What I Learned From Santa

The holidays this year were truly magical – I was able to introduce my new grandson to the magic of Christmas. As part of that we took him to the mall to get his picture taken with Santa, and not only did we get a photo, but I also was reminded of some major mistakes we sometimes make when marketing and merchandising our homes. If you would like a copy of the entire article, feel free to email me at: answers@lifestylist.com

Here are 5 things I learned this year from visiting with Santa:

1. Presentation isn’t Everything. This Santa display was one of the most amazing I have ever seen, but most of it had nothing to do with why we were all there – to see Santa. You need to have a total package, and the lifestyle that is shown in your models, community and marketing needs to be what they will really experience in your homes. You can spend a fortune creating your presentation, but if it isn’t targeted to your buyer you are just throwing your marketing budget away.
2. Never Say No. No one likes to be told what they can’t have, and there are ways to avoid having to say no to your customers. I understood that Santa was a business, and I would have been happy to pay a fee so I could shoot my own photos that would have been fair to all involved. Customers appreciate it when you try to come up with a fair compromise, and they then feel like you are working with them, not against them.
3. Let Me Entertain You. Interactive presentations, or having different ways to have your customers really experience your homes is a great way to create memory points. One of my favorites was doing up a line drawing of the builder’s home that the customer’s kids could color and take with them. Having your home and information on a potential customer’s fridge? Priceless. What you don’t want to do is overwhelm the customer with loud music, a pushy salesperson, or too many choices. They come to your sales center because they want to buy a home and they want you to educate them on why their new home should be one of yours.
4. Less Can Be More. Putting everything including the kitchen sink into your model homes can talk a customer out of buying a home from you. Over merchandised homes, or homes that have dated, damaged furniture and accessories in them turn a customer off. You are better off doing a well merchandised home that plays up your homes features and only merchandising a few key areas than just filling a model home with “stuff” from the warehouse.
5. Building the Dream. Just like visiting Santa for the first time, buying a home should be an exciting time for your buyers. If you and your sales team aren’t excited about selling them a new home, how do you expect the buyer to get excited? Make the buying experience a positive one, and not only will your customers buy from you, they will refer their friends to you as well.

Timeless Design: Patriot Homes 2002

As a Lifestylist® I always say that design should be more about lifestyles than trends. Trendy design details and decors tend to cycle out quickly and leave the owner with a home that looks and feels dated.

In 2002 I was hired to be the Lifestylist® for Patriot Homes – an amazing factory built housing company based in Elkhart, Indiana. I had worked on factory built homes in the past, but never at this scale.  This is one of the first homes that I LifeStyled for them -it was at The Louisville show for their EnergyMate division. Jumping ahead 10 years, I’d be happy to show or live in this home again – it was well designed, the floorplan was open and perfect for entertaining, and the island was larger than anything else being shown at that time.

Be sure to notice the pendant lighting. I know we were one of the first to show them and we were ahead of our.  All of our lighting was part of a partnership I initiated with Home Depot.

When you look at this home, it doesn’t look like a factory built home, or a modular home – it just looks and feels like a well designed home no matter how it got to the site. Who knew even 10 years ago we were designing the future of housing construction? Factory built homes are definitely here to stay.

On The Record With The Lifestylist

One of the questions I get asked the most is how I ever decided to become a Lifestylist®, and where did I get my training.

I’ve been called a storyteller many times and it’s an accurate assessment – I use my talents and materials to tell a story in a home. Hopefully this story explains to the potential homeowner why their lives would be better by living in this home, and what they can expect from the community, the builder, and from the experience. To tell the story, I collect thousands of items – old and new – that I incorporate into my LifeStyled homes.

This weekend I decided it was time to go through some of the things I’ve collected, and it’s been quite a trip down memory lane. I discovered a trunk I forgot about that had family photos from the early 1900’s that gave me a glimpse into my family history I hadn’t been aware of. Through this discovery I’m finding I come from a very artistic family full of risk takers. This ostrich photo with my great aunt will now always be one of my favorites.

It seems I’ve been in the media longer than I remembered for my decorating skills. My mother and both grandmothers were very talented in the design fields, and I was lucky enough to be nurtured and inspired by them. This article from 1969 shows me as a 13 yr old showing off some of my skills with my mother and sisters. Apparently I also had my own booth at the church bazaar selling paper flowers and copper enameled jewelry that I made. What’s funny is that after seeing this, I may have to try this again – it’s really a fun idea!

I’m honored to be a Lifestylist®, and I love having the opportunity to help others find their passions in life. This holiday season remember what makes you happy, and share that passion with your friends and family – you might even find a new career by doing it!

 

 

Being Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving! This holiday is about food and family, but even more than that I like to use it to remind me how thankful I am for what I have, and for those around me.

 

For over 25 years my parents were very active doing disaster relief with The Salvation Army, and even raised the money for a state of the art canteen for the Tyler Texas location. Whenever there was a disaster or need and my parents got a call they dropped everything and hit the road. One of the most memorable phone calls I ever received was when Hurricane Katrina hit and my parents answered the call. They called me when they were outside the Super Dome not having a clue what was going on inside. For six weeks they were in the French Quarter feeding the volunteers – my Dad always joked he always wanted to have a restaurant in the French Quarter and he finally got his wish!

