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

66 Spring 2021 Home Builder Digital Marketing Summit - Adjusting to Buyers - Builder Panel

Spring 2021 Home Builder Digital Marketing Summit - Adjusting to Buyers - Builder Panel

Show Notes

Quint Lears of Hakes Brothers Homes - Episode 26

Jennifer Cooper of Truland Homes - Episode 35

Brenna Ryan of William Ryan Homes - Episode 29

Kevin Weitzel of Outhouse - Episode 2 

Sponsors: NoviHomeAssociation of Professional BuildersDenim MarketingOpenHouse.aiDun TodayLasso CRMNterNowRealtor.com149 PhotosBokka GroupNew Homes Sales Solution ConsultingProHome.

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Production by: Josh Williamson and KT Maschler 

Editing by: KT Maschler 

Yet again, the Builder Panel sessions from our recent Home Builder Digital Marketing Summit were an absolute hit! Check out this special replay episode of the first builder panel of the summit, 'Adjusting to Buyers.'

One of the biggest takeaways of 2020 is you can teach an old dog new tricks! People who couldn't place an online order previously became home shopping and teleconferencing experts in a jiffy. Fears of a housing slowdown rapidly dissipated as builders saw website traffic grow exponentially. Families sitting at home with a lot of free time collectively decided they want new homes and are happy shopping for them online. Join us for this discussion on marketing to capitalize on changes in homebuyer behavior. 

Episode features:


Kevin Weitzel:  [00:00:00]All right. So first off, thank you all three for being here. Um, I just want to say that I've got a couple of notes here of terms that I've used, or I've heard used for all three of you.

Rockstar, whip, cracker, turbocharge ass kickers, doers, movers, and shakers. Now, one of those might've been embellished a little bit and the interpreter turbocharger ass kicker. But if I could first, let me just do a quick introduction of everybody. We've got Jennifer Cooper, the chief marketing officer of Truland [00:01:00] Homes.

We have Brenna Ryan, the corporate marketing director of William Ryan Homes and Quint Lears the creative director of new home sales in sales at Hakes Brothers. Welcome everybody. And if I could, and let's just go, let's just go kind of in order, we'll go with Brenna first. If I can just get a quick introduction about what your company does your size, what, uh, what the, what markets you serve, et cetera.

Brenna Ryan: Yeah, sure. Can you hear me okay? Yes. I, uh, I feel a little bit low tech with my, uh, headphones with the wires on them, but, um, I wanted to make sure the sound quality was perfect. So, um, hi, I'm Brenna Ryan with William Ryan Holmes. I'm the corporate marketing director there and William Ryan Homes. We're private home builder.

We build in Tampa, Phoenix, Chicago, Wisconsin. Uh, both Madison and Milwaukee and Wisconsin, but a joint division there, we do about 500 closings a year. And [00:02:00] our price point is probably, you know, high two hundreds to mid five hundreds, really, depending on the region and the community. And really William Ryan Homes is about making homes personal that's everything from the customers' choices, in their structural options and home finishes as well as quality construction and energy efficiency are really important to us as well.

Kevin Weitzel: Jennifer.

Jennifer Cooper: Awesome. I am Jennifer Cooper and the chief marketing officer for Truland Homes. We are a privately held home builder. We build along the Alabama and Florida Gulf coast. So lots of B2 properties. Uh, our, uh, our headquarters is in Spanish Fort Alabama, and we have three divisions across Alabama and the Florida panhandle.

Jennifer Cooper:  A little bit about who we serve. We serve everyone from, you know, entry level to active adults, to even investment, uh, home buyers, uh, across our markets. And we, we have very [00:03:00] similar to Ryan Homes. We also, uh, will close around 500 homes this year and our price points are around 200 to 500,000. That's definitely been going up in the last year.

And, um, yeah, one of our things that kind of differentiates us, I recently coined there as our true and trademark, which is hight light, open and details, uh, which is really in the quality features and functions of our home, uh, compared to some of our competition. So we're really also a builder that we build our foundational quality and greatness, summer service.

Kevin Weitzel: Fantastic. And Quint. 

Quint Lears: Hey, everybody. I'm super excited to be here. My name is Quint Lears. I love new home sales. I believe this is the best industry on the face of the earth. I am proud to represent pinks brothers homes here in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and, uh, they're a fast-growing builder. We're helping about 500 families a year to own brand new homes and, um, uh, contracting from CBH homes.

We don't do any [00:04:00] inventory homes. We're doing completely, uh, wait, you know, invest six months or do a year to, to own a brand new home price range somewhere between two 20 to maybe 500 and creative director of new home sales.com. I'm super excited about that. That's a, it's a, it's a, it's a platform to share insights, ideas, and best practices.

I've had the privilege of interviewing some of the best in the business. Ronda Conger got to check out her interview. Um, Jeff shore, all the new home sales people in there. And, you know, you've talked about like over superstars and all these different things. And I told my wife, I said, you know, What's cool is that you knew me before I was famous.

And then she looked at me and she is, she says, yeah. And I'll know you after nobody gives a crap about you. So stay humble. You know, there's no rock stars in this business. We're all just humble servants to an amazing industry. And, um, I think was never more important than now just to humility and gratitude, to still be in the business.

And we could have started a coffee shop. Instead [00:05:00] we won the pandemic lottery as Mike Lyon likes to say, so I'm grateful to still be in the business. And, uh, that's my goal each year to stay in this business. Thank 

Kevin Weitzel: you. So three people in the home building industry with slightly different roles at each different company with slightly different companies and serving different markets.

I'm going to start with a question for Brenna and being that you do have a national reach. I mean, you're, you're serving several markets that are not even geographically, even remotely, geographically connected. How do you manage the team, uh, across several state lines like that? 

Brenna Ryan: Yeah. Um, it really starts with the team.

So at William Ryan Homes, we're really kind of have this underlying culture in the company of entrepreneurship. And so it's a nice joint relationship between the corporate office and the divisions. So we really want everybody to kind of like have ideas, be really passionate about their ideas, drive to win and as well as be all about the brand at the same [00:06:00] time.

