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On this week's episode of the Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, Greg and Kevin discuss the connection between marketing and warranty with ProHome’s Stacey Kincaid. Stacey is the director of Marketing and Support Services at ProHome and delivers outstanding insight as she’s been involved in home building in some form for the past 20 years.
Stacey brings a unique passion, understanding, and communication to her role to ensure ProHome achieves its objectives with excellent results, by focusing on improving brand image and process while creating lasting builder partnerships. ProHomes is on a mission to become the most respected and admired warranty services administration company in the industry.
Greg Bray: [00:00:00] Hello everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine.
Kevin Weitzel: I'm Kevin Weitzel with Outhouse.
Greg Bray: We are excited today to welcome to our show Stacy Kincaid the director of marketing and support services with ProHome.
Stacey Kincaid: Thank you. Good morning.
Greg Bray: We're really appreciative of your time today. For those who haven't met you, why don't you give us that quick introduction of who you are and tell us also a little bit about ProHome and what you guys [00:01:00] do.
Stacey Kincaid: Absolutely. Well, as you said, my name is Stacey Kincaid.
I am the director of marketing and support services at ProHome. We are a post-construction warranty management company. So what that means is that we partner with builders across the nation to help facilitate their warranty. For years, one sometimes up to 10. So it's an incredible partnership with builders because we know that their home buyer's experience is incredibly important.
You know, service doesn't stop after the sale, so it's a fantastic partnership. ProHome has actually been in business for 38 years. It was started by a builder, it was a group of builders here in the Midwest, we're actually located in Wichita, Kansas. A group of builders got in a room and were trying to figure out what to do with all of these warranty claims.
Like what do we do with all of these homeowners and all these callbacks? I keep getting calls at midnight or on holidays and weekends. So a builder decided that he wanted to do something about it, and this is what came from it. So we've been doing it for [00:02:00] 38 years. It's pretty exciting.
Kevin Weitzel: So that's the business Stacey. What's a personal, a little bit of Stacey?
What's that a tidbit into the world of Stacey that our audience would love to learn in today's podcast.
Stacey Kincaid: Well, one of the best parts about what I do is I do a little bit of everything for ProHome. I have been part of the home building industry for a long time. What I mean by that is my first career job was working for a title company, which was pretty cool.
A lot of people don't know that and I did that at a really young age. So I actually got started with being a title escrow analyst. So we create all the settlement statements to that. Then I decided I wanted to be a banker because I'm a fourth generation banker actually and a lot of people don't know that, so it's kind of in the DNA.
Then I got to do all the mortgage and that part of it, so then I learned the flip side of it. Now I do the, you know, new home construction. So kind of a cool thing that I've been involved with loans or lending and home building in some way, shape or form for [00:03:00] 20 years.
Kevin Weitzel: Now, something interesting there as a little side question and just more curiosity.
Anything else is the founder of the company. You said they were a builder. Are they still a builder? Or do they remain in that company?
Stacey Kincaid: They did do it jointly for like the first 13 years and then decided to dedicate all of their time strictly to ProHome. He actually sold the business about two years ago to an Evergreen Financial Firm out of San Francisco.
And they have a long-term plan for ProHome, totally committed to it across the country. We even have a franchisee in the UK. But he chose to retire a couple of years ago and now he's traveling and golfing, I'm sure.
Greg Bray: So Stacey, what made you decide you wanted to get involved with ProHome and the warranty side after being, you know, involved with the money?
Stacey Kincaid: It is a really unique story and it's really funny because the founder, I was his banker for 15 years. [00:04:00] That's how I knew about ProHome. And he had tried several times just because he always loved the level of service. I provided him to come and work. It just happened to be one of those days, you know, how you have those days where you're just like, yeah, you know, this is the day I need something new.
It just happened to be one of those days, so I was his banker for a long time.
Greg Bray: So let's talk a little bit about warranty just in general, because I mean, this is not the Home Builder Digital Warranty Podcasts. So I want to see if we can connect. All right.
That'll be our new spinoff coming out soon. Yeah. because I think there's a connection between warranty and marketing and I want to get into that. Before we get into that, let's just kind of talk a little bit about where warranty fits in and how most builders view it.
