From the start of the Industrial Age, companies have been trying to “build a better mousetrap.” That concept related to more than just the product—it involved the design, the components used to build it, the speed at which it was built, and the cost to build it.

Of course, none of this mattered if customers didn’t want them. From that point forward, marketing strategies were born. Companies set out to market their mousetraps and make the products so desirable that customers just had to buy them, whether they needed them or not.

We all know that the home building industry is a little more complicated than the mousetrap business, but the same principles apply. Builders are used to adapting quickly to changing market conditions—economic variations, supply chain issues, labor shortages—so are better able to navigate when difficulties arise.

However, the pandemic posed challenges for home builders that no one could have ever predicted. Traditional methods of sales, marketing, and construction were no longer sufficient to get the job done. Unprecedented changes in every aspect of the construction industry have forced builders to look for new opportunities through creativity and efficiency to revive their business today.

Here are six proven ways to enhance your home building business, improve its processes, and thrive no matter what is thrown at you:

#1: Know Your Ideal Customers (Deliver on Buyer Preferences)

ideal home buyer

Before making any changes, you have to know and understand your demographics. According to the 2021 NAR Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends, your buyers will fall into specific age groups:

  • Silent Generation (1925-1945),
  • Older Boomers (1946-1954),
  • Younger Boomers (1955-1964),
  • Gen X (1965-1979),
  • Older Gen Y/Millennials (1980-1989),
  • Younger Gen Y/Millennials (1990-1998),
  • and Gen Z (1999 to Present.)

It’s critical that you have the ability to discern which age groups your products appeal to, and the best way to accurately assemble this data is with construction ERP software. Powerful tools categorize your previous customers to identify who has been buying your homes.

Next, you’ll want to research what trends your customers are interested in and match your product offerings with those standards. Millennial buyers (both Younger and Older) make up the largest share of home buyers, are first-time buyers, are married, educated, and are likely to purchase in urban areas. These buyers are interested in finding a home that is convenient to their job and reduces commuting costs.

Gen Xers are the highest earners and buy the largest homes. They have children under the age of 18 living at home and are most likely to purchase a multi-generational home. They are looking for an open-concept floor plan and a spacious kitchen with room for entertaining.

Baby Boomers are broken into two categories (Younger and Older) as they represent different buying behaviors. Younger Boomers are empty-nesters looking to downsize, move closer to friends and family, are still working so have some discretionary income. Older Boomers have the largest share of single females, are likely to be Veterans, and are on a limited income. Both groups look for single-story, open layouts with loft options, and ADA-compliant features (handrails, lever door handles, hard-surface flooring, wide doorways and hallways) and want maintenance-free conveniences provided by an HOA.

Home builder software and continuous research will be necessary to follow desired trends by demographic group and adjust your product offering as needed.

#2: Overhaul Your Website

Homebuilder marketing

Research by CustomerInsight shows that 94% of prospective buyers use technology to search and select their new builder – and 89% of those prospects expect to continue using technology throughout the construction process.” – BUILDER Online

A successful website must be part of your daily business toolbox. With your ideal customer in mind, you need to look beyond a clean-looking website. You will need a dedicated person or team to keep your website updated. Homebuilder marketing is most effective when new information is added regularly and branding is established.

The benefits of construction management software can be utilized with a lead-generation system set up to collect/analyze data, track requests, communicate, provide client support, and add regular educational content to your website.

This is a key component of homebuilder advertising. Potential customers and real estate agents will visit your website first looking for information about everything you offer:

