Most consumers understand the benefits of a high-performance car or sports drink, but when it comes to selling a new home, many builders miss the opportunity to talk to customers about high performance because, unless prompted, many customers won't think or ask about it.
Randy Erwin, director of energy programs for Ryland Homes, believes it's up to the builder to engage the customer about the benefits of quality, energy efficiency and comfort that come with a high-performance home.
"They don't know that they want to talk about performance," Erwin says. "They do when they buy a car. They do when they buy a computer, when they buy a stereo system or an iPod. But not when they buy a home."
A high-performance home works as a system, with each component contributing to its overall efficiency, durability, safety and comfort. A high-performance home is designed and built to address concerns such as energy use and indoor air quality for the occupants but also takes into account natural resources such as water consumption and construction-material use. Its builder respects environmental and economic impacts related to site selection and uses local materials to reduce transportation costs and support local businesses.
Building the High-Performance Model
When launching a high-performance program, Erwin says, the first step for the builder is to define his expectations and goals. Some questions a builder must answer are:
Fostering a High-Performance Culture
"If you want people to think that the job that they are doing for the company is important, then treat them like they are important," Erwin says. To achieve this, he believes, builders must foster a passion for high performance with sales, construction and trades. To emphasize a sense of higher purpose, he recommends that builders track milestones and results such as the following:
Once the passion for quality and high performance is instilled in the company, talking about the benefits of the high-performance home becomes more of an education for the home buyer than a sales gimmick.
To achieve this level of sales, Erwin suggests the following steps:
Tools for Success
Customers must be educated in simple, straightforward ways about why a high-performance home is a superior product. "The average customer doesn't walk in the door understanding thermal dynamics," Erwin says. He offers these examples of tools to use in customer education:
Andrew Hunt is a freelance writer who specializes in building-science topics.
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