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Listen in for a recap of our second Builder Panel sessions from our recent Home Builder Digital Marketing Summit, it was an absolute hit! Check out this special replay episode of the builder panel of the summit, 'Virtual Marketing Events'. Check out the full episode now>>>
What happens when the hotdog cart goes away and the aroma of fresh-baked cookies wafting through the model home disappears? With most marketing for new homes moving online in 2020, builders have had to think outside the box to create events that are not onsite. Many buyers will continue with much of their new home search online. Listen in as these all-star marketing experts discuss how to host virtual events to engage online buyers successfully.
Greg Bray: [00:00:00]All right. And now Kevin, without any further ado, it is time for you to take control and show us what you got the panel
Kevin Weitzel: I almost feel like I might get silly in this one
Greg Bray: Panelists let's turn on those cameras. Let's all run on those mics. And I'm going to get out of the way and let Kevin do his worst.
And then I'll come back later and try to come know.
[00:01:00] Kevin Weitzel: So I'm just going to tell you that this year has been an odd year. 2020 was one year that some people want a flush. Some people want to escalate. Some people have found themselves in positions where they have to renew and change even some of the ways that they market their companies, but even more difficult than that is.
How do you market virtual events? How do you gain a captive audience to get them to do things on their computer, on their phone, on the tablets to get in touch with you as a builder and emotionally connect with you? You know, so we have three very different and very unique roles and people that are here today.
We have the always amazing Ashley De Young of De Young Properties. We have Shane Austin over there. You hit it. Not too [00:02:00] bad on camera. I am over it. If I could just get each one of you just to kind of introduce yourselves, your companies, the markets you serve, the types of homes that you build.
And Ashley, do you mind if I start with you?
Ashely De Young: Yeah, for sure. So, I'm the Vice President of Marketing at De Young Properties. We are a three-generation family home building company. We build homes in the central valley, so in California and we've been building homes for over 45 years. We are a single family home builder.
We build homes ranging from 1500 to 3,900 square feet, helping primarily move down or second time home buyers and just kind of dipping our toes into the first time home buyers. As far as what diff what's different about De Young Properties, we're very innovative and energy efficient. We have built the largest zero energy community [00:03:00] in the central valley.
And so we're really into building homes that are better for the environment, but also help customers have lower energy bills in our area. It gets over a hundred degrees throughout all of summer. So it can be really hot and the PGME bills. For us their energy bells can be really high.
And so we, we like to make sure that our homes are energy efficient and as a local builder, we love giving back, especially doing team events, giving back. And so each year we build a St. Jude Dream Home. So this year, I think is our 14th St. Jude Dream Home that we build and donate and help raise money for the kids of St. Jude. Um, so that's kind of our company
Kevin Weitzel: who wants to follow that or not.
Ananth Rao: Yeah, well, I'm Ananth Rao. I'm the Senior Marketing Director at EYA Marketing. We are based in Bethesda, Maryland, [00:04:00] just outside of Washington DC. We've been serving the Washington DC area for about 30 years. Now, next year will be 30 years of the company.
I think what excites me about working here at EYA is that we build homes and neighborhoods that I promote an urban walkable lifestyle. So you step out of your home, you go grab a cup of a cup of coffee. You hop on the Metro, go to a ball game, come back, you know hit the trail near your home.
Catch up, uh, for dinner, with friends on your private rooftop, tennis. I mean, so, so home is a part of life and you know, personally that resonates a lot with me. And you know that's really what excites me here with EYA and [00:05:00] so I've been here five years now and I, oversee the digital experiences here at the company.
Kevin Weitzel: All right. And Abrazo Home Shane.
Shane Austin: I'm Shane Austin, I'm the chief storyteller for Abrazo Homes. That's my official title but really you know, it was brought on to do the video marketing for Abrazo Homes, but also has shifted into the communication strategy, the content strategy the brand look and feel.
And with Abrazo, that's really important to us because, you know, Abrazo means embrace. It means it means a hug and we really do embrace our community, our local community. And that's really one of our differentiators is that we understand the customers that we serve. And we pride ourselves in being able to do it right and provide the best homes for what people are actually looking for.
Everybody's [00:06:00] needs are changing. Everybody has new plans, you know, and we feel very confidently that we have a plan for our customers, our homes, and we're here in New Mexico. And we embrace that, that local, New Mexico culture, which is unique. And we try to filter that through with our, with our marketing and just with our overall experience and delivery of our products.
Kevin Weitzel: Shane, I want to continue with you. So we're going to dive a little deeper into actual events and into, you know, rolling out communities virtually, but Abrazo your owners, Brian and Matt have done some fantastic video series where they're inviting people in and they've got live musicians.
Number one, whose concept is that? And can you kind of expound a little bit about some of those events that you've had?
Shane Austin: I guess I say Brian and Matt they're very, forward-thinking, they're very innovative and they're not afraid to just go off the wall with their ideas. And I don't know exactly [00:07:00] who came up with the idea.
I think it was, it might've been Brian because at that time, whenever they got shut down in the pandemic, it was right when March Madness was going to start and we have a very fun culture at Abrazo and we absolutely love March Madness and we were so disappointed that we weren't able to enjoy that.
So we were like, you know what let's do March Madness, virtually. And the idea was just created by, it will create an entire bracket. Anybody can join their bracket, you know, for free, just gotta throw in your email and all that. And then we would do play out the games with a roll of dice. And so it was completely, uh, you know, luck and, and, um, it was fun, but then they was just like, you know what?