And so starting with your team is the most important way to drive that success. We do that a little bit in corporate. So corporate kind of acts as a little bit, the consultants, the trainer, maybe, uh, the contest, uh, judge, because we like to have a little competition between our divisions, like who can have the best marketing plan.

Um, you know, I know we'll talk about this in a little bit, but like who can have the best digital sales presentation who can write the most, um, like touchless contracts and that's the way that we kind of keep, um, really the high level of performance going, even though the reach is so far across the United States.

Kevin Weitzel: No, it's interesting. You said about touchless contracts. So we're going to touch on that. So I want all three of you just in the back of your mind while we're asking all these other crazy Kevin inspired questions here. I want you to think about that touchless process and where you are on a scale of one to 10 as a builder on being able to implement that.

[00:07:00] Or if it's even a plan to implement, you know, everybody has their own philosophy. But think about that, if you could. So right now, and we don't want to say the word COVID because, you know, we're all sick of hearing COVID and being locked up in our homes and having to wear a mask everywhere. But the ugly truth is that it has changed the market and the climate that we live in has changed the way that people find your communities has changed the way that that people even shop or want to educate themselves on your product.

Um, I'd like for each of you to kind of touch on things that you've changed, implemented, um, you know, help, help educate some of the people online that maybe aren't where you guys are in this process. So, uh, you know, Jennifer, you mind if I start with you? Nope, 

Quint Lears: that's

Jennifer Cooper: fine. Um, yeah, there's been a lot of things that we were even doing postcode or sorry, pre COVID to try to get a little bit more technologically advanced being, um, a newer production builder coming from a more of a custom side.

But, you know, I came in with it, uh, really with the philosophy of. Be where the buyer wants to [00:08:00] be. And if you always think about you're going to buyer in a different, you know, do I want to be online chatting? Do I want to be on my phone, digging for research? Do I want to be in person? Do I just want to be driving around and finding great signage?

So just think about being where the buyer wants to be. And do we have enough of that technology in place to make that happen? So some of the things that we looked at when we thought about kind of putting ourselves in the true buyer shoe is how can we start to lift our website, which is also still a work in progress since last time I talked to you, but, uh, you know, how do we, how do we add a little bit more of a dynamic experience to the website?

So adding our chat bot, um, giving the opportunity for some people that do want to chat and knowing that we get a lot of visitors when we have our, our associates are home asleep, how do we get them? The information that they want at their fingertips? So thinking about things like that, the biggest kind of a rock for us to move though, was really to make sure our CRM was up to date because when you're not, you're [00:09:00] not, you know, having those face-to-face meetings and you're trying to move things online.

You really need that CRM. It was like the spoke the hub of all the different spokes in the wheel. So we've spent like a lot of time over the last six months, just fine tuning our tools with lasso and making sure that our team is really understanding so much more of our information and our buyer's information is coming through an online funnel, got to be able to capture that.

Talk to it, drill into it, analyze it to higher level than we ever have. So I think that, you know, in a nutshell, those are the things tying in or you registration process just really going digital. So we can always be where the buyer wants to be, has been really kind of my focus for our team. 

Kevin Weitzel: Same

Brenna Ryan: question.

Yeah. I mean, to Jennifer's point, we, we kind of say it a little differently, but it's like we meet the buyer where they are. So I think for us, um, I have to say, you know, it was probably just a year ago, uh, but it feels so far [00:10:00] away, but it was so intense a year ago. Like what are we going to do? Um, you know, we did hit the jackpot or being in the home building industry, but we didn't think that last March, we were like, oh gosh, here we go again.

Um, so for us, we really put in place like, you know, the competitions of, okay, who can do the best digital sales presentation. And we, our wholesales team, we did this like once a week, one person from each division had to, you know, whoever their star was, had to do their digital sales presentation to the whole company.

And that really forced people to be ready to do a digital sales presentation for the customer that didn't want to come into the house, but it still needed a place to live. Um, and so now that we have. Still a little bit of that going people either relocating or just still not feeling a hundred percent COVID safe.

Our teams are prepared to do that altogether. And you know, one [00:11:00] of the things, um, like how to tie this full circle is we've always wanted to push more digital enhancements. And it wasn't until COVID happened that, you know, the executive teams and the leaders of the company were like shirts say no more, go ahead.

Whereas before it had to be like, okay, I have eight PowerPoint presentations lined up for the next four weeks to try and convince you why you should even consider investing in this product. And now it's kind of like, I get it, go for it. 

Kevin Weitzel: And how about you? How about, how about the New Mexico market there?

What, what have you guys been doing 

Quint Lears: here specifically? Like what have we done different? What have you done 

Kevin Weitzel: differently? I mean, cause I know that you guys are a small or a regional or local builder there in the New Mexico market. 

Quint Lears: Yeah. Well, first off we're building in like five markets now, Albuquerque Las Cruces center that is El Paso, San Antonio, and we're growing toll brothers watch out for his brother's age.

B stands [00:12:00] for hard to beat, but um, let me tell you something. I've never seen so many changes. Um, I went through the downturn of 2008, so I'm like a puppy that was abused. You know, so you go to pet it and like this, I was on a webinar and they're like, okay, what advice do you have? And literally my advice was buy toilet paper guys.

Weren't the beginning of frig. Like it's going to be bad in my mind. I was scared to death, you know? Um, I learned so many crazy lessons. Like for years, I've been doing this for 15 years. You know, one of our goals is like to connect with the buyer. So you, you walk towards, you greet them. Number one, I stopped shaking hands immediately.

And I started backing up because I was afraid. I'm one of those like paranoid. I don't listen to, I'm watching the news late into the night. You know what I mean? And I like my whole, I need to be brainwashed. I need to put that thing in my bathroom. Uh, cause so people would come in my model home and I would start backing up like this and they would follow me.

