Paul Furner from Cavanna Homes Discusses 'Building Brilliance'

Posted 15 January 2020 by Lizzie Leigh

Paul Furner tells us about Cavanna Homes’ forthcoming centenary and what will be keeping him on his toes in 2020...

Paul Furner tells us about Cavanna Homes’ forthcoming centenary and what will be keeping him on his toes in 2020...

When you look ahead for 2020 what will your focuses be for the new decade?

My focus is going to be managing and overseeing our new developments opening early this year, working closely with my brilliant team to secure sales and ensuring our customers receive the very best support and guidance throughout the buying process. We’ve recently invested in tailored training programmes for our sales team to maintain our excellent service and we’re working with the Institute of Customer Services to embed their guidance into our procedures.

This year we have more sites opening than ever before, so we need to increase our brand awareness across our operating areas to stand out and entice people to come and visit us. I’m also developing our sales and marketing strategies to build wider brand awareness across the south west.

Three new sites are opening Sales Centre’s this year; Equinox 1 and 2 in Exeter, which are close to Exeter Airport and Exeter Science Park, and Belle Vue near the North Cornwall coastline in Bude.

We also have live developments in Dawlish, Barnstaple, Tavistock, Wincanton, Newton Abbot, Stoke Gabriel, Holcombe and Bodmin – so 2020 will certainly keep us on our toes!

Your career has seen you start as a car salesman to become Regional Director for Countrywide PLC to your current role as Head of Sales and Marketing at Cavanna Homes. How do you think these two jobs have helped you take on sales challenges at Cavanna Homes?

For me it’s all about the customer and customer focus. My team’s role is to support people in finding and buying their dream home, which is a huge decision for our customers, like buying a new car. It’s our job to ensure the customer receives the very best advice, guidance and support throughout the buying process. ., and at Cavanna Homes, we offer a personal service that really sets us apart.

I’ve always loved customer interaction and I’m passionate about staying hands-on, working alongside my sales and marketing teams to ensure we provide people with a positive experience they can confidently recommend.

How do you think being a family-run business strengthens the Cavanna brand?

Being a family-run business sets us apart from many of our competitors and is a real selling point for us. We’re not too big or too small, so we can react to the market as required and spend real quality time interacting with our customers.

The Cavanna ethos is firmly embedded into the firm and ensures we not only build homes, but also build communities, putting family at the heart of our homes to provide a solid foundation for years to come.

What's your sense of how the new-homes property market will perform in the areas you build in this year?

Last year was a challenge for many businesses, driven by uncertainty and reduced buyer confidence in the economy. However, this year we are already starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We are privileged to build in beautiful locations across the West Country, which has always been a sought-after destination, and we receive regular visits from people outside the south west looking to relocate.

Help To Buy is still a key enabler for many buyers, it will soon be changing format and we need to ensure this message gets to our customers so they don’t miss the opportunity where suitable.

In the last few years it is clear people have put off moving home but we firmly believe these people will start to filter back into the market as their deep-rooted needs for moving remain and confidence continues to grow.

The company has set a target of £100 million turnover by 2023 to celebrate its centenary year. What tricks have you got up your sleeve to achieve this ambitious target?

The countdown has begun for our centenary year and we have lots of exciting plans up our sleeves. My main priority is utilising my brilliant team to keep them engaged and empowered to drive the business forward.

We need to look after our customers and make sure our marketing and special offers remain fresh and current to entice in new audiences relevant to our target markets. Creating positive traction around our schemes such as Part Exchange and Move Assist will also help us to reach our 2023 goals.

We’ve secured fantastic locations across the West Country in the city, on the coast and in the countryside, so to get these developments up and running is a top priority. To get our show homes open to the public quicker, our site teams have, where necessary, changed the build format to construct the show home and first set of houses using timber frame, which has already proved to be beneficial.

Last year we increased the number of events we held with our buyers and potential buyers. This allowed us to secure a higher rate of reservations and build stronger relationships with our customers. We are keen to continue doing this as our new schemes open to support our ambitious target for 2023.

