In Ottawa, when you are thinking about buying a new home, how do you become aware of a builder/project?
Marc Thibault, real estate practice leader at the Canadian office of J.D. Power and Associates , provided some tantalizing insights at the Greater Ottawa Home Builders' Association customer service awards dinner on Thursday.
- Magazines, billboards, newspapers, builders' websites. Not really (about 23 per cent for all the categories);
- Your friends, relatives or colleagues (word of mouth). Yes, this is important -- at 24 per cent;
- But the winner hands down at 41 per cent is -- "Passing by sales centre/builder signage".
(Undoubtedly word of mouth and other resources are important in the final purchasing decision -- you don't spend $400,000 for a house just by driving by a sales centre, talking briefly to a representative, and plunking down a deposit. I'll look at these matters in the next posting.)
We of course should be cautious in extrapolating a report for one market area to others, but these numbers suggest to me that anyone doing residential work, whether it be new construction or providing in-home services should consider carefully the use and quality of their signage, and (if appropriate) how they can get around or find loopholes in municipal ordinances restricting directional signs. Signs work, it seems, for the largest number of people.
I'll look more at the broader (negative) trends in customer service tomorrow.
(Detailed breakdown: Source of Builder Awareness 2008/2009: Magazines - 5/4%; Billboards - 5/4%; Newspapers- 8/7%; Builder website - 8/8%; Friend/Relative/Colleague - 24/24%; Passing by sales centre/builder signage; 39/41%)