And I'm like, crap. I wish learned, I knew this 15 years ago, just [00:13:00] back up and they just start following you, um, act to humility. Um, Bob Schultz says this. He says, never confused the size of your paycheck with your skill level. Now that, that, that hit me hard. It's like, okay, you know, I'm making big money, but like, is it matching my am?

I am. I is a commensurate with my, my skill level. And then on the flip side of that, I need to remember not to confuse the demand for my homes, with the demand for me, like people aren't like, Hey, I can't wait to see Quinn. You know, like they want a new home. They've got real problems. And, and so. You know, that, that that's back to like talking about Ronda, like how do we manage our mindset and our team's mindset?

What about customers? Customers are coming in, I think like borderline, mentally ill. And, and so one of the big things I've been working on and it's all sales training, I also think, but a lot of the sales training in the past, how to build urgency, how to create, you know, [00:14:00] urgency to hurry up and buy the sale, we've had to do the opposite, right?

Because again, I'm trying to convince somebody to wait a year, maybe to buy a home and I can not lock the interest rate. So how do I, how do I tell them, look, take a deep breath, slow down. Don't bind used the right, the wrong home with the right interest rate is still the wrong home. Let's slow things down and make sure we get you the right home and really, um, gather the information.

So with tech and with the digital presentations, we're very good at giving information. Um, we're in the information age, they can get everything they need on our website, but we're not good at gathering information. And so what I would encourage everybody to do is to stay humble, practice, decreasing urgency, slow things down.

Let's make sure we get into the right home. We're not selling incentives. We're not selling refrigerators. We're not selling. Uh, even we don't sell lots of houses. We, we are helping people to change the destiny of their lives in a, in a, in a positive way. So slow down information. [00:15:00] Stay humble 

Kevin Weitzel: rhetorical, but are the mentally ill customers, are they asking for discounts in this market?

No, I'm just kidding. No, 

Quint Lears: I was with a customer the other day and we spent several hours together showing homes said, oh yeah, we got to do this. And the next day we followed up and he did not remember spending any time with us. And the realtor is like, look, I can't work with this guy. He didn't even remember our, our, our deal.

It was the weirdest thing. So, um, and, and not being cute or trying to be funny, but statistics say about 90% of the people are good, solid people, five are bad. Like they will rip you off. They will throw you under the bus to get a free garage door opener. Um, and number three, 5% are mentally ill. And, and what I mean is like I'm dealing with, with depression, anxiety, and they'd come in and I'm Zuora.

I'm a, literally like a shock absorber for all of these different, crazy emotions. And it's tough because we are building from scratch. We are trying to convince people to wait six months to a year, to invest in something or buy something that they literally cannot see. [00:16:00] And it's, and then they've got a house to sell and they're trying to live with, um, and there's an art and there's a science to that.

And that's the core of new home sales yet. I'm not gonna take them, but if you take a hundred people and you put them in a room, he said, Hey, how many of you want to wait? They're all going to say no. How many of you want to buy something expensive that you can't see? They're all going to say no, And, um, I like to say the owner of Starbucks, if you said, Hey, how many of you, if you did a survey and said, how many of you are interested in waiting in line to buy a $5 cup of coffee and a paper cup?

Everybody would say, yeah, not me. No thanks. But where do we all buy coffee from 

Kevin Weitzel: $80 a gallon baby? And I did not forewarn Brenna or Jennifer, just so the audience knows that Quint does not have a shutoff LP is a turbocharged sales machine 

Jennifer Cooper: area. And your conversation.

Quint Lears: You guys go ahead. I'm off 

Kevin Weitzel: on that same subject, um, of, of that. [00:17:00] None of your companies are new startup companies. You have systems in place. You have, you know, CRM integration, you have digital assets and your website, you know, none of this stuff is new hat to any of you. However, with this changing climate, did anything catch you off guard?

Like your team, your marketing team, your sales team, did anything catch you off guard that you didn't have a contingency contingency plan in place for Brita, 

Brenna Ryan: uh, called on me first? Um, anything that caught me off guard that I didn't have a contingency plan for? I th I mean, again, I go back to last year, like we were just like, we gotta do everything possible.

Like, what can we get done? And although we are pretty established, um, we'll be celebrating 30 years next year, which will be an exciting milestone for us. Um, Because we are a smaller home builder and we're a private home builder. Sometimes we can function as a startup. So it is a little bit easier to kind of like test out so many [00:18:00] implementation plans.

Um, I think the thing that we struggled with to figure out how to like fully put the whole process together was the, um, self guided tours. So that was something we're like, how do we do this? I know there's tools out there. How does that integrate with our CRM? What if we don't want to do the tool? How do we train people on how to handle this?

What's the customer going to be most, um, comfortable with equipped for, you know, you have someone coming in, maybe they've bought a new home before easy, do the self guided tour. They've done it before you have a lot of people coming in. It's never bought know new construction before, or never bought a home before.

How do we prepare the self-guided tour for those people? So I think that was a head scratcher for a little bit. Um, everything else kind of was like, okay, we already have DocuSign. So just instead of having them come in to [00:19:00] write the contract, we can just do it over the phone or zoom and do a DocuSign. Um, yeah, I don't know if that was helpful, but that's kinda what came to mind.

Kevin Weitzel: Jennifer? How about your team? Anything catch you guys off guard and that, and that whole trains of the way people were shopping. 

Jennifer Cooper: Yeah, I, I don't think, I think the entire industry, the biggest thing was sales had to learn how to sell differently. Everybody who would avoid a video camera, including sometimes like doing these types of things was like, oh, I have, I have to do this.

And I have to learn how to use this. Right. So I think that was a big thing for our sales teams was just getting everybody more comfortable in presenting and, you know, being in a different type of environment. But, you know, our challenge is, was, you know, is a little bit of my selfish challenge coming in as is our company really wasn't technologically where they wanted to be.

Then I joined and it was like, okay, what, what can we check, check boxes on? Okay. [00:20:00] That's a couple of boxes. Right. But here's all the other things. It was just identifying. And then prioritizing, can we get more photos up? Can we get more mad reports? Can we, you know, get more people on zoom? Can we figure out what our process is in or out of appointments?

