Buckingham Companies

Buckingham Companies Puts an Artistic Spin on Word-of-Mouth 

Client

Buckingham Companies is a full-service real estate company, specializing in construction, development, and property management. Established as a rental company in 1984, Buckingham has grown to manage almost $1 billion in real estate assets.

Location

Headquartered in Indianapolis, IN, USA

Services Provided

  • Talk Triggers word of mouth strategy
  • Talk Triggers word of mouth testing development and implementation guidance

Overview

How does a large, multi-property real estate company set itself apart in a competitive industry when customers view it as a commodity?

Buckingham Companies knows that, when finding a new home or handling an in-home issue, not all experiences are created equal. That’s why they wanted to leverage their high-quality properties and friendly employees to attract and retain residents in a way that stood out from their competition.

Situation

With multiple locations and a lean, enthusiastic staff, Buckingham needed a streamlined word-of-mouth moment, aka a Talk Trigger, that would be easy to implement while still setting them apart. And they needed to execute a Talk Trigger that built up Buckingham as a company, not just individual properties.

Many of the pieces were already in place. Buckingham employed team members that were exceeding tenants’ expectations. And their properties were strongly connected into local communities. Buckingham needed to tie their differentiators together in a way that resonated with employees and residents. And they needed to do so in a way that encouraged tenants to share their experiences with others. They needed tenants talking about a welcoming community with a personal touch.

Challenges

  • Serving residents expecting 24/7 support when our business is not structured that way.
  • Expanding markets don’t have Buckingham brand recognition.
  • Standardizing the process in a simple enough way to educate employees across properties with seamless execution.
  • Creating a word-of-mouth experience that fits our time and budget requirements.
  • Being authentic and genuine without making the Talk Trigger too kitschy/gimmicky.
  • Ensuring the Talk Trigger is viewed as an operational staple instead of a moment of surprise and delight.
  • Targeting current residents or prospective residents based on what’s most important to them.

Solution

During the discovery process, Convince & Convert mapped the most important steps in the residents’ journeys, aligning those with our Talk Trigger framework. We conducted 15 phone interviews, examining multiple perspectives–team members, current residents, and prospective residents. Then we attended three different property tours to find where the best opportunities existed for talkable moments. We learned the best opportunities for Talk Triggers were during the move-in and apartment setup periods.

We then narrowed the core audiences down to two key groups that we had to reach, ensuring our ideas spoke to both current residents and potential residents. Then, we developed 13 ideas, focusing on three of the five types of Talk Triggers–empathy, usefulness, and generosity. From there, Buckingham chose their top five Talk Trigger concepts, keeping consistency, operational feasibility, and budget in mind. They also focused on the values their company wanted to exemplify to their residents. Convince & Convert took those concepts and detailed the messaging, testing, and execution.

Ultimately, Buckingham decided to implement the Talk Trigger that best represented the community values of the company. In talking to residents, we found that the move-in stage provided a unique opportunity to overdeliver for residents. Standard procedure for move-in was signing the lease, getting the keys, and moving their belongings into their new home. Furthermore, residents often moved into a home with empty walls and little decor. But what if Buckingham could show their support for the community throughout that process?

That’s how the art concept was born. Buckingham is a big supporter of local artists–a fact residents know and love–and wanted to combine their support with a one-of-a-kind gift. With their new Talk Trigger, Buckingham would provide a welcome email to all new residents, including instructions on how to redeem a special gift. Residents would then have the option to choose from select art prints, which could be printed on canvas and hung on the wall or printed to a shower curtain to use in their bathroom.

Results

Throughout the Talk Trigger development process, the Buckingham team actively participated in operational discussions with Convince & Convert, providing access to their preferred vendors as needed. Each idea Convince & Convert presented was carefully discussed with Buckingham, ensuring their goals were met and values upheld.

Buckingham is in the process of testing their Talk Trigger across their properties and will share their results with Convince & Convert in a few months. The team mobilized quickly to execute the test which was rolled out with staff enthusiastically by Jay during their on-site team summit. Initial testing results will come in an upcoming couple of months.

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