Category Archives: Custom Homebuilding

The Independence Equilibrium

How to Find the Right Balance in the Home-Building Industry

With our most celebrated national holiday upon us, we at The Contrado Group have been thinking about Independence quite a bit lately. Yes, we’ve also been looking forward to breaking out the BBQ, floating around on that unused raft, and maybe even playing with some fireworks. We will be celebrating our country’s Day of Independence – the day our Founding Fathers came together and drafted a revolutionary document declaring our freedom and our independence from our British ancestors. So we asked: what does that have to do with us in the home-building industry? How can we apply such a monumental moment in history to us? And most importantly, how do we find the right balance that will enhance efficiency for all?

First, we must acknowledge that Independence Inevitably Leads to Innovation. In embracing your individuality as a company (or as a person, for that matter), you will be surprised at how many new ideas you have and how much new material you can actually create. Take our Founding Fathers for example. Not only did they fight in an actual decade-long war for their freedoms, but after their triumphant victory they created the “Declaration of Independence,” they established the US Constitution (“We the People”), and in general had a pretty successful American Revolution. They were pioneers. In declaring Independence like they did, you are virtually breaking through the old dysfunctional way of doing things, and embracing change and newness as your Modus Operandi. And the final objective? Self-sufficiency… on your terms. This is the bread and butter of the American Dream and of what being successful means in our society today, applicable to both to the individual and the organization.

Second, we must recognize that Independence ≠ Isolation. Think of our industry as an ecosystem. Each member contributes to the overall operational efficiency of the system, which as it turns out, is paramount for saving time and money and for producing the best results. Who does your architectural planning, drawings, & renderings? Who does your marketing, and your selling?  You may need to re-evaluate your game plan. Being over-independent often results in the dreaded Silo-Effect (dun dun dunnnnnnn!): operating in isolation. This leads to little/no communication and an almost guaranteed increased inefficiency. In most of these all-too-similar cases, being over-independent indirectly cuts you off from valuable resources and other members of our “ecosystem,” who are there to give feedback, bounce new ideas off of, and in essence help you grow.

So, how do we find the Independence Equilibrium?

  1. INNOVATE: We must create space for the innovation that independence breeds. Within your company’s means, ask yourself what you can do differently to maximize operational efficiency.
  2. COLLABORATE: We must find the Pioneers, the Innovators, and the Front-Runners and we must collaborate with them. Outsourcing key parts of our processes, people, and technologies to these guys will yield better results than trying to figure it out on our own – one-stop-shops and multi-taskers welcome!
  3. NETWORK: We must keep in constant contact with the members of our ecosystem, the other home-building industry professionals. There is a big chance they might have the solution you are looking for.
  4. EMBRACE CHANGE: We must declare our Independence from the old dysfunction! The plus side for home-building professionals? We don’t need to fight a 10-year war and risk death for our revolution.

Start The Dialogue With Future Customers

Engaging At A Prospective Level – Creating Dialogue

Dialogue marketing is a term that has emerged in recent years to describe companies’ efforts to engage willing consumers in an ongoing dialogue to create lasting relationships. For example, based on data, marketers target groups of consumers who exhibit a propensity to buy and invite them to connect with the company in a variety of ways. The engagement process provides value to both the consumer and the company. Marketers use these opportunities as automated data collection points. The companies use the data to further customize their marketing messages and personalize the experience for their consumers and market segments. In exchange for sharing opinions, buying patterns, product preferences, etc., consumers receive perks such as discounts, tips, and free trials as well as appropriate and valuable messaging from the company.

History of Dialogue Marketing

Dialogue marketing can track its roots to permission marketing and relationship marketing, and is similar to engagement marketing and double-loop marketing. A direct reaction to traditional push marketing, the goal of dialogue marketing is to develop ongoing and long-lasting relationships with the right consumers.

Dialogue marketing is based on the premise that engaging consumers in relevant and personal conversations is more important than ever. As technology arms consumers with new ways to ignore messaging, disconnect from branding and disengage from the marketplace altogether; marketers believe that connecting on a personal level with consumers who do or will buy because the company resonates with them helps companies differentiate themselves and stand out as leaders in the marketplace.

Gone Are The Days Of Push Marketing

Online Engagement

When one can provide content online that is of value to a prospective client, they tend to be more inclined to be willing to exchange more information about themselves and their interests. Now more than ever, we have to differentiate ourselves from the sea of information that is online. For example, in order to capture any interest at all, a website must be able to convey the message of a company’s product or services with in six seconds of viewing. On top of that, there needs to be interactive triggers that will engage the viewer. This can as simple as more detailed product information as a link, or as complex as using an interactive floor planning tool.