Um, and that's really what you have to do. You have to, anytime you're reacting to a situation, you have to sit and go, what do we have? And what would you know, where can we make some improvements? But I think overall, we didn't have anything. That was a crazy aha that nobody else didn't experience, but sales, I think felt it the most.

Kevin Weitzel: Yeah. So while riding a unicycle playing a trumpet and or keyboard, did anything catch you off guard? 

Quint Lears: Oh yeah. Lots Jennifer. So, you know, with sales people, it's like, Hey guys, okay, bad news. You got to get comfortable with video. And the people are like, oh no, I'm just not good on video. And it's just not my thing.

And I'm good. One-on-one but you put a camera. I get nervous. How much more so are our customers? Think about it. We're in the business. We're in the people business [00:21:00] and we're nervous to get on camera. What about even this morning? I'm like, oh crap. It's something in the background. I got it cleaned up and it's just, it's a hassle.

Whereas my tie good. I keep looking at it. Do I look at this or look at that. So our customers don't want to be on camera. I just assumed that. So if I do a video, I'm like, and they also don't want to see me. They don't care about me. They want to see the home. So I'll do a quick, like, Hey, do a quick FaceTime.

I want to say hi, but always stay in your pajamas. I need to see you just like, turn your camera off. I'm just going to focus on the home. Okay. And then I turn it this way, instantaneous. And then I'm just going to focus on the aisle. So that's really important. The big shift that happened before COVID is the builder was nervous.

They were saying, look, Clint, are you going to be able to sell this? Like, we're making a big land investment. And I'm like, oh gosh, I don't know. Can I sell it? And then it flipped to like whole crap builder. Are you going to be able to build this? And because it's like so many homes, I'm like, how are they going to sit?

How are they going to fit? So we've had to literally. Like say, okay, we can only build this many homes. We can only [00:22:00] build. And it's really pushing out the delays, push thing out 90 days before you can even start the home. So I sell a home to people that urgent two minutes later, they're like, Hey, what are you starting?

What are you? So, so setting that expectation, like we don't know when we're going to start and it's totally out of our control. This is a big mistake we're making right now. We've been telling people for years, oh, you better. Right? Because you know, prices are going to go up and then they don't go up. Or that we have an incentive next week.

And then we look stupid, like, Hey, you told me to buy. And then you look, I came on the internet and then you got $3,000 off plus an appliance package, but now prices really are going up. So it's easy for salespeople to go for. What did I tell you? I told you prices are going to go up. You should listen to me and have that kind of arrogance thing.

Don't do that. Um, prices are going up. So I don't use price. I use total investment. The total investment is X, right? That's so normally you said the total price. So the total investment of the home is that. So people typically are okay with increasing their investment, but not the price. [00:23:00] Second thing is we have to give reasons like they're more expensive.

So the customers are like, why are you more expensive lumber? Like, that's a dumb answer. Do not say lumber. Okay. They can watch the news. If they want to see lumber, we have to get, this is where if you want to be terrific, you have to be specific. I want you to get really in depth with the product knowledge of your home.

I want to say, listen, the total investment of your home is going up, but let me tell you why. The style design it's superior to energy efficiency, the safety technology, the service after the sale, the infrastructure, literally the way we do the infrastructure is better. We're, we're, we're more green, it's a superior home, the brand new, and this is very important.

2021, 2021, our brand new 2020 homes are superior to the homes built even just a couple of years ago. Are you looking at used? Oh, well, yeah, we're looking at resale, just curious what year. And it's very important, important that we contrast that because we're doing brand new homes and to sell to [00:24:00] the year.

So I would encourage everybody to make a list of five, 10, 15, 20 really good reasons why the prices are going up and do not say because of concrete and lumber, it has to just 

Kevin Weitzel: quit, not just, and not to monopolize a, this portion of the conversation. And it's kind of a different topic, but, um, how are you addressing, do you have pricing contingencies and your contracting in place?

So when they sign in, you know, October of 2020, then they're going to be purchasing actually locking it down in August of 2021. You know, the price of that home has legitimately risen on the host level by 10, you know, eight, 10, 12%. How are you addressing that change? I mean, you guys just selling it a loss.

How are you doing that? 

Quint Lears: The laws w we, um, so we, you know, we help a lot of families, but we're doing price. Updates every single month. So every single month we're addressing it and it's changing and it's changing and it's, um, and that's where it's like, I don't need to create urgency because the market is [00:25:00] doing that.

The prices are doing that. I need to calm people down and say, listen, I know the total investment's going up. Let me explain why let's get you. You wouldn't marry the wrong person, just because you can marry him now, where'd you, of course that let's get you the right help. If you buy the wrong home and you walk into it every day, you're going to, you know, when you grab that door, you're going to think, oh, I bought the, I bought the wrong house and you bragging about having a 2.5 APR interest rates.

Not going to make it better. Let's slow things down. Even if the interest rates go up, even if this let's go, let's get you the right home. And we need to always remember, I think Chad Sansar grin because we don't sell incentives. You know, we don't, people don't buy into it, investing into a home. So always go back to the home.

If you are having price increases, Ray, talk about the total investment of the home and give specific reasons why the home is superior to the homes even a few years ago. And that's giving a gift to the customer because the customers need that. They're going to say, oh, you bought the home. I bought mine last year and I only paid this year, but did you [00:26:00] know the 2020 ones for doing this and this and this and this?

I didn't know that. So I paid more for my, I pay more for my, everything. I just want to know why it's more expensive and expensive. It's not a bad word. And we talked about that. The sales rally a couple of years ago, expensive. Yeah. We're a little bit more expensive. We're a little bit more expensive. Let me explain why, and then just give a reason the total investment or the home has gone up.

Let me explain why 

Kevin Weitzel: so Brenna for your first time buyers and your move up buyers is the radical and fast increase of price, especially on, on just hard goods. Is that pricing anybody out of the market? Are you removing anybody out of the equation or are they sell for moving? You know, they are moving themselves out of the equation as buyers because of those price increases.