  • Floor plans—single-family, patio home, condominiums, townhomes. Include exterior elevations, and layout options (sun room, mud room, bath options, kitchen options, expansions, other structural variations.)
  • Available options/upgrades—flooring, cabinets, plumbing fixtures, exterior stone/brick, high-efficiency furnace, central air conditioning, countertop surfaces, electrical fixtures, window/door options, cathedral ceilings/heights, appliances.
  • Communities/Locations—community names and township, amenities like pond lots, cul-de-sac, large/wide homesites, treed, green space, school district, size of community (number of lots,) proximity to highways, dining, shopping, entertainment venues, parks, walking/bike paths, and public transportation. Linking to land management software to keep lot availability updated as sales/reservations are made.
  • Design-a-Home—exterior personalization capabilities to choose a home style/floor plan, add siding, roof, trim, door/garage door, shutters, brick/stone.
  • Maps/Directions—indicators shown with model/community locations (may be included with the community and show lot availability,) link to Google Maps to provide driving directions to on-site appointments.
  • Prices—this may be included in the community details as a price range.
  • Move-in ready spec homes—similar to real estate multiple listings, includes details of the home, square footage, options included, location, and price.
  • Financing options—preferred lender information, special incentive availability.
  • Promotions—details of incentive offering, savings, value, and timeframe available.
  • Virtual tours—360-degree tours of model centers and move-in ready homes.
  • Design center—virtual appointments, details of what customer selections are available including paint colors, countertop materials, ceramic tile flooring, bathroom shower walls, hard surface flooring, carpeting, siding, stone/brick, roofing, windows, doors, plumbing fixtures, light fixtures, cabinets, hardware, door handles, trim.
  • Homeowner guides—step-by-step details of the building process, what to expect when building from release for construction to financing to on-site visits to closing to warranty/service.
  • Home maintenance blog—educational posts about the building process, how to take care of the home, how-to posts, trending features and products.
  • Home warranty management—this can link to home warranty management software to schedule service appointments, provide specific warranty information about home components and how to obtain warranty service.
  • Company bio—provide historic details about how long the company has been in business, where it is building, awards, ownership/management personnel information.
  • Fair Housing/Equal Opportunity Policy—Federal, State/Province, and Local Fair Housing and Anti-discrimination laws observed by the company.
  • Social media links—digital marketing for builders can provide the tools to manage Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms.

#3: Document and Follow Your Procedures

utilizing construction ERP software

Consistency and order are key factors in steady, successful growth which is why it is imperative to make sure every member of your team is on the same page, understands their responsibilities, and performs tasks based on procedures you have established. The best way to do this is to document the steps for every repeatable task for every department. Construction ERP software will help organize your systems into easily understandable formats and instructions.

The next time your Accounting Department processes invoices, it will be done the same way for each vendor with simple documentation and field-generated details so questions can be answered with a glance instead of digging through piles of notes. The same process applies for every job start-up, every new design review, every model opening—with consistency comes efficiency, fewer mistakes, and greater profits added to the bottom line.

#4: Create a Procedures Manual

utilizing construction homebuilder software

Standard operating procedures are a way of life for all successful homebuilders. Compile all those procedural documents in one place, create an indexed manual grouped by department and sub-categories based on the task. Homebuilder software is a great resource for systematically setting up every process you will need. Take the guesswork out of what to include, customize to meet your own specific processes, and train your team to utilize the manual until it becomes a habit.

You will want your staff to buy into the system. It may be difficult initially to teach resistant veterans to follow the “new” procedures, but ask them to be part of the solution. Assign tasks based on their expertise to create the manual. The more input they have, the more likely the manual will be complete and they will use it. Assign department overseers to monitor appropriate sections, set deadlines, and make them responsible for training new employees when business picks up. Until then, most systems are cloud-based so your remote staff members can use it from anywhere.

#5: Implement New Construction Management Software

Online construction management software

Construction ERP software is the game changer for today’s successful homebuilders. If you are serious about reviving your business now, you must find ways to differentiate your construction company from all the others—homebuilder software is the clear solution for establishing your company as the leader in the industry.

Whether you choose a fully integrated or standalone homebuilder software solution, make sure it is scalable and uses secure, cloud-based ERP software to match your unique needs. Add these modules to streamline your processes for better efficiency:

  • Scheduling and Project Management—keep track of each job with easy vendor scheduling, real-time status updates through mobile apps to be sure work has been completed, and reporting to reduce construction cycle times, help resolve supply chain issues, punch lists and expedite payments to keep your suppliers and vendors happy.
  • Estimating and Purchasing—manage building costs, make mark-up adjustments on the fly, find the best pricing in times of low supply, control material and labor costs to meet your budget. Streamline special quotes from sales creating a direct path from customer requests to production implementation.
  • Integrated Accounting—ties together construction management with job cost budgeting and cost management to make informed decisions while reducing errors.
  • Sales Management, CRM and Email Marketinghomebuilder marketing is a powerful tool to improve customer engagement, generate leads, produce a sales and marketing strategy, create and send emails to customers and real estate agents using templates and an easy email builder. Create contracts, set up digital signature authentication, compile demographic data, and establish a database of past customers for referrals and move-up buyers.
  • Land Development—helps monitor cash flow and resource allocation for land purchases, structure reporting for short-term and long-term land planning, prepare land contracts for large parcels.
  • Service and Warranty—integrates with production management modules to control work orders, warranty requests, and identify problem areas that require product changes to reduce callbacks.
  • Enhanced Customer Experience—fast-response customer care at all levels of the build process to increase customer satisfaction. Create easier communication methods, schedule dedicated on-site visits with supervisors, coordinate design center/selection process for easier personalization, customer portals that follow every stage of construction and service after closing to reduce costs, inspire loyalty, and encourage referrals.

