According to the U.S. Bureau of labor statistics Consumer Expenditure survey, new homebuyers spend on average over $12,000 in the first year of home ownership, more than twice that of consumers who purchase a used home. New home builders have an opportunity to capture this increased spend and provide a new level of customer satisfaction by delivering a move-in-ready home. BDX had the privilege to interview two trailblazers leading these new opportunities at the BDX Insights Summit held in Austin this September. Nicole McGuire, CEO of Studio M and Brenda KEO, National Account Manager from Utility Connect shared their approach to help builders elevate their game.
Nicole McGuire is no stranger to homebuilding. She began her career working for her father, a well-respected and successful custom homebuilder in central Illinois. She ultimately took over the family business, and quickly expanded into larger developments and spec homes. Nicole saw an opportunity to apply the high touch, concierge style service she learned as a custom builder and launched the McGuire Home Experience. Nicole realized that she could take some of the stress out of moving by delivering a fully furnished, move in ready home allowing the consumer to go from closing to housewarming party the same day. So why the focus on furniture? Nicole explained that it was a natural choice given that customers simply expect more today. Her clients were already asking her for advice regarding furniture layout, fit, and style, so it just made sense to include it in the design process. McGuire immediately saw an increase in customer elation during move in time, and a healthy addition to overall option spend. When asked how she overcame the complexity of such a vast option category, Nicole pointed to a three-step approach that Studio M applies:
Nicole explained that exploration and discovery were an important part of building the Studio M Experience. McGuire invested in digital marketing technologies, allowing consumers to view furniture collections online, using virtual tours and visualizers of the customer’s specific plan.
Consumers are often apprehensive in making decisions about design and layout when it comes to furnishings, largely because they can’t see everything together. McGuire solved this by curating collections of various design styles for each plan the builder offers, ensuring every piece has a place and looks great. Again, using virtual marketing tools helps consumers visualize their new home and become much more confident in making purchase decisions.
Unlike any other option category, furniture requires that “last mile” delivery and setup. McGuire eliminates work for the builder or consumer, by offering white glove delivery and setup, ensuring the customer moves into a beautiful space that is ready for guests.
McGuire has several programs tailored for builders to fit any business model, including full visualization support, Envision Online Design Center integration, and even model home staging programs.
Utility Connect positions itself as more of a concierge service that applies the idea of “move in ready” to home services and utilities. There’s so much to think about when someone purchases a home and setting up services and utilities often adds unneeded frustration. Brenda KEO explained at the Insights 2022 Conference that Utility Connect offers a white label solution for builders to simplify the process of finding, selecting and scheduling installation and service activation. Utility Connect has direct relationships with most major service and utility providers including electrical service, gas, water, cable tv, internet, and even movers and insurance companies. Consumers are reminded through email weeks leading up to closing and presented choices and comparisons for all available services in their area—eliminating all the guesswork consumers typically face. Utility Connect will even renegotiate with service providers automatically when renewal time comes up. Brenda provided a brief look into the future for Utility Connect, by presenting their new vendor portal. Builders can offer their customers a wide variety of services post-close in order to remain connected with their clients, while offering a valuable service they can monetize. From lawn or pool care, to housekeeping and extermination, homeowners quickly look for services like these after moving into their new home and there’s endless opportunity after the purchase of a new home that builders can capitalize on.
BDX hosted thought leaders from around the country in Austin, TX this September at our Insights 2022 Conference. This article is part of our “Insights from Insights” series where we highlight the big ideas and key topics that have the building industry buzzing. For more information or to keep the conversation going, please email email@example.com or visit us at www.thebdx.com.
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