Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Five Blunders to Avoid at an Open House

Being a modular home builder is more than just having a good factory behind you and a great price.  You also have to have a good marketing program to attract the potential new home buyers to your doorstep.  A big part of that marketing effort is having an Open House.

Open Houses can be tricky.  Do it right and people will remember you but do it wrong and you will probably never hear from them again.  They don't have to be in a model home though.  They can be in your showroom, at a home under construction, at a Home Show or even at the modular factory that builds your homes.

No matter where your "Open House" is held, there are five blunders that can quickly turn a good effort into a poor performance.

Marketing Materials Aren't Ready.  The biggest blunder of the day is not having the literature, handouts or samples ready for your visitors.  Don't forget business cards and make sure they get plenty of them.  Hand out your business cards several times throughout their visit as people tend to lose at least one of them.  If your prospects don't have information to take with them, you've blown it.

Your Media Alerts are Mishandled.  Sending out some emails and putting your Open House on your website is like putting a flashlight under a basket.  Nobody will find it unless they know to look under it.  You've got to embrace all forms of media including all the Social Media sites, your local newspapers and TV stations.  Newspaper and TV people love to have stories to run and inviting them to your Open House will give you free publicity.  You need to include every source you can think of to get the word out.  Pre-planning will pay off huge!  Even a one month banner ad on Modular Home Builder will reach tens of thousands of viewers.

Scant Employee Training.  Unless you are a one-person operation, you must bring all your employees up to speed on how important it is to the company that this Open House be successful.  Everyone should be well groomed, polite and well versed in everything your company does for the customer.  They must know your product inside and out.  How many of you have been to a Home Show and saw the person manning the booth just sit there with a soda in one hand and a cell phone in the other and completely ignore the visitor.  It happens way too much.

Alienating Prospective Home Buyers.  You and your employees can't prejudge your visitors.  I was at an Open House in a builder's showroom a few years ago when a rather large woman and her two young boys came in.  The builder rolled his eyes when she approached and he quickly blew her off when she started to ask about his pricing.  The boys were devouring the candy jar he had put out and the builder went over and took it away.  After the builder walked away from her, I asked if she looking to build this year.  She told me that they had lost their small home in a fire and were going to rebuild ASAP.  I told her that this builder could build her a great home but she had already dropped him from her list of builders.  Too bad.

Under Delivering.  Don't promise more than you can deliver at your Open House.  If you are going to offer a cash incentive to buy now, don't tie it up in legalese.  If you told everyone that you were going to show them how the factory builds houses, make sure that there are actually modules on the production line.  I you announced on FaceBook and Twitter that someone special will be at your Open House, by God, make sure they show up.

If you hold an Open House and make all five of these blunders, maybe you should go to work in a less demanding job like being a greeter at WalMart.

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