Do you think builders recognize warranty is like this pain in the backside? You know, that they [00:05:00] just have to deal with and it's this necessary evil or is there something more going on with warranty that you see?
Stacey Kincaid: You know, I think it's a combination of a couple of things, because it also depends on the type of builder that you are.
So what I mean by that is smaller builders. I mean, you're the one that are taking all of the phone calls and fielding all of it. You're the one that's going out and doing all of the work. And even when you have a little bit bigger ones than you have a dedicated warranty team, you know, just for these homeowners, but I think one of the interesting things in the industry we've seen that the customer service side of the home building process is becoming increasingly, ever more important to homeowners. You know, they're seeking out builders that provide that little extra something. And, I think that most builders and certainly the ones that we partly partner with.
See, having a thorough and well manage warranty management program is something that's absolutely essential to their business and a key component of their customer service, [00:06:00] because it doesn't stop at the sale. That's where you get or word of mouth about how the whole process went.
I had a builder the other day who told me that they had a home buyer that was on their third build with them. So it definitely doesn't stop when the homes complete.
Greg Bray: Tell us a little bit more about how ProHome just kind of provides that service for a builder. A little more detail about what you guys do for them.
Stacey Kincaid: So what we do for the builders, and I think it's essential is we have several walkthrough programs, but it kind of starts right before closing. So what we do is we go in and do a new home orientation. We send in one of our new home agents with their homeowner and a lot of times the construction manager is there.
So it's a warm handoff because we partner with builders. It's not separate in any way, shape or form. We are an extension of the builder. So we'll go in and we'll do a new home orientation. We're going to introduce the homeowners to the fits, the [00:07:00] features, the functionalities of the home. We're going to show them all of the beautiful design elements of their home.
We do the punch list, you know, in the middle of that. It's really an orientation for the homeowner and just a wow experience. We have professional new home agents that go in and are able to do that. Then that's that part for the homeowner to kind of do a warm handoff to ProHome. We give them a packet that explains all of the warranty.
We have a warranty document that a lot of our builders utilized that we have created it's based on NHB standards and our CPG guidelines. And update that accordingly, as some of those things change and we help the homeowners just really understand the warranty process. And then when those emergencies come up, they call ProHome and they submit their claims to us.
We're using that builder's warranty to service them. We schedule all of the subcontractors and trades to come back so the builder doesn't have to do any of those types of things, [00:08:00] . Then we have weekly builder meetings so the builder is aware of all of the things that are going on with any of these homes or any of these claims.
They can stay true to the warranty that they provided to the homeowner. They can step outside of it and choose to correct things out of good faith. That's a really comprehensive process for the builder. We take care of that from years one to 10, depending upon where they're at. It's a pretty exciting thing to be able to help the builders then focus on the next thing and next home, yet still allow them to take really great care of their homeowners even after the sale.
Greg Bray: You know, the home that I'm in right now, we bought as a spec house. So it was new, but I didn't go through the whole build process. We did have the walkthrough, you know and that was my first time.
I was just kind of overwhelmed a little bit with the whole thing. As I looked back at that, what I do now, as far as helping builders [00:09:00] and looking at customer experience, I look back at that and it's like, the goal of that meeting was to find the problems. You know, to find the mistakes, to see all the things they had missed or done wrong.
I look back at that, like, what a dumb way to approach that, you know. I'm walking into this huge, new, beautiful purchase it I just made and I'm excited about it, well, let's find all the things we screwed up and point them out and make a list. So what you just described to me just kind of resonated that you're not there to find all the mistakes.
You're there to show them all the features and, Oh, oops. We happened to see that scratch. We got to fix, you know, while we're doing it, that's a side piece of the whole thing. So I don't know. I just want to call that out as I think that's a very interesting, unique twist on that walkthrough process. Is that something that was conscious or did that just kind of happen accidentally?
Stacey Kincaid: No, that is absolutely a conscious piece of that because a lot of builders, that's a lot of them [00:10:00] go in and do them theirselves because it's something that's really important. You got your construction manager, they want to know what's not finished, but I mean, hopefully they've already gone through and they've kind of done their own walkthrough, but you've been looking at this house for, you know, six months to 12 months.