Brenna Ryan: One thought I had while Quint was speaking is, um, you know, talking about how to talk to the customer from a sales perspective during this timeframe. And that's all about training, [00:27:00] which is so great like that we, you know, are able to train. And if our market was going in the opposite direction, we would able to train like the sales pitch in that way.

But because it's going this direction, we can train the sales pitch in a positive way. Um, but to your point, Kevin, um, Phoenix is our, let's just say our fastest growing market right now. Maybe not number, maybe not hottest market, but like the, the way in which it's growing is, um, very impressive and a little bit scary.

Um, and I wouldn't say we're pricing people out because there's someone next in line that didn't get priced out or there's someone next in line who now we're in their price range. So it's, yes, there are pricing concerns, but because the demand is so high, it's more, it's not really hurting us at this moment, at least again, to has Rhonda kind of [00:28:00] said, you can't read a crystal ball and tell you what we're, where we're going to be in 10 months.

But at this point we're doing just fine. Um, the price increases are more of a pressure on our purchasing team and our, you know, division leadership to make sure that our margins stays secure while prices continue to increase. Because as Quint said, yes, everybody can look at like lumber is delayed, but, or price increasing, but also all the imports are delayed due to like the cargo and shipment issues from overseas.

And that just adds another aspect to, are we priced correctly is our margins secure and can we continue to make the customer happy? So surprise, surprise. Home building is a complicated industry. 

Kevin Weitzel: No lots of moving parts and pieces. You're saying 

Brenna Ryan: surprisingly,

Kevin Weitzel: so Jennifer, I want to switch gears just a hair because I find your company very interesting.

Um, Anybody that's ever met. You [00:29:00] listen to you speak on various podcasts and webinars that are out there knows that you are an absolute rockstar. How much of your decision making for the company, how much has been put into your bucket of responsibility? Do you like lead with a committee? Do you do consult with your team or do you rule that iron fist and say, you know what, this is what Jennifer Cooper says, it's going to be implemented today.

And that's what we're going to go with. Flip it, drink it. 

Jennifer Cooper: That's my mom attitude at home, but not in the office. Um, I actually, I will say humbly, I do have that, that authority, um, in, in our company, but it's only because I have the trust in the backing, um, of an amazing leadership team and they trust me 100% and that's why they brought me on board.

So they, you know, look to me and in meetings and say, what can we do different? How are you going to help us make us better? Um, and then I still present things to them. I won't buy in cause I don't [00:30:00] ever want to be in a silo and just do something on my own. Uh, so what I do is I pull my team in, I I'm, I stay curious to be a good technological.

Leader and driver of best practices. Um, I've mentioned this before and I preach. It always is to stay curious, stay connected and to stay very privy to our changing technologies. I have three or four calls still a week with various vendors out there that are feeding our industry with new stuff. And how is it changing?

Are you trying something new? How did it work for so-and-so? Even if not, I'm not going to implement it. And over time I kind of look and say, what are the right levers that we're going to pull in our organization, take it back to them. And I honestly it's because I work for an amazing leadership team that just fully trusts us.

And that makes me want to be accountable, to give them a really good end product and really great customer experience. So, um, it's collective with partners in agent, in the agencies, partners in the industry and having a great 

Kevin Weitzel: and a quick follow-up to [00:31:00] that from the marketing standpoint, do you utilize any of your trade partners in outbound campaigns then, you know, that you use, you know, let's say Samsung appliances or GE appliances or, you know, XYZ carpet brand or two by six interior walls.

Do you do any of that? 

Kevin Weitzel: Like do you feature that, you know, on our homes, we're proud that we use LG appliances. Do you use any of that in your marketing campaigns at 

Jennifer Cooper: all? Um, somewhat, uh, we've been go figure we've really been promoting our fortified, fortified gold homes because we're a lot of hurricanes last year.

So that's been something it's like a partnership of another brand that we've actually touted quite a bit. Um, but no, I haven't done too much with like our appliances per se, but, um, yeah, just, just haven't. 

Kevin Weitzel: Gotcha. So I want to, let's go to Brenda first on this one. Um, what changes have you made [00:32:00] that were based off of the client, the climate change that we've had with, you know, COVID that you're going to keep in place and or what, uh, policies have you put in place that you're going to drop once things kind of get back to normal?

Brenna Ryan: Yeah, I think that one kind of has to do with digital sales self-guided tours and, um, by appointment only, that's kind of where my mind goes to with this question. Um, we always had digital sales as a backup, especially for a lot of maybe relocation buyers who only came into town to look at a model and pick their home, but then they had to leave and we had to handle the contract, um, online.

And that was always kind of like a, well, how do we keep our, you know, company policy while doing a digital contract? So that was, um, kind of a question. And now it's like, well, We figured it out. This is a part of the policies. It's not a problem, whether [00:33:00] it's an in-person contract or digital contract, um, it is like acceptable.

And not only that encouraged, should you not be able to get the person in the sales office? And, and then part of the things that we're looking to excited about dropping would be by appointment only sales model tours, especially for hot markets in Florida and Arizona. Um, we actually kind of get, I know we've missed a couple of opportunities because people are ready to drive around and just walk in the model home.

And if an appointment is already there, we're still on the policy of by appointment only due to like state and industry regulations. Um, well we were kind of talking about it too. And even though by appointment only has a little bit of a restriction, a private appointment is kind of a little bit of an elevated experience.

So how do we manage private appointments, but drop by appointment only. [00:34:00] And that's kind of something that we're thinking about right now to like, implement that into the whole process and, you know, brand of William Ryan Homes. 

Kevin Weitzel: So Quint, I'm gonna, I'm gonna come to you now with the same question, with a little bit of a twist.

I know that you guys are doing the bio pointment, you're doing the, you know, video calls with your, with your potential buyers. How do you not lose company culture? With, with that, uh, engagement. How do you keep that? Wow. You know, at that highest level, versus just, here's a video of this home that we're walking you through with my phone, how do you do that?

Quint Lears: Always remember, like I said, we're not selling appliances. We're not selling kitchens. We're, we're changing the destiny of people's lives in a positive way. You know, we're in bed, we're helping people to own a brand new home, not a new home, not a house, not a unit, not a, you know, it's a, it's a brand new 2021 home.

[00:35:00] Can I real quick jump back to Jennifer? Cause you were saying like, what about people that are priced out at that price? Now it's just adjusted. And, and so words are really important. You know, we, we go, Hey, are you trying to downsize like, hell no, I'm not trying to downsize. You're like, you know, we've been growing our whole life, everything, everything in our culture is about growth and mindset and all this stuff like that.

And I want to downsize, what about changing that to right size or instead of, you know, I'm priced out. What if we find you at more economical sized home, not a smaller home, but just a little bit more economical sized home. That's easier to maintain lower. I'll tell you right now. This is a secret.

Everybody is scared to death of inflation. When I, when I bring that weapon out and I'm like, Hey listen. Like a lot of people are concerned. You know, the inflation prices increase. So what are we, what if we get you a more economical sized home, that's easier to maintain less mind a heat and cool. Um, and that protects your investment.

Longterm. People are good with that. Um, even, yeah, because I've heard of reverse mortgage, somebody who is in the mortgage industry watching this, that's a [00:36:00] terrible name. You've been going forward your whole life. Now let's go reverse. Yeah. What about like an equity, enjoyment, mortgage and equity advancement, stuff like that.

The words are so important. This is from Ralph while this is an old industry thing, but Ralph Williams talks about this premium Homesite versus lot premium. Hey, do you want to pay a lot premium? Everybody says, no. Hey, are you interested in a premium home site? So a little more expensive. It's got a superior view.

It's a little bit deeper, wider. Get more visual privacy from your neighbor. Is that something you'd be interested? A premium home site? Yeah. Oh yeah. I'm interested in that. Let's go look at it. So words are super important. All those little nuanced things that we do, um, the magic is in the mix and the mix is in the magic.

I think we've turned this industry into an interrogation process. Okay. Tell me, what's your timeframe, this or that, you know, doing a black or white up or down. Do you want a three bedroom or four bedroom? No, we got to bring the magic back into it. Uh, [00:37:00] humor is so important, you know, I know I'm going off topic, but if someone says, Hey, can I take a picture of the modeling?

Say, yeah, sure. It hasn't be, I don't know. Where do you want me to stand? Oh, I'm sorry. You meant the home. You know, so like, uh, Just making it fun, making it fun and exciting. Hey, I gotta, we have to disclose everything. There's a lot of risks with a brand new home. Are you on social media, be careful about posting pictures.

There's a good chance your friends and family are going to be very jealous of, you know, making it fun. And, um, that's 

Kevin Weitzel: it.

What have, what have you guys, uh, what is your team put into place? That number one, you're just, you can't wait for it to be gone. Is there anything, because I know you, well, you think out a lot of things way in advance and look at different avenues of approach and in different scenarios, but is there anything that you just can't wait to get rid of, uh, that, uh, you know, besides the not being able to see people in person?

Jennifer Cooper: I think honestly, well, I want to get rid of the mask [00:38:00] science, you know, I want to quit clean up our sales offices and just make it feel a little bit more welcoming that way. Um, I think honestly, I'm going to reverse the answer to that. It's not so much in getting rid of the bio opponent appointment or private appointment.

I just accept that some people are gonna want that now, you know, and again, if that'd be where the customer wants to be philosophy and, and we want to have as much contact is relationship building, we just have to understand, we might be building a relationship in a different way. I think that new normal could still be kind of just a normal type of a thing.

So I'm more about like, not what I want to get rid of, but like, let's just understand. What we put in place and what we can continue to do better because last year changed us as an industry to do everything we needed to do for a long time. And just to kind of keep evolving with it because I don't want to, you know, sit and look at my feet and just say, this is where I'm standing, because this is where it last year left me.

It was just, let's just say, we're going to keep evolving. 

Kevin Weitzel: Now. I actually heard you [00:39:00] say something along the lines on one of the podcasts. I believe it might even abandon a Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast hosted by Greg Brian, Kevin Weitzel. Um, no, but I actually heard you say something that it's not the new normal.

It is the normal, and it is what it's accepted or expected. And that we have to adapt our processes to meet that client is something along those lines. 

Jennifer Cooper: I guess I'm a broken record. I'm still championing the same, the same thing. And you know, you look at other industries that we've been trying to catch up with.

Uh, you know, multi-family, uh, the, for rent, uh, industry and single family where rent is coming up and other industries are already just, we're already doing things that we weren't doing. So it's just not say, okay, we can stop and pause and say, okay, we added more video tours and we added more of this. I think we still have the opportunity to become more Amazon-like in our approach to thinking through, you know, just helping understand how we can continue to cater to the buyer.

There's no stopping there. Just keep going. 

Kevin Weitzel: So [00:40:00] having that customer experience that they get with the research ability on an Amazon platform, but still maintaining your company culture well, and so 

Jennifer Cooper: much of what Amazon did does, if you think about it, it is very like the next big brother, but it's about predictability.

And Amazon does a great job of predicting what we want because it's looking at a lot of what we do. And I think that's the next wave now doesn't mean you don't have the conversations, but if something just kind of easily puts more information in front of me and gives me more choice that really kind of already aligns with me is simplifying some of my research.

And I think that's where we can continue to be become better marketers and become better, but just better at what we do as an industry is some of that predictive work and it is based off technology, but that's where we're 

Kevin Weitzel: going. So it's funny, you mentioned that because a there's a major player out there open-house AI that is actually setting up a platform where it gives it, it learns what that potential buyer is looking for and then gives them back suggestions as far as what they, uh, [00:41:00] what they are is what feeding into their trough.

