Digmaa.com fills a void with its unique service.
Home construction may be one of the last industries to truly embrace technology, at least from a marketing perspective. Too many small- to mid-size builders don’t even have a Web presence, not to mention Facebook and Twitter. For a lot of builders, just communicating regularly can seem like a full-time job.
In an industry where more business is gained from customer satisfaction and referral than almost anything else, communicating effectively is often the difference between gaining or losing that referral.
Just ask Austin Mac Nab. “When I moved back to Iowa from California, I built a home in Waukee. It was the biggest expense of my life—and the worst experience of my life,” he explains.
What started out as an exciting adventure—stopping by the site to see the progress, taking pictures to document the activity—turned into the equivalent of a part-time job.
“My builder didn’t do a good job communicating with me about what was happening,” Mac Nab says, “so I made more than 30 trips out there and took over 500 photos myself. And I thought there just had to be a better way.”
But there wasn’t. So Mac Nab and friend and builder Mana Thongvanh created a solution themselves.
Digmaa.com, a communication platform, strives to provide the bridge between industry professionals and homeowners to keep everyone informed and up to date on a project’s progress.
“We don’t manage the build,” Mac Nab says. “There are other products out there that do that very well. Our goal is to enable builders and contractors to provide updates and to help homeowners keep that sense of excitement about their project.”
Mac Nab and Thongvanh spent about a year developing their concept and working on the software, as well as testing it with a number of builders, before launching Digmaa.com this past January. Available nationwide, Digmaa offers several membership levels to professionals and home buyers and functions like a search engine for ongoing and past projects.
“We’ve had great response already,” he says. “The builders who tested Digmaa and who have signed on have given us overwhelmingly positive feedback.”
The site with its construction-style icons and clear layout takes just minutes to learn. And a mobile app makes it accessible from anywhere on nearly any device. Members can set up an account, take photos on their phones, and upload them to a project. Within minutes, Digmaa takes care of the rest.
Mac Nab explains, “Everything is linked according to the member’s preferences— Facebook, Twitter, email. When a member adds photos, video, or updates to a project, all linked accounts are updated—the home buyer, the Realtor, the subcontractors. Digmaa even sends reminders to make sure the builder updates the project information regularly according to the time frame specified in the account. Members can also request that subcontractors get reminders to update the project.”
Those who’ve used the program quickly recognize its value and the convenience it offers. In fact, this year’s HomeShowExpo used Digmaa.com to allow the public to view the progress of Expo homes prior to the event. The HomeShowExpo account was viewed more than 20,000 times in the weeks it was live prior to the show.
Mac Nab says “The construction industry lacks technology overall. And builders, especially, need to incorporate it in order to grow their business. We wanted to close a gap in a simple way, and Digmaa does that.”
Whether you’re a builder, subcontractor, industry professional, or a potential customer just browsing, Mac Nab and Thongvanh, along with partner Zack Songkham, have addressed every aspect of the process.
Homeowners can create a “locker” on Digmaa to store photos, plans, and information about builders and contractors whose work they like. They can read articles with tips about the construction process, home design, and maintenance. Professionals can create business profiles to display their work, linking to contractors and projects. Home buyers can view the progress of their own project on a daily basis with updates from builders and contractors, which gives them a record of not only the building process but the products and services used on the home. When their project is complete, the contents of their “lockers” can be saved to a .ZIP file for future reference.
“Sometimes when you’re caught up in creating something, you can overlook the experience side of it,” Mac Nab says. “Builders can do that without even realizing it, and homeowners end up like I did—having the worst experience of their life on one of the biggest projects of their life.”
Digmaa.com hopes to easily resolve that problem, keeping the communication open and timely without adding more work for the builder.
“Just keeping the communication going can turn that experience around for a customer,” Mac Nab says, “because they feel like they’re part of the process again.”
And that’s where the referrals come from.