So sometimes you kind of get a little blurry vision with that, but I think it's just really that amazing experience for your homeowner. You know, it absolutely was designed just for that to make it a great experience for your homeowner to show them all of the beautiful parts of their home. If something comes up and we need it to be documented, we're going to do that.
Kevin Weitzel: So you guys are in Wichita or at least that's where you're based is in Wichita. You've got high quality builders, like, you know, the Cow Hills with Niche Homes, build excellent homes. You know, their walls are plumbed, they're square. Do you ever run into builders that their construction processes are just so shoddy that you have to basically counsel them as to you need to get these things fixed?
Does that ever happen or no?
Stacey Kincaid: You know, we have a couple of [00:11:00] different, we call them, walk through programs that we do. We do have a handful of builders. Like if they're going through a lot of turnover with construction managers and things of that nature, we do have quality inspection and quality inspection verifications.
What that is, is I send my new home agent without the homeowners to the home and they do a quality inspection as if they were the homeowner. So they can kind of go through and do that really meticulous review of the home. Then they can give that back to the construction manager. They go in, they fix everything is wrong with it.
We go back and check to make sure that it's complete. Then we will do the new home orientation with the homeowners. So we do have a handful of builders that choose to do it that way. So I wouldn't say that it's necessarily that the quality of their home is not right, because I don't think that's it at all.
It's just, I think sometimes you can kind of go blind if you're staring at the same white walls for that many months, but it's just an extra layer of inspection. It's [00:12:00] an extra layer of allowing the builder to deliver a more consistent home on a more consistent basis and I think that's what it allows those builders to do.
Greg Bray: So Stacey let's tie this back to marketing a little bit now, if that's all right, because I think there's a real opportunity here that a lot of builders are missing with warranty in it. I think there's a couple reasons why, but I want to get your take on it too, before I just kind of spill my guts.
So, why do you think the marketing department needs to care about warranty?
Stacey Kincaid: Oh man. Well, of course I am the marketing department for ProHomes. So I absolutely believe that a really comprehensive warranty program should be a true extension of that builder's brand. It helps them fulfill their end to end buyer experience that quality builders really want to have for their homeowners.
They don't see the home buyers experience is transactional, but just rather the continued [00:13:00] relationship when it's done. Right. You get unsolicited referrals and, and feedback and quality leads. So I absolutely feel like the marketing departments should care because it's an extra exciting part to offer your homeowners.
You know that you're going above and beyond. You'd spent all of this time with them for like this last six days to 12 months and then you're just going to drop them? Absolutely not. So I think the marketing department should be like, this is something cool that we offer. This is something amazing and amazing part of the experience we're going to build your home and then we're going to take care of you through the warranty piece of it.
So it's super important for the marketing department.
Greg Bray: You know, one of the interesting challenges that we have when we do search engine optimization or SEO work for builders is reviews that show up when people search. The bad reviews when those come along from buyers typically come because they're frustrated in the warranty [00:14:00] process. Is that something that you've seen and would agree with?
Stacey Kincaid: I would agree with that. I have a couple of different builders that use some of the really big surveys out there, like Avid and Alliant and, you know, they offer the surveys right after the pre-closing walkthrough and a couple of times throughout the term of the warranty.
So I absolutely feel like that's something that's overlooked and it that's kind of the nature of Wiprow HomeStart is how do you know, Take their money at the end of the day at closing and then on Monday, tell them know that you're not going to fix this or that, you know? I mean, how do you do that piece of it?
Stacey Kincaid: So you know, I think warranty offerings can absolutely being a selling tool for all of the builders.
Greg Bray: Yeah. There's nothing harder than trying to SEO your way above bad reviews. It's a whole lot easier to not have bad reviews to start with and fix whatever the problem is that's causing them to be frustrated.
And that way, the [00:15:00] new buyer, where are they going? They're going online. They're looking for information about you and then they see all these complaints, these bad negative. Now you've got to sell against that and market against that and compete and explain why they should ignore that as opposed to getting warranty.
Right. And now those go away. I don't know that everybody always sees that connection right there.
Stacey Kincaid: Yeah. I absolutely feel that way about the reviews because that's a big part of it and that's the whole thing. When you look at whether you build one home or whether you build 750 homes a year, you know that word of mouth and that customer service experience, I feel like it's just increasing across the board.
That's what homeowners are looking for. I've had a builder specifically tell me in the Las Vegas market that he will absolutely fix anything. I mean, even though he has a warranty that goes along with it, he feels like his experience with his homeowners is so essential that he will absolutely do anything.
He goes [00:16:00] above and beyond. He calls them at least once a month afterwards, it is increasingly important and I hear it all over the place. So it's really important.
Kevin Weitzel: All right. So I relocate to Vegas. I buy one of his homes and my girlfriend and I break up because I can't stand her design choices that she made.
Can he fix that?
Stacey Kincaid: Now design choices, I'm not going to speak to that builder. I'm going to, because we've been in business for 38 years, you know, if it was close to occupancy damage, so you've sold the house, you move in, you scrape your kitchen table down the side of the wall you know, trying to get everything in the house. Then you call the builder and they're like, you're the one that did it and I'm not going to fix it. This guy says, I'm going to take really good care of you. We're going to come out, we're going to touch up your wall.
You know, he wants it to be an amazing experience. [00:17:00] We're going to come and we're going to do paint touch-ups at 12 months and we'll touch up anything that you need to have touched up. I mean, your painter's going to be there anyway, probably for dry wall cracks or something like that.
You already have them with your subcontractor agreement probably for that first year warranty work anyway. Why not have them take care of everything that happened in the house?
Greg Bray: I think that's a terrific idea. I remember scratching the floor of the day we moved in, oh my gosh, this wood floor, you know, because you're dragging boxes and moving pianos and all this other stuff.
And it was like awful. It was like, Oh my gosh, how did we ruin it on day one?
Kevin Weitzel: Pardon my ignorance, but how many builders don't offer a partnership style or partnership relationship with a warranty service that they could use that as a marketing tool that, you know, Hey, we're a ProHome builder.
We partner with ProHome the 38 years of warranty service, yada yada, yada.
Stacey Kincaid: If I'm understanding your [00:18:00] question correctly, it's about how many builders there are or are not using us. Not very many people that use a third party to do it. A lot of people like to do an in-house because they want to make sure that they have it taken care of.
What I love about this piece of our business is it is objective. It is somebody else now, but they do partner with us to do it, but it's not the construction manager and they're looking at it. You know, we schedule the subcontractors, we follow up with the homeowner, we follow up with the subcontractor to make sure that it's all complete.
So there's a lot of benefits to having somebody else do that as opposed to you doing it. We have proprietary software that is designed in-house we document track photograph. We retain it all for 11 years. I mean, we just did something for a builder the other day that was from nine years ago, the homeowner came back from nine years prior.
We had all the documentation, all the photos, everything. We [00:19:00] always joke because we heard a builder one time say that he loved using this because it was much better than writing down what the homeowner said on a sticky and sticking it on the dash of his truck. Then two months later he found it and he was like, Oh, it's just to go do that homework.
So there's a lot of people that aren't using anything. They're all doing it themselves. And this is just a way to make it just a really seamless process and an amazing wow experience for home buyers.
Kevin Weitzel: It allows that home builder to continue to shine without having to do the legwork so they can concentrate on selling more homes.
Stacey Kincaid: Absolutely. So that's kind of funny. That's almost our tagline. It's we allow builders to do what they do best build homes because we take care of the rest of it for them, but we keep them all updated. We provide them with weekly updates with everything that's going on. So they absolutely know from top to bottom, what that experience is for their homeowner.
Kevin Weitzel: After this call, I'll give you an address to send my commission checks to for that tagline.
[00:20:00] Stacey Kincaid: That would be great. Thank you.
Greg Bray: I just want to go on record. So sticky notes on the dashboard, not a sustainable scalable system. What about sticky notes on the computer monitor?
