{{ propApi.closeIcon }}
Our industry
Our industry $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Housing industry insights Economics Data & forecasts Tailored research and analysis Advocacy & policy Advocacy Policy priorities Position statements Submissions News and inspiration Industry news Member alerts Media releases HOUSING Online
Business support
Business support $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Become an apprentice host Hire an apprentice Why host a HIA apprentice? Apprentice partner program Builder & manufacturer program Industry insurance Construction legal expenses insurance Construction works insurance Home warranty insurance Tradies & tool insurance Planning & safety solutions Building & planning services HIA SafeScan Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) Solutions for your business Contracts Online HIA Tradepass Advertise jobs Trusted support & guidance Contracts & compliance support Professional services Industrial relations Member savings Toyota vehicles The Good Guys Commercial Fuel savings See all
Resources & advice
Resources & advice $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Building it right Building codes Australian standards Getting it right on site See all Building materials & products Concrete, bricks & walls Getting products approved Use the right products for the job See all Managing your business Dealing with contracts Handling disputes Managing your employees See all Managing your safety Falls from heights Safety rules Working with silica See all Building your business Growing your business Maintaining your business See all Other subjects COVID-19 Getting approval to build Sustainable homes See all
Careers & learning
Careers & learning $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
A rewarding career Become an apprentice Apprenticeships on offer Frequently asked questions Study with us Find a course to suit you Qualification courses Learning on demand A job in the industry Get your builder's licence Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Find jobs
HIA community
HIA community $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Join HIA Sign me up How do I become a member? What's in it for me? Mates rates Get involved Become an award judge Join a committee Partner with us Our initiatives HIA Building Women GreenSmart Kitchen, bathroom and design hub Get to know us Our members Our people Our partners Support for you Charitable Foundation Mental health program
Awards & events
Awards & events $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards Awards program People & Business Awards GreenSmart Australian Housing Awards Awards winners Regional Award winners Australian Housing Award winners 2024 Australian Home of the Year Enter online Industry events Events in the next month Economic outlook National Conference Events calendar
HIA products
HIA products $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Shop @ HIA Digital Australian Standards Contracts Online Shipping & delivery Purchasing T&Cs See all Products Purchase NCC 2022 Building codes & standards Economic reports Hard copy contracts Guides & manuals
About Contact Newsroom
$vuetify.icons.faTimes
$vuetify.icons.faMapMarker Set my location Use the field below to update your location
Address
Change location
{{propApi.title}}
{{propApi.text}} {{region}} Change location
{{propApi.title}}
{{propApi.successMessage}} {{region}} Change location

$vuetify.icons.faPhone1300 650 620

To chatbot or not

To chatbot or not

{{ tag.label }} {{ tag.label }} $vuetify.icons.faTimes
A jump into virtual technology is resonating for Trendsetter Homes. With a clientele now wedded to life online, the dividends speak for themselves.

Laura Valic

Editor

Display homes are a successful sales instrument in a builder’s toolbox but converting foot traffic into genuine leads is challenging for businesses. How do you connect with time-poor customers who are less inclined to venture outdoors but increasingly make purchasing decisions online?

HIA member Michael Agostino, Director of Perth-based Trendsetter Homes, says display homes have always been a fantastic (if costly) method to show clients of what your company is capable. However, he’s discovered they are no longer as effective at getting his clients over the line. 

‘What works is being able to demonstrate that we can design a home that meets the buyer’s exact needs and vision,’ he says. ‘We’re finding that virtual homes resonate more than a walkthrough of a physical building, which may not have been built to the buyer’s style or specifications.’

Trendsetter Homes Director Michael Agostino (right) with his design team.
‘Virtual homes resonate more than a walkthrough of a physical building’

When Trendsetter Homes began in 1997, the company’s vision was to design and build custom homes with personalised service adjusted to suit clients’ specific needs. The business today employs six registered builders and an in-house design team to manage a portfolio of around $20 million in design, preliminary documentation and construction at any one time. Over the past 25 years, Trendsetter has achieved substantial growth thanks to a commitment to continually innovate and produce a high-quality product. Moving into virtual technology is just another way the business is pushing boundaries.

‘Virtual technology allows us as builders to create multiple display homes showcasing alternate schemes and design styles, without the investment and time constraints of purchasing land and building,’ Michael explains. ‘We can deliver virtual tours via chatbots through the Facebook Messenger platform, so people can view homes from their fingertips, anywhere and at any time.’

When Trendsetter Homes turned to digital marketing agency AdSocial, the strategy to use chatbot automation to generate qualified sales leads saw an impressive 91 per cent click through rate from the potential buyers’ initial connection with the brand through to the entire virtual showcase.

‘We have never experienced such a surge in interest when delivering a new and unique experience,’ Michael reveals. ‘Acknowledging this shift in the way people communicate has enhanced our ability to offer the customer exactly what they are looking for.’

‘Virtual technology allows us as builders to create multiple display homes showcasing alternate schemes,’ says Trendsetter Homes’ Michael Agostino
‘Around 80 per cent of messages can be responded to and followed up by a chatbot, without human intervention,’ says AdSocial CEO Amberlea Henriques

According to AdSocial CEO Amberlea Henriques, innovative building companies are leveraging virtual tours via virtual reality (VR) headsets, but coupling them with chatbot automation – and delivering these tours to mobiles via social media – is a new point of difference.

