Join us this week on The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast as Wade Hiner of Destiny Homes talks with Greg and Kevin about making sales and marketing a team effort.
Put simply, Wade says, “Sales is a very natural process. People need housing and we're blessed to be in the industry that provides that. So, all it is is letting people know what we do.”
Wade believes that everyone on a home building team ought to be engaged in sales. He explains, “I've never not been a salesperson, and I try to teach everyone on our team that no matter what your role is in the firm, you have a sphere of influence, and everywhere you go, you have the opportunity to tell somebody what you do and to share how we can help them.”
He continues, “I would say every single person in our company is an owner. The reason I say that is every single person that works in our company strives to raise the bar every day on how they service our customers. Every single person's coming up with ideas every day on, maybe we should do this, or how about looking at this? Everybody's empowered to make those decisions. You know, everybody has a title. However, in a small company, I don't care what the need is, somebody walks through our front door and needs something signed or something looked at, you name it, there's not one person in our company that wouldn't be willing to roll up their sleeves and do whatever it is in front of them.”
Listen to this episode to learn how to get your team more involved in the sales and marketing process.
About the Guest:
Wade Hiner is a 35-year veteran of the construction industry. He serves as the President of Sales and Marketing for Destiny Homes, a privately-owned builder of single-family homes in Iowa which provides a 90-day build from dig to handing keys. Working for a small company, Wade does whatever the need is in front of him, including sweeping our recently framed homes, straightening signs in the developments, taking customer calls, and helping with the sales process.
Things that are important to Wade include serving others at all costs, doing the unexpected, listening to understand not to respond, under-promising and over-delivering, being a reliable source no matter what the need may be, keeping a level head in all situations, getting to know a person before doing business with them, being grateful every day, being interested instead of interesting, being a lifelong learner, always taking cold calls, taking every meeting because he is only one meeting away from making his biggest dreams come true, having fun, and believing everything he does is an interview for his next job.
Wade is a husband and father of two beautiful daughters. He values faith, family, and work and gives 100% to each. He believes in the power of giving back to the community to impact the lives of people. He believes in reading the book that has all the answers to all business and life questions daily. He stands by Proverbs 16:3, commit your work to the Lord, and then your plans will succeed.
Greg Bray: [00:00:00] Hello everybody, and welcome to today's episode of The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine,
Kevin Weitzel: and I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse.
Greg Bray: Today we are excited to welcome to the show, Wade Hiner. Wade is the President of Sales and Marketing at Destiny Homes. Welcome, Wade. Thanks for joining us today.
Wade Hiner: Hey, thank you. It's a blessing to be here. I want to tell you guys thank you for all that you do to shed light on the home building industry. There's a lot going on out there and I've watched your podcasts for a long time and you do a [00:01:00] great job of helping us in the industry understand what we need to do to get better. So, I appreciate what you guys do.
Greg Bray: Thank you. Appreciate that. It's nice to know there's three people that listen to us, so that's good. Well, Wade, for those who don't know you yet, why don't you start off and give us kind of your background and a little introduction.
Wade Hiner: Yeah. So, I'm Wade Hiner. I have gray hair and I started in the home building industry when I was a teenager, so that means I'm a veteran of the home building industry. I often joke, you know, when I get on a plane, I want the pilot to have gray hair because I want to make sure that we get from point A to point B. I think people that sign up to build a house want a guy with gray hair because they want someone with experience as well. So, been doing this 35 years. I have a family, a wife, and two daughters at home. When I'm not at work, I love to work out and be in the outdoors and be away from this technology that you guys do for a living so that nobody can [00:02:00] find me. Is that a bad thing to say?
Kevin Weitzel: No. Not at all.
Wade Hiner: Okay.
Kevin Weitzel: Now when you say outdoors, you talking about like cycling, hiking, running, what do you do?
Wade Hiner: So, I like to get on the mountain bike and I like to find trails through woods that all these great organizations are cutting through timbers. It's just fantastic. It's a release, it's a stress reliever, and gets that exercise that I rarely get.
Kevin Weitzel: Let's give them a senseless shout out. What brand of bike you riding?
Wade Hiner: Actually, it depends on the day. I don't really have a preference on the brand. I probably couldn't even tell you what's on the side of my bicycle. What I have a preference on is the width of the tires and how it performs on the trail.
Kevin Weitzel: I got you. All right. That's a very respectful answer, by the way.
Wade Hiner: It's an honest one.
