Go With The Flow

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Big Builder magazine -- Feng Shui is serious business for builders who seek to be at one with buyers.

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Go With The Flow

  1. 1. Go With the Flow - Sales And Marketing, Sales, Marketing, Business, De... http://www.builderonline.com/sales-and-marketing/go-with-the-flow.aspx Magazine: Current Issue Archive Subscriptions Search: GO NEWS BUSINESS DESIGN CONSTRUCTION SALES & MARKETING PRODUCTS GREEN BUILDING HOUSE PLANS From: BUILDER February 2003 Posted on: February 5, 2003 Go With the Flow By: David Holzel Related Articles Save/Share Feng Shui is serious business for builders who seek to be at one with buyers. By David Holzel Elaine Evans clearly remembers how baffled she was the first time a buyer showed up in her sales office carrying a compass. quot;It was, 'What the heck was this all about?'quot; That was in 1990. Today, Evans, a sales associate at a K. Hovnanian Enterprises project near Princeton, N.J., has no problem identifying signs that a buyer is scrutinizing a property with the principles of feng shui in his or her mind. quot;To accommodate the buying populace of New Jersey you have to learn very quickly.quot; Once a fad that drew chuckles, feng shui has grown in many builders' esteem. More have concluded that if they want to sell more homes, they need to learn a thing or two about feng shui. A traditional Chinese approach to the placement of buildings and other objects -- hence the compasses -- feng shui's purpose is to optimize the flow of a mystical power called chi. And while there are no federal regulations for chi flow, nor any tests for measuring it, feng shui's adherents are as concerned about the cost of escaping chi as other home buyers are about heat loss from ductwork. quot;By [catering to these buyers], we're being respectful,quot; says Dave Harding, vice president of sales and marketing for Western Pacific Housing in Los Angeles. Selling Chi America's growing Asian population -- both American-born and immigrants -- are pushing feng shui into the mainstream and across the country. The feng shui zone has spread from the West Coast to the East -- and lately to some unlikely points in between. Where feng shui made its early inroads, some builders have adapted their entire operations to make their product feng shui compliant. In K. Hovnanian's home state of New Jersey, Asian-Americans constitute more than 6 percent of the population, the fifth largest Asian community in the country. The builder has taken note. A growing number of customers were raising feng shui-related objections to Hovnanian homes that the sales staff were unable to overcome, according to Doug Fenichel, director of communications. So the company's director of sales training and leadership development, Corinne Hoffman, has begun training sessions on feng shui. At the top of the agenda is how to recognize clues that a buyer is concerned about feng shui, and how to respond to those concerns. quot;To us, this is a classic case of what our customers want and providing the products,quot; Fenichel says. quot;It's all about listening to customers.quot; The Feng Shui Way Like when there's foot dragging about the staircase. Pity the Ten Tips for the Beginner long-suffering neo-colonial if the Feng Shui began as a system the ancient Chinese used to stairs make a straight shot from the determine sites for their ancestors' graves. From there, it was second floor down to the front door. FEATURED WEBINAR only a 5,000-year leap to these handy tips for home builders. Major cause of chi loss there. quot;The 1 Block that view. One should not be able to see through the house from front door to Housing Market sales person has to key in that this is Outlook: Fighting back. an objection that can be overcome,quot; through the Banking 2 Step carefully. A staircase should not lead straight down to the front door. says Hoffman, who has a certification Crisis in an Americanized style of feng shui 3 Let's be blunt. Sharp angles -- on walls, furniture, etc. -- are known as poison John Burns, real estate from a school in San Diego. The arrows. That can't be good. expert, discusses the current associate might suggest putting a state of the market and the plant at the bottom of the staircase 1 of 4 11/22/2008 10:50 PM
  2. 2. Go With the Flow - Sales And Marketing, Sales, Marketing, Business, De... http://www.builderonline.com/sales-and-marketing/go-with-the-flow.aspx possibilities in 2009. Watch this on-demand Web quot;to slow down the energy,quot; she says. 4 Avoid the number four like the plague. In the Cantonese dialect, four sounds like seminar to learn more the opportunities on the horizon quot;death.quot; including growing demand, changing demographics, If such quot;curesquot; don't entirely satisfy 5 Know your elements. In the feng shui way of understanding, the world is composed and appropriately... the buyer, Fenichel says, quot;in the of five elements: fire, earth, metal, water, and wood. interest of customer service it might 6 Dead ends. Do not place a home at the end of a cul-de-sac or across from a be better to discourage the customer T-intersection. FEATURED WEBINAR from buying that home and show 7 Separate your fire and water. In the kitchen the stove should not directly face a sink. them another. Our number-one 8 Eight is great. It means quot;prosperityquot; in Cantonese. Housing