People are joining these people having fun. I was kind of in the back end, the war room, making sure everything was going smoothly. And, then they started bringing on guests and interviewing people. Cause it's like everybody was stuck at home. It's like, what else did we do? We have now we have time on our hands.
And we have people online and on Facebook let's capture their attention and we just made [00:08:00] it fun. We wanted to just spread happiness. Cause at that time there was a lot of fear, a lot of uncertainties. So we're just like, let's just bring joy. Let's bring some good vibes back into the community. And that was really the, the, the inspiration behind it.
Kevin Weitzel: So when you're having these fun events and it's great, it's great for morale. It's great for the team morale. Did you find that it was actually adding anything to the ROI, to the bottom line of being able to keep people interested and engaged with Abrazo Homes and what you guys are offering there?
Shane Austin: you know, when we look at the analytics, they actually, you know, those are some of the videos that organically had the furthest reach, the furthest engagement and interaction. And when I look at the demographics, I mean, yeah, it was women between 35 and 45. So maybe they were just really attracted to Matt and Brian, you know, and they're good lucks.
Ultimately, I mean, we actually did have a great, you know, all other people were, you know, other industries were really struggling. We [00:09:00] were really thriving, um, in that. And I don't know if that's all associated to those videos and the marketing I'd like to, I'd like to think it was all the marketing, but, uh, but also, I mean, just people were, were wanting to get out and explore homes.
And we were just in front of them were, we were just front and center of them. And, hopefully that means that we were the first name that they thought of when they went out to go in virtually to, or some of our Brian and Macron on this summit
Kevin Weitzel: . So you take credit for that, for that hundred percent marketing, a hundred percent marketing.
Shane Austin:It was our videos.
Kevin Weitzel: the analytics show then pass it on. So now you're in a little different scenario than our other two guests. And the fact that you work on just the marketing wing, servicing the real estate, uh, endeavors. So how does your role change in, and how does that make it even more difficult?
Because you truly are doing everything virtually. [00:10:00] Right.
Ananth Rao: So I think I was, I was brought in, because I could bring some digital expertise, and that was kind of forward thinking. this was before the pandemic and all that good stuff. So this was, you know, four or five years ago. You know, I think that talks a lot about the leadership at the company and it talks a lot about, uh, how forward thinking they are.
Um, and you know, how they're visioning, think so some of the things that he does when the pandemic came and it was like, okay, you know, we got to make a few adjustments, but, it's not, uh, it's not something that is something we have to do radically different, you know, we had to, you know, I'll give you an example.
I mean, when I came in, I was like, Hey, you know, why do we have these, these printed floor plans? I mean, these are two different printed off lumens. Can we have like a holograms people, you know, I'm a little star [00:11:00] wars guy, you know, so a lot of that so that's um, and they listened to me patiently, so that's credit to them, you know, for that.
An example for the, for the pandemic, I mean, one of the things we did was, and this was prior to the pandemic, we had a VR tour set up at one of the communities. We were testing that out. And this was a high-end VR experience and we build these model homes and we did all this fun stuff and there was no pandemic inside.
And people were wondering like, well, why are we doing, why are we doing all this stuff? But again, it's a Testament to our leadership here. Clearly when the pandemic hit March 15 were able to launch this big campaign. You couldn't put those, put those VR goggles on, nobody was willing to share those goggles.
So, so we had to, we had to make, make some changes. We had to pivot, right. [00:12:00] And we turned that into more of a web based experience. And we went with that. So, I think that's what I look at from, you know, from the digital experience, from that standpoint, from my expertise and, you know, I love new homes and I love technology and, you know, being able to put both of them together, you know, it's, it's, it's a good, good place to be.
Kevin Weitzel: Absolutely. So actually it's no secret that I love what you guys do out there with your roll-outs community, community, uh, pre pre shows. Um, you know, you were a guest on our podcast and the home builder, digital marketing podcast, by the way. Um, and we actually discussed a community that you pre-sold a phase of that community in a matter of minutes, correct?
Ashely De Young: Hours, four hours. Yeah.
Kevin Weitzel: That's 60, 120 that's two I'm 40 minutes. There you go. So you've got communities like, you know, [00:13:00] you're Veronica sorrow, VA ho they have 1300 on your interest list. Is that correct? How many plots were you trying to try to sell or trying to presale with this, with this outreach?
Ashely De Young: Yeah, typically, you know, we do a bunch of phases throughout our community. So that first phase was 11 homes and we sold on the most recent one, the Verano to Soro VA, whole community. We sold 60% in the first four hours, but, um, just shortly after a week later, we are already basically a hundred percent sold out in that community.
So we'll be launching the second phase coming up here pretty soon.
Kevin Weitzel: So one thing that you guys do, that's different than I think almost anybody I've seen out there is you have a very professional, almost newsline, um, presence online. Uh, you know, I saw one with Ryan where he gets out there and he's got the microphones like live on the scene at this newest at legacy square or whatever it was, I don't remember.
Could you [00:14:00] speak a little bit about, you know, just being professional and, and making it, you know, committing to it, not just having an echo chamber of a voice from the other side of the room, with your iPhone. You know, rolling this around, like this shaking, shaking the screen for everybody.
Ashely De Young: time and place for both kinds of videos, more natural and just kind of filmed on your phone because phones can do good videos. Um, but for us, I kind of leave that to our sales people, to directly one-on-one send videos, using their phone to customers and, you know, send some personalized communication to them.
