Getting homeowner reviews is hard. But why is that? There are plenty of survey tools and strategies for gathering testimonials and feedback. The challenge is catching them at the right time.
Moving into a home is one of the biggest moments of truth for a homeowner.
After all, the dream has now become reality. It’s no longer appliances, low-voltage, and bonus rooms. Now it’s dinners, movie-nights, and bedtimes.
This is when buyers should be writing reviews. Once they’re living in the home. And there are plenty of homeowners out there who want to share their stories. The problem? Many home builders don't have a process for getting reviews and recommendations once the customer has closed and moved into their new home.
If this sounds familiar, we have a solution to get the right buyers talking about the right things at the right time.
And the best part is it doesn't have to be a new, gigantic process either. It can start as small as you like.
It's called a Raving Fans Program. And it’s all about taking happy homeowners and turning them into brand ambassadors, (who in turn leave raving home builder reviews).
What is a Raving Fan? How Can They Help?
Meet Rebecca. Rebecca loves everything about you as a homebuilder. Her experience was excellent and she shares it regularly with friends and family. In fact, she has even referred a few people to build with you. She is always looking for opportunities to show off her new home, and regularly posts pictures of it on Instagram and Facebook, and usually shows up at your events.
[Related article: How are Home Builders Successfully Using Social Media?]
There are also times when she sees unhappy homeowners bashing you on your Facebook page. She knows the home building process can be challenging sometimes. So, every once in a while, she comes to the rescue and chimes in - letting people know she was in their shoes once. She knows things can get stressful, but tells them to hang in there because it’s worth it in the end.
Rebecca is not an employee of yours. She's not just another homeowner either. She's what we call a “Raving Fan.” As a loyal brand ambassador, Rebecca takes it upon herself to share her experience as often as she can, on her own.
Why would someone do this? Because they are part of a small, exclusive community of other Raving Fans, assembled by you as the builder.
How to Find a Raving Fan
It’s no surprise that the average home buyer isn’t lining up to join a home builder loyalty program or "Fan Club." So how do you determine the best candidates for a Raving Fan Program? It can be as easy as asking the people within your company who know your customers the best: the folks on the front-lines who work with customers day in and day out – your Field Managers and Sales Professionals. They know who is excited about the process, enjoyed the experience, and is most likely to tell the world about it. Or you could simply look into your home buyer survey program to find those that are getting the best experience.
Keep in mind, any new program with a new process will take time to achieve. So start small. There's no magic number here because it's entirely dependent on what size builder you are and, most importantly, how many people you can actively engage with regularly. Remember, not all your homeowners are good candidates for a Raving Fan. These are a select few individuals who are extra special. And to be extra special, you have to be treated as such. So, make sure the number you have is manageable and the enjoyable experience for these VIPs isn't sacrificed.
Give them a Reason to Rave
Again, Raving Fans are not just homeowners. They are much bigger than that, and therefore should feel like they are part of an exclusive community of VIPs. So how do you build that value for them? Relationships are everything, and in an industry where customers can easily feel disconnected from the process, nothing feels better than being told, "Rebecca, we value you as a customer, and we would like for you to be part of our team (minus the dirty work)." The value is knowing that they aren't just another homeowner, but now part of an exclusive community of like-minded homeowners who love "showing off their home," and you are here to help them do just that.
Remember, talk is cheap. The real value comes when you show them recognition for their work. It's not a bribe, but rather a reward. Some examples might be gift cards ($100-$200), special event invitations, or tickets to a local sporting event. The bottom line is to make the reward something that makes them feel special. And the best ones bring them together with other Raving Fans, to create a sense of community.
How to Get the Most from Your Raving Fans
The good news is that with these folks, you don't have to do much to get a good return. They are already referring and recommending you to friends and family. So think about how to get them in front of other audiences. Below are just a few examples of how Bokka clients are using their Raving Fans to support their referrals and home builder reviews. And with a little bit of guidance from your team, all of these tactics (and more) are possible.
- Social is meant to be just that - social. So give them the opportunity to rave to the masses. Whether it's tagging them in a comment, re-sharing one of their Facebook photos of their home, or posting your own gallery from their Open House. They will see it. Like it. Comment on it. In some cases, like Rebecca, they might even come to your rescue, sharing their experience with others who aren't quite there yet.
- Home shoppers who are looking at you as a potential builder value testimonials from other homeowners. After all, they've been through it. Know what to expect. What to be excited for. If you're running an event, and know there's a Raving Fan who lives nearby, ask them to join you. Meet some of their future neighbors. Tell their story to someone who is ready to listen.
- Ask for the review on sites focused on ratings. Online presence is everything, and potential home shoppers are definitely looking. Just like car shopping, people want to hear from others who have already made the purchase.
- Tell their story on your website. It could be a testimonials page on your website, or it could be content pulled directly from customer blogs that you then feature on your home builder web site. There are no parameters that you have to stay within, just keep it authentic.
There's no denying it, your previous homeowners can make or break a future sale with a simple stroke of the keyboard. It makes sense considering one of the most important moments in the journey takes place after closing. But many home builders don't have a program or process in place to collect and promote these stories once the customer is in their home. The good news is that building a "fan base" of happy homeowners doesn't have to be a big undertaking. You can start small. Identify a short list of Raving Fans and ask them to be a part of your program. It will make a big impact on your brand reputation, referrals, and home builder reviews.
If you’re interested in learning more about how Bokka can help you build a Raving Fan Program that will improve referrals and reviews get in touch.