SC Biz News is speaking with small businesses and community leaders about the impact of the new coronavirus on business and industry, and how this is changing how they operate.
Contact Andy Owens, [email protected], with any questions or ideas.
Cassie Cataline, director of marketing for Nexton, said the master-planned community’s goal during the new coronavirus pandemic is to make life as easy as possible for future residents.
“We understand that there are people that need to move,” Cataline said. “There are military orders or for whatever other reason. So really our mission in all this is to make sure that those folks get … a virtual warm blanket.”
Nexton has closed its greeting house and information center, but Cataline said the community is still “fully open and fully available” by phone, text message or online chat.
“We’re seeing our web traffic increasing,” she said. “Clearly, obviously, our in-person traffic is stopped because we have closed the doors to the info center.”
Nexton’s model homes remain open by appointment, and staff has been conducting virtual tours of its homes with potential buyers.
“They’re trying very hard to go deeper with each customer that comes in via chat or text or email or phone calls so that they understand their needs, try and shorten the cycle and get them to the builders that have the most appropriate product for them,” Cataline said.
Nexton currently has between 25 and 30 homes ready for residents to move into.
Cataline said the questions that Nexton has received from residents and potential homebuyers over the past few weeks aren’t vastly different from questions typically asked prior to the COVID-19 pandemic — they’re just being asked on different platforms.
For example, she said, the live chat function of the website used to be a bit buried, but now it’s a big part of Nexton’s website experience.
“Luckily we had a lot of these tools in place,” Cataline said. “They might not have been front and center on the website, but we’ve sort of done a really quick job of getting the tools in front of people.”
Going into the pandemic, Nexton had some of its best sales weeks to date, and Cataline said she expects the Lowcountry economy to rebound when life returns to normal.
“No one, obviously, can predict the timing,” she said. “But, you know, we’ve got our hospitality industry, it’s strong. Our tourism industry is strong. Our job market is strong. … It’s going to come back around and, hopefully for Charleston, it’ll come back around quicker than some other areas.”
Cataline said she’s been heartened to see the Nexton community coming together and supporting each other despite not being able to have the neighborly contact people are used to.
“They’re doing front porch sing-alongs and trying to really sort of boost morale and keep each other virtually entertained,” she said. “You know, being very respectful of the social distancing but at the same time, I think really come together beautifully as a community.”l