In 2010 I launched Your Building Broker – a service that would design and tender custom homes for clients who were spending $350,000 – $1.5M building their new home.
The client benefits were simple;
- Get your very own custom home design
- Get your very own custom specification
- Get 3 builders to quote from our pool of qualified builders
- Get a detailed comparison of the quotes
- Choose which builders you want to meet with
- Sign with your preferred home builder
- Happy building!
Over the course of five years running that business we served 100+ clients and received more than 300 quotes from new home builders.
I personally met with each client to review the quotes and answer any questions they may have. This gave me so much insight into the minds of our customers about WHAT THEY CARED ABOUT… as opposed to what we, as builders and consultants cared about and what we THOUGHT they cared about.
Read the blog for more details on the 6 lessons learned from that process or watch the video below for even more info.
1. Clients didn’t really care about which builders quoted their home.
Early in my career (1993-1995) I worked for a builder called ‘Les Friday Homes’. They were a custom home builder and built 2 storey upmarket homes.
Each home would have a brick embossed with the Les Friday logo laid into the wall near the entry of the home. I remember clients discussing that brick at hand over and they all loved it. It was a mark that the home was built with a high level of craftsmanship. It represented quality.
While a few builders may still be able to do something like this, most can’t. Builders aren’t regarded the same way they used to be.
In fact, when asked which home builders clients wanted to tender their home – EVERY SINGLE CLIENT left that choice to us.
Lesson: Clients barely care about the building company itself. Rather they care about the outcome which is the completed home.
2. 60% of clients didn’t choose the cheapest quote
Clients told us over and over again the two biggest selling features and why they chose to use Your Building Broker was our custom design service which gave them their dream home and the tender process where clients would save money when they build.
So this statistic was the most surprising to us. After 100 clients came through our door I took a few days to compile an excel spreadsheet with the builders, pricing, choice of builder and feedback for each client. It was shocking to discover that 60% did NOT choose the cheapest builder.
That led to asking the question of why. Why was it that 60% of our clients didn’t choose the cheapest quote given it was one of the reasons they used us in the first place? Only once I reviewed feedback did the answer emerge.
Here are just a few reasons WHY the 60% did NOT go with the cheapest quote;
- The quote the builder presented wasn’t professional (or as professional as the others)
- A negative experience with the builders website
- They didn’t feel comfortable when meeting with the builder or builders representative
- Intangible added value the client felt they would receive
Lesson: Price isn’t everything. Don’t keep cutting margins – instead look at ways you add value beyond just price. Oh, and as a side note; 6% of clients chose the most expensive builder.
3. The builders website was a significant deciding factor
After presenting the pricing to the clients they were left alone for a few days to read through the quotes and in that time they always viewed the builders website.
This would help them establish their impression of the builder before they would choose 1 or 2 builders to meet face to face.
When the clients chose their two builders to meet and ultimately which builder they wanted to build with, we would ask ‘why they chose those builders’?
Their answers about the websites were surprising and what we discovered was that confidence was won or lost based on the builders website.
- If the website looked cheap they wondered if they could trust them with their money.
- If the website had homes similar to theirs, they felt more confident with that builder.
- If the language used on the website resonated with them.
Lesson: Make sure you make a great first impression with your website and be unique. Building a cheap website will most likely lose you business.
4. How the meeting with the builder went
Some of the builders we worked with were 1 man operations. The builder did everything, including sales. Others were larger builders with sales teams.
The feedback after the face to face meetings gave us a lot of insight.
Some clients felt like they just clicked with one builder more than others.
As an example, one of our builders was a straight up no BS type of guy with very little sales skills. Some clients LOVED him for those exact reasons. Some didn’t.
In a different scenario, one builder introduced the potential client to the core staff that they would be interacting with during the build. The clients specifically mentioned that they couldn’t see themselves working with their client liaison person who would have ‘driven them nuts’ because they didn’t shut up.
Others cited that the builder asked them a lot of questions and presented ideas that would make their home even better. They were interested in the clients home which built affinity with them.
Lesson: Relax, be yourself and show an interest in the client and their home. Ask questions.
5. Time frames were important, but not how you would expect
With every tender, the builders would also nominate a construction time frame to complete the home.
While you would expect most clients wanted a shorter time frame, some times the shorter time frame was a negative.
- Were they cutting corners?
- Were they rushing the job and quality would suffer?
As a builder we know that more often than not, speed of construction is a sign of excellent project management and having great systems. But many clients don’t see that.
In the case of investors, it’s a primary decision factor.
In the case of first home owners, it’s also really important.
In the case of upmarket construction, not so much EXCEPT in the case when construction time is excessively long.
Lesson: Speed of construction isn’t always a great selling feature. This is a good example of something that is important to you but isn’t always important for your clients.
6. The builders quote documentation is really important
There were two factors that played an important role when presenting a builders quote to clients.
The first was timeliness.
When three builders were pricing the same home, the first builder to present their price was given an edge. ‘They seem keen/interested in winning our business’ were the comments.
If the other builders lagged too far behind it felt like that could be a sign that they didn’t care, were too busy to give the client time or that they were unorganised.
The second factor was the quote documentation itself.
Some builders presented their quote in a branded binder with the quote including a personally written introduction – the pricing listed out nicely and some also included some marked-up plans showing additional details. Like where steel beams in the roof space had been included or highlighting discussion points with the design.
Others presented a one page quote that had the price to build, with no breakdown or any other information.
Lesson: The clients don’t care about what else you have going on. Treat them as a priority with the speed of your pricing and present the quote professionally in a well laid out format with some personal touches.
I hope these insights give you ideas as to how you can win more business as a home builder.