Greg Bray: Well, Wade, let's find out a little bit more about what got you started in home building before your hair was gray, and why you decided to go in that direction for your career.
Wade Hiner: Yeah. So, necessity was the reason why I got into the home building business. I was [00:03:00] a teenager and I needed my first car and my brother-in-law actually was building houses for himself and I became his laborer. So, I was in the hole holding the stick, you know, shooting grade when the hole was being dug, and the guy that was setting the concrete forms and pouring the concrete, and then swinging the hammer and framing the houses.
I was always teased. I was always afraid of heights. So, when we got to the roof, everybody teased me that I would have to hammer the nails in with my forehead because I was hanging on with both hands. That really is what got me started. I learned from the ground up as a young person on how all the parts and pieces came together.
From there, I became a project manager for a larger local firm, and so I was in charge of building neighborhoods and being the liaison between the subcontractor and the home buyers. I've had various roles between project manager, superintendent, and executive all through my career. It has served me [00:04:00] well. Lots of ups and downs along the way, but the home building and construction industry in general has been a huge blessing for me.
Greg Bray: When did you switch over to sales and marketing in all of that, and selling the homes?
Wade Hiner: I've never not been a salesperson. So, even when I was setting forms, whoever I came into contact with, I was telling them what I did for a living and how we could help them buy a house. I've never not been a salesperson, and I try to teach everyone on our team that no matter what your role is in the firm, you have a sphere of influence, and everywhere you go, you have the opportunity to tell somebody what you do and to share how we can help them. It happens all the time. I mean, people go to get their haircut or go to the dentist, and you know, you teach them how to talk about what we do and how we can help people. Sales is a very natural process. People need housing and we're blessed to be in the industry that provides that. [00:05:00] So, all it is, is letting people know what we do.
Greg Bray: I love the way that the whole team is part of the sales efforts. I think there's folks that miss out on that.
Wade Hiner: Absolutely.
Greg Bray: Was that something that, that just kinda came naturally for you, or was there a point where you said, wait a minute, we need to formalize our training and things to make that happen?
Wade Hiner: For me personally, I've always had the curiosity to know what people want or need and how I can fill the gap. Oftentimes, I'll ask somebody when I'm meeting them for the first time, if there's an issue that you're thinking about right now that would go away, what would that be, and if they share that with me and I become a part of that process, I love being a part of that process, no matter what it is, doesn't have to do with home building or anything like that. I love being a part of that process because that person is now going to see me as a valuable resource to come to whenever they need something, and I'm glad to provide it because I just love serving people. Whether it's outside the industry or building [00:06:00] them a house, but obviously I love building homes for people, and when they come to me with an issue outside the home building industry, and it leads to a relationship where I build their home, even sweeter.
Kevin Weitzel: So, with the relationship side of that, what exactly do you guys do over there at Destiny Homes? Give me an idea. What area of Iowa do you build in? How many homes a year do you build? Are you an on your lot builder? Do you build in communities?
Wade Hiner: Yeah, so we're primarily located in central Iowa, kind of the Des Moines Metro area. We build in roughly 15 different municipalities in central Iowa. This year, we're on track to build close to 400 homes. We build on our lot, or your lot, whichever. There was a lot of questions there, did I answer all of them?
Kevin Weitzel: That's almost all of them. Yeah.
Wade Hiner: Okay.
Kevin Weitzel: Do you find that you struggle at all, or do you have any kind of advice for other builders or other marketers that do both on your lot and community builds? Do you have to change your focus and your marketing message to the [00:07:00] potential buyer when it is an on your lot versus a community buy?
Wade Hiner: I don't think the message is changed so much as it is on us to learn everything that we need to learn when we're buying a one-off lot. For example we want to make sure that you know where all the easements are. If the customer bought this lot and they want to build a pool in the backyard, but there's a 35-foot utilities max in the backyard and we can't do that, we need to know that kind of stuff upfront. So, we really gotta be students, and we really got to understand what we're buying and communicate that to the buyer before we move forward.
Greg Bray: So, Wade, your job title's a little bit unique, President of Sales and Marketing. Tell us what that means to you and to the company, and how that fits into your role.
Wade Hiner: Yeah, so we are a small operation. So, we have 20 employees that work for us, and I would say every single person in our company is an owner. The reason I say that is every [00:08:00] single person that works in our company strives to raise the bar every day on how they service our customers. Every single person's coming up with ideas every day on, maybe we should do this, or how about looking at this? Everybody's empowered to make those decisions. You know, everybody has a title.
