Category Archives: Change

Corporate vs. Local

How Finding Balance is Crucial to Home Builder Success


For the local branches of corporate regional and national builders, a large part of their success relies on finding the right balance of control and autonomy. But there is a distinguishable line between having needed autonomy, and going “rogue” and losing ties to the corporate strength. The importance and true value of both the corporate influence and the local influence are undeniable, but the balance between the two is the most crucial component: it’s what most builders struggle with. Actively trying to achieve the perfect balance will make your business more competitive, and it will gear you in the right direction for long-term success both for your corporate entity and your local one.

The corporate/local relationship is not unlike a parent/child relationship – similar to how parents provide rules, structure, and guidance for their children, corporate provides structure and a set of systems that have been tried and true for their success as a whole: standards, training, rules and guidelines, and expertise that only comes with many years of industry experience. Corporate must identify the people, processes, and technology for its little local branch. They’ve already created the mission statement, the branding and logos — they’ve built the foundation on which the local builder must build upon (pun intended). Without the standards and systems, local branches would be orphans, starting from scratch and having to do a trial-and-error for everything until finally getting it right – ultimately wasting precious time and resources.

But what about the other side of the coin? Should corporate be synonymous with “cookie cutter”? Or have a “my way or the highway” attitude? I would suggest not. Too many structures and constricting systems can be so anti-productive that they end up suffocating the voices and ambitions of those at the individual level who actually know what they are doing and want to make a change for the better, fulfilling corporate’s original intent using local knowledge and resources.

Product is simply not the same in each state, let alone city. History, climate, style, market, and economy all have huge implications in the marketplace, and especially in homebuilding. Being able to choose land based on local knowledge and market trends is an invaluable resource that corporate often discredits. But the national corporate builder is not omnipresent enough to actually know everything about each individual local market. That’s the beauty of having a local branch where you can really “have feet on the street” and get the scoop that the locals only know – the local expertise based on a national model – when done right it has the ability to create a lot of local success and corporate a lot more money. Local vendors and local expertise that are aligned with corporate brand standards, values, and policies will always yield the best results.

There is a tension between the overarching corporate objectives and the local autonomy of a branch. But instead of feeding the tension and making a situation (that is here to stay) MORE unproductive, proactively creating systems to maintain a balance instead of a strain will yield the best results for the local and for the corporate. We’ve seen the two extremes: the rogues that can’t color within the lines, and the dependents that can’t seem to the leave the nest. And although each Corporate vs. Local situation is unique, the bottom line is that being aware of this need for balance and of a good relationship between corporate and local is, at the very least, a first step in the right direction.

 

Jump-Starting 2014

Why You Should Use the School Year to Get a Head-Start on Next Year’s “Business Resolutions”

We all know the feeling – the double-edged sword that the end of the year brings. On one hand you have a sense of hope for the new year to come; on the other hand you’re probably feeling a little guilty or anxious about all of this year’s resolutions that never came to fruition. Wouldn’t it be great to avoid those negative feelings entirely?

Some write out long lists of things they want to change or improve — both personally and professionally — others have a few simple things they know they want to work on but haven’t gotten around to. Regardless of strategy, New Year’s Resolutions are a pretty common part of starting off the New Year, and sometimes without realizing we are setting ourselves up for failure.

Starting on those resolutions now, at the beginning of another type of year – the academic year – will benefit you in a few ways.

Start the Lists Now. You will also most likely have several lists – to-do lists, checklists – for the new school year: New books to purchase, new professors to meet with, old friends to catch up with, new classes to sign up for. Why not start the business-equivalent checklists now? New learning/training materials to purchase for your staff, new schedules and meeting plans to create, new strategy or brainstorming sessions, meeting new business partners, and listing new customers or clients you would like to meet. Regardless of what your business goals are, try forecasting what you will want to change in January, and start now. You will definitely thank yourself come 2014.

Get Prepared Now. Sometimes the more prepared you are, the more likely you are to succeed. Think of it as training before football season starts – you can start training once the season starts, but you will be a disadvantage compared to your teammates that spent their summers at football camp.  Just like getting your body in shape for the upcoming sports season, you are getting your business healthy and prepared before the beginning of the New Year.

Benefits of Starting Today:

  • You will have a head start in the game – not only with your fellow resolutionists (aka competitors), but also with yourself.
  • You won’t be as overwhelmed with all the “newness” buzz that the New Year brings.
  • You will probably feel much more encouraged to continue on with your resolutions after a few months of determination and progress.
  • You will have more room in your life for personal resolutions come 2014!

The bottom line is preparation, and the more thorough preparation you have accomplished by December, the more likely you will be efficient and actually complete your goals next year.

Good luck!

 

Declare Independence from Tradition!

Embracing 21st Century Technology in our 20th Century Industry
(Or, why we do things differently at Contrado)

Thomas Jefferson once said that he liked “the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” He knew what they needed: independence from traditional political, economic, and religious oppression. By writing the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, he was expressing the convictions that were in the hearts of the American people – the need for change.

1.  Understand that People Are Afraid of Change. When was the last time you changed the course that you were on? “Change” is a broad word that we can apply to many different things… a birth, a loss, a move, a new opinion, a new job. But ultimately it is a departure from tradition – which leads to a new way of doing things. For example, the change our nation went through during the 1700’s, despite being fought by many, led to a whole new world of possibilities and fresh starts. Regardless, change usually freaks us out. Whether it’s Good Change or Bad Change, we as humans are naturally afraid of the unknown. We fear failure. We feel doubtful about the possible outcomes. But we have to remember we always have options, and we can always CHANGE the outcomes. You don’t have to settle. “Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.” – Dalai Lama

2.  Understand the Technology. If we think of change as a software upgrade, what software are you in need of, right now? Do you need better online engagement with prospects, for example? Do you need to build more homes with limited resources? Do you need better software to help you meet your customer’s exact needs? If you don’t know, evaluate what isn’t working. Then inform yourself!  You can start by asking the question, what are the best tools out there for what I need right now? If you go beyond word-of-mouth and previous methods into the world of uncovering the new, you will find services, systems, software, companies, and tools that you have never even heard of (like Contrado’s new HTML5 Interactive Floor Plan system!). What are today’s game-changers? Incorporating iPad technology into their homes? Making it easier for you to do your job? Building homes in half the time? You will be surprised at how much newness is flooding the industry.

3.  Understand that nothing will change unless you Try Something New. Times they are a-changin’! We are living in an exciting time where technology seems to be accelerating at the speed of light, and we will be left in the dark if we don’t try to keep up. In other words: have you ever heard someone say that the definition of insanity is ‘doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results’? Trying new things can be scary folks, but how can you improve without even a little bit of change? Traditional tactics in the Revolutionary War ultimately failed the British; the revolutionaries were outnumbered, so they developed guerilla warfare to outmaneuver their red-coated opponents. They were forced to innovate the way they battled – thinking differently, operating more efficiently, using what they had and just going with it – which led them to victory.

You have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  So if after all of this you don’t do it for you, do it for our Founding Fathers!

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.

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