Market concern is that our customers are Outlook: Fighting 9 Have a bagua on ya. The bagua, an eight-sided compass, offers clues about greeted by people who understand through the Banking placement in a home, in coordination with the five elements. their needs.quot; Crisis 10 Location, location, location. The ideal home site has quot;a hill behind, two smaller hills John Burns, real estate Auspicious Minds in the near front, facing a wider, farther view, preferably of water,quot; Angi Ma Wong expert, discusses the current writes in quot;Feng Shui Dos and Taboos.quot; state of the market and the One morning, the roar of earth- possibilities in 2009. Watch this on-demand Web moving equipment died and gave way to the sound of chanting. The heady smell of incense drifted over the seminar to learn more the opportunities on the horizon site as 40-saffron robed Buddhist monks began a ceremony to bless Harvard Estates, a Western Pacific including growing demand, changing demographics, and appropriately... community in Los Angeles' Hacienda Heights. quot;The music was just beautiful,quot; says Dave Harding, who, along with his sales staff, then followed the monks to each of the development's 21 home sites, where they held an individual blessing ceremony. In less than an FEATURED WEBINAR hour it was over. quot;It was very, very moving,quot; Harding says. Housing Market Western Pacific doesn't hold a ceremony at every development -- Harvard Estates is close to a major Buddhist Outlook: Fighting temple -- but feng shui is never out of the developer's consciousness. quot;We follow it even where we don't think through the Banking there is an Asian market,quot; Harding says. quot;There's really no downside to it.quot; Crisis John Burns, real estate The company starts with a land plan quot;that takes into a consideration auspicious placement of the lots,quot; he expert, discusses the current says. The process of incorporating feng shui continues in the design of the homes and ends with the state of the market and the landscaping and merchandising. You couldn't find a staircase that leads straight to the front door if your life possibilities in 2009. Watch this on-demand Web depended on it. seminar to learn more the opportunities on the horizon including growing demand, changing demographics, and appropriately... Harding says he figures that of all his Asian buyers, some 60 percent adhere to feng shui, quot;particularly if they are ethnic Chinese, particularly from Taiwan and Hong Kong.quot; But such is the popularity of feng shui with the general public that more than half of Western Pacific's non-Asian customers is familiar with it. Is all this effort also more expensive? quot;Perhaps,quot; Harding says. quot;But there are those of us who have lived through the pains and expense of not knowing about feng shui.quot; Walking the development with Harding and the monks that day was Angi Ma Wong, a feng shui consultant and writer, who has been showing builders how to sell to Asian customers for 14 years. It was Wong who arranged the blessing ceremony. With compass in hand she'll look at your land plans, assesses the floor plans, perform on-site inspections, and do sales and marketing training. Ryland Homes is one of Wong's oldest clients. quot;Nationally, we train people on feng shui,quot; says Eric Elder, vice president of sales and marketing. quot;It's a relevant consideration in design in most markets. And it helps people feel better about a very emotional purchase.quot; quot;There's no substitute for knowledge and sensitivity,quot; agrees Bill Pisetsky, who runs the sales and marketing operation for Shea Homes of Southern California. Shea has sponsored two blessing ceremonies that were organized by Angi Ma Wong. After she conducted training sessions with the entire staff, Shea's sales rose from 0.38 per week to 1.0 per week, Pisetsky says. What Would Grandma Say? With feng shui becoming part of the landscape in places that are both urbane and multicultural, the chance of finding demand in a monocultural oasis like Salt Lake City is about zero. David Irwin would be the first to agree with that assessment. For the moment. Seek Enlightenment quot;It's not done here,quot; says Irwin, vice president of marketing for Hamlet Homes, based in Salt Lake City. quot;So I decided to take a leap.quot; quot;What do you mean you can't sign your contract today?quot; In early 2001, Irwin took the model townhome at the That used to be the common reaction among sales people Castlehill project and feng shui'd it -- bright green walls in when an Asian customer asked to put off closing a deal, K. the kitchen to signify prosperity, a powder room with Hovnanian sales associate Elaine Evans says. The request candles representing the Chinese element of fire. This is usually meant the buyer considered that particular day feng shui as design trend and, as the expanding shelf of quot;inauspicious.quot; Bad luck, in other words. feng shui books attests, it is spreading to Middle America. Now the more enlightened reaction is, quot;What is a good day for quot;I had other builder friends say, 'You're crazy.' But they don't you?quot; Evans says. understand that the buyers are changing,quot; Irwin says. quot;For younger buyers, they're interested in that urban or sleeker Salespeople can learn to identify and properly respond to feel.quot; such tip-offs that the customer is looking for feng shui sensitivity, Evans says. And as in any sales situation, staff Irwin's leap of faith brought home a lot of publicity, and at no should accentuate the positive. If a model doesn't meet all the extra cost in merchandising. quot;Some of it is just the 2 of 4 11/22/2008 10:50 PM
