Suburbia: It has been a panacea and an expletive. Touted for affordability and maligned for automobile dependence, suburbia is a fact of life in the U.S.
Sales All-Star: Gail Ringwald
After selling new homes in Southern California for more than eight years, Gail Ringwald is experienced in every imaginable market - from today's housing boom to the not-so-long-ago housing bust and the in-between years as well.
Company: John Laing Homes, Newport Beach, Calif.
Awards: Numerous company awards
2001 net sales units: 39; 2002 first four months: 99 units with partner
2001 net sales dollars: $24.7 million
Cancellation or bust-out rate: 12%
After selling new homes in Southern California for more than eight years, Gail Ringwald is experienced in every imaginable market - from today's housing boom to the not-so-long-ago housing bust and the in-between years as well. What stays the same in every economic cycle is the way this former mortgage banker sells homes. "I make it fun from the minute a customer walks through our door, and I leave nothing to chance," Ringwald explains.
"Pacing is important," says Ringwald. To manage the information flow, she has a script for every community she is selling. "I write it myself, and it's a good way to internalize the micro aspects of our offering - John Laing's homes - and the macro features of the community." Ringwald routinely alters her presentation to fit the buyer's personality, but the script is always her launch point.
Throughout her conversations with buyers, Ringwald looks for the emotional hook, that one space that will resonate with each buyer. "I try to use the 'this is, it does, which means' scenario to personalize a home. It may mean explaining that a floor plan offers bonus space that can be used as a second play area for the children, which means a husband and wife have more private time together. This helps me create value for the buyer in this home in a way that offers an immediate, tangible benefit for his or her life."
To keep this value in perspective in the face of competition from other builders in most of Ringwald's selling situations, she creates a differences book. This book profiles the offerings of other builders in the market and is a great communication tool. "Sometimes we may not have the right product at the right price point and can help them understand that," Ringwald says, "but more often than not I use this tool to help buyers understand that they are buying the right things - the home, lot and location that fits their life."
Another big part of Ringwald's role is to ensure positive ongoing contact. "We like to stay in touch with our buyers from day one with certain touches: sending photos, arranging get-togethers during escrow, etc. We believe strongly in the value of this activity as a way to build referrals. It's all a part of making sure that next sale will be there."
Gail on her sales technique Gail on realtors