Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Don't Let COVID-19 Be a Missed Opportunity

Not to sound callous about COVID-19 and all the restrictions placed on us including the “stay at home” rule but for your business this could be one of those missed opportunities.

How often does an opportunity present itself and you don’t take advantage of it? If you’re like me, most of the time it’s viewed as a missed opportunity only after it’s gone.

Being a new home builder, no matter how large or small your business, is always about marketing yourself. You dreamed of owning your business before you actually opened the doors. You put all your time, talent and money into making it a success.

Never once in the beginning did you think your home building business would fail. If you started building homes before 2008 and weathered that crisis, you probably thought you could survive anything thrown at you.

For the past 4 years, business has been great. It was almost like the good old days for many builders when customers sought you out to build their new home simply because you had gained a reputation as a good, solid builder and a good neighbor.

Then COVID-19 hit and quickly your business began taking hit after hit. Some of your prospects lost their jobs, some stopped communicating with you and even people that had signed contracts wanted to move into a holding pattern.

This is when that proverbial ‘light bulb’ should have popped up in your brain. Here is an opportunity to get your message out to all those prospective new home buyers that are sheltering in their homes dreaming of building or buying a new home.

How much would any builder pay to get their name in front of hundreds of new home buyers every day? Every single day! $100 a day…$500 a week?

Paying to get the attention of thousands of new home buyers is not the opportunity. The real opportunity comes when you decide that during this forced shelter at home time, you will begin marketing like a sprinter getting ready for the Olympics.

Marketing is simply promoting your business. It’s not a sales pitch, rather a subtle way to get your name in front of new home buyers on a daily basis.

You own a retail business just like the restaurant down the street and the new car dealer at the edge of town. Are they sitting in their office wondering how long this selling drought will last? No, most of them are working social media hard.

Restaurants are my favorite marketers right now. Nobody is allowed to eat inside a restaurant which is the kiss of death for those without a drive-thru. However, it only took a week for many of them to realize that they had food in their coolers and freezers that needed to be used. They began making no cost dinners, pizzas and other meals for first responders and medical staff.

They called back employees to help prepare and deliver the meals. Those recipients of the restaurant's generosity soon took to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media thanking the restaurant for their thoughtfulness. Those comments began being shared within the community and finally the restaurants themselves started to get on social media offering takeout meals.

One restaurant used their website and social media pages announcing they were offering meals to laid off workers at a large factory and requested donations of whatever the people could afford. The response was overwhelming with many leaving a dollar in the ‘donation’ jar while offers left $20, $50 and even a couple $100 dollar bills. Paying it forward to help the owner pay his employees and continue to help others is simply the American way.

The power of community is overwhelming. Think of something selfless you can do to help your local community and let others begin thanking you on social media. I know this sounds a little like calculated marketing and to be honest, it is.

But no matter why you do your “something special” for your community, it is probably needed right now and won’t be forgotten. When those stay at home new home buyers once again begin the shopping process, your business will be considered first simply because you cared enough to help your community.

That is called “Top of Mind Awareness” or TOMA. Doing this doesn’t make you a bad person. It simply means you saw an opportunity and jumped on it.

Besides, you and your staff will know you stepped up when your community needed it the most.
Gary Fleisher is a housing veteran, editor/writer of Modular Home Builder blog and Modular Construction Industry Observer and Information Gatherer

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