However, in a small company, I don't care what the need is, somebody walks through our front door and needs something signed or something looked at, you name it, there's not one person in our company that wouldn't be willing to roll up their sleeves and do whatever it is in front of them.
That being said, my title is President Sales and Marketing, my primary role is to focus on those duties. I do things like work with agents to look at open house traffic, those typical, traditional things. What I'm also looking at in our communities, for example, is working with economic development arms of chambers of [00:09:00] commerce in the communities that we live in. Asking them questions like, are you or your businesses expanding, and if so, what are the jobs that they're trying to bring in? What are the salaries that they're paying? In getting that information, what I'm able to do then, is go back to our office and say, okay, they're hiring this amount of people, they're hiring for these salaries.
Let's work backwards, see if we can create a workforce housing product near where that expansion is, to provide that extra little boost for those economic developers. Oftentimes, the economic developers are talking to business about TIF and all the things that they can do that way, they really don't talk about where are our workforce, where are they going to live? So, I want to be a valuable asset to those folks to say, Hey, we need to call Destiny Homes and figure out if we can get a you know, affordable housing project going next to our expansion, so that our workforce has a place to live.
Greg Bray: That's a great marketing [00:10:00] avenue that I don't think everybody's paying attention to, is how do we be the ones that come top of mind in that type of a scenario? That's a terrific insight.
Wade Hiner: How that kinda came about, in 2018, we started looking at our kind of our whip and said, where are all the customers going? I mean, we were building between 350 and 450 all day long at a really good clip, and all of a sudden it started to tail off. Well, what was happening was that missing middle that you guys hear about all the time was very much missing, just was not being built in our area.
So, what we did is we went to the municipalities and said, Hey, we want to start building a more dense single-family product, but we need your blessing. We need you to understand that this process that we're going to go through is to provide affordable new homes. So, we got municipalities to get on board with the higher density. Then we got our trades in the room and we said to everyone, Hey, the market is not going up, it's going [00:11:00] down, so we need to figure out a way to provide that missing middle. We have a great team of trade partners who got on board and said, whatever we need to do.
So, we created smaller footprints, higher density plats, got better pricing from our trade partners, and then in 2018, in January, in Iowa, you can't dig a hole, but we were able to rollout what we call our smart series. Which at the time, we were able to offer a brand new home, including lot, for $195,000. We sold 36 before we could dig a hole. So, the proof was in the pudding that that was definitely a missing ,demographic.
So, for the last three years, obviously, our prices have gone up, so we're not able to do that 195 anymore. It's more like 285, but my point is, we served that missing middle, and now all of a sudden, our 350 to 450 buyers are back because we've put people in homes to build equity that can step up to that. You can't ask someone [00:12:00] renting an apartment to come and buy a $350,000 home. It just doesn't work.
Kevin Weitzel: Well, you can, but the line is extremely short.
Wade Hiner: That's right.
Greg Bray: Good point, Kevin. So, Wade, as you identified that demographic that you felt was not being served, you designed a product around what you felt they wanted and needed, how did you then take that message and tell them, Hey, we've got what you're looking for. How did you get that out there?
Wade Hiner: That was all social media through our real estate agents. We use a brokerage. So, we're relying on our realtors to tell that story, but I'll tell you what, it doesn't take long for that word to spread when new construction single-family for under 200,000. I mean, we got the local news agencies calling us. We got some press, and rightfully so, because that just didn't exist. The news people were saying, we don't believe that you can do it, and it wasn't until we actually had a couple of built and they did live [00:13:00] remotes that they believed us. So, we did get a lot of good press. We hit social media and it spread like wildfire. It went really, really well.
You know, and the challenge that we have now is with costs doing what they're doing and supply chain issues, we found ourselves, up at that almost to that $300,000 mark again with this product.
So, we're going to go back to the drawing board and go back to these municipalities and say, Hey, we got to do it again, but it's going to look a little bit different and we've got to have you come along with us and it's not going to be traditional because we're going to maybe look at, no garages. We're going to have to get really creative to get down to that 200,000 again.
Greg Bray: So, Wade, how do you match the desire to be in that affordable housing with your other products where you've got the different price ranges? How do you fit all that together in a cohesive marketing message or do you have it totally broken up based on who you're going after?