  3. 3. Go With the Flow - Sales And Marketing, Sales, Marketing, Business, De... http://www.builderonline.com/sales-and-marketing/go-with-the-flow.aspx placement of items,quot; he says. quot;It gives you an identity. requirements of feng shui, quot;try to show the good points,quot; she People say, 'Let's go see the feng shui home.' quot; says. quot;Feng shui is appealing because it is good design in many Adds Marc Druge, community sales manager for Ryland's cases,quot; explains Richard Gollis, principal of the Concord Woodcreek in the San Francisco Bay area. quot;What one family Group, a real estate marketing consulting firm in Newport may think is bad, another may think is good.quot; Beach, California. quot;It enhances the product but does not Take how a home is sited. quot;If a house faces east-west, a shut off part of the market.quot; Chinese person probably wouldn't be interested in it, whereas Gollis says that although it tends to be the older generation an Indian person will,quot; Evans says. that subscribes to feng shui, builders shouldn't dismiss its But how do you recognize a feng shui buyer? quot;Nobody says, importance to younger buyers. 'Show me a feng shui home,' quot; says Doug Fenichel, quot;Let's say that a young couple wants to buy a home, and Hovnanian's director of communications. the home doesn't conform to feng shui. They bring along the parents and Grandma, and Grandma says, 'No.' If they One hint is the compass. Another is if the buyer comes accompanied by his feng shui master. want Grandma to visit them, it has to match her wishes.quot; While knowing the cues is essential, consultant Angi Ma If complying with feng shui principles raises the chances that a home will sell, it also adds to the home's resale value. Wong believes it's also important to pair an immigrant buyer with a sales person quot;who is most like them. That could be a But whether used as an architectural model or an interior design aesthetic, the traditional Chinese approach's effect woman, or an older man, even if they are non-Asian. Soft spoken, non-aggressive -- these are the qualities you would on the home building industry doesn't seem to have crested. look for,quot; she says. But wait. This just in: The 2000 census shows that the And never rule out the possibility that most buyers are savvy Indian community has become the fastest growing Asian enough to take the situation in hand. Says Druge, quot;Normally population, and may yet outstrip the Chinese as the they'll say, 'We don't like this.' quot; country's largest Asian community. And the Indians have their own ancient ideas about placement and mystical power. The approach is called vastu (pronounced vash-too). And we think it is going to be really big. David Holzel is based in Montgomery Village, Md. Published in BIG BUILDER Magazine, February 2003 Save/Share RELATED ARTICLES RELATED TOPICS BUILDER Magazine's Top 10 Elements of Style SALES AND MARKETING Satisfaction Guaranteed Sales Make Bonus Rooms Comfy Marketing Steeling Home Business Building a Better Web Site Design How-To: Drywall Drama Projects Fear Factor The Systems Sub Mold Block Mold Fast Track 2006 First Impressions 'Extreme' Construction From All-Wet to ‘Wow!’ America's Best Builders: Part III Flying High The Main Attraction Consumer Demand Transforms Production Building America's Best Builders: The 2002 Vanguard Be the first to add a comment to this article. Comment on this Article Register to comment on this Post. You may use your username and password again upon your next visit to the site. Please read our Content Guidelines before posting on the site. User Name: Password: Enter the code shown: Register now Comment: 3 of 4 11/22/2008 10:50 PM
  4. 4. Go With the Flow - Sales And Marketing, Sales, Marketing, Business, De... http://www.builderonline.com/sales-and-marketing/go-with-the-flow.aspx SUBMIT ADS BY GOOGLE New Home Sales Training Skills training for today's market Close the traffic you have www.joecollettiandassociates.com Home Building Estimates Get a free, no obligation estimate on a Custom Home Building Project www.HomeImprovementPortal.com Eco Home Magazine Designs, Products & Best Practices For the Eco Friendly Home Builder. www.EcoHomeMagazine.com Grove Contracting When Quality Counts...Grove Contracting & Home Improvements. www.grovecustomhomes.com Automate Your Gates Slide, Swing & Barrier Gate Openers By LiftMaster. Get Added Security! www.LiftMaster.com Affordable New Homes La Puerta by Horizon Communities can make homeownership a reality! www.Goodbye2rent.com NEWS BUSINESS DESIGN CONSTRUCTION SALES & MARKETING PRODUCTS GREEN BUILDING HOUSE PLANS Hot Topics: Industry In Crisis Census Data Fast Track 2008 About Divisions Contact Us Privacy Policy Services: Jobs Leads Builder TV Webinars Awards Events Yellow Pages Magazine: Current Issue Archive Subscriptions Builder Staff Search: GO Site Map Builder Relevant Sites: Big Builder Custom Home Digital Home Dream Home Source ebuild ePlans EcoHome Tools of the Trade Journal of Light Construction HW Market Intelligence © 2008 Hanley Wood, LLC. All rights reserved. 4 of 4 11/22/2008 10:50 PM

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