They're just dropping food right into the feed trough form. Yeah. So, uh, Brenna, you had mentioned that you guys do the self guided tours, you know, the, the enter enter. Now, if you will type platforms, um, is that w what other options do you guys have at Lehman or. For the self guided tours for like that, for that, uh, you know, the enter now, the tours, um, uh, or, you know, any of those self guided tours in the model.

Brenna Ryan: Yeah. We use, um, you tour at one of our communities specifically it, um, and we were very selective as to which communities we wanted to implement this as more of like a test phase and the community that we use it at is kind of a right-sizing buyer, a little bit more high end, very high realtor. Um, uh co-op and then, [00:42:00] um, and also just the older buyer.

So we felt that this was the perfect opportunity to test out how successful a self-guided tour could be. You know, all of our customers, I would say 80% of them probably have a realtor with them. So the realtor is used to the lockbox experience and as well as it's kind of like a higher end buyer. So they might be, I want to talk to the sales person when I want to talk to the salesperson, or I'm a little bit afraid of meeting strangers because of the pandemic.

And that's what we found it to be most successful. And I think it's also by region. Uh, we tried it out again. I don't need to keep, uh, quoting Arizona. It's just a little bit of one of my divisions on the top of my head, but we found that that wasn't as successful because people are a little bit like, I'm fine.

I just want to [00:43:00] come in and see the house. You know, the demand is so high. The weather is so nice. Like there's just like a little bit less, um, cautiousness and a little bit more urgency. So they want to talk to the sales rep right away. So it kind of goes along with that where technology meets people and it's where they're most like, where is the need for the self guided tours?

You know, meet people where they, uh, where they are well in the Midwest, they want the self guided tours. We just had like a very cold winter in the Southwest. They're fine. So, 

Kevin Weitzel: well, let's talk about the Southeast. Well, first before we do that, you know, when the weather is really good in Arizona, October 20th and 21st, when we have our fall in person homebuilder digital marketing summit.

Right. So, uh, let's go to the south lease. Let's go to that Alabama market and, you know, Atlanta market. And you know, how are you guys working? You guys, uh, over at, uh, a true and you guys [00:44:00] did implement, uh, self guided tours, correct? 

Jennifer Cooper: We actually are just in the process of doing that with you tour as well. Um, and looking at how we can use our Atlas chat bot with you tour through some other new, innovative things that they're offering.

You know, we didn't, we looked at it during the pandemic, but we just didn't have a lot of inventory. I mean, we literally were building selling buildings, selling. Um, some of our communities were going into different phases where I didn't have even have models yet. So we just didn't really have a need, but some of our BG communities, um, or maybe you don't have a full-time agent we're looking at and starting to use that as we're growing pretty aggressively in, uh, the Eastern panhandle.

Quint Lears: Well,

Kevin Weitzel: let me do a up question with you because you actually brought up something pretty interesting. You're building, selling, building, selling inventory is really short supply. Why are you spending money on marketing? And it is a loaded question by the way. 

Jennifer Cooper: Oh, my CFO asked me this the other day. That was fun.

Um, you know, we're building our brand for me. I mean, being a passionate marketer, you always you're always marketing, [00:45:00] but for us, we're also building a brand. We've got a very, uh, competitively focused market. A lot of people are moving in and we need people to understand who we are and what our, what our vision and our mission is for the, for the Gulf Coast.

And we want to, we want to create great communities that we can also build that word of mouth. Um, and people still today start, you know, they're your first, first a handshake with the buyer is your website and they're still searching and we just want to be, be top of mine. So they'll always be brand marketing and I'll always be really great digital marketing, but a lot of my spend this year is really built on what we do in 2022.

I've kind of put this year on autopilot because we can as marketers and sales professionals. And I'm like, what do we do next year? Because I'm already preparing for when, when the market's softer. 

Kevin Weitzel: Wait a minute. Did you just say you're planning for the future? You're not just hoping that the market's going to magically stay awesome for the rest of eternity.

Jennifer Cooper: I lived through the last recession too. So like when, like you get like a, like a fingerprint and burn on [00:46:00] your back and you just don't want to go there again. 

Kevin Weitzel: So quit. I am the client that hates self guided tours. I hate the digital phone, uh, interface. Cause I'm an in-person kind of person. I am the weird Carney that likes to go to the show at the state.

Fair to see the knife show. I want to hear the sales pitch. I want to see that, wow. The salesperson, have you struggled with being able to maintain that wow. Factor that's 

Quint Lears: important in your guts? Bring it on out. I'll be, I've signed up for all three of them. No, I'm kidding. But I, but I have, I mean, the things changed for me when I got vaccinated, because I mean, I've been scared of this virus.

I've been taking it really serious. I've seen a lot of people. It's a very, very serious virus. And so, um, heck yeah, right now, if you want to come do a tour, it's just, I like the by appointment thing, mark, my words. And this, this is from a Jeff Shore book. It's called tough market, new home sales. You wrote it after the last downturn.

And he says that [00:47:00] buyers are coming in. Now you're going to see the biggest shift of power that we've ever seen ever. And it's going from the developer to the builder, to the salesperson. It's going to go straight down to the customer. And he talks about these customers coming in with a pop in their step silently saying, who's your daddy now.

What do you have now? You know what I mean? So that day's going to come, uh, be aware of that. That's that's um, um, to the advertising, I say, cancel all your advertising, put it all back into the home. Um, put it all into train and get really, really good at what you do. And I'm not saying advertising better marketing, but there's a big difference between advertising and marketing, but just be careful.

Is it shifting my ego? Um, or is it like I say, is it ego? Or we go, and if we don't grow, we go, so how does this help me grow? Right. Um, and need that money. Cause when the downturn happens, they're going to say, well, why should I buy from you and what incentives, James, thank you very much. Go back to [00:48:00] the home and talk about, um, you know, what's great about your whole, never forget about that.

Okay. What technology? I think what drives me is what are we using? Or I don't know if we answered that, but yeah. DocuSign forever mean DocuSign. I'm never going to change that. I'm using that forever. I do it to every customer. I work by appointment once I know I've got the sale, or I know that they're gonna invest with us, I'm gonna say, look, go home, relax.

