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.”
Great 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.
In 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
Did you know we have a library of home plan books – print and digital – to aid in your plan selection? Below is a sampling of our most popular home plan books.
Digital Plan Books
Our digital edition of PREMIER HOME PLANS was recently released and contains over 60 trendsetting home plans presented photographically and/or full-color artist’s elevation renderings! It also includes a special section on dual owner’s suites and three builder feature stories.
HER HOME™ Home Plans featuring VELUX® Skylights is a collection of home plans with skylights incorporated into the design.
(View these plan books by clicking on the image.)
Print Plan Books
Our PREMIER HOME PLANS book is available for purchase and features hundreds of plans; includes our special Home Design issue of HER HOME™ magazine.
Home plans for the way you live: Set of four plan books featuring over 200 plans categorized using our signature Livability at a Glance™ floor plan color-coding.
(View these plan books by clicking on the image.)
Check out our entire library of home plan books in our online bookstore.
Contact us to order: 800.947.7526.
Form and function. Beautiful and practical. Great home design has to have both.
The bathroom in an owner’s suite has always been a “hot button” for home buyers. Hence, bath design receives lots of attention. Designers often start with creating the first impression–what you see when you first walk into the bathroom. We’ve been wowed by some visually stunning master baths only to discover practical considerations, such as convenient towel storage, were obviously afterthoughts. Many people like to dry off in the warm shower area rather than walk across the bathroom, wet and shivering, just to get their hands on a towel!
Nothing in the home is as personal to us as the master bathroom. So the design of this space is often modified from an original layout to one based on individual preferences. Here are the most common changes, and reasons for those modifications:
- The original owner’s bath layout presents a large, doorless walk-in shower, compartmented toilet, and separate vanities.
- Alternate bathroom layout #1 shows a single vanity with two sinks and adds another storage closet.
- Alternate bathroom layout #2 utilizes the same single vanity with two sinks but shows a traditional bathtub in lieu of the extra closet.
- People looking for a pampering bathing experience would likely opt for alternate layout #3 with its deluxe bathtub, large dual-sink vanity, semi-private toilet, and more generous walk-in closet.
Bathroom design, like your wardrobe, should be tailored for a perfect “fit”!
For more on bathroom design, click here.
Those of you who follow Design Basics likely know that we have a home plan book collection based on the four Livability At A Glance™ lenses: Entertaining, De-Stressing, Organized Living, and Flexibility. It may come as a surprise that the top seller from this collection is the Flexible Home Plans title!
We all try to predict the future – what prospective home buyers will want – and plan accordingly, so we can incorporate certain amenities into the homes we offer. This provides better design, and some control over cost and construction. Yet, individual buyers have individual needs as well as a desire for their home to both reveal and augment who they are.
Hence, the surging popularity of homes with pre-planned design options; not just the default 2-foot extension for the dining area, but true flexible spaces. Design Basics’ Harmon Haven (42366) shows an open flex space to the front – think dining room with a walk-thru pantry/server or music room. Or, imagine that space closed off as a home office via barn doors. The original design has a large laundry area that can easily double as a craft/hobby area, but some buyers would be much more interested in a second bedroom on the main floor with its accompanying full bathroom, preferring the convenience of a stack washer/dryer in their owner’s suite because there’s another laundry closet upstairs. And that second-floor loft? Just asking “How would you use this space?” may yield more varied responses than you would have dreamed!
Design Basics’ Elba Grove (42336) is another new plan showcasing flexibility. The original design presents a study/home office with nice storage and adjoining powder bath, so clients and colleagues need not walk through the rest of the house to use a bathroom. But we also show it just as easily could be a nice main floor bedroom suite. There’s a pocket office at the back, which could also be a…planning center…wine room…bulk item closet…or deleted altogether in favor of a larger dining area. The deep garage offers abundant storage potential or may become a workshop, gardening center, man cave, or like Apple and Google, where the next mega-business is born!
Search for other Flexible Living plans via our Plan Search Tool.
The year was 1972. Don McLean’s “American Pie” topped the Billboard charts, “The Godfather” made big-screen history, Billie Jean King won her seventh Wimbledon Tennis championship, and George Parmer founded Fine Line Homes in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In the 45 years since, American Pie still enjoys significant airplay, The Godfather remains one of the top-rated movies of all time, Billie Jean King’s impact on gender equality in professional sports can still be felt, and thousands of Pennsylvania and New York families come home to a house built by Fine Line Homes.
Such enduring legacies are neither accidental nor “good fortune.” Fine Line Homes has not merely survived, but thrived, for multiple generations in part because home building is a process, which Fine Line Homes has honed to near perfection. Then there are standards, such as name-brand building products. Yet it may be the company’s cornerstones of quality and integrity that laid the foundation for success, according to Mark Bittner, the company’s Director of Sales and Marketing.
“Under Mr. Parmer’s leadership, Fine Line Homes has grown to now serve all of Central and Northeast Pennsylvania as well as Southern New York,” said Bittner, continuing, “The company, and the homes we build, have evolved, but our ‘customer-first’ commitment is unwavering.”
Recently, Fine Line Homes’ customers Barbara and Jim Scheifley were interviewed in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette regarding their new home. Jim was quoted as saying, “They [Fine Line Homes] are very honest with you and there were no hidden prices.” And, “Their standard construction options are what other builders offer as extras.” Even the article headline, “On Budget and On Time,” attests to the company’s focus on the customer.
Each of Fine Line Homes’ regional offices (Harrisburg, Lewisburg, State College, Hazleton, and Sayre) has a different model home built for prospective home buyers to tour. There, they’ll meet with one of Fine Line Homes’ Housing Consultants who will help them through the home design, product selections, and purchase processes. Bittner practically brags on the Housing Consultants, “The majority have been with Fine Line Homes for more than 10 years. They know the homes, they know the products, they know the process. They know what can and can’t be done. Their knowledge is a tremendous value for our customers.”
Bittner says “Our home designs have evolved, based on customer feedback and input from Design Basics through their Woman-Centric Matters!® research into women’s preferences in the home. Our plans are more open and inviting, with larger kitchens and pantries, places to work from home, and more spacious bathrooms as well as enviable owner’s suites. Yet square footages have remained fairly constant over the past decade.” How? Most of today’s Fine Line Homes’ buyers favor one eating area as opposed to the formal dining room plus separate breakfast area layout, so the space formerly devoted to formal dining can be re-allocated. Similarly, a high majority of the company’s customers are choosing an oversized shower and dual sinks, but no bathtub in the owner’s bathroom.
Read the full feature story about Fine Line Homes by clicking here.