The buying of a new constructed house is the largest purchase that most people will ever make. The magnitude of the purchase dollar amount combined with all of the emotional aspects of buying and moving into a new home…makes the purchase of a new house one of life’s biggest events.
The concept that having an adequate field staff of repairmen fixing things during the first few weeks and months of occupancy…would be a source of satisfaction to the new homebuyer of a newly constructed house or condominium…is as inaccurate as the notion that the purchaser of an expensive luxury automobile would feel good about having their new car constantly in the repair shop free of charge.
No matter how good or friendly the service department is at the car dealership…if we are on a first-name basis with the auto mechanic then something is fundamentally wrong.
What new homebuyers really want is to move into a perfect house and never see or hear from the builder again. New homebuyers want to begin to enjoy their new homes and start their new lives without the builder’s customer service representatives, subcontractors, painters, and other tradespeople becoming part of the immediate family.
If the customer service representatives are all well-known and are on a familiar first-name basis throughout a large housing project, is the builder really satisfying the emotional needs of the buyer…or simply misreading the value of after-the-fact repair work? Certainly, required repairs need to be made and unfinished work completed quickly and professionally, but is that what the new homebuyer is initially looking for?
Over the past three decades, I have done between 150 and 200 homebuyer walkthroughs for four large homebuilders in Southern California. During those walkthroughs, I have never seen a company owner or top manager come out to the project an hour before or after the walkthrough to personally review the quality of the house or condominium being shown to the new homebuyer.
The idea that a company owner or top manager would come out to the project with a clip-board and scratch pad…an hour after the walkthrough and after the new homebuyer and the customer service representative have gone…and spend the time to examine the unit in detail to determine first-hand how close or how far the product is from perfection…at the time of delivery…is something I have never seen or heard of.
This fact tells me that although a lot of money is spent for sales brochures and newspaper advertising, and much talk is made in the corporate office about the benefits of various customer service programs and schemes…many homebuilders simply do not get it.
The crucially important period of delivery is at the first-time showing of the new product during the homebuyer walkthrough. No amount of excellent customer service after move-in can overcome the initial feeling of disappointment if the new house is not perfect at walkthrough.
The emotional needs of the homebuyer are met when they can move into a new house that is complete and sparkling clean. The emotional needs of the new homebuyer are not met when the construction still needs to be completed, or various things immediately go wrong and need to be fixed.
Any customer service program for new home construction must start with this important distinction.