Most people start their home buying process online. It’s a simple and convenient way to browse floor plans and community information.
But as Kimberley Homes is proving, the ease of collecting information from one’s computer or mobile device doesn’t need to be limited to navigating the builder’s website.
The award-winning Edmonton-based builder is providing an additional layer of service with a New Home Concierge.
Any incoming correspondence from a potential client, including phone calls, online forms, social media messages, and messages on the live chat box on Kimberley’s website, all go to the New Home Concierge.
“The point is to be available, to be responsive,” says Lauren Ruggiero, Kimberley’s Marketing Lead and Sales Experience Coach, of the position they’ve had in place for just over five years.
“It’s a real person available to answer questions, get you the information you need, and point you in the right direction,” she adds. “It’s to ultimately make that whole search process easier because there is a lot of information to get through.”
Once they have helped the client narrow down the home and community that best fits their needs, the New Home Concierge books them an appointment with Kimberley’s New Home Expert in the corresponding community.
Ruggiero says about 50 per cent of the builder’s total sales are coming from clients who started their search online with Kimberley’s New Home Concierge.
“It’s reflective of our society and the way we shop now is predominantly online,” she says. “People want information at their fingertips and want control of that experience. We’ve built our online program to facilitate that while still providing excellent, responsive service and help no matter where or what they’re looking to build.”
While this resource has been popular with people within Edmonton, it has given house hunters outside the city a leg up, as well.
This includes people who are looking to transition from a different city or town, and snowbirds who have a home in Edmonton and want to make a quick move once they get back from Arizona or Palm Springs.
“We’ll go out on-site and take videos for people from a lot that we think will be a good fit or from the house itself,” says Ruggiero.
For out of town clients, the Concierge has setup FaceTime meetings with the new home expert in the community of the client’s choosing.
“Our mission as a company ultimately comes down to client experience,” says Ruggiero. “It’s always at the centre of everything we do.”
Once the sale is complete, the buyer works with Kimberley’s Client Concierge.
This is their “go-to person throughout the build,” says Ruggiero. This includes coordinating changes the client may wish to make to their home, walk-throughs with the construction superintendent, and visits with suppliers, among other services.
Kimberley has more site superintendents than the typical builder relative to the number of homes it builds, says Ruggiero. This provides them with more time to manage their homes and be more accessible to the client.
When it’s time for possession, Kimberley has a concierge service for that, too.
They use Virtuo, a company that shoulders every — often times, stressful — step in the move to your new home.
“Like the wedding planner for your wedding, this move-in concierge is the move-in coordinator for your move,” Ruggiero says.
“There’s research that shows the process and logistics of moving can be up to about 40 hours of work,” she adds. “This person will shop around to get you the best cable quote. They’ll call Telus and Shaw for you. They will transfer your utilities, take care of mail forwarding — whatever it is that you need.”
Kimberley’s focus on customer experience extends to building what the client wants and where they want it.
Usually, builders either construct homes in specific communities, offer infills, or acreage estates.
Kimberley does all three.
“We wanted to be able to service our clients in whatever area they want,” says Ruggiero.
“Part of that is being able to build where you want. Infills are part of that, acreages are part of that, different cities are part of that.”
To that end, Kimberley recently branched out to build in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley, with its base in Kelowna.
In Edmonton, Kimberley’s work in infills and acreages is managed by a New Home Expert who is mobile and dedicated to helping clients build in the area they choose, says Ruggiero.
“She’ll meet you at a coffee shop that’s nearby, in a park, or at any of our show homes should you want to see product in-person,” she adds. “She understands permitting and what to look for on a piece of property based on what you want out of a house.”
Kimberley’s passion for customer satisfaction is lauded by Scott Hamilton, vice president marketing and customer experience at the Alberta New Home Warranty Program.
“One thing that prospective buyers should know about Kimberley Homes is that they are authentically – and obsessively – focused on the experience of buying and owning a home,” he adds. “They start and end their days putting the customer at the centre of their business, and every new home they build is done so with caring attention. It’s exceedingly rare that we see any customer service challenges with Kimberley Homes, mostly owing to the fact that they take their craft so seriously.
“They’re great people who know what they’re doing, and it’s an absolute pleasure to be partnered with them.”
Kimberley’s membership with The Alberta New Home Warranty Program is part of its emphasis on their customers.
“The Program is a critical part of our promise and commitment to our clients to provide a home building experience that is second-to-none,” says Ruggiero.
“This means the entire experience, including post possession warranty and service,” she adds. “The Program is one of our expert partners who we trust to continue to care for our clients years into living in their new Kimberley home.”