I'm going to put the paperwork together. They don't have to sit there with me. You know, all that exposure. They're just sitting there staring at me. I'm staring at them and then we're sending them. It's all just, Hey, go home. They relax, they sign everything. I got dates. And times of when they sign, that's outstanding enter.

Now all those companies are great. They're effective. Do them. Um, the biggest change I think to the whole building industry is going to be trading open door. Um, these companies where literally they can just click and trade in their home. That's going to be a game changer, uh, and be aware of, yeah, they're, they're all, they're going to be big.

I predict that's going to be the biggest shift in disrupt an industry. It's [00:49:00] just, people are going to, and so intuitive. Look, we, we talk about the used car. What if I said, Hey, look, if you want to upgrade your used car, all you gotta do is put it on our consignment lot. And we'll, we'll hire an agent. That's going to list and sign it.

Then you have to not use it while other people are test driving it. And then if it does sell, then we put an offering to build you a new car and it should be ready sometime between six and eight months to a year. Nobody would buy a car. Right. We just traded in it, it happened. So that's, what's going to happen, um, in home building.

And, um, last thing, make it your goal to outsmart rather than outspend the competition. So whenever I'm doing marketing or whatever, I'm doing a pre say, is this, am I outsmarting or mild spending? It's very easy to outspend. And if my goal is to outspend someone, who's going to have more money. 

Kevin Weitzel: And my dad that lets me know that we're getting close to wrapping up this section, and then we're gonna go into the attendee question to answer, but I have just two follow, follow up final questions for all of you.

[00:50:00] And we'll just go, we'll go off the medical. We'll go, Brenna, Jennifer Quint. Number one are, do you have communities that are currently on waiting lists? Just because of the demand Brenna 

Brenna Ryan: uh, we have communities that have sales caps every month because of the demand. So then we don't have typically waiting lists, but we have more VIP lists for the next month.

Kevin Weitzel: I want on that VIP 

Quint Lears: list. Jennifer, 

Jennifer Cooper: we have many wait lists. Yes, definitely doing the weakness situation 

Quint Lears: Quint. I got people waiting to get on my, to 

Kevin Weitzel: waiting to get on the waitlist. I love it. I love it. And then last but not least. And, and let's just go say motor Brenda, Jennifer Quint. Uh, Brenna, are there any trends that you're currently looking at right now that are kind of helping drive your thought process on what the next step is going to be for you and your team?

Brenna Ryan: Um, are we talking digital or anything we're 

Kevin Weitzel: talking to any trend. It could be about watching Sesame street for all. I care. If you can learn [00:51:00] from it, just like Rhonda says, if you can learn from it, learn from it. 

Brenna Ryan: Um, I would say the biggest trend that we're focusing on again, William Ryan Homes is making homes personal, is that we're finding a lot of production builder customers are asking for custom builder options, and we're trying to figure out how do we keep a production builder, a business process, and success while offering more options to these customers that are in, in demand.

And there's a lot of 'em out there. 

Kevin Weitzel: Don't let don't force me to quote Bob Schultz on this because there's three kinds of builders, right? Greg there's production builders, there's custom builders. And then there's semi profit builders because you're catering to the custom, but having to compete against the production and the loser is the builder.

If they're not compensating themselves financially for that process, Jennifer. Yeah. 

Quint Lears: Yeah.

Jennifer Cooper: You got to pick your lane. Know on the marketing side, I talked [00:52:00] to them before this, the trend of where. Customer data is going, how we can offer a great experience. I'm all about how do we make our design center experience more transparent?

I was dabbling in that with the previous building I was working with. And I'm still passionate about that. Customer just wants to know what are my options. One of my prices, I can do this with the car, let me do it with the house. I think that's real important on the less marketing side, but I'm still passionate about is the product development side and where we go to make homes more affordable.

Um, you know, looking at looking at supplies and if I don't have it, if I don't have an affordable house and I can't meet the market where they need homes, then I can't, I can't work it. So I'm also really passionate about just seeing where, uh, in terms of affordability are companies doing that right now?

Because you know, we are very emotionally tied to our neck of the woods. People are being out-priced of homes daily, and so it's on us then to figure out how to make them more affordable. And so as a team, we're looking at all things across the country, we can bring stuff down to our, our little Gulf coast and be more, more affordable and more attainable, 

Kevin Weitzel: 30 [00:53:00] seconds or less any trends you're looking at.

Quint Lears: Yeah. There's a big shift between friendship selling like, oh, where are you from? And then buy it now. And I believe we're going to make a shift because like, Making friends with people to sell them stuff is kind of like the adult version of girl scout cookies and people are literally, so we have that on one side.

Then we have Amazon on the other. I want to tell builders right now, sell less homes. Chad sent Chad, when he says, look, we're not slowing down sales, we're improving customer service, so do less, but do it better. Protect the brand. And, um, Ben keep on keeping on everybody. 

Kevin Weitzel: And last, last question, before Greg gets into the attendee questions, Brenna, on a scale of one to 10, we alluded to this at the beginning, but on a scale of one to 10, where is William Ryan Homes?

One being not at all 10 being let's go game on. Where is William Ryan Homes at with touchless full selling [00:54:00] process? 

Brenna Ryan: Uh, probably an eight. I like to be at a 10, but let's be realistic. Let's stick with an eight. Okay, 

Quint Lears: Jennifer,

Jennifer Cooper: I think we're probably, I'm going to be realistic. I think a six I some work to do.

Kevin Weitzel: I love honest answers. Yeah. Quint. 

Quint Lears: Okay. Well, if you're going to have a touchless buy like a buy now button, you also have to have a terminate now button. Cause when you, when you cancel with Amazon, they don't say, well, you're returning the toaster. Hey, we saw you return it. So just understand that it's easy to put a buy now button and then like, oh, it just preserves a lot.

And if somebody sends you a paperwork, but unless you can terminate now and click that button, don't, don't brag about it

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