Cause I'm just saying, sometimes they go right down here on the monitor.
Stacey Kincaid: Well, we have the proprietary software grade. Then you just put all that data in there and then we'll just track it.
Greg Bray: Gotcha.
Kevin Weitzel: Customer service standpoint, and I don't mean to go sideways on this, but is the sales person, are they bought into wanting to make sure that that three year old homeowner now is happy with their purchase versus a company that their whole reputation is built on.
Making sure that that customer is happy with their purchase for a minimum of 10 years.
Stacey Kincaid: We have a lot of sales agents that have worked with particular builders for a long period of time. They build that relationship with those home buyers. So after the sale, those home buyers will still come back to the sales agent and they'll still [00:21:00] ask them questions.
Sometimes we get phone calls from sales agents from builders that say, Hey, Mrs. Smith, wasn't sure how to get ahold of you or they had questions about it. Sales agents absolutely should see the value and the benefit that's where the marketing department should see it as, because that's taking care of that homeowner. I understand that they're moving on to the next one, but when you're still getting phone calls from people that you've already sold homes to, you still want that repeat business really?
They'll do that type of thing. Right? You sell it home and then you're like, here's my card, refer your friends. You know, don't forget to tell me about this and that. I don't feel like it's any different for a sales agent for a new home builder, because you're still looking for referrals. You're still looking for that word of mouth information.
So I would argue that it's incredibly important for a salesperson to feel the need to really want to take care of your homeowner. Even after the sale is complete.
Greg Bray: So there's another element to warranty that I think a lot of builders are missing out on, and I'm going to give this away for the price of admission.
[00:22:00] Which you guys switched, but there's a statistic from Zillow that I've used it and seen in some other scenarios, where about 64%, I think they said of their home buyers consider new construction. Then only about 9% end up actually buying new construction, the rest of them buy resale.
So as builders, when we think about who we're competing with we compete more with resale than we do with the builder down the street and the one thing that resale can never compete on is the warranty. You know the newness of it all and the opportunity to say, you know what, you buy this house and it doesn't last for the next year, whatever goes wrong, we fix it. You know, how often do you get that? There's these little warranty packages and guarantees that you can get for a resale home, but that's not standard for [00:23:00] everybody comparatively. I just think that's a huge selling opportunity for them builders that I don't see when we make websites and we're talking about messaging and all these things.
I don't see them talking about that warranties tab over in the corner, off by itself for the current customers to fill out a form and ask for help. It's not a sales tool. I don't know Stacy, if one of the reasons I was excited to talk to you today is because I feel like there's an opportunity here for a lot of builders that they're not tapping into.
Just like to get your thoughts on that.
Stacey Kincaid: No, I, I absolutely agree with that, you know, because you're right. Sometimes it is just that after thought. It's all about the build in that type of thing, but it should be an entire instance. Having a builder, being able or a salesperson, being able to confidently, you know, speak to a comprehensive and well managed warranty program.
I think it would bring them peace of mind, it's something that's really exciting. It shows that the builder truly [00:24:00] cares about the homeowners and their experience from the day that they signed the contract until the end of the warranty term. It's kind of buying a home with a safety net for home buyers.
So that's why it's different. You just said that you can buy the little home guarantees if you buy a resale house or something like that.This is a comprehensive warranty program and really neat way to offer homeowners a safety net from a house. I mean, you're picking this builder because this is your dream home.
You're spending an incredible amount of money on it. You've probably researched it at length because you just don't pull up Google and go, Oh yeah, that's the builder I'm going to use. You spend some time you look around. And so when you're thinking about it as a selling tool, what a great way to have an entire comprehensive program from start to finish.
Greg Bray: I think as we look towards the movement toward doing more and more of the transaction online. Buying homes and people that are, you know, [00:25:00] their builders are having folks buy homes that they have not visited, that they're not seeing, and things.. I think one of the key hurdles there is solved by a good warranty program, right? That fear of making a mistake, that fear of something going wrong. That I didn't look at it and I missed this problem that I should have known about or whatever that warranty overcomes that fear and lets me go ahead and move forward as a buyer with confidence that I'm going to get what I think I'm going to get and it's going to be taken care of.