Wade Hiner: What we like to tell people is that no matter where you are in life, [00:14:00] we've got you covered. We have a product from, well, now, unfortunately, it's from 280 to whatever it is that you want. You come in and draw it on the back of a napkin, we'll make it happen for you for a million dollars or more, whatever. The good news is what we like to tell people is no matter whether it's a million dollar home or a $280,000 home, our team is the same. We have a great, dedicated team of trade partners who know exactly what we expect, no matter what home series we're building. It's awesome to watch.
When I tell people that from the time we dig your basement, to the time you move in, is roughly 90 days, people don't believe that right off the bat. I find ourselves defending our good reputation on how we manage our schedule. When folks, at first, see that we can do something in half the time that our competitors can do, they jump to conclusions, like if you're doing it that fast, you're slapping it together or whatever.
What we try to help them understand and explain to them [00:15:00] is, we do a master schedule. So, if you are a trade partner for us, you know where you're going to be for the next three months. You don't have to be out on the street bidding jobs and doing things like that. Once you get the job with us, we have you scheduled out for the next three months and we communicate that on a weekly basis. It's a well-oiled machine and every contractor knows who they're following and they're all communicating.
Kevin Weitzel: Now, do you express that message to your buyers?
Wade Hiner: We don't share that message as much as we probably should. I think we're gun shy to lead with that message, because we don't want people shying away from that because again, once they learn this is what we do, it takes some doing to help them to understand how we do that, so that they don't shy away from it to say, maybe we'll go try builder B because they take their time. What we try to help people understand is we take our time, we just don't let time take us.
Greg Bray: I think that's an interesting conundrum, if you will, that you [00:16:00] have designed a process, you've created something that you think will improve the overall customer experience, and yet it's almost being viewed as too good to be true, so there must be some thing that you're really not doing behind the scenes and you have to create a message around that to make sure that it's clear that no, we're just that good. As opposed to that we're doing something wrong or somehow cheating you out of some piece of the process because we're better than everybody else. It's an interesting dilemma.
Wade Hiner: Yeah. I guess what I would say is the proof is in the pudding. We have to put our money where our mouth is, of course, and deliver on what we say, but we do it day in and day out. It's just what we do.
Greg Bray: So, Wade, connected to that then, obviously, these customers have come with a certain expectation of timing and some of those other things, as part of this, what other types of customer expectations have you seen evolve and change that you've had to react to or [00:17:00] accommodate?
Wade Hiner: Yeah. I'll tell you that customer expectation meetings have been the one thing over the last 18 months that has changed dramatically, and in fact, kind of scares me a little bit because we don't know from day to day what trade or what supplier is going to be calling us to say, hey, sorry, can't deliver your tubs and showers this week, or hey, can't get you floor joists this week. We just don't know. When we're sitting in front of a customer trying to set expectations up front, it's almost like we're telling them don't buy the house because we can't tell you when it's going to be done, but you have to be honest and you have to be up front. These things are real.
For example, let's use the tub and shower example. I just used. I mean, there's been times in the last 18 months where we can't buy them, and so we have to go back to people who are building and say, hey, remember that talk we had upfront? It's coming true. Here's what's going [00:18:00] on. We have a couple choices. We can wait for a tub shower, or we can get creative and buy a base and tile your shower, and here's how much that costs, and we keep the process going. We put that in the customer's court, and nine times out of ten, they'll choose the option of continuing to move forward rather than wait, which is good for all of us, obviously, but it's tough. The challenges are real and staying on top of them from day to day, I'll be honest, they've been challenging.
Kevin Weitzel: So, the Iowa market's a little different than like what we have in Arizona or what's in California or New York or anything else, with your competitors not having to be as tech savvy as certain areas of the country, how are you getting your message out to your potential buyers without having a lot of the digital tools that we see in the market now?
Wade Hiner: That's a great question. I always say Des Moines is a small, big town. Yes, we have a million people if you add all the metropolitan area up, but you can't go to a coffee shop without running into 25 people that you know. We are [00:19:00] well networked and everybody knows who we are and we're visible in the community. Are we on as much of the social media channels as we need to be? Probably not. We have a lot to learn from the likes of you two doing this podcast. I've learned a ton. I need to get with the times and do some of these things.
I've often said, I'm going to start a podcast. I'm going to order a podcast, and I say the podcast is stuck in a port in California, so I haven't been able to start it. That's my excuse right now for not doing all of the things that we probably should be doing, but we definitely have things to learn.