So they love doing that all the time. And, for us on the social media side, when we do grand openings, you know, our first ever virtual grand opening that we had was March of 2020. Um, we were about to launch the final phase in one of our communities. And literally the week we were launching this last phase is when [00:15:00] everything shut down.
So we quickly pivoted and turned it into a virtual event on social media and people attended it. Sold out instantly. And, it just worked out really well. So I love getting in the habit of kind of creating a template and sticking to it. So then every new community that comes up, you kind of stick to that same formatting.
So for us, we always do a virtual preview night where customers get to, um, learn more about this new community. And then they schedule an appointment with a new home specialist where they can meet with the new home specialist and learn more about the Homesite shapes and sizes that are available in that next phase.
And they receive the home Homesite premium, so they get pricing. Um, and then they schedule an appointment for a later date to actually tour the Homesite in-person and explore what that might look like. And our team kind of shows them where their house might set up and explains, you know, how big [00:16:00] their backyard is going to be and just goes through all of those different things.
And so, um, that's kinda what we do before a grand opening. And then we also do the day of the grand opening, a virtual event as well. And we have a virtual line where customers sign up all at one time and it's just, it's a lot of fun. Our team's always together and just seeing the names pop up and who's excited and who's ready to buy.
Um, and so, yeah, we just kind of stick to that template and I think it's really helpful having a sales and marketing team who liked to stick together and. And work together. Um, so we're, we're on the phones with each other during the events. And, I think everybody with our cultural culture loves to, be involved on the tech side.
You know, I said we're a zero energy builder, so we're really innovative. And everybody kind of knows that and likes to do anything like that.
Kevin Weitzel: Well, I'm going to come back to you because [00:17:00] I definitely want to hear a little bit more about webinar series as well as your design center virtual visit.
So I'm going to come back to you on that. So start thinking about that. Cause that one blew my mind. I sat through the entire video. I swear to you it's like 30 some odd minutes, but it was 100% worth my time and sports. Your home was time to change. So when you have these events and they're doing the same kind of things that you're doing, as far as, you know, getting people interested and trying to book these virtual appointments, once you've gotten them, how are you getting them to view the homes?
Are you doing them in person? Are you using like a keyless lock system? What are you guys doing differently there at Brazo.
Shane Austin: Yeah. I mean, when, when we had our grand opening set, right, when the pandemic hit, we were, you know, our typical way of doing it is having almost a big block party and you have a ton of people coming.
You have a food truck and it's really a fun time. Uh, and then we're like, all right, shut down, uh, stay in your homes. And we had to completely pivot really quickly and move fast, no [00:18:00] more food truck. Uh, but we were scheduling what we call the VIP like one-on-one tour. So you would, it would be over the course of that weekend, but you would have a time slot and you would be able to personally tour it, um, safely with, with the sales rep in that area.
And, but you would have to be there for, that time slot. And it actually, you know, even though it was a pivot and there's a lot of uncertainty doing that style, I feel like it provided the more engaged buyers. It maybe, maybe weeded out the ones that just want to go and to her house just for ideas and all that stuff.
Like these were more in my opinion, serious buyers. And we actually had a really good trout and a really good, you know, qualified leads coming through those houses.
Kevin Weitzel: That's fantastic. And not on that same subject. How are you when you're marketing a, these virtual events or virtual showings of homes, how are you doing those handoffs to the sales teams?
Shane Austin: Well, you know, it was [00:19:00] actually, we like to have a little fun on with, with our, our way of marketing things and, and, you know, ultimately our, our strategy is to first get people to sign up for the VIP list. And then once you're in on the VIP list, you get kind of some sneak peaks. You get to see things in the floor plans before the general public does.
So there's definitely motivation to be on there. Uh, but one of the, one of our communities doing the grand opening, we actually used one of our other sales reps who has a background in, um, reporting. She's been a sideline reporter and all that for the local news. And so we thought it'd be fun to give her a little alter ego and try to get the inside scoop on what's going on in there.
And we had our sales rep sitting in, in on the office, seemed like he's going over this new community. And then we made it, see, you know, appear like it was live. It was like a live broadcast. And we bring the customer in through video as like, you're, you're getting a sneak peek look. And, uh, and then you get to meet the sales rep as, as they kinda go [00:20:00] through it and tour it together.
And, it was a fun way for us to have, have the people virtually meet our sales rep to kind of lower those walls and uncertainty of, uh, you know, what's what's what are they going to look like? What are they going to, what are they going to do? And we just like to have fun with it. Um, but that was, that was one of the ways that we kind of pass it on.
It's like, you're gonna, you're gonna meet with our sales rep this way, but it was a fun way to do it, I guess.
Kevin Weitzel: Gotcha. Now another is, does anything change on your team? Uh, cause I know you have a lot of, you have a lot of attached product more so than, you know, you do have some single family homes, but a lot of that detached about power you, how are you getting people to get to those and be able to view the view of the property.
Shane Austin: Oh, sorry. Sorry about that.
Ananth Rao: What I, Shane said. Uh, so he here's the thing we just look at, if we had an urban infill multi-family, and builder, so [00:21:00] we don't have any single family homes. It's 90% is, you know, townhomes and condominiums. Um, and most of it is pre-sales. We don't build a you don't really get to see a model home.
Um, you know, for three to six months before we start open, we are open for sales. So it's a bit of a challenge to get folks to understand and visualize, you know, what, what the community might look like, where the home might look like. Um, but we put those in place where, you can do a lot of that with, right.