So Stacey kind of looking ahead, what are some of the things that you see coming that builders should pay attention to? Especially kind of in the warranty area. Do you feel like things are changing? Is it kind of, you know, status quo or what, what do you see coming.
Stacey Kincaid: I see a lot of changes. I've been in customer service for a long time and I think if individuals think about what you [00:26:00] expected out of customer service a few years ago is night and day different field is night and day different.
Now there's so many different builder's in the game. I mean, there's what 722,000 builders nationwide. That's a lot of builders, so what's going to set you apart from the next one down the road. Customer experience has been like a resonating theme across the country with different builders and I think home buyers are just becoming more and more savvy. I feel like they are less and less tolerant of a mediocre experience they're really looking for something that's really satisfying, that's very quick access. You know, there's so much out there where you can have negative media with social media and everything out there, you've talked about Google reviews and things of that sort.
But I think that homeowners are just going to continue to ask [00:27:00] for that huge level of service from start to finish. That finish is when they move in, they're going to be looking for the entire package and I think that's the warranty. Builders, if they have a fine, fine tuned system that helps them better manage their homeowner's warranty claims that keeps their homeowners up to date because we also educate homeowners.
We have maintenance tips on our website, we have how to videos, just that education piece. I had a homeowner just the other day she was a first time home buyer and she had questions about window weeps and cleaning different things. I'm like, well, we have how to videos on our website.
And she was like, Oh, that's great. I didn't know that builders offered that. We were like, absolutely your builder does. I think buyers are going to expect to interact with their builders through technology interfaces that allows [00:28:00] them direct access to work.
They want to know how their claims working. They want to know where it's at in the process. Our system allows home buyers to do that. It can go in and they can look and see when they're coming, what's been completed. I think it's just going to be really exciting going forward to see the different trends.
But I really feel like customer service is huge.
Greg Bray: Stacy, we really appreciate your time today. You've been very generous and shared a lot of ideas are just as we kind of wrap up what are some places that you look for new ideas and that you would recommend builders be paying attention to as well.
Stacey Kincaid: Well, other than your podcast.
Greg Bray: Oh wow. She slipped that in there
Kevin Weitzel: The answer of the decade. Stacey you rock!
Stacey Kincaid: Well, your podcast, of course, they have to do that piece of it. I've listened to your podcast several times. I love it. It's great messaging. I do hope that builders listened to it because [00:29:00] it's an essential part of the business marketing is important home buyers and their experiences important.
Other resources that I use personally is you know, the NHB forums. There's a lot of different things out there. There's clubs and communities that are available. You're local home builders association is really important for collaborating and connecting and getting different ideas.
And of course LinkedIn, because there's a lot of different things out there where you can connect with other builders and really just drive that focus.
Greg Bray: Well, thank you Stacy for the the high recommendation. If we were on video you'd see us.
Well, we now have three listeners we know about. So terrific. No, but Stacy any last thoughts or advice you want to leave with folks today? As we kind of come to an end.
Stacey Kincaid: I just, for home buyers, you [00:30:00] know, if you can, and builders, if you can deliver your warranty and do it consistently and just have it done well with professional support and expertise comprehensive documentation to protect yourself.
Just an overall experience with an effective warranty program is just so critical for marketing and for that word of mouth and the referral to continue to keep your business growing. That's what we want to do. We want it to be a true partnership with builders and we want to be that extension of them too, to make it a wow.
Greg Bray: Awesome. Well, thank you so much. If people want to learn more about ProHome or connect with you, what's the best way for them to do that.
Stacey Kincaid: We are all over the place. So of course you can visit us at prohome.com. We're also on LinkedIn, under ProHome and Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, you name it. We are there.
So, but ProHome.com is the best way to find us.
Greg Bray: All right, and we'll drop that link in our show notes as well for everybody. Well, thank you again Stacey, [00:31:00] for spending some time with us today and thank you everybody for listening, and please join us again next time on the Homebuilder Digital Marketing Podcast.
I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine and
Kevin Weitzel: I'm Kevin Weitzel with Outhouse. Thank you.