Do you think online promotion of new homes, such as digital marketing and online sales platforms, is becoming more valuable than face-to-face contact with customers?

More people than ever before have access to either a mobile phone, laptop or tablet, so for businesses such as ours, having a strong online and digital presence is vital to be seen and stand out in this busy sector. We are putting a lot of focus on our digital platforms, such as social media, to engage and build relationships with our potential client base.

Although online platforms provide a quick and efficient way of researching, contacting and engaging with a company, we do lose vital face-to-face contact which is important for many people who are about to purchase a new home.

It’s a very personal journey for many buyers, so my team works closely with them throughout the process to guide them through each stage and . This enables us to manage expectations. in the right way and to ensure a great customer journey which cannot be done online.

We’ve invested in a comprehensive training plan for our Sales Advisors and for our new schemes, we are hiring people from the local area so they can provide an insider’s opinion on the best places to visit and detailed information on the local community for people looking to relocate.

What are the latest trends in house design that you foresee becoming more popular in the next few years?

Twenty per cent of people cite environmental concerns as one of the top three key issues facing the country, according to research by the Home Builders Federation (HBF), which means many housebuilders nationally are looking at ways to ensure their new homes are as energy-efficient as possible.

We’re introducing NEST heating control systems to our new homes, starting with our Barley Meadow development in the coastal town of Dawlish, and excellent wall and loft insulation and double glazing come as standard in our new homes to keep them thermally efficient.

At our Broadleigh Park development in Tavistock, we have added electric car charging ports to a high majority of the new homes. to allow people with electric vehicles the convenience of charging them at home. This is a trend that we believe we will be seeing a lot more of in new housing developments as the push for more sustainable methods of travel increases.

There has been a significant shift in people’s lifestyles, which is reflected in flexible house layouts. We offer a selection of high-quality townhouses and family homes which provide flexibility to work from home with office space or entertain the family and young children on one level of the home with open plan living spaces. Spaces that flow in the home can accommodate modern life and still feel homely and intimate.

You mentioned that Cavanna Homes offers incentives to buyers such as Part Exchange and Help To Buy?

Our buying schemes include Part Exchange, Move Assist and we’re an approved Help To Buy builder. The Help To Buy scheme has been very popular with a lot of our first-time buyers and homeowners looking to upsize.

Recently an increasing number of our new homeowners have been utilising our Part Exchange scheme which removes much of the stress of moving home with no chains and allows buyers to stay in their current home until their new one is ready. We also cover the cost of agency fees, so it’s less costly for the buyer and helps them move home sooner.

We’ve also launched a show home leaseback scheme which enables people to buy one of our show homes and lease it back to us for the duration of use. This incentive is an attractive and easy, low-risk investment. As part of this scheme, we pay the buyer a yield of up to five per cent for the duration of the lease, typically over 24 months, and we cover the costs of maintenance during our use. Once we’ve finished selling the homes on that development, the show home is handed over to the new owner in a superb condition ready to move in or to let.

Cavanna Homes is proud of its 'Building Brilliance' initiative, what does this mean for your customers?

Our “Building Brilliance” ethos provides people with the confidence that they are buying from a reputable builder.

As part of this initiative, we ensure each home is built to the highest standard with exceptional levels of fitted features and improved energy efficiency.

We’re continually making improvements in all aspects including our house styles, the design and layout of our sites, and the interaction and support from our site teams and Sales Advisors.

We also provide initial customer support for two years after purchase and our new homes come with a ten-year NHBC or LABC Warranty, which provides our homeowners with added peace of mind. Our Trust Pilot reviews are a great reflection of the time and commitment we have put into providing excellent customer service to our home buyers.

What's the most helpful piece of advice you could give to somebody looking to buy a new home this year?

Engage fully with your developer and be honest with them about what you want and need to achieve from both moving home and your next home, and how it will enhance your life.

Make sure you have all the facts and look at what buying schemes you could benefit from, such as Help To Buy or Part Exchange.

The more we can understand what is important to you in looking for your new home, the better the job and service we can do.

For more information about Cavanna Homes visit www.cavannahomes.co.uk/.

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