Interactive Space Planner

Click On Image To Go To Space Planner

We have witnessed but a vast many changes in the way we go to market, from the push marketing styles of the 1950′s to one of engagement through the use of many forms of today’s media. The key to reaching today’s consumer is to first have a product that is right for the targeted demographics. However, this is only the first step of a well thought out market strategy. Part of any successful marketing plan is to be able to have an engaging process that begins the critical first steps of building the initial relationship. This means a marketing plan that has key ingredients which will provide value-based online content to begin the all important beginning steps of the customer relationship – the dialogue.

Hybrid Marketing For Home Builders

Combine Traditional Media with an Interactive Digital Experience

Today we’re seeing a combination of forces merging into a singular platform that allows for a prospective homeowner to be more informed, engaged, and excited about their new home  even before they set foot in the community. With the varied tools available online from social media to interactive floor plans, one can easily get a fairly good grasp of a the type of home they are interested in purchasing. What can trigger this interest is the use of traditional media formats such as T.V., Radio, Print, and Outdoor. However traditional campaigns can be tricky in measuring the return on investment.

With a Hybrid Marketing approach, greater emphasis is placed on the reliance of a prospect seeking key informational components of the buying process. These components can be related to the geographical area, community, plat map, floor plans, and other critical areas to be considered when making a home purchase decision. One of these areas would be the actual floor plan selection and the associative options with that plan. Interactive Floor Plans (IFP) is a perfect way to engage a prospective homeowner online to make various option selections at their leisure.  In making these selections, the prospective client can save their favorite floor plans to their e-mail address which in turn begins the Hybrid Marketing Cycle from a Pull Marketing style approach.

As the saved floor plan is sent to the prospect’s email address, a copy of the saved floor plan is sent to the builder for future reference. Not only does this allow for a better prepared sales agent, but a builder can begin to assess through analytics which types of floor plans and options are right for a given community. With this data, a builder can optimize the right floor plan / option mix in a community and cut costly plan maintenance for under performing floor plans.

Customer Discovery Center – The Meeting of Two Worlds (Digital / Print)

Here’s where the magic takes place! Instead of being handed a registration card as way to gain access into the model park, and agent is already prepared with the floor plans that a prospect has saved. If this is not the case, then an agent can walk the future homeowner through the Customer Discover Center. This is a large format presentation (1080p) on a wide screen of the community, site plan, interactive floor plans, key builder information, and more.

 

The prospect will be given the opportunity to view various floor plans and options. Upon various selections, the agent will then be able to print a customized eBrochure for the client to place into the Hybrid Kit. Of course, before the customized floor plan is printed, the agent asks if the prospetive homeowner would like to have the floor plan saved to their email address. In which case, an eLead has been entered into the sales agent’s system. This same saved floor plan can be forwarded by the prospective homeowner to family and friends which in turn can create referral sales.

With the Customer Discovery Center, Interactive Floor Plans, and Print On Demand, home builders can provide a very engaging platform for prospective home owners that allow for them to control the buying process. Gone are the days of push marketing that relies on factoring a small percentage of success of a massive expensive ad campaign. Now we can rely on solid data of our target market, and focus our valuable marketing resource dollars upon those who are truly interested in purchasing our products.

Is There a Map of Your World?

Merely thinking about the incredible process-maze that goes into building and marketing a community of single-family homes can make your head spin – let alone maneuvering through it day in and day out.  Even those who are veteran builders struggle with navigating the building-process-highway in search of a better track to get where they want to go.  A solution to consider is to map out your current processes without missing even the slightest detour you take with each build.  This kind of evaluation will help identify areas where more efficient routes, which may mean new technologies or systems, can be easily integrated to improve your highest goals such as time-to-market cycles, error reduction, and more.

IPM Studio Model Chart

One of the single best avenues to explore on your journey to better efficiencies is via Integrated Process Management (IPM). IPM is a performance-driven approach  that integrates people, processes and technologies into powerful innovative solutions.  Builders who have traveled this course over the last year or so are finding great momentum in many areas important to achieving success today:  time-to-market (TTM) cycles (decreased by 50% on average), staff productivity and morale,  customer satisfaction, cash flow, profits and more.  By mapping your world, or business processes, you are taking the necessary steps in gaining control of your critical front-end to back-end methods and; therefore, are becoming better equipped and highly efficient – using the smallest amount of resources for a bigger return.  A clear and detailed business process map or illustration allows an outside firm such as The Contrado Group to come in and look at whether or not improvements can be made to your current process.  In most businesses today, progress can always be made.  Identifying your organization’s overall objectives helps ensure that all processes are aligned and results-driven.


