CIO50 2020 #26-50 Brett Wilson, MJH Group
The residential construction industry relies heavily on face-to-face sales to build rapport with its customers by walking them through display homes as they make one of the most significant decisions of the lives.
"COVID-19 hit and we had to reimagine how our sales team could pivot from face-to-face sales and 1400 unrestricted groups through our open homes each week to bookings of only eight groups per day with only one group in the display homes at any time," says MJH Group's chief information officer, Brett Wilson.
"To compound this, consumer confidence was low due to the pandemic so convincing customers to make such a significant decision in just 45 minutes was always going to be a challenge."
Wilson and his team needed to reinvent how the front-end sales side of the business worked. They digitised how customers interacted, creating an online booking process that enabled customers to book appointments with sales staff to view display homes, which made life easier for sales staff too.
"A number of customers were very wary of coming into display homes during COVID-19 so we used Zoom to create a virtual display home entrance where sales staff were available throughout the day as if the clients were entering the home," he says.
The MJH Visualise app, created in conjunction with the marketing team, was updated to include additional home designs where the customer can download trigger images using the augmented reality part of the app to provide a 3D image of the floor plan of the home and give the customer a visual AR representation of the design.
While enabling the sales team, it was essential to look at other areas of the business that could be affected, he added.
Wilson and his team identfied that the construction team were impacted where customers would typically visit their sites for pre-lining and tiling. If they weren't able to visit these sites due to COVID restrictions, progress payments could be impacted.
"Using the same technology, site supervisors embraced the virtual walkthrough of the sites to show customers what their home looks like and to agree on the sign-off to progress to the next stage," he says.
COVID-19 clearly turned MJH Group's sales model upside down and while the company had a solid pipeline of work, a few months of lower sales would significantly impact our business.
"No other builder has embraced the virtual sales or construction environment or has this capability. We have combined this with virtual information nights where 300 potential client participate in one session during one evening."
Organisational change management was vital if the sales team was going to see the value in selling homes in a virtual environment. Wilson and his team ran a small pilot of the service with some businesses to iron out any issues before it was deployed more widely. This meant working with the marketing team to make adjustments to websites for the automated booking service to deliver the best result.
"When the pilot was successful with sales, we had several business champions who supported the idea to spread the word on how successful the new virtual methods of selling were."
Wilson says that buiding a culture of performance with so many personalities takes time and patience.
"It is essential to frame your discussions with your team to ensure that you are meeting the individual needs of the team member rather than use a cookie-cutter approach to things like performance reviews. I have learnt to understand the key drivers for my team members - some are motivated by money, others by recognition, and some just want the feeling of being part of a team that achieves something small each day to make a positive impact on customers," he says.