. But what about the person that is just horrible with keeping records that wants to know what their install date was on their appliances, what their install date was on their HVAC system when they should be, you know, putting themselves on a schedule? Is there a scheduler on there too, to where you could actually have, you know, when to replace your filters, or is that something new that Cody gets to roll out soon?

Haley Naebig: That's not something that we have yet. we've been looking into some partnerships with people who kind of specialize in, those sorts of things. What a builder could do is upload that as a document for a buyer and they can just go back and refer to, hey, this is the timeline of when I'm supposed to do things for the first two years. So, they can pull that into a [00:19:00] buyer document tab.

The big one that I always talk about on my demo calls with builders is I was on the front lines like I was online sales. I was answering every call for years. And I worked for a builder that did about 200 homes a year, and I would get probably five calls a week of buyers saying, past buyers, like years and years past, like, Hey, what color did I paint my trim seven years ago? So, that's a big one that can live there are the selection sheets for a buyer. Because without fail they cannot find their closing binder that has the printed selection sheets when they're going to the Sherwin Williams store. That'll live there forever. That's a big one that we see people referring back to as well.

Kevin Weitzel: All right. It's no secret that I am more of a fan of the ma and pa builders. You know, the Carl's of the world, than the nationals. Nothing against nationals. Obviously, they can keep the lights on. However, what I hear is and it is usually when you get IBSitis. So, everybody goes to the International Builder Show and they're like, look at all this cool stuff. And they're like, wow, for only the profit of half of the homes that we built all of last year, we could buy this one [00:20:00] little gadget. Is your platform affordable for the average, you know, schmuck builder? Number one. And number two, don't you guys have like this weird little way that you guys can almost have it monetized by somebody else?

Haley Naebig: Yes, yeah. So, we can be unbelievably affordable, like, basically free. There's a setup fee that's associated with signing up for Novi that includes us, like I said earlier, coming out to train the whole team. It includes us building out pretty much every integration that a builder would need, all the back end, us feeding in all the content to their app. So, we do about 95 percent of the work and so there is a small setup fee associated with that.

After that, there is a partnership that we offer. We have an affiliated lender or preferred lender. Historically speaking, NoviHome is partnered with multiple national lenders and offered similar deals to builders. So, basically, a builder will choose to engage in a partnership with our lender. It gives the lender a little advertising spot on the content piece of their app and the lender [00:21:00] has the ability to try to work their leads. And in exchange, that lender will pay for the entire first year for a builder and half of all subsequent years.

It's Intercap Lending, so we have a subsidiary of Intercap Lending called NoviHome Loans. Intercap is a national lender, but it's a smaller national lender. So, it's not like a big national lender where you call and you get a phone service or you're in a phone tree and you can't speak to a person. They have the good things about working with a national lender, like super, super, super competitive rates, but the builder does have an individual person that they work with whose cell phone number that they have at NoviHome Loans. They work with them on custom incentives.

We work with builders all over the place. So, toss ideas around about incentives that are working in different markets, take it to builders in other markets and propose those, see how it works for their buyers. So, it's a really hands-on process with our lender as well. So, yeah, that's something that has been super exciting for me to be able to offer. I'd say probably [00:22:00] I don't know, 60 to 70 percent of the new business this year have opted for that partnership.

Greg Bray: Kudos to you guys for being creative there. That's an opportunity that a lot of builders don't take advantage of just again, partnering with lenders more aggressively to actually get something besides just somebody to take care of my customer, right, to actually get some financial benefit back from that. So, it's a great idea. Wish I'd thought of it.

Well, Haley, I want to be respectful of your time. We appreciate you spending time with us today. What's one last thought or piece of advice that you'd like to leave with our listeners before we wrap up?

Haley Naebig: One last thought. We have a new feature that we're going to be releasing at IBS this coming year. They are calling it right now the listings feature. I would like that to be changed to the quick move in feature. But it's basically a way for builders to really market some of that standing inventory that they have.

That's something that we've been hearing a lot from our builder partners is they're having trouble moving some of their inventory. We are building an entirely new feature that's going to [00:23:00] be, I think, a game changer within the app for salespeople. So, that's super, super exciting. I can't wait to release more information about that, but that should be rolled out by IBS in February.

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

Haley Naebig: Yeah. Check out novihome.com. That's N O V I H O M E dot com. Or they can message me.

Greg Bray: Well, thanks again, Haley, for joining us today. And thank you everybody for listening to The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine.

Kevin Weitzel: And I'm Kevin Weitzel with Zonda and Livabl. [00:24:00]

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