#6: Take a Progressive Approach to Revive Your Business

Homebuilder team working with Scrum

When companies meet challenging times, it is often easier to blame outside forces for the downfall instead of looking within to their own “tried and true” methodologies. Instead of falling into that trap, it is time to take a progressive and modern approach to the reviving process.

For the last decade, one of the most effective means of project management has been the Scrum method. Based on a team framework, this process allows for the on-time delivery of complex projects while cultivating an environment of productivity and creativity. The end result can boost productivity by 200% or more while increasing capacity, quality, and customer satisfaction.

The basic techniques for setting up a Scrum Pilot include:

  • Choose a Product—it can be a particular component in your company such as a change order system or purchase orders.
  • Select a Team—you want the right people on your team that have the skills to work on the project and make decisions based on improving the system. For these accounting-based “products,” you may want to include a project accountant, owner representative, several subcontractor project managers, and possibly a trade manager.
  • Assign a Team Leader or Scrum Master—this person will be responsible for overseeing the entire project and will set assignments as well as make sure the daily deadlines are met.
  • Set up, Prioritize and Assign—the Scrum method identifies each step of the project as a “backlog item.” Mark down each change order or purchase order on a separate paper (sticky notes work well) and add it to the “To Do” column. A bulletin board, whiteboard, back of a door or other central staging area will be your Scrum board. Every item should be ordered based on age and price.
  • Evaluate and Refine—give top priority to those items required by the customer or owner’s representative. This should be reviewed daily.
  • Communicate and Plan—Sprint Planning is a 30-minute communique with the team to organize, establish goals, and update the entire group on the progress made. These can be held daily or several times a day depending on how fast work is being done.
  • Share Work—by making work visible on the Backlog board, all team members will know exactly where you stand in the process. Create three columns—To Do, Doing, and Done—and move the backlog items to the appropriate column with the team updates so progress will always be current.
  • Team Review—daily “Stand-Ups” will allow the team to review the entire board. Take 15 minutes to allow each member to identify what they did yesterday, what they will do today, and determine what obstacles will stop them from reaching the goal.
  • Sprint Review—once the Sprint has been completed, be sure to assemble the team to evaluate the job. Assign tasks for the remaining backlog.
  • Process Improvement—the purpose of the Scrum method is to continually evaluate and improve the process. When the Sprint is complete, bring the team together to determine what went well, what can be better in future projects, what improvement can be done immediately, and how fast was the Sprint completed?
  • Do It Again— Keep in mind that you should always strive to improve in each area. With each completed Sprint, the process will help your company work toward Lean Construction and Agile frameworks. There is no time like the present to set up a Scrum methodology, work toward reaching on-time goals, and increase profitability.

The Takeaways

Fine-tune your business acumen and revive your homebuilding business through creativity and efficiency. Know your customers and match product trends with those your buyers want and need.

Overhaul your website and use it as a full-service toolbox to generate business. Show floor plans, allow customers to design a home, provide details about communities, and offer virtual tours for remote viewing.

Document procedures for every aspect of your business. Utilize construction ERP software to organize your systems and then assemble them into a procedures manual. Include your team to provide expertise and encourage them to buy into the system.

Implement new software with a fully integrated or standalone homebuilder software solution. Make sure it is scalable and matches your company’s unique needs. Add modules to streamline processes for better efficiency.

Invest in construction ERP software now to elevate your company to the next level in the homebuilding industry. The most successful builders have identified that full integration of a streamlined, multi-functional process clears the path toward adaptability and the ability to navigate through any environment.

Finally, implement a Scrum methodology to create a lean environment by optimizing predictability and controlling risk. By utilizing a team approach to each project, each member becomes a stakeholder. The buy-in means everyone is committed to achieving the same goals, is focused on making progress toward reaching them, works in a transparent environment, respects one another, and gains the courage to make hard decisions for the betterment of the company.