Kevin Weitzel: I've got some great news for you, Greg and I both know some people, we know each other, basically, that can help you out with any digital assets you need.
Wade Hiner: That is fantastic.
Greg Bray: So, Wade, when you look at your wishlist, might put you on the spot with this one, what's the one thing, man, I don't have it yet, but I really want, that you just haven't quite made the leap for?
Wade Hiner: How I would answer that question is with growth that we've had over the past three years, what we're [00:20:00] losing control over is the relationships. When you have triple the business all of a sudden, you become transactional rather than relational. That's a tool, I would buy it today, is how do you stay relational when you grow your business by three times? Do you understand what I'm saying?
Greg Bray: I totally get it. I have the same problem in our business as we've grown. I don't talk to every client the way I used to be able to talk to every client and some of those types of things, and it makes a difference in how some of that evolves. I think it's a growth problem that lots of people understand, for sure.
Wade Hiner: Yeah. It absolutely is. I try to talk to as many customers as I can, just like you, and don't get to them all. Unfortunately, when you're in a transactional situation with a customer, and you guys know this, in construction things arise, we're not perfect. I'm not saying we're perfect and that we do everything the way we should. There's things that pop up, but when you're in a relationship with the buyer, when those things pop up, working through those together [00:21:00] is a lot easier than if they feel like it's just a transaction and I'm just a number, and of course, they're going to give me that pat answer and that kind of thing. You understand what I'm saying there?
Greg Bray: Yeah. Yeah. So, Wade, what are some of the places that you are looking for your new ideas and the things that you want to try beyond the podcast that stuck in the container in the port? What other places do you go for inspiration?
Wade Hiner: I do listen to a lot of podcasts. I'm in the car for almost six and a half hours every day. So, I take advantage of the podcasts that are out there. As you guys know, many people are talking about many different topics and I do look to other industries and see what they're doing. I get mad at Amazon because they've created the buyers out there that want an update every hour on what's going on on their job site, and that's really hard to do. So, if you guys could come up with a tool for us to keep in touch with buyers like Amazon does, as far as where their package is, I'm all ears for whatever that [00:22:00] idea is.
Kevin Weitzel: Did you just say six, six and a half hours? So, are you going Harlan to the Tri-Cities and back every day?
Wade Hiner: So, I live in Eastern Iowa. Our company's on central Iowa. I joined the company with the idea that we learn the central Iowa market together and then expand our company to the Eastern Iowa market. I have not officially moved my residents to central Iowa, so it's 150 miles to my office every day, but we are expanding into the Eastern Iowa market this coming summer.
Kevin Weitzel: All right. Well, off topic, Cyclones or Hawkeye?
Wade Hiner: I'm a hundred rcent Hawkeye.
Kevin Weitzel: Beans or corn?
Wade Hiner: Corn, every day and twice on Sunday.
Kevin Weitzel: Those are the right answers. I don't know if you this Greg, but those are both correct answers.
Greg Bray: Oh, that's awesome. So, Wade, we appreciate your time today and some of your insights and learning from you. It's been terrific. Is there any last thoughts of advice that you wanted to share with our [00:23:00] listeners today before we wrap up?
Wade Hiner: Absolutely. I would tell people that no matter what business you're in, the more that I serve, the luckier I get. So, if you can go out and serve as many people as you possibly can, the luckier you'll become.
Greg Bray: Is it really luck though? Is that really what it is?
Wade Hiner: I like how you caught on to that. It is not.
Greg Bray: It's amazing that when you give a little bit, how much I don't know, the universe sends it back your way, right?
Wade Hiner: It all comes back.
Greg Bray: Yep. Absolutely.
Kevin Weitzel: You're planting.
Wade Hiner: Planting seeds. It's a farm analogy.
Kevin Weitzel: Whether it be relational, whether it be business or personal, you're planting seeds everywhere we go. I'm a firm believer that we leave our little pathway of plants that grow and sometimes they bear fruit. Sometimes they're full of crops and sometimes they're weeds. It's just the way it is.
Wade Hiner: Absolutely.
Greg Bray: Well, Wade, we really appreciate you again, spending time with us today. If someone wants to reach out and connect with you, [00:24:00] what's the best way for them to get in touch?
Wade Hiner: Uh, yeah, firstname.lastname@example.org or I'm on LinkedIn as well.
Greg Bray: Terrific. Thanks again, and thank you everybody for listening today to The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine,
Kevin Weitzel: and I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse. Thank you.