In a COVID World it’s Not Virtual Reality, It is Just Reality.
Updated: Apr 28, 2020
Sometimes change is so vast and dislocating that it is hard to tell disaster from opportunity. As pointed out in a recent article in the Economist, Ocado, a British online grocer, saw its servers so overloaded that it suspected hackers. “We thought that we were under a denial-of-service attack,” said Tim Steiner, the company’s boss. In fact, Britons were desperately trying to arrange to get food and drink deliveries for the weeks ahead. Business leaders and strategists, are beginning to look to the post-COVID world to come and one thing is almost for certain, the acceleration of the infusion of technology services into ever more aspects of life. So what has this got to do with selling new homes and how does it help my bottom line? Firstly, in the short term, with strict physical distancing measures in place, sales and marketing of new homes will need to be entirely digital (discussed further below), and secondly, in the longer term, as restrictions are relaxed, firms will need to address how consumer behaviour is fundamentally changed by this. To that end, there has never been a better time to have a strong digital strategy that allows home shoppers to find, tour, and even design their homes online. Some things to consider:
(1) Do you need an online sales office? You have always had a physical sales office. Now with most of those shuttered for the foreseeable future should you create a virtual sales office to deal with high volume sales situations. There are a number of software companies providing solutions in this space.
(2) Will you be doing virtual colour charts? Projects have been sold, costed and now it’s time to ensure a seamless process for purchasers to choose structural options and upgrades. What tools are available to you? The key to any process is to ensure a positive experience for your purchasers as well as ensuring you are achieving the margins you need to. What best practices can you rely on to upsell services? Will you need to create video tutorials? Will everyone get a live virtual meeting and do you have the appropriate staffing to facilitate this?
(3) How will you receive deposits, payments and closing documentation? Typically, many of us receive cheques for deposits and ensure documentation is executed in person. There are significant advances in electronic payments, document signatures and other tools to facilitate closings.
A digital strategy will allow you to capitalize on buyers in a difficult market and moreover, it may allow you to do so at a fraction of the price.