I, you know, one of our communities, um, would probably be the first one in our history where we would have so loud completely without even having a model home, a real model home everything's been module. So, you know, if you're a home buyer, and you're interested. We, you can walk through what the community looks like.
You can walk through a home, you can choose your options, you [00:22:00] can pick and see what the floating would look like. Um, you could, uh, make a lot of those changes and, and, and what's challenging is how do you do that in a virtual environment? I mean, you know, having a sales team, that experience as one thing you could, you could come in, you have a gaming machine, a gaming PC that runs those beautiful graphics that you can, you can look at.
Um, but in a virtual environment, how do you, how do you make sure we're able to translate all of those experiences and, and really that's what we are doing. All of us here are, are designing these experiences, right? And whether it's an in-person or whether it's it's, it's digital, how do you convey those beautiful experiences of buying that new home and create that excitement in, in a virtual world?
And so, you know, um, zoom, clearly everyone's using zoom and, you know, you don't want your beautiful homes to be looking laggy. You know, when you're putting it out there on a zoom call, especially if it's a virtual home. So, so we had to, we had to look at ways in which we can kind of make it look [00:23:00] really smooth, you know, so, you know, picks up streaming, which is not something a lot of other folks do.
Um, and that's, that's where you get into the details of. Of award and experiences and you, you empathize with, with the buyer and you, you really truly try and and feel what it is like to walk in a buyer's, you know, in a buyer shoes. I think that's part of the experience and that's what we are trying to create you.
So those are some, some things I, add and I don't Salesforce. I intimately involved, you know, from the time we, we start these virtual events, you know, we start promoting them, you know, we have videos of our sales folks out there. And so people knew our sales folks before, before they even meet them.
And at the virtual events, we don't, it's sort of pre prerecorded video it's live, it's real, it's authentic. It's who we are. And, and I think that's, that's part of that too, and, you know, part of that whole experience. And then, you know, the folks that you, you see presenting at a virtual live with other [00:24:00] folks that you have mean, you know, one-on-one virtual meeting with, I think that's, that's part of the whole thing too.
So, we starting to build that trust all the way from the, from the time you, you start, you know, shopping for the home through the time you become a home buyer, you know, you're kind of building that trust, all along. So it's a well thought of experience. I think, you know, empathizing with your buyer and, and walking in their feet and try and understand what that experience is, feels like.
It feels like, I think it's part of the door.
Kevin Weitzel: I agree. And I think the technology definitely has its place and, and far too few builders actually use technology. But on that same note, far too few builders use innovative low-tech technology. And when I look over at Ashley Young and I'm talking about, and I mentioned before that webinars series and that design event on this design event, I'm not, I'm telling you right now, read my lips.
When I [00:25:00] tell you this, you absolutely have to look this up, go to their website, find this event. It will blow your mind how awesome it was. So you had industry partners, your supplier partners on this, on this design center to talk about the various, uh, design elements that you have within the home. You have different materials and basically the whole explanation of the entire process.
Number one, there needs to be a nationals award for just that alone, because it was that fantastic. Uh, it really, but can you tell us a little bit more about, you know, whose idea that was and how did you, how did you come about making that happen? And, and honestly there's no tech there other than a webinar, any, any, I'm an idiot, any idiot can do a webinar.
Shane Austin: What you guys do with that.
Ashely De Young: Yeah. So that event started out obviously as an event that we would have in person and with our customers at our model home center, where our design studio is actually located as well. [00:26:00] And so, um, knowing that we needed to make it virtual, we kind of just took the same layout of what we present during that, um, home buying and design event is what we call it.
And if you wanted to watch it, you can just go to the design studio page on our De Young Properties website. Um, but yeah, we, we wanted to take that event that we typically do in person and, and just make it be a virtual video. So basically we just premiered a video on Facebook. And, what we discussed during that event is, you know, we talk about our family company a little bit and typically somebody from my family, my brothers and I, we all work alongside each other and with our parents.
And we're, you know, I mentioned three generation. So one of us is always at that advent in person and giving a little bit of a history of the company. And then we go into, um, what to do and what not to do for financing while you're building a home. And, um, we have our affiliate mortgage company there [00:27:00] and our team is amazing.
They talk about. You know what to expect during construction on the financing side and how to prepare and you know, what to do and what to stay away from while you're under construction on a home. And then we go into the most fun part, which is obviously the design part of the home. And so our customers, they can almost put anything they want in their home.
It's, almost a custom experience we have over 70 different cabinet colors and carpet and flooring. It's pretty amazing. Um, seeing all the different homes that we've been able to build, because they can be so different. Um, but we've most recently created a separate product line. Like I mentioned, that's going to be for first time home buyers.
So in this event, we kind of briefly showed a package. So we've created a couple packages that have different colors and different schemes that were curated by our design team so that somebody, you know, if they didn't know what to select, they could say, you know, I kind of want it to look like this package.
So it helped me make that, [00:28:00] but change this backsplash, you know? So, that's where we kind of got to showcase. A, basically what our design studio specialist goes over in the appointments with the customers, but just in a virtual way. And she typically has a presentation, like a PowerPoint or a Google slide that she puts on the TV in the design studio, pretty, excuse me, pretty large.
And, so we kind of just put that all into one presentation and shared all those fun features. And we worked, like you said, with all of our trade partners to make sure that the, you know, the faucets are all the correct process and explaining why this faucet might be better for you. If you're a chef and you really need like a high power kind of faucet or a cut, a different cutting board and a different sink.