 

Whenever this Lifestylist® could I joined them on the road helping my Mom cook up to 2,000 hot meals a day and seeing first hand what mother nature can dish out. People were so sweet and hospitable, even though many had lost everything that they had. It was always hard to leave – I wanted to stay there and help rebuild.

 

This year I have been blessed to be involved with three amazing organizations – Shared Housing, Genesis Women’s Shelter and HomeAid/Homebuilders Care. I am always so drawn to the kids – many of them have seen things we can’t even imagine, but they always have the best manners, always say please, thank-you and give the best hugs 🙂

 

It’s harder than ever to make a living, but even if you can’t make a donation to a worthwhile charity think about donating your time -you’ll be very thankful that you did.

 

 

 

 

 

Professionalism

As a Lifestylist® I get to spend a lot of time visiting communities and retailers, and I’ve seen the great, the good, and the not so good. What I’ve noticed though is that the ones that take this business seriously, and actually treat it like a business seem to have more business. I met the Manufactured Housing Consultants team at the SE Homes of Texas show this Fall. You could tell that they all respected each other and they seemed to have a lot of knowledge about the industry so I was thrilled when they asked me to come down to their New Braunfels, Texas location and add the Lifestylist® Designed touch to some of their new SE Homes.

 

This was a team of professionals – they dressed well, the homes were well presented, and even on a week day they had buyers coming through their homes almost constantly. I can see why this group has been so successful – they take their careers seriously.

 

If you are in the San Antonio or Austin area you should definitely stop by and meet Robert and his team, or look them up on their website, or their Facebook Page. Be sure to tell them that the Lifestylist® sent you!

DIVE IN To a New Modular Home by Champion

Champion Homes has taken buying a new home to to the next level with the introduction of DIVE IN – a way to design and customize your own home online or with a sales agent.

DIVE IN (Design Interactive Viewing Experience) offers a collection on plans that let you choose different lifestyle options, flex spaces, alternative kitchen designs and other choices that allow the customer to design a home that is truly a home of their own.

Kevin Flaherty, VP of marketing for Champion Home Builders said this is the perfect tool for retailers to help their potential buyers design their new home.  “When it is used with a tablet computer, the sales experience grows exponentially with the ability to provide the customer with all the information they need to make an informed buying decision in a unique, concise and captivating manner.”  We loved interviewing Kevin and Phyllis Knight – Chief Financial Officer of Champion at the recent MHI Congress and Expo, and their enthusiasm about the factory built industry is contagious.

We are proud of the Lifestylist® Designed model homes we have done for Champion, and we are looking forward to doing more in the future. This video can show you the difference a Lifestylist® Designed model home can make.

 

Speaking Out at the International Networking Roundtable

Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber was honored to be asked to speak at the 20th Annual International Networking Roundtable this year.  Speaking to a full house, Felber shared her knowledge on how to add lifestyle to communities to increase resident satisfaction and to help keep communities full.

George Allen of GFA Management hosted the event which had an increase in attendance of over 20% from last year. To find out more about this event, or to receive more information on land lease communities, contact Mr. Allen at: 317-346-7156. A video overview of the event is also available on YouTube.

Southern Energy Homes of Texas Opens Fall Show

SEhomes of Texas opened their Fall Home Show today, and the response from retailers and landlease community owners has been fantastic. Five Lifestylist® Designed homes are being featured, each with it’s own theme. The Opening Day party had a hunting theme, and guests had a wonderful time playing washers and feasting on barbeque that was cooked in a smoker resembling a gun.

These well designed homes have the features consumers are looking for including master baths with separate showers, large gourmet kitchens, split master suite plans and one home even has a media room with a refreshment area.

 

To get more information on the homes, contact Sales Manager Ryan Blackburn at: ryan.blackburn@sehomes.com

Summer Savings

One sure sign that summer is almost over is the sales of colorful, outdoor inspired items at the stores. A lot of the department stores start clearing this merchandise our right after the 4th of July to make room for school items, but the home decor stores tend to wait until Labor Day weekend.

One of our Lifestylist® inspired blogs is Dollar Store Decors – items that cost “less than a latte”. I was out shopping for the new model homes at Parkwood and Countryside Village, and I was amazed how many cool things that fit this criteria that were giveaway deals, and I also found some great items that I’m going to use to display my “pick-ups” from my summer travels.

World Market was full of treasures today -up to 90% off! I found this great chair and two others that were marked down to $9.95 – 90% off. They had two great outdoor dining tables that were at the same savings, but I tend to collect tables and I know I didn’t have room for them. But the chairs had such great style, I know I’ll be able to re-purpose them in a living room, or use them as seating in a guest room. I’m tempted to paint them with a metallic paint or possibly a turquoise color, have cushions made and really make them special – at under $10.00 I don’t have much to lose.

The painted table was a find at Hobby Lobby where I was able to find two matching ones at 80% off. I loved the colors and character they had, and I’m thinking about stacking them and using them as a display piece. What do you think?

Great design really doesn’t have to be expensive -it’s about buying things that mean something to you at a price you are comfortable with.

I’m also collecting glassware and baskets that I can use to display my pick up pieces – I love picking up found items when I travel as a memento instead of buying a T-Shirt or shot glass. I’ll share how to make picture frames and other ideas with these later, but I’ve got to get back to my model home shopping and taking advantage of these sales – I’ll let you know what else I find soon!