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Monitor your home construction in real-time

Property development company Martell Home Builders uses social-media tools to provide complete transparency to its customers and make good on its promise to deliver projects on time and on budget.

Four years ago, co-founder Pierre Martell had a vision to build a company that would help buyers navigate the unknowns in the property development business, and provide unmatched, real-time access into the process.

The property development industry is plagued with negative perceptions and it is often criticized for exceeding budgets and timelines. Mr. Martell wanted to do something different: prove that not all construction companies are alike.

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Moncton-based Martell Home Builders launched a 99 Day Construction Countdown using social media to provide customers with access to progress being made on their property.

"Social media provides a culture of transparency and honesty that all small businesses should embrace. It allows companies that have good branding, clear messaging and excellent products to gain credibility," Mr. Martell says. "It is now possible to connect with our customers on a personal level, resolve issues in real time and become more efficient in our business practices."

Instead of asking customers to frequently visit their new property building sites, Mr. Martell brings those sites to them. Through a custom built website, customers get up-to-date changes and upgrades to their building plans. They also have access to a personal page that shows the status of the build along with images, videos, alerts about coming deadlines and customization options that you can subscribe to through an RSS feed.

The company has been able to address any quality issues in real time. Mr. Martell stresses the importance of monitoring the Martell Home Builders brand reputation through online channels.

"It's about great customer service. If a problem arises we are able to deal with it immediately. This maintains our credibility and shows customers that we can live up to the values upon which our brand is built. Conversations are happening about your brand every day. It's important you become part of those conversations."

Another unique offering is the Where's My Contractor? service that enables customers to track their contractor online. The contactor's truck is outfitted with a GPS system and video feed. When you search for contractors you can find them on the map and talk to them with a webcam stationed inside their vehicles. It's paying off. More than 80 per cent of Martell Home Builders' sales come from referrals and the company believes a huge reason is the open and transparent way it does business with customers.

It's a competitive market and businesses such as Martell Home Builders have figured out how to differentiate themselves and leverage online tools to engage customers in ways never thought possible in the property development industry.

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Mr. Martell acknowledges that providing transparency is difficult, but adds that if you are offering customers the best services and quality of work, it can have a huge impact on the bottom line.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mia Pearson is the co-founder of North Strategic . She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing communications agencies, and her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle.

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About the Author
Social and Earned Media Columnist

A combination of entrepreneurial spirit and timing led Mia Pearson to co-found North Strategic, a communications agency built on the belief that social needs to be integrated into everything you do. A serial entrepreneur, Ms. More

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