Whenever I am exposed to a business today, whether it is online, over the phone or in person, I pay close attention to the dynamics at play. What is my first impression? How do I feel when I scroll through a website, talk to a representative or walk into a store? If you’re like me, you can anticipate the kind of experience you will have within the first 15 seconds.

Why is it that 85 – 90% of the time I am disappointed? Either the website is difficult to navigate or there are problems at checkout. The sales associate/representative isn’t very knowledgeable or doesn’t listen well or has an accent that I can’t understand over the phone. The store is dirty, poorly lit, no one is around to help me find what I need or it takes forever to make a purchase.

As a home builder and new home salesperson, your primary competition today is not another builder or the used home down the street. Your competition today is something very different indeed…

“Who or what is your primary competition today?”

Why am I disappointed with the companies I patronize 85 – 90% of the time? It’s not because I am a consultant that studies industry and best practices. Most consumers feel exactly like me. The reason we are dissatisfied is that we compare the best companies to all industries. In other words, if we thoroughly enjoy the experience we have at our favorite coffee shop, we compare that experience to taking our vehicle in for an oil change, dining out, buying groceries – and shopping for a new home.

We live in a highly specialized economy today. With a few clicks of a mouse, we can find the exact business or product we need. All this has led to a trend of creating micro niche companies. That is, businesses that have evolved into highly specialized companies that appeal to a relatively small group of consumers. This specialization has led to niche businesses that recognize and understand consumers far better than ever before, and they provide buying experiences that are far superior to the rest of the market. These are the top 10-15% of companies you enjoy dealing with; the ones you compare to everyone else.

“How does this work in home building?”

The Builders Association of the Twin Cities’ (BATC) annual Parade of Homessm is the largest in the country. According to research done by BATC and Merillat Cabinets, a home shopper will visit an average of 14 different homes and spend about nine minutes in each. Now I don’t know about you, but when I look at just four different models I can’t remember one from the other. How can we expect the consumer to recall the differences between 14 model homes and home builders?

Don’t try to be better. Be different!

If you are a quality home builder or quality salesperson – congratulations! You meet the minimum requirements to be in business today. The reason consumers get confused after looking at 14 different models is that every salesperson is touting that they are better. However, the consumers asks, “How do I know you are better when every model I visit, the salesperson tells me they are better?” Herein lies our problem…

Your biggest obstacle to overcome is not the competition down the street. It is the customer’s indifference toward your homes and the experience – or the lack of it – you provide.

Instead of trying to “one up” your competition, why not develop a niche within the industry and do something different, not better. Ask any home builder or their sales representative why someone should choose them over the competition, and invariably the phrase “we build quality homes” comes up. If the consumer hears this continually, then the only real differentiator between home builders is price. And if you’re not the lowest price, you are out of luck!

Why not become a specialty home builder and/or salesperson?

Remember the top 10-15% of businesses that set the stage for everyone else? That is your goal today. Set yourself apart from the mass market of home building and home selling by focusing on a niche. Understand your consumer better than anyone else and you will become the standard by which everyone else compares.

Happy Selling!