Power Over Ethernet

young woman using laptop computerWhile more and more of our digital life is becoming wireless, wireless solutions continue to be plagued by signal strength issues and download/upload speeds. In a room over a garage finished off as a home office space, a Design Basics customer recently reported intermittent signal losses and average download speeds of only 2-4 Mbps, compared with 50 Mbps throughout the rest of the home. The solution was wiring an Ethernet connection in that space – not an easy task after the home was built.

Whether it’s HD video or the latest multi-player online games, for stationary applications, hardwired Ethernet is preferable to wireless connectivity for dependable performance and to get the most from your entertainment and computer systems. Ethernet provides another important advantage, low voltage power for your device can be run over the same Ethernet cable so you can eliminate additional electrical wiring and those bulky AC transformers.

For more helpful building tips, visit our Resource Center.

Protect Your Home Through an App

Protect Your Home Through an App

More and more products for the home can be monitored and controlled by an App. Some are for convenience, such as an app for your coffee maker; while others are for your piece of mind, like Roost’s family of products.

Smoke Alarms

Roost’s Smart Smoke Alarm has advanced features, such as a Wi-Fi connection. Powered by a Smart Battery (see below), alerts are sent to your smartphone via the Roost App. Depending on which model of smoke alarm you choose, alerts for smoke, fire, carbon monoxide, and/or natural gas detection are in the palm of your hand!

Water and Freeze Detection Alerts

Toilets, bathtubs, and sinks that overflow…water heater tanks that rupture…washing machine hoses burst…such “contained water leaks” in homes (as opposed to flooding due to heavy rains) cost insurance companies more than residential fire damage. Sure, insurance can help with repairs and replacement costs, but you’re responsible for the deductible and then there’s all the disruption and the associated hassles. Roost’s Wi-Fi enabled Smart Sensor detects water leaks and sends an alert to your smartphone (and family and friends’ phones) so you can address the problem before it becomes catastrophic. In addition, should temperature and/or humidity in your home fall outside predetermined levels, the battery-powered Roost Smart Sensor will alert you to these dangers as well, helping you avoid damage from freeze or excess humidity.

Wi-Fi Battery and Alerts

If you’re tired of being startled awake to smoke detector “chirps,” the Roost 9 volt Wi-Fi battery is great technology for standard smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. Roost sends “low battery” alerts to your smartphone to call attention to the need for changing the battery. But you won’t get those alerts very often, as the Roost battery lasts five years (then just replace the lithium battery pack). Everyone at work/school? Roost sends emergency alerts to your smartphone as well as family and friends’ phones.

To learn more, visit: www.getroost.com

(Note: Product spotlights are for informational purposes only; we do not formally endorse any product or service.)

A Healthier Home with Healthier Paint

A Healthier Home with Healthier Paint

Many construction materials are made with formaldehyde, which off-gasses for several weeks to several months, contributing to that “new home smell” which, unfortunately, is quite unhealthy. Sherwin-Williams™ Enhanced Harmony® interior paint has “Odor Eliminating” and “Formaldehyde Reducing” technologies to help reduce the levels of formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air from potential sources such as insulation, carpet, cabinetry, fabrics, and other building materials according to the manufacturer. Unlike most paints, Harmony paint itself is a zero-VOC formula and contains anti-microbial agents to resist mold and mildew from building up on the paint’s surface.

To learn more, visit: www.sherwin-williams.com

Raising the Bar: Heritage Homes

Raising the Bar: Heritage Homes

Heritage Homes has emerged as the Fargo, North Dakota, area’s leading home builder through a relentless focus on the customer. Everything – from the home plans to the products and processes – has been thoughtfully designed based on keen insight and customer feedback to deliver remarkable new homes and customer experiences.

Putting the customer first, coupled with a love for construction, led company owner and President Tyrone Leslie to envision a new kind of homebuilding company. But he knew he couldn’t do it alone. According to Leslie, this could only work in a team environment where customer satisfaction is a core value held by all,

“With the magnitude of the purchase, a brand-new home, we’re honored by the trust customers place in us. Our team is not about personal agendas. Our team is passionate about what they do and they enjoy collaborating. As soon as you want to collaborate, communication improves and good things come from great communication.”

