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Thursday, 27 August 2009

23 Tips for Developers Selling Residential Properties

The press is awash with reports of green shoots. The stock market is surging with confidence that the recession is over but the fact remains it is still a very tough market for developers selling new and refurbished properties in the UK.

Here are some hints, tips and ideas which might just assist in the current climate.

1. What does your brand stand for? It is important to have a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or a set of values so that buyers can choose your brand because there is a lot of property on the market. Do you stand for quality luxury homes, minimalist masterpieces? homes for young professionals. Who are your target customers? Where do they eat, play, work? Build a profile and this will help your marketing to be targeted and focused.

2. Start with your past satisfied customers. What can you learn from them, their feedback, comments, suggestions. How can you build a long-term relationship with them so that they are raving from the rooftops about you and will also use you again when they move. Have a professional Client Relationship Management Software program to ensure you can mailshot and keep in contact with your past customers/clients.

3. Create the WOW factor on sales. This needs creativity but flowers in a vase in their new home on the day of completion, a chilled bottle of Champagne in the fridge etc etc. Get people talking about you and saying "Wow!" this developers are amazing. It's often small details that really blow people away.

4. Get writing. Write blogs, e-zines, tweets on Twitter. Get your core values across. Write useful articles which are useful to homeowners eg. how to get planning permission for alterations, improving the energy efficiency of your home quoting a list of reputable suppliers who can install wind turbines, grey water systesm, solar panels etc. Remember is not who you know but who knows you which will determine if buyers select your product.

5. Give talks to local community business groups Chamber of Commerce, networking and breakfast clubs. Get your company's name out there.

6. Become known in the community for getting involved in good works by joining organisations like Rotarians, Lions, Round Table, Masons. Raise your personal profile.

7. Use video testimonials on your web site, blogs and on presentations on your laptop showing satisfied customers singing your praises. Get the customers to address in the video specific objections which potential buyers might have such as your homes/flats being slightly more expensive than your average housebuilder but they are high quality built to last and more substantial than the cardboard and foil houses built by Bloggs Developments. Get a professional company to do the video as you do not want it to be tacky. Post the video on You Tube. Starting building the legend.

8. Reward referrals of customers/clients handsomely and creatively. Send a voucher for a luxury hotel, sought after tickets to a local sports match etc.

9. Use creativity in designing your business cards, stationery, marketing material. Make sure people are talking about your company when you hand out your cards. Beeton Edwards' cards are made from unwanted junkmail and embedded with wildflower seeds so when you throw the away they turn into beautiful flowers. People go crazy for this idea.

10. Use a puppy dog close to secure a customer. Rent our house for a drastically reduced rent and if you like it after 6 months talk to us about buying the house.

11. Use innovation / creativity to differentiate your product.
Solar panels, heat sinks, lime and hemp walls, grey water systems. Something that grabs headlines, makes people sit up, attracts press attention. Read Edward de Bono's "Serious Creativity: Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas" or Michael Michalka's "Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques" for guidance on using creativity/innovation in your organisation.

12. New homeowners invariably need the same things when they move into a house.
-new curtains
-plants, shrubs
-garden furniture
-hardwood flooring

Design an attractive looking information sheet prepared with a list of suppliers with telephone nos. addresses, directions may be with discounts already negotiated on presentation of the information sheets/vouchers etc.

13. New homeowner need information on schools, colleges, pre-schools, churches, clubs, societies, sports teams.

Prepare an attractively designed information sheet with details of all the local schools with the headmaster's name and contact details. Include testimonials on the schools or links to the League Tables published on the government websites so they can choose which school. Consider giving out these information sheets at the enquiry stage so people can be wowed by your attention to detail. Local churches could have church times. Sports and social clubs could have details of membership fees and joining requirements. This document will take a long time to put together but it will be an invaluable resource. Get it laminated so it is constantly being referred to and make sure your branding is all over it.

14. Inform the buying process. Go beyond the normal Pre-Contract Enquiries information and try to pre-empt the Additional Enquiries which solicitors might raise and present the information in an innovative way. The sheet could contain Rates and water rates information (rateable value, multipliers etc.) Council tax information, cable TV suppliers, Broadband suppliers with their comparitive speeds and details of any extra equipment needed. Details of neighbourhood watch schemes, residents associations.

Find out if the potential buyers have any specialist hobbies or activities eg. if they were a mad keen cyclist you could tailor the information sheet to include specialist cycle shops, details of local cycle clubs. If they were a keen musician give details of the local MU representative, local pubs with live music, local music shops supplying equipment.

It is hard work but you are creating the most amazing resource. I hear your outrage. I am housebuilder not a blasted Information Centre. Trust me on this. You will blow the competition out of the water if you do this well.

15. Work ten times harder than the competition. Start work earlier and finish later than your competitors and leave them wondering how you gained the edge on them.

16. Improve your personal learning. Sharpen your saw as Stephen Covey, author of "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" says. Read books on management, selling, self-improvement. Listen to self-improvement tapes. Attend seminars. Learning is a life-long process. New ideas could have a dramatic effect on your success as a business. Read Jeffrey Gitomer's "The Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness". Rated as one of the best business books in the world-it's dynamite. Just hope your competitors don't read it too as life could get interesting.

17. Find a mentor or two who has made a fortune selling houses. They are sure to be full of gems and pearls of wisdom and may want to give back to the industry and give you a helping hand with contacts, leads etc.

18. Cultivate the right friendships. Move in the right circles whether it be golf, shooting, cycling, polo, opera, theatre. Get friendly with the right type of person who will become your friend and then a potential buyer or referrer of business.

19. Write your financial and strategic goals down and keep reading those goals every morning. Put them on the bathroom mirror, the sun visor of your car. Somewhere where you will keep seeing it. Visualise the goal being achieved. Read Napoleon Hill's "Think and Grow Rich". Goals that get written down get achieved.

20. Use humour in your literature. People love to laugh. This could be a print newsletter, e-zine, blog etc.

21. Get your sales force professional trained. They all need to know all of this stuff. People loving buying but hate being sold to. Make sure your sales force are trained properly by an outside professional. It will be money well spent.

22. Hold weekly sales meetings which are engaging, fun and involving. Get in good cakes and luxury coffee.

23. Reward the right values in your sales staff ie. not just sales achieved but positive testimonials from clients, referrals from other agents due to legendary service provided, repeat business from satisfied existing customers. Reward the sales staff who are building relationships and using innovation and creativity.

I hope that has created some food for thought. It's a tough market but there are buyers out there. The landscape is a bit more brutal though and buyers are pulling out and time-wasting especially as they don't have to do local searches anymore. They are viewing, requesting HIPS packs and so it is important to stand out from the pack. Happy selling!