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Changes to display village opening hours

December 08, 2019

Changes to display village opening hours:
A move to standardised opening hours for display villages and the pioneering of twilight hours.

Following the completion of the industry-wide research project by Painted Dog, new display village operating hours have been proposed for builders and land developers in Western Australia. 

Background: 

To address changing consumer requirements and behaviour, several of WA’s largest home builders trialed Twilight Hours over the 18/19 Summer period. This meant opening display homes from 4pm -7pm as opposed to the standard hours of 2pm -5pm on Wednesdays. 

To validate the change in operating hours for display villages, research agency Painted Dog was engaged in an industry- wide research project. The strategic aim of the research was to optimise the experience and value to customers of display homes and land sales centres, in order to increase visitation and ultimately conversion to sales. 

Two surveys were conducted between 9th April and 20th May 2019 to 463 ‘purchasers’, ‘browsers’ and ‘non-visitors’. 

The key out-takes from the research was that visiting display homes plays a critical role in the homebuyers’ building journey when considering building a new home, with 4 in 5 homebuyers visiting a display village. Critically, convenience emerged as a key trend, with those who participated in the research saying that opening days and proximity are the most important factors when choosing which display village to visit.

The proposal is to implement consistent opening hours for all display homes and villages and move to pioneer extended Twilight Hours on a Wednesday to address the convenience needs of modern consumers. 

Why the change in operating hours? 

Research conducted revealed the following;

- Display homes and villages play a critical role in potential new homebuyers’ decision making with 4 in 5 homebuyers visiting a display home as part of their journey. 
- Opening times and proximity are the most important factors when choosing which display villages to visit. 
- Consumer preferences trend towards browsing display villages on weekends but a portion of the market (approximately 10%) still require a weekday option. 
- Monday was the least preferred weekday option. 

Our industry operates in a highly competitive market and today, it’s more important than ever that our industry is customer focused, with convenience emerging as a central theme from the research project. 

While twilight hours did not have significant uptake in the trial (due in part to the soft promotion) with a combined effort of all participants and a clear promotional plan it is considered that Wednesday Twilight hours will gain acceptance over time, in the same way the car or retail industries have shifted consumer to late night trading. 

How will we make the change?  

To make the move to twilight hours several factors need to be considered by builders and developers and planned for in the release of future display homes and villages, including:
- Lighting of display homes/villages in twilight/evening hours 
- Insurance policy adjustments to cover opening until 7pm 
- Security and possible implementation of panic alarms/ security apps 
- Variation to employment contracts to cover the change in operating hours 
- Developer approvals conditions compliance 
- Builders’ display village contractual commitments 

In consideration of the research findings and to provide adequate time to implement the above changes if deemed required by your organization, a staged rollout of the change to display home opening hours is proposed as follows: 

Stage 1: Standardise display village opening hours industry wide by 31 December 2019, as follows:
Close Monday
Open 2-5pm Wednesday 
Open 12-5pm Saturday & Sunday 
Open 12-5pm Public Holidays (at the discretion of the builder/developer) 

Stage 2: Standardise village opening hours industry wide by September 2020, as follows:
Close Monday
Open 3-7pm Wednesday 
Open 12-5pm Saturday & Sunday 
Open 12-5pm Public Holidays (at the discretion of the builder/developer) 

In line with the move to twilight hours in 2020 a communications plan is being developed to ensure consumers are aware of the change and are encouraged to visit display villages during the new Wednesday twilight hours. 

 For further information please contact Aaron Sice - HIA Assistant Director Planning and Building on a.sice@hia.com.au