And so, yeah, that's kind of where we went with that event. And, it is long, like you mentioned, it was [00:29:00] about 30 minutes, but I did set it up on YouTube to do like the different time blocks. So if you wanted to skip just to the design part on YouTube, you just scroll right over to the exact timeframe, the timestamp, and it gets you to that.
And if you don't want it to hear about financing or anything like that,
Kevin Weitzel: I'm not even kidding. It was amazing fantastically put together. It was, it was awesome. I can't speak in a high praise about it, you know, just like you just like the fun stuff that Abrazo does it browser does all these, I'm not even kidding you.
They're Facebook, you go back into history of their Facebook feed. It's ridiculous. All the stuff that's in there. So speaking of these social media tools and ways to get your message out, you know, when you can't just do conventional, you know, people stopping in the model, home, driving by a complex, you know, Shane, what are you guys doing differently?
I mean, are you using the LinkedIn, the Facebook, what other kinds of ad resources are using geofencing? I mean, what are you doing to get people's attention to be able to pitch these, these events?
[00:30:00] Shane Austin: Well, yeah, we we've been doing Facebook for a long time, but then we just recently started up Instagram and we're still building that.
That's still pretty new, YouTube as well, building that YouTube presence, because that definitely helps with SEO and your website when you're embedding, um, YouTube. And, and just with, with Google search, you're able to, to organically spread a little bit faster, um, doing those, but, but ultimately we, we actually recently have actually had to turn back our, our marketing spend a little bit just because, you know, things are selling so fast and we're like, we've actually had to pace ourselves, uh, because things have been selling so fast.
Um, so, so it is funny that you mentioned that we have brought in those new tools and stuff, but now we're really. Focusing on, on getting the rights, you know, the really qualified buyers are really engaged buyers rather than quantity. We want that quality and that's really where we've, we've shifted our, our marketing dollars.
Kevin Weitzel: Absolutely. So enough, he actually said something [00:31:00] pretty important that I want you to touch on. And that is about that they've stepped back their marketing spend, which is totally, totally doable. I mean, if you're selling, why worry about it, you know, let's, you know, let's just keep on selling, but in your case you have to maintain a certain level of tech because of the competition you've got, uh, the type of market you're feeding and the fact that you are doing everything virtually.
What are your opinions on, on halting marketing spend or, you know, putting caps on stuff.
Ananth Rao: Right. I think, I think you know, correct me if I'm wrong here, Shane, but I think what he is referring to is, cutting back on your advertising spend. And so you can't really cut back on your marketing spend.
You're still creating content. You're still doing things which are, which are, which are useful. Um, you know, I'd love, you know, for my company, I'd love to take some of those advertising dollars and, you know, buy some lumber, you know, that's, that's where we all, we all need those dollars to go into. Um, so you know, happy to do that.
You know, you, [00:32:00] respond and react to the market, you know, and,when you have a strong market, like we are in right now, we have one of the strongest markets that, uh, uh, I've been in. And that I keep hearing from other folks who've been in the industry for a long time saying, you know, you are in a really good pocket.
Well, I believe you then in that case, you, you it's, it's okay to scale back on, on the advertising. You still want to focus on creating awesome content. I mean, you know, the kind of stuff that Shane does, you know, um, you know, the kind of webinars and videos that actually doesn't mean it's, it's incredible.
I think focusing on who your buyer is creating content, that speaks to speaks to your bio. I think you continue to keep focusing on those things. So, advertising is one little piece of, you know, the marketing mix that you have. I'd love to, you know, put on my construction hat one [00:33:00] day and start helping out with that construction if I can.
Uh, but if you're all part of helping our buyers, we're all trying to do that. We're trying to get help our buyers, you know, get to where they want to. So I'm a hundred percent okay. And, you know, pulling back, ad budget, when you don't need to, I mean, it just makes business sense.
Kevin Weitzel: But are you just pulling back your ad budget into saying, I don't need to do. X quantity of things, but are you still looking at future technologies that you could feed? Just like you are, you're going to get your hologram anytime soon. I, um,
Ananth Rao: I can't wait for my holiday piano, so yeah. I'll keep pushing for that.
Uh, yeah, I wanted to, I wanted that Princess Leia hologram, I've kind of come out of our in one day and, you know, do that. They don't want the model home,
Kevin Weitzel: Um, so following on, on just these different technologies that are there for virtual use, and let's just go [00:34:00] rapid fire, we'll go.
Ashley and Shane. Um, are you guys using a key list or like a key pad entry into your homes, you know, for self showings
Ashely De Young: right now, we are not because we don't have any homes available that are done, but if we did, we would, and we are interested in looking into it for maybe the model homes. We have not pulled the trigger on that yet.
So I'm curious if Shane or a Ananth are using it for models.
Shane Austin: Yeah. So actually we were using answer now to, to be able to allow people to self guide themselves through the, through the house. Um, lately though we because of regulations starting to get more relaxed and stuff, we have still been getting back to those appointments and one-on-one tours because that's really where our bread and butter is, is the face-to-face interaction.
Uh, but enter now has allowed us to be able to, to let people to those homes. And we use it on like [00:35:00] all of our model homes, even specs that were finished. Um, and it was a great, is a great tool for us during that time.
Kevin Weitzel: Another, I know you do a lot of pre-selling, but do you do well, the self guided tours at all?
Ananth Rao: Yep. We do. We do self guided tours on our spec homes and on certain stage, our model home. So, I mean, we look at it as a, as a way to help our sales folks, focus on the most pressing, qualified prospects. So, what were the self guided tour does, is it, it kind of frees them up, you know, if you have a stage model home or a spec home, you know, which is going to rewrite those back homes out, but you could walk in, um, and, uh, you know, the sales guys can follow up with whoever has been at the home and go, How can I help?
Kevin Weitzel: And I'm just going to assume that all three of your companies utilize some sort of FaceTime, but with your brokers real estate agents, they're allowed to go in and do [00:36:00] personalized tours with, with their, with their prospective buyer. Correct Shane.
Shane Austin: Yeah, we, we did the FaceTime tours, but we also did guided like Matterport tours and were instead of just letting them self guide you through it, we still want to be a part of that process and we would get on a zoom or FaceTime or Google meet and share our screen.
And then the sales rep would actually take them through that Matterport tour so they could tour virtually, but also with somebody.
Ashely De Young: I think that experience is really good too, because the customer, instead of just quickly getting a video from the agent, you know, they get to stop and say, wait, I want to talk about this part of the kitchen for, you know, a longer period of time.
So I think those ones where they're kind of the guided Matterport or virtual tours are really great. So we love doing those too.
Kevin Weitzel: And are all of you using, a 3d photographed, system similar to Matterport? It [00:37:00] could be, you know, do it yourself. Are all of you used that Ashley?
Ashely De Young: We have, well what do you mean in particular?
Kevin Weitzel: animated, but just a Matterport ask?
Ashely De Young: . Yeah. We have those for each of our model homes.
Shane Austin: Yeah, we have our model homes and any specs that are finished.
Ananth Rao: we have them for homes that we haven't built, and we have them for homes that are built. Um, so it, you know, you can walk, a home, you know, at Riggs Park Place or Michigan Park was one of our communities, which we don't have model homes yet.
Um, has a bio, you could go in there and do a whole full 3d tour. If you had a one-on-one appointment with, with our sales folks, you could, you could do more than kind of point to point. You could go every nook and corner of the home. Um, it's a fluid kind of experience, which is a richer experience. So yeah, we do that.
[00:38:00] Kevin Weitzel: and that's rendered or animated. And I assume, Ashley, I know for fact what you guys do, but could you tell us what you guys do on the rendered or animated virtual tours, or is it just a metaphoric style?
Ashely De Young: Um, for us, we have just the Matterport, but we also have one kitchen where you can change all of the features in the kitchen and see it change in front of your eyes.
So we do offer that and, um, we're going to be making another one soon that shows the, the five packages so they can click through and see how the kitchen would look if they chose the package with the white cabinets, you know, so that's our next step.
Kevin Weitzel: I love it. And Shane, any of the virtual and other rendered or animated the formats.
Shane Austin: we do. And we've actually offered that before the place was built. So to give them an idea of our new product offerings and be able to it, but to give you guys a shout out too, we're now using outhouse for our interactive floor plans.
[00:39:00] Kevin Weitzel: It's awesome. The three of you do. Okay, and then also we already did a design center.
We kind of touched on that. What about contracts? Uh, how are you guys working out with the touchless contract? And can we start with you, Ashley? Are you doing like online deposits? Are you actually doing full signings online? How are you, how are you working that? Yeah.
Ashely De Young: Um, they can do a full contract using DocuSign with our agents.
They prob they typically set up a zoom or go to meeting and go through the entire contract with the customer, and then they DocuSign it to them after, in order to reserve. I believe though they have to bring their check to the title company and drop that off. Um, but sometimes before grand openings, we kind of send little swag gifts in the mail with the envelope and saying exactly how to go drop it off.
And so they have that before the grand opening. And I think that that's kind of a fun thing. So they, if they're ready to buy, they can just go drop it off in this [00:40:00] envelope that says it's a diong, you know, build. And the title company knows who it's for.
Kevin Weitzel: fantastic shape.
Shane Austin: Yeah, we we've actually been pretty digital even before the pandemic forced everybody to be digital.
So we've been using DocuSign for, for a long time for those initial contracts, but just like Ashley, I think, you know, with closing and with transactions, some of that is still in-person, but the DocuSign helps speed up the process a lot faster.
Ananth Rao: Yeah, I think, I mean most of our contracts are, you know not in person had used during this last one year.
So that, that whole process is, yeah, I think we all, it's sort of like an industry thing. Everyone uses DocuSign and you know, we go through that process. I think we've had to kind of do that. Um, you've done that prior, and we be gonna need to doing that now as well.
Kevin Weitzel: So there's some connected technologies that kind of limit what you can or can't do online, but in a magic, if you had a [00:41:00] magic wand and you could instantly implement a, buy it now active, you know, go through the entire process button, would you implement that button, Ashley?
Ashely De Young: All right. How did it take the mute off? Um, I think I I'm torn. I can't give you a yes or a no, just because it's such a big deal. Um, once the customer sees the entire contract and if they think they're doing it all on their own, they're going to be like, wait, am I actually ready to sign this big contract and put down this big percentage of a down payment right now?
Digitally? I don't know. I think parts of the experience should be able to happen online, but maybe make it more clear. Maybe it's more about just reserving the lot for a certain amount of hours or something like that. I don't know. I'm curious what they think.
Kevin Weitzel: Yeah. I agree by the way, but Shane, uh, yeah, I'm, I'm in the same boat.
Shane Austin: I am torn too, because you see, you know, [00:42:00] you can, you can build a car online and do the entire thing online. It's like, well, when does the home building, uh, industry get to that level? But for us in particular, like again, our secret sauce is our team and that interaction with them. And it's a highly emotional purchase.
It's for some people the biggest purchase that they're going to make. And, um, us being able to guide them along that way is just so beneficial, not just for, to close the sale, but even afterwards giving them the comfort of mind and knowing that there's warranty too, that's going to get their back and they understand there's a team behind this and, and they really get.
Um, become very loyal like fans and advocates, because they've really gotten to know us intimately and, and, and, um, and so that is going to be hard to shift. I don't say that it's, it's never going to happen, but that is one of our, our bread and butter secret sauce is,
Kevin Weitzel: and enough, what's your opinion on them?
Ananth Rao: So you said if right.
Kevin Weitzel: Yeah. If you had just a magic [00:43:00] magic wand, if, if you could make it happen now, granted it already exists. It's just a question of, if you can make it happen, I personally need that personal touch as a consumer. I'm just asking what, if you have that magic button, you could implement it.
Ananth Rao: I'm an Uber kind of guy. So when I push a button, I want something to happen personally. Yeah. I want to add to cart, check out the home. Great. I love that. Um, you know, but you know, we all know home buying is more complex than that. Um, and, uh, you know, we all know it's, um, it's not it's not that simple.
You know, where we are today, you know, there's a lot, lot of things associated with it. And, it's a personal preference, you know, what would you like to give people the option to do that? Anything that reduces friction, anything that helps folks you know, enhance the buyer journey and wide experience we should be.
We should absolutely look at that, but, it's certainly a thought
Kevin Weitzel: and then it's coming on because we have a bunch of questions [00:44:00] from attendees. Greg.
Greg Bray: Yeah. And, and if there are some of you who haven't put questions in yet, please go ahead and drop those in the box. If you've got a question for our panel was here about virtual events or, you know, ideally, or if there's other questions you just want to ask them while they're here, you know, we've, we've got one question that's that's come in is, do you guys feel like this idea of virtual events is here to stay?
Are they gonna just all go away once COVID is a bad memory? You know, so I'm announced what's your thoughts on that? And we'll start with you.
Ananth Rao: I don't think, I don't think they're here to stay. Like I don't look at it as, you know, I love for that. I'd love for what your kids to be around. Uh, you know, it's just, um, it's, it's work well.
It's, it's great for us as marketers and as companies to get the message out and go, Hey, look, you get one consistent message out to folks. People know, you know, 500 people know exactly at the same time, you know? Um, there's no confusion about what [00:45:00] you're trying to communicate. I'm not sure if that's a, that's going to be the case.
You know, when personally, as I look out and look at the traffic and what's going on outside and how people want to go out and experience things in the real world, uh, you know, it might be back to the roaring twenties again, in that case, this might be a thing of the past, but I think in the immediate future, I think we do have, which we'll events for a little bit and in some ways, some scale from, uh, it'll take another different format.
I think it's, it's about making it easy for your buyers. Um, and for folks who connect with you,
Greg Bray: Ashley, what are you saying? Are they, are they here to stay? Are they going to disappear?
Ashely De Young: Yeah, I, I agree with, Ananth and Shane and how they've said, you know, in-person is the most important part of selling, um, you know, first, an internet lead than a phone call, but the most important is [00:46:00] being in-person with the customer inside one of your homes.
So ideally we would love to get back to that. And, um, us being in California, we're still a little restricted in certain instances, slowly opening up, thankfully. But, um, I think probably part of our experience will be online, but maybe it's more of the educational side of events. And then, you know, we still have the event in person.
So, more of the like transparency about timing, pricing processes, you know, maybe that's what stays virtual
Kevin Weitzel: on that same subject. Homeowners are all very passionate about what they do. They think that they build beautiful homes, they build the best homes of all our competitors and why don't more people buy from us versus X.
Um, but what it really comes down to is that the average consumer. Are you worried at all at wanting that personal touch? Are you worried that the consumer doesn't really give a shit about that? Who [00:47:00] doesn't give a poop about that? Sorry, Greg. Um, that possibly, that they want that Amazon experience where they don't have to talk to anybody.
They just want to kind of muddle their way through it and hit the button and go, ah, I hate that concept. But do, do any of you worry about the fact that we're being forced into this by consumers? Shane?
Shane Austin: don't know. Certainly we're worry about it. I think, you know, if you, if you don't adapt to what's happening, you know, the changes that are happening, then you become a dinosaur and go extinct.
So I think that there is an element that will, or there are elements that will stay. I mean, I think people are getting used to a certain way of doing things and some people aren't as comfortable. And I think you just got to remind yourself to meet the customer wherever they're at. And obviously we're going to encourage them to come out and, and, you know, get a taste of our secret sauce.
But we also have a lot of out-of-state buyers who can't come in personnel and stuff. So I think there is I bred approaches that that [00:48:00] can stay and still be beneficial if we embrace them and not, you know, afraid of you sticking to our one way of doing things. It takes an open mind and creativity to make a work.
But I think there are some elements that we can move forward with indefinitely.
Greg Bray: uh, uh, another kind of. Can I ask a related question, is this idea of timing of these virtual events? You know, we're in this streaming society, it's like, well, you might want to watch the show at seven o'clock. I don't, I'm not available till eight o'clock.
You know, how do you guys kind of see this? How important is the timing saying it's going to be Friday at six o'clock and you've got to be there versus it's recorded and you can look at it whenever it's convenient for you. And some of the urgency that comes with, I don't want to miss out if it's at a set time, but the convenience that comes with I can do it when, when I'm available.
Um, actually what you want to take a shot at that one first?
Ashely De Young: Yeah, I think, creating content that's evergreen [00:49:00] that no matter when the customer is watching, it is amazing because then that content that you create, even if it's like, you're trying to post it at the time that the most people are engaged on your platform.
Um, that's great, but then it still lives on and you can link to it in follow up emails from your online specialists, from your sales team, and it can live on, you know, two years from now and still be really relevant. So I don't think maybe timing as is as important as you think as much as more it is.
It's about the content that you're sharing.
Greg Bray: That's what do you, what do you think does does having it at a specific day and time, you know, make a big difference or can it be available for viewing any time?
Ananth Rao: Um, so we've done, our virtual events have been live, all the virtual events that we've had so far for the community openings.
And, when in doubt, tap into your [00:50:00] email list, just ask your prospects and go, Hey, what's what do you think works for you? And, you know, is it Wednesday at 7:00 PM or Saturday at six? And you know, and that, that gives you answers instead of again, instead of making assumptions and, you know, just ask us folks and say, what, what makes, uh, what makes sense that's worked for us.
Um, of course, you know, once you have the, the recording, you can share it and you can do all of that later. Um, but I think, asking your prospects and buyers where they are in this helps
Kevin Weitzel: speaking about time. Let's look at the success of these, of these events. You know, when you have an online or when you have an in-person community rollout, you have an expectation you've sent out X number of invitations.
You expect a certain number of people be there, and it's either crickets or you've got the, you know, Ben overrun with, with, uh, attention. How are you on the whole for your events, your virtual events. Are you seeing that [00:51:00] you're exceeding expectations of population at attendance or are there some that are let downs, and can we start with Ashley?
Ashely De Young: Yeah. We've had a few events where not as many people attended and a few where all of the appointment slots were taken up, you know, within a matter of minutes. So, um, I think it speaks to maybe the location of the community, and the price point that customers were aware of, before the event happened.
So I guess it would just depend on the community itself that you're launching and how much time you gave them an advance to prepare to mark that date on their calendar and be available. Um, that, that seems to be what has made or broke our events, I would say.
Kevin Weitzel: Yeah. And we have to get to some, uh, some awards here real quick, some door prizes, but quickly and Shane first, happy with the results of your virtual events, or are you exceeding [00:52:00] what you're expecting for population or, uh, are people not showing up?
Shane Austin: Well, actually we have been very pleased with the virtual events because, you know, like I said before, when we're typically doing it live, there's going to be 200 people on any given day in a weekend. And it's a big block party, but doing the appointment style where you only have max, maybe 12 and that's at the high side on one day, it comes back to again, quality versus quantity.
And we did get a lot of that quality. You know, you could show 200 people at home, but if only two buy, you know, it's still that. It's actually less work, but more qualified work when you have those other people. And what we've recently did with this, this brand new community that we just started it's right next to balloon Fiesta park, which is our staple for New Mexico is we kind of want the Ford Bronco approach.
If you notice how they really like hyped up hyped up and teased it and all that stuff. We were doing that for, I mean, months to really load up [00:53:00] that VIP list. And we gave them an entire week to set up those appointments before the general public. So that kind of created that urgency that you might get from, um, you know, something that's just live, but that, that those videos and those pieces, those are evergreen.
That again, just reiterate our brand presence and all that. So it was a little bit of a hybrid, but we're, we're pleased with how it all turned out.
Kevin Weitzel: Yeah.
Ananth Rao: Yeah. I mean, I think, uh, I mean I lost a bunch of community opening was back in December. Uh, so, we are at a different time right now. I don't know how things would be, um, at this point of time.
Uh, but I, you know, I'd, I'd echo what Ashley said. Every community is different. Um, you know, price points are different. Um, you know, just, you try and learn from every virtual experience that you had, you know, our, our first. Virtual opening. What's our best virtual opening in terms of like just sheer number of attendees.
We had 500 people show up at our first one. So I had certain formulas in place. I'm like, okay, well, I had X number of know, web leads. I have, uh, [00:54:00] X number of registered. So many people showed up. We had X number of appointments and so many sales, so great. I go to my funnel, that's see how that translates to, into the next event.
The ratios kind of match up, you know? Um, but again, um, a question of that is what your price points are. I think that that has a big impact as well. And you know, where, what the competition is, who your buyer is, all of those apply. So I'll be happy, a hundred percent. We are happy with the virtual events we've had, um, we were happy with the results that we've had.
Um, you know, it's just a question of where are people today?
Kevin Weitzel: Yeah, yeah. Mandy, just asked, uh, how an author is making, virtual tours of homes that don't, aren't built yet. I'll go ahead and quickly answer that. And that is companies like outhouse focus, 360 rendering house, alpha vision. What they do is they take your CAD files and they an outhouse.
I don't know if I mentioned Outhouse, take your, I don't know if I did, they take your CAD files and they create a 3d virtual model. They attach [00:55:00] materials to it, your spec, your decorations, your design, and then they build a 3d model that you can literally virtually walk through. Very similar to like how metaphor works.
So, and Yes. Thank you. Don't forget how the house I did. I mentioned it at least once more time. Ashley , thank you to De Young Properties. Thank you to Abrazo Homes and thank you to EYA Marketing for lending us our time of your time today. Thank you very much. You made our summit fantastic and outstanding.
We really appreciate your time. Thank you so much. So it again, definitely Greg,