So, if the road your company is on is the same winding course with starts and stops, it’s surely time to seriously consider a new route — a road that’s paved with less uncertainty and more profitability.Before a company utilizes IPM by The Contrado Group, the map (right-hand) is colored with a large variety of communication paths indicating the traditional building process from conceptual to sale.  After instituting IPM (left side), the process is now streamlined providing for fewer errors, a faster track, and more efficiencies – again, using the smallest amount of resources for a bigger return.

Integrated Process Management (IPM) is the mission at The Contrado Group. Building a project is a complex process, but the art and science of effective and efficient operational systems to get it done don’t need to be.

The Contrado Group’s phased IPM system seamlessly flows from the hand-off of design, to marketing, to sales options, to community close-out.


 

Strategic Partner Alliances with The Contrado Group

Sales Simplicity a Sales CRM Company for Homebuilders & Big Red Rooster Architectural Services

 

We have been working with the Sales Simplicity team for the last few months to fully integrate our Interactive Floor Plan (IFP) tool’s eLead functionality. Essentially, we have developed our Interactive Floor Plans to have seamless integration of leads into Sales Simplicity’s CRM with XML feeds. So, as soon as a prospect “saves” a floor plan from the IFP, the information is sent to the eLeads portion of the Sales Simplicity’s program.

Interactive Floor Plan

(click on picture to view)

 At which point, the sales agent is notified via e-mail that they have a lead to follow up with along with “saved” floor plan from the prospect for viewing. This will also allow for a marketing program workflow to commence too. At which point, the sales agent can begin the dialog with the prospect and make the sales!

 Agent Making Sales with IFP”s and Sales Simplicity

“We have truly enjoyed our partnering in the market with The Contrado Group. Our customers have seen the need to capture key information while the prospect is viewing homes online. Now we have a way to capture this information such as floor plans, elevations, and options for our clients. I foresee our alliance to be value-add for all of our customers” say, Barry Forbes President of Sales Simplicity.

 

Big Red Rooster, a global brand experience firm, announced that Don Hasulak has joined the company as Managing Director, heading the firm’s newly formed Phoenix office which is also a part of The Contrado Group’s facilities. Hasulak will be responsible for overseeing the expansion of the Big Red Rooster offer into the Architectural and Construction Services segment focusing on Planning and Design, Documentation, and Implementation.

“The addition of Architectural Services to the Big Red Rooster portfolio is a natural evolution,” states Aaron Spiess, President, Big Red Rooster. “Bringing this service in-house ensures our clients a world-class, seamless experience from design through to implementation.”

“As an architect, and as a business leader, I understand the interplay between form and function, and have a keen ability to reveal hidden costs within a project,” notes Hasulak. “The exciting piece of this for me is having the opportunity to work more directly with clients, bringing my real-world retail experience to every project.”

Previously, Hasulak served as Managing Director at FITCH, providing leadership for clients such as airport concessionaire OTG, Disney Regional Entertainment, and T-Mobile. Don began his career as owner and operator of the largest casework manufacturer in the Southwest. A registered architect, Don holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Architecture from Cornell.

About Big Red Rooster

Founded in 2002 by Martin Beck and Aaron Spiess, Big Red Rooster (www.bigredrooster.com) is known globally as a brand experience firm, focusing on the retailing, manufacturing, food service, healthcare, and service sectors. Activating shopper insights to transform brand experiences, Big Red Rooster’s client roster includes world-class brands such as Home Depot, American Express, Jack Daniels, Wrigley, SC Johnson & Son, Office Depot, and Nike. Big Red Rooster is the founding member of RoosterGroup Partners, a consortium of firms that create impact at the decision point where shoppers, retailers, and manufacturers meet.

 

 

Life, Home Building, A Cup of Coffee

In last few months, I have had a few friends pass away at very early ages. Nothing like having someone close to you or a good friend pass away to put perspective in our lives.

Enjoy The Coffee

 As we all grind away in the Home Building Industry, it’s easy to have pity parties and talk about the “good ol’e days”. To be stuck in the past will only delay the reform that must take place in our industry. For these are the by-products of tough times:
  • Innovation
  • New Products & Services
  • Steamlining of Processes
  • Efficiencies

After the space race and world wars, we as a nation had developed many new products that we use today due the pressures in those eras.

So, let us all look upon these trying times as a source to grow and appreciate the day, our work, our friends, our family, and this GREAT country.

This clip is beneficial for all of us. Enjoy!

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