Heritage Homes living roomGreat communication is at the center of Heritage Homes’ customer journey. Heritage Homes knows you can’t have a great home without having had a great homebuilding experience. Following visits to the company’s website, their journey typically begins in one of Heritage Homes’ furnished model homes, where visitors can come to appreciate amenities they just won’t see in other new homes. They are greeted by one of Heritage Homes’ New Home Specialists who take great pride in educating prospective home buyers, so that the buyers are empowered to make the best decisions. “We listen. Our New Home Specialists know what can and can’t be done, which is a tremendous benefit for our customers,” Steve Larson, Sales Manager for Heritage Homes

The Journey continues in the design process, where customers are delighted to realize Heritage Homes will modify its home plans, customizing them for how each buyer wants the home to “live.” Then, with plans in hand, buyers proceed to Heritage Homes’ Design Center, where Project Coordinator Nicole Schaffer works with them on product selections for their home. “The Design Center is a revolving door of innovation,” Schaffer said. “And it is very hands-on. My role is to educate our customers; what they should know regarding product choices when building a home. Customers also tell me they really appreciate my assistance in helping them make selections that are complementary and go well together. In addition, as their Project Coordinator, I’m their go-to point of contact throughout the building process.” Knowing that ambiguity is no one’s friend, customers can contact Nicole any time with any questions they have regarding their new home.

Read the full feature story of Heritage Homes here.

The Key to a Successful Home Sale

The Key to a Successful Home Sale

Couple at computerIn May, my son graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in marketing. As a high school senior, he set a national sales record for one of North America’s largest electronics retailers. The kid is smart. But when it came time to purchase a new car last weekend, he and his fiancée (who also has a business degree) were novices. Not that they hadn’t researched vehicles online. Not that they didn’t know what was important to them in a new vehicle. Not that they didn’t know what they could afford. It’s just that neither had ever purchased a brand-new vehicle. Rebates or lower APR? Extended warranty? Rustproofing? “Sport” edition? Price negotiation? Then there was the high-pressure sales tactics…

Similarly, how many of your prospective home buyers took classes in home design, home building, or buying a new home when they were college students? With such a monumental decision, how do you help buyers choose you?

Listen…and build rapport. The first salesperson my son met couldn’t wait to demonstrate the vehicle. He quickly identifed the model he thought would most interest this young couple, then spent quite a bit of time showing them the many features. This was followed by the customary test-drive during which the sales person spent most of his time texting.

I’ve met new home sales pros who likewise want to get right to touring visitors through their model home. Most are superb at highlighting the hot-button amenities. But people want to buy from someone they like, someone who cares about them, someone they can trust, and that takes time getting to know them and listening to what they want.

Edu-sell. Price is always important, but selling via lowest price is both difficult and lazy. Difficult, because there are only so many corners you can cut, so many suppliers you can bully into dropping their price. Lazy, because the consumer doesn’t have to think and the salesperson doesn’t have to deal with educating the customer, quality, or other “intangibles.”

The salesman who won my son’s business quickly established rapport over their mutual admiration for Apple products. He segued that into introducing Apple Car Play, found in some of their vehicles. He took the time to discuss all-wheel drive options, various trim levels/options, and what was included, such as explaining the pros and cons of leather seats.

New home buyers don’t know what they don’t know. Your ability to modify standard designs; delightful new amenities prospects didn’t even know existed; product upgrades ideally matched to their priorities; these are all ways to empower buyers to make the best decisions, within the budget they have established for themselves, making you their advisor who has their best interests at heart.

Make the process easy, fun, and (relatively) stress-free. For my son and his fiancée, their salesman turned car shopping into a process of discovery. The vehicle they ultimately purchased was not even on their radar screen initially. From the big touch screen display with back-up camera, to the “Vehicle Protection Package,” to sorting through the business office/finance options, this dealership understood how to respect their customers.

Your homes are designed. Your home building system was designed. Your customers’ new home purchase experience should be designed, too. Looking at the purchase experience through the eyes of the customer is the place to start, rather than what’s efficient for you. Concentrate especially on the areas which can be stressful (e.g., finalizing the design, product selections, and the purchase agreement). Above all else, focus on clear communication, because ambiguity is no one’s friend!

Author: Paul Foresman, VP Business Development, Design Basics, LLC

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