First, what the heck is wabi-sabi? It is a Japanese world view, which basically means to appreciate the imperfect (is an imperfect bowl any less functional or beautiful?). So, what does it have to do with home building? Building excellent homes does not always mean doing it perfectly. With this in mind, wabi-sabi dovetails nicely with the imperfect nature of home building.
We can’t just say to our homebuyers, 🤷🏼♀️“Mistakes are going to happen; we have tons of trades working on hundreds of different homes at one time. The directions come from a dirty, mangled set of plans that are, hopefully, located on-site. The trades are managed by one guy who is in charge of one or several neighborhoods worth of homes.” If we said that, we would never build or sell another home. 💡Instead, we have two ways we can ensure our homebuyers have a fantastic experience, even if it is not a perfect one.
1) Educate the buyer, especially if they have never built a home before.
The important thing is to convey the complexity of home building and your commitment to managing the process. Teaching homebuyers the basics of major milestones before their home gets to that part of the process builds trust and alleviates the uncertainty that causes anxiety. Plus, it gives marketing the opportunity to set expectations, thus controlling the buyer experience. It’s easy; create a series of brief templated video emails with a short description of what happens. These pre-planned emails make a big difference and they are painless for the sales team to deploy. I recommend one quick video (under two minutes) explaining the processes for each of the following stages:
- Final Stage Plumbing/Electrical
- Quality Inspection
- Final Permit Inspections/CO
Whether or not your buyer has built a new home before, these videos help give buyers the confidence as they go through the process and help you build trust through transparency. Then, later if something goes cattywampus, buyers know your team cares and only need a small amount of reassurance your team is there fixing the issues!
2) Follow Through When Issues Arise!
(This part is not on marketing!) One example of a building hiccup handled to perfection happened while building my home. A truck crumpled the block wall of the garage while backing up to drop off the rock sub-floor. The builder was aware of the issue when it happened and scheduled the masons to come back and fix it before we found the mistake. When we asked about it, he was able to say, “Masons are coming Monday. No delay in closing.”
The second example was also handled well, although it required a plan C. The opening for the attic pull-down stairs was put in the wrong spot. Once installed, the stairs didn’t lead to the decked storage area in the attic. Turning the stairs around didn’t work, they hit the wall. An alternative fix was put in place. The builder scheduled the framer to add more decking so we could get to our attic things without falling through the ceiling. Not a perfect solution, but fully functional. This was the wabi-sabi of our home building experience.
Both of these incidents made me nervous initially, but when I talked to the builder, he had everything handled. Homebuyers just want to build with someone they trust to be able to catch and fix mistakes because they don’t have the time or the experience to do so. They rely on your team’s expertise and knowledge of the whole process, to make their journey smooth.
Share the Success Stories of your Buyers’ Experiences!
Testimonials and reviews from those who have completed the process are a great way to show your customers that you are great at building homes. Social proof is a very powerful tool. Speak with your sales team, they (should) know each customer’s journey much better than you. Explain to them, you’re looking for the customers who are super happy, but did not necessarily have a perfect experience. Happy buyers are worth their weight in flawless cut diamonds, so use them! Here is the game plan each quarter you should have…
- Work with your sales team to identify the happy customers who had an imperfect journey, as well as those who had a perfect one. (We get it right a lot of the time!)
- Reach out to them to see why they are happy with you and what the challenges were during their journey. If you like their answers…
- Invite them to share their experiences on Google and Facebook via reviews.
- Ask if they are willing to do a testimonial video. If yes, create one! Use the person in your organization that they have a bond with as the off-camera interviewer. If your budget allows, use a professional video team. If not, then use mics, good lighting, shoot in the model and of course, use the Osmo Pocket you purchased to do video tours.
- Upload the edited video on your website, use for digital remarketing, and on your social pages.
As home builders, we sell the home building experience. It is marketing’s job to set expectations and educate your prospective buyers, so they have a wonderful buyer’s experience. There is no person better suited to convey how you prevent and mitigate mistakes than a happy customer who has lived through the building experience. If we give the illusion that every home is 100% perfect every time, we are setting our whole team up for failure. Set your team up for success by educating your buyers throughout their journey and a select few experiences of happy customers with imperfect journeys sprinkled in with all your happy customers with perfect journeys.