‘Chatbots can be programmed to provide customer support 24/7, extracting keywords from messages to automatically respond to enquiries, saving businesses thousands of man hours,’ she says. ‘Around 80 per cent of messages can be responded to and followed up by a chatbot, without human intervention.’

Where this experience differs from VR is that customers don’t need to visit a physical location to connect to a headset and immerse themselves in a business’ product offering. According to Michael, this is something many people are reluctant to do, until they have decided on their builder.

‘The chatbot delivers walk-throughs of either physical homes that we filmed or renders of digital homes we created using design software,’ he says. ‘This is an inexpensive alternative and allows people to be inspired by our capabilities during the early stages too.’ 

What Trendsetter Homes has also found is that potential home buyers are resonating with the conversational quality of the chatbot experience. They can get ‘human-like’ answers to their initial questions without parting with their contact details to discover more about a business’ offering.

‘We are always there for a discussion and love to engage with clients but there’s a stage of the process where they’re just not ready to talk to someone,’ Michael says. ‘We now let the chatbot guide prospects through that journey until they are ready to come in and sit down with me for a consult.’

The chatbot can automatically follow up on previous discussions for up to one year, without human input. This allows businesses to stay front of mind while the customer explores their options. ‘The technology eliminates people who simply want to browse, and qualifies those ready to book a consultation,’ Michael says. ‘This saves our team so much time as they’re connecting with people when they’re ready to talk specifics.’

‘What works is being able to demonstrate that we can design a home that meets the buyer’s exact needs and vision,’ says Michael.
‘We deliver virtual tours via chatbots through the Facebook Messenger platform, so people can view homes from their fingertips.’

Despite the recent challenges of COVID, rising building costs and interest rate increases, Michael says that like other businesses, Trendsetter has had to adapt and pivot. Focusing on the possibilities of virtual technology has become ‘a game changer’.

‘This process is relatively new to our business, but we’ve received welcoming feedback,’ he says. ‘We’re currently working on new homes to showcase, and working with AdSocial to design content that explains our business, team and process to prospective clients.’

As a HIA member, Michael also appreciates the ongoing support of the Association throughout the ups and downs of home building.

‘The industry has been through some of the toughest times in the last three years, but HIA provides abundant value and support to those of us within residential building,’ he says. ‘Accessing various resources from industry trends, regulations and best practices helps our building operations lead to the best possible outcomes.’

When looking ahead, Michael is optimistic for the future. ‘There are lots of people who still want to build their dream home and Perth is primed for investment,’ he says. ‘For Trendsetter Homes, we also have exciting designs within the preliminary stage and homes under construction to share in the very near future.’

First published on 18 May 2023

You might also like:

Awards Business and digital Payment Trends
Resources - autumn 2024
Looking for technical information or design inspiration? Here are the latest tools to narrow your search and advance your knowledge.
Apr 24
2 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Apprentice Awards Business and digital Residential
A building franchise with a difference
Personal, collaborative, supportive, flexible and user-friendly: not always words we might associate with franchises. But these words capture the spirit of the national building franchise Integrity New Homes.
Apr 24
5 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Apprentice Business and digital Education Networking
Jumping-off point
To give apprentices the tools to stay on the job longer, they can learn from the best in the building industry. HIA Apprentices offers various initiatives, including its targeted BuildHer and LAHC programs.
Mar 24
7 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Residential Renovations Awards Business and digital
Set up for success
National award winner Hudson Homes is focused on steady growth but not at the expense of the customer experience.
Nov 23
4 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Australian Standards Building developments Innovation Business and digital
Build + Tech – Summer 2023
Builders, large and small, know one thing: whatever saves you time, negates risk and improves workflow and communication is bound to be the makings of a better business. 
Nov 23
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Australian Standards National Construction Code (NCC) Business and digital
Resources - summer 2023
Looking for technical information or design inspiration? Here are the latest tools to narrow your search and advance your knowledge.
Nov 23
4 mins
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Business and digital Trends Safety
Resources - spring 2023
Looking for technical information or design inspiration? Here are the latest tools to narrow your search and advance your knowledge.
Aug 23
2 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Business and digital Expenses Small business
What's in it for me?
HIA provides members with a large range of industry products and services to help you manage, operate and grow your business. Here are some benefits you can access today.
Aug 23
5 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Business and digital Business operations Construction Customer service Digital marketing
Pride and passion
From custom homes to specialised housing projects, Ben Garraway of Garraway Developments is passionate about quality construction and delivering beautiful homes in regional Victoria.
Aug 23
6 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
National Construction Code (NCC) Sustainability Accounting Business and digital
Resources - winter 2023
Looking for technical information or design inspiration? Housing rounds up the latest tools to advance your knowledge.
Jun 23
3 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Budget Renovations Construction Business and digital
To chatbot or not
A jump into virtual technology is resonating for Trendsetter Homes. With a clientele now wedded to life online, the dividends speak for themselves.
May 23
4 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Work Health and Safety (WHS) Wellbeing Safety Business and digital
Back in business
Addressing any back and neck pain you may be experiencing at work is necessary not just for your daily comfort but for your long-term wellbeing as well.
Apr 23
7 min
Read full article $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight