5 Steps to Knowing Your Customer Better

The highly ranked Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern has published an article that can easily be adapted to any industry where sales are key to success. Stephen Gravett has adapted his experience to those steps in real estate development. You can read the entire Kellogg article here.

Step 1– Spend time talking to your end user (buyer/homeowner)- This seems obvious but, in our business, buyers are usually on a tight schedule and home buying is sometimes a once or twice in a lifetime occurrence. “At 5 Star and at Kennedy Homes we had several buyer’s stations that we always sought to increase our time with the customer in order to get to know them better, “states Stephen Gravett. The first impression is with the salesperson meeting and greeting buyers. Next, we have the color out for options and standard choices. This is one of the most intimate and time-consuming necessities where your buyer is captive for hours. We make the most of this time and schedule multiple meetings as required. Next, is the drywall walk through with the color coordinator and our construction PM. Each meeting we use as a cumulative shared experience to showcase our company.

Step 2– Spend more time with your buyers than your competition- If we have done our job in step 1, we feel we have probably done this. The final three impressionistic events to maintain our image and create a referral buyer are: the final walk through, closing with our handpicked attorney and title lawyer and warranty work. If these are done properly you will have a buyer for life.

Step 3– Watch consumers buy your product- This is most often observed by our sales person. “At Trevi Isle we have our salesperson in the design center so both people, this includes the color coordinator, can observe how people react to our selections and how they feel and express themselves after going through the models,” says Gravett.

Step 4 -Watch consumers use your product- This is not only important, it’s fun. Once the first wave of customers move into your new community it becomes obvious how people live and use your product. “Many times, I will go with the warranty person to visit our past buyer’s homes to see how they have personally decorated their spaces. This gives us tremendous insight on how to better improve our interiors,” explains Gravett.

Step 5– Engage your Buyers as Product Designers- This is also fun to observe, especially during color outs. It is very interesting to watch the styles and color selections and designs of flooring, cabinets, stair railings, electrical, low voltage and other choices that our buyers select. After 8-10 buyer color outs patterns and trends emerge. We use this information in town home projects to spec out unsold units in buildings where most units in the building are sold and construction must start.

“There are so many cues to observing and studying your buyers. At the end of the day you want to deliver product that appeals to the greatest audience. Experience teaches you this, “explains Gravett.

Stephen Gravett has been a real estate developer for over 45 years and was most recently CEO of Kennedy Homes and is still CEO of Kennedy Development Partners (KDP) and full time Director of Operations for 5 Star Developers.

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