Chris Jones founded C.A. Jones Inc., in 1995, building new homes in the St. Louis metro east area, primarily in Madison, Monroe, and St. Clair counties on the Illinois side. Through a combination of hard work, customer focus, and superb value, C.A. Jones grew to building 80 homes a year; then, the housing recession hit.
Estimates vary, but perhaps one-third of home builders nationally closed during the housing recession, leaving their new homeowners to fend for themselves. Not Chris Jones – Jones would stand behind the homes that they built and be there for their customers. It wasn’t easy. In fact, Chris didn’t pay himself for more than two years. But Chris had given his word to his customers, vendors, and bankers, and he wasn’t about to give up.
That perseverance paid off. Market conditions improved and Jones built over 50 homes in the last 12 months. The company employs a staff of 16, plus three part-time individuals. Jones’ largest neighborhood, Country Club Hills (Waterloo, IL), opened in 2006 and still had 72 of the 92 home sites available when the recession hit. Today, all of those lots are sold as are a few of the 25 homes in phase two. Jones’ model home at Country Club Hills is Design Basics’ Saffron plan. Jones modified the rear foyer – opting for a bench with coat hooks in lieu of the original design’s coat closet – a change that has been very well received by customers. “We’ve had great response to this plan!” Jones said. Granite countertops grace the kitchen and the deep pantry has been a big hit with buyers. The dining and family rooms come alive with lots of natural light. There are also abundant windows in the owner’s suite and a VELUX® Sun Tunnel bathes the bathroom in daylight. Rather than hinged doors, pocket doors ease access between the owner’s bedroom, bathroom, and walk-in closet.
Click here to read more about C.A. Jones Inc. and view the homes.
It’s uncanny how prospective home buyers marry better design with better homes. And, other things being relatively equal, buyers almost always choose better. Now, there is no single definition for better design – it’s personal, decided by one buyer at a time. Still, we can influence buyers to identify and appreciate our definitions of better design and sell more homes.
That’s the foundation for Design Basics’ focus on a home’s “livability.” Aesthetic aspects of design (i.e., views inside and out) are important, and people can fall in love with those. But how the home lives is even more important to closing a sale. Traffic patterns can be ruined by door conflicts. Well-thought-out storage and organization amenities are located right where they’re needed. Rear foyer drop zones and master bath make-up ledges can eliminate cluttered countertops.
Delightful amenities prospective buyers discover in your home solidify the idea they’re getting a better home. Pocket offices…dual owner’s suites…work-in pantries…pass-through laundry rooms…Chill-N-Grill™ stations…travel centers…coffee bars…when your innovations “connect” with buyers, you’re likely to hear “You’ve thought of everything!” and “Why don’t all builders offer _______?”
Livability at a Glance™
This understanding was also the genesis for Design Basics’ Livability at a Glance™ (LAAG), including the color-coded floorplans that highlight areas for entertaining, de-stressing, storing, and flexible living. Consumer response has been overwhelmingly positive, as LAAG helps prospective home buyers better appreciate the home’s design and makes it easier for them to imagine living in the home. Plus, the colorized floorplans stand apart from the competition.
Buyers want to buy the best, from the best. And it all starts with offering the best home plans!
NOTE: Builders that are members of Design Basics’ Woman-Centric Matters!® or Builder-Centric℠ GOLD programs have the right to feature LAAG colorized floorplans in their marketing. Find out more about these two proven programs by clicking on the links above.
(Cover image: plan 9267 Menlo Park)
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.