When a home builder noticed that his potential customers would park outside their new communities, wait for his customer service reps to leave, then jump over the fence to go check out the digs, he knew he was time to try something different.
About two years ago, Taylor Morrison launched a mobile-friendly online platform that invited customers to plan and build their future homes. They were able to choose their terrains, floor plans, elevations, structural upgrades, interiors – right down to the backsplash – and more.
And yes, there was a “shopping cart” type element online.
Stephanie McCarty, Director of Marketing and Communications, Taylor Morrison, explained how this process led to a 40% sales conversion rate at ULI’s annual fall meeting in Dallas this week.
The session was moderated by John Cecilian of Cecilian Partners; and included fellow panelists Heidi Birchall; Michael Miller, Senior Vice President, Signorelli Company; and Ned Moore, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Clutch Holdings.
“There’s no doubt that there’s been a huge dynamic shift for consumers when it comes to shopping first on their mobile devices,” McCarty said. “With every consumer, every demographic, every industry, consumers want to do their research there and seek validation.”
Taylor Morrison decided this might be the best way to go.
“The home buying process was pure seduction,” she said. “We show you some nice pictures and try to draw you into the community.
“You can’t do that in any other industry. Consumers don’t want to have to leave their couch. As home builders, we lack the benchmark as to how convenient and easy they want and instead have to give them the information they want on our website.
“Going out of our own way”
For the past seven years, Taylor Morrison has been considered “the most trusted homebuilder,” McCarty said.
She said during the launch of this platform, “the hardest thing was to fend for ourselves. We had to understand that this is how consumers were going to engage. It works for things like ordering a Starbucks coffee, almost any car from any automaker, items you need on Amazon, and now for buying a house.
“In residential construction, as an industry, we look at data from a competitive market perspective, but we don’t look at how our customers want to engage and how we can fit into their lives. A house will be their biggest purchase – $600,000 or more. It was hard to imagine that they would buy this and not want to come and see our models. Where is the seller?
“They are still there, but their roles have changed. Nobody likes to be sold. In any industry. They don’t want to be chased, chased or trapped.
Understand the price as you go
She said that when Taylor Morrison built this prototype and showed it to consumers, “none of them said they wouldn’t want the buying process to be like this.
“We’re not trying to bamboozle you. If it doesn’t fit your budget, we don’t want to waste your time or the time of our sales teams.
The site allows prospects to understand pricing as they go through the selection process.
“The most enjoyable part for them is the personalized selection approach,” McCarty said. “The site helps them bring their interior to life. We’ve taken all of our packages and pretty much gamified the selection for them.
The platform allows prospects to deposit a deposit to reserve accommodation in the configuration they have built from their mobile.
“When they do, we see a 40% conversion – it’s our most converted product on our website,” McCarty said. “People can make their selections faster and we can start building their homes faster.”