Play to Win: Use the Lure of Big Builders to Create Opportunities for Your Home Building Projects

Large home builders are called “national” builders for a reason they’re big and they’re everywhere. Even if you aren’t competing with them directly, you’re likely competing with them indirectly. 

For smaller builders that can be daunting, but competition is good. It can bring out the best in those who embrace it and even has some advantages. 

Big builders have big reach and big resources. While smaller builders may not have either of those aces, they have plenty of other cards to play. Use the advantages of being a smaller builder to compete and win your share of the pot. Here’s how: 

Feed off a national builder’s traffic.

Your national competitors are spending big bucks on marketing initiatives and advertising to drive prospective buyers to their neighborhoods. Once they’re in the neighborhoods, those buyers tend to look around a bit, and that means shopping other nearby home builders – like you. That’s a nice opportunity created for you, and it hasn’t cost you a dime. 

For example, if a large builder drives 100 units of traffic to their community in a week, it’s unlikely they’re going to sell 100 homes. If 20 of those happen to pop into your model and you sell to one or two, that’s business won. 

Be different.

When big competitors deliver prospective buyers to your door, you need to be ready. Show them something they didn’t see in the last model they toured — something truly unique. 

Whether it’s an approach, a design feature or an upgrade option, you need to be appealing and memorable in a way national home builders aren’t. In other words, you need to find your niche. 

The best way to do that is to understand your market better than the competition does, and then deliver a product that speaks to their needs. Being “not them” is the best thing you’ve got going for you. Make sure your buyer sees and understands what makes you, you. 

Think value, not price.

Your big-builder competitors are all about volume. They buy land in bulk, have purchasing power with suppliers and contractors you can’t match and have dialed-in processes that can make them pretty economical. That means you probably can’t beat them on direct cost — so don’t. Beat them with value-driven home building instead. 

Not every shopper is a “lowest-price” buyer. For many, it’s about having the right location, design and amenities. While buyers may prefer the lowest price, they’re just fine paying a competitive price as long as they get the home and community that best meets their needs. 

Be flexible.

Buyers want what they want, and everything you can do to deliver it to them is a competitive advantage. Oftentimes that means differentiating from big builders by offering more flexibility. For smaller builders, especially those in the 55+ market, there’s a big group of buyers who are transitioning from a custom home. They liked the layout, the features and the finishes and they don’t want to give those things up when they downsize. 

Big builders with restricted floor plans and limited choices can’t cater to every buyer. But smaller builders can offer flexibility in design and finish options. With a few personal accommodations and enough flexibility to give buyers what they want, you might just earn their business. 


Competitive markets drive innovation, and home building is no different. The more competition there is in your market, the more you need to be doing things better, smarter and faster. 

Once national builders have a solution that works, they tend to stick with it. That’s an advantage for smaller local and regional builders. That complacency presents an opportunity to find the gaps they’re not filling.  

Think local.

In today’s market, “local” is popular. People like the idea of buying locally sourced products and doing business with people in their community. Some companies center their entire marketing strategy around it. 

You don’t necessarily have to go all-in on local, but if buying from homegrown companies is something people value in your market, make sure they know you’re the local builder. 

Be less.

Sometimes less really is more. That’s something that you can capitalize on as a smaller builder. 

For example, many of the big master-planned developments are based around golf courses. That’s great for golfers, but not necessarily for those who’ve decided to downsize their lifestyle along with their home. They just moved from one of those communities and they’re ready for a little less — reduced noise and traffic, fewer streets and lower costs. You might have just the right size community they’re looking for. 

Create community.

To many buyers, community means more than a collection of homes – it means people. These buyers want to know their neighbors. They want to stop for a chat while they’re out walking and start a pick-up game at the pickleball courts. 

This is an advantage of being a smaller builder. That sense of community is something you can create, while bigger builders can only simulate it. Marketing that difference is a way to capture more of their share of the market and dominate the local market as a smaller builder. 

Be responsive.

Smaller builders are nimbler and can be more responsive. Giving buyers your full attention can result in not only the sale, but loyalty in the long term. 

If your client has specific questions or concerns about floor plans, you may be willing and able to help. Bigger builders usually won’t be able to help. That’s because 700 questions are a lot more to manage than seven. Because you have this advantage in size and commitment, you can be responsive to a degree bigger builders just can’t.  

Keep it clean.

Another differentiator that may seem small but can turn out to be big is presentation. As a smaller builder who can exercise greater control over your community, you can make sure the cleanliness and orderliness of the site gets proper attention. 

There are prospective buyers touring your community all the time. You may not see them, and they may not look like buyers because they’re just driving by, but their first impression is important. If they see overgrown weeds, disorganized piles of materials and overflowing trash bins, they’ll make a judgment about your company and your community. 

Don’t give your competitors an edge in the first-impression department. Keep everything outside your sales center as tidy as the inside so buyers will want to stop by and stay a while. 

Band together.

The best way to take on something big is to band together. It’s something Epcon Franchise Builders do every day to compete with their national counterparts. 

Small-builder franchisees from across the country combine their expertise and buying power to flatten out steep learning curves. They also share and implement best practices that can make taking on big competitors a lot less daunting. If you’re thinking about how to dominate your local market, there are many benefits of collaborating with Epcon Franchising 

You have every opportunity to compete with the national builders in your market –– they’re even helping you do it.  To get started, reach out to our team to learn about our network of builders across the country, and the support we provide to help them compete in the 55+ niche in their markets. Of course, if you follow our formula, you may not be a smaller builder for long! 

About Epcon

Headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, Epcon is a leading 55+ home building franchise in the United States. For more than 35 years, Epcon has integrated smart, innovative new home designs with the most desirable modern amenities popular with 55+ home buyers. A growing home building business or real estate development company can leverage Epcon Franchising’s proven home designs, technology, marketing and sales resources. Epcon Franchise Builders are given a competitive advantage to build smarter and scale faster in the 55+ home building market. Epcon is ranked on Builder 100 as a top U.S. home builder and the Franchise Times Top 400 list, has ranked on Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 and has won multiple product and design awards from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Learn more about what we offer.