“Home builders generally use online sales consultants, so most of our inbound calls are driven to two individuals in our office, then they distribute the leads out to the rest of our sales team,” said Steve Bradford, VP of Sales and Marketing at Pacific Lifestyle Homes. “In this industry, if you’re using online sales consultants and not using call tracking you’re making a big mistake, and it surprises me to this day when I meet builders that aren’t using it.”
As a leading new home builder in Washington and Oregon, Pacific Lifestyle Homes has been operating in the Pacific Northwest since 1996, In the more than 20 years since their founding, they’ve built more than 3,000 homes and 50 new communities. Recently, Pacific Lifestyle Homes was honored with the National Housing Quality award, and was recognized by Professional Builder magazine.
But just a few years ago, during the height of the Great Recession, times were tough for Pacific Lifestyle Homes. According to Professional Builder, the firm was forced to apply for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2010:
“At the peak of the housing construction boom, Pacific Lifestyle sold more than 250 houses annually and generated more than $95 million in revenue. During the crash, the builder cut its payroll from 115 employees down to the teens, while annual sales fell to about $40 million as closings sank far below 100 houses.”
Pacific Lifestyle Homes was able to rebuild by striving relentlessly to improve their business, through course correction, individual accountability and, most importantly, listening to their customer’s voice. And throughout this journey, CallRail was one of their main partners.
Problem: No reporting framework leaves blind spots in attribution
Bradford knew he needed to implement call tracking since many of their leads came in via the phone. Their first call tracking vendor was CallSource, but after speaking to other marketers in the industry they realized they needed more granular reporting, so they switched to CallRail.
“We were using CallSource before, and they were fine. We went to a marketing conference and one of the other marketers recommended CallRail, and said they had much more robust reporting. We researched CallRail, and decided to switch over, and we’ve been really pleased,” Bradford said.
Since Pacific Lifestyle Homes was tracking calls from multiple marketing channels, they needed more than just simple attribution in their analytics. CallRail’s reporting features and real-time dashboard allowed them to see exactly which channels were generating a return on their marketing spend.
“Some of the main features we like are the reporting, it’s more robust and allows us to see where we’re spending our marketing dollars, Bradford explained. ‘We use a lot of numbers because every avenue we use allows us to assign a [call tracking] number to see where we’re spending, versus where we’re getting people reaching out to us from.”
Solution: Properly evaluate customer sentiment
Key Performance Indicators impact every layer of Pacific Home Lifestyle’s overall business and marketing strategy. These metrics enable them to not only track how their business is doing, but also how their individual employees impact their business.
Customer service is one of their key metrics, since it’s the main building block behind converting leads to customers over the phone. Thanks to CallRail’s call recording features, Pacific Lifestyle Homes is no longer in the dark when it comes to hearing how qualified leads are handled. With CallRail, managers can review telephone conversations between sales agents and customers for training and coaching.
“I was working with one of our team members, and you know when you look at the audio recording of a CallRail call, you can see how much a customer or client is speaking versus how much our salesperson or the person they’ve reached out to is speaking,” Bradford said. “We were able to identify that one of our team members was talking too much without letting the customers talk, and that was a great coaching opportunity.”
They’re also able to track the percentage of calls that are answered, response turnaround time, and even metrics that can be tracked down to the individual agent handling the call and specific advertisement the call was driven from.
Outside of monitoring conversations for lead and quality assurance, they also use CallRail for all of their marketing channels including signage, print advertisements, business cards, email signatures, and integrating their analytics and AdWords to view which online activities drive leads to their website.
“We connect [CallRail] to Google AdWords and Analytics. Especially, with AdWords, we’re able to see which leads are coming from which traffic avenues based on our call tracking data combined with our standard analytics,” Bradford said.
Results: A better marketing strategy means better traffic
For an industry as well established as home building, it can be hard to keep up with the changes of the digital age — channels that once were great at driving leads may not be so lucrative anymore. Pacific Lifestyle Homes found this out firsthand by analyzing which channels were continuing to drive calls, and which ones weren’t.
“There was a magazine that we were using for quite some time, and we realized it was just not generating any leads. How we market new homes today versus how we marketed new homes even five years ago is very different. [Call tracking] allows us to identify those things that have become antiquated,” Bradford said.
Now they can use the reporting data they receive from CallRail to allocate their marketing spend to the right channels, according to Bradford: “That that’s money that can be better spent towards AdWords, towards social media, spent towards signage or advertorials, or whatever. It’s a great way to redirect marketing dollars to go to the most effective traffic sources.”
They’ve also been surprised to find out what does drive traffic — sources that they weren’t focusing on before.
“Conventional wisdom tells you today to not use newspapers, but we’ve been able to target them very effectively and identify the best ways to spend our money. Because of that, we’ve seen a big spike in traffic on our website, I’d say an increase of about one-third,” Bradford said. “We know we convert at a certain rate once traffic comes through our door, and if we are able to generate more traffic because we have better targeting we’re going to have more sales and more qualified traffic.”