Focus on the Who and the How

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Let me share a secret with you — there aren't any secrets. Think you know a better way to structure a land deal, secure the best trades, create more satisfied customers, convert more leads to buyers — you don't. The notion that a process holds the power to set one builder apart from another died the day one associate left your employ for the company down the street or across the cou...
February 01, 2005

Let me share a secret with you — there aren't any secrets. Think you know a better way to structure a land deal, secure the best trades, create more satisfied customers, convert more leads to buyers — you don't. The notion that a process holds the power to set one builder apart from another died the day one associate left your employ for the company down the street or across the country.

Kind of depressing, isn't it? We want to believe that what we do sets us apart. The reality is the how and the who factor into success or lack of it much more significantly than what.

This issue digs into the how and the who on an issue critical to GIANTS: customer acquisition and retention. In this month's cover feature, Blair Kuhnen describes how leading-edge builders increase their sales from Internet leads by several hundred percent through three key activities:

  • making Internet technologies and their web presence an integral part of an overall marketing strategy.
  • constantly searching for web site best practices and executing quickly on those shown to drive higher response rates from consumers.
  • people and processes to systematically deal with leads, and follow up fast to convert them to prospects and buyers.

Accompanying Blair's article on the how are Bill Lurz's interviews with the who — Pete Balisteri at William Ryan Homes, Bill Probert at John Laing Homes, Eric Elder at The Ryland Group to name just a few — builders blazing the trail in understanding how to marry this sales medium with a level of customer service and responsiveness that leads to a contract. In each article, these leaders share how their organizations successfully navigate what is to many, a still-foreign sales arena. Similarly, with this issue we launch a new series, NHQ Best Practices: interviews the national vice presidents at Pulte Homes in the eight areas scored in the National Housing Quality Awards. Pulte Homes is the first builder to apply as a national company and win the Gold Award. Watch for conversations on construction quality, leadership, strategic planning, supplier partnerships and more in coming months.

In this issue we begin with Erik Pekarski, national vice president/customer relations. Interestingly, Erik says almost nothing about customer service in the interview, but a lot about customer relationships and selling more homes. He tells how Pulte remade its customer service operation into a customer relationship business and how the people employed in the department today drive not just J.D. Power and NHQ wins, but a growing number of repeat and referral buyers.

In thinking about your business, talking about your success drivers in the year ahead, change the what to how and who, for they are the real secrets to success.

hmccune@reedbusiness.com, 630/288-8190


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