Category Archives: Technology

5 Reasons You Should Be Warming Up To Home Automation Technology

Sometimes when a new trend comes around, it might be wise to follow along without putting all of your eggs in that new trend’s basket. This is especially true with new ground-breaking technologies, as sometimes it is hard to tell if they will stick around longer than a year. However, it might be wiser to do some research on the new trend and the current technology climate, in order to get to know more about the trends, the game-changers, and how to differentiate the two. After doing some of our own research on Home Automation Technology, here are 5 reasons we believe this trend is in fact a game-changer, and is here to stay:

1) Kids are embracing technology at ever younger ages.

So much so, that teachers are now supplied with “skill builders” to stay ahead of the curve (or maybe they’re just trying to keep up). If you have any kids of your own, you too may understand how true this actually is. Check out this video – it’s a perfect example of what we’re talking about. These are the customers of your future, don’t you think they will want a “Smart Home” by the time they are ready to buy? And what about your customers today?  Does your R and D department explore home technologies beyond “lifestyle” options like casitas and master closet placement? Maybe it’s time to think like your inner young person, and embrace your inner child that ooooh’s and ahhhh’s over 21st technology that you never thought possible as a kid.

2) Companies around the world are equipping their offices with automation technology.

You could say that they are preparing for the inevitable — a world where technology is the norm for almost every function, every day. Our advice? Use these new automation technologies and update them regularly, and for goodness sake — lose your dependence on the fax machine! Aren’t you sick of this happening in the office? Needless to say, the change needs to begin at the top of the organization, with upper management leading by example. Provide adequate tools to help folks adjust to change, and more importantly explain why changes in technology are beneficial, to both the organization and the individual.  This is helpful for co-workers, but most of all it greatly benefits the consumer as well, who is probably not interested in living in a new home with outdated technology! The more home automation technologies and options you have available, the more it will show that your company practices what they preach.

3) There is money left on the table, just waiting for someone to grab it.

With new technology comes new opportunity. Jumping on the bandwagon may make you a few extra dollars, but being a pioneer of new technology will make you a game-changer (and many many dollars)! Mastering home automation technology, or any groundbreaking technology for that matter, will place you as a viable and deserving contender of the money left on the table. Once you’ve done your research on the specific technology, taking the risk may bring your company to a different playing field entirely.

4) Continuous learning keeps you young and relevant.

Although it may require you to be comfortable with being uncomfortable for a short while, wouldn’t you agree that learning keeps to you sharp and relevant? Everyone gets uncomfortable when they have to leave their comfort zone. Don’t the be one to rely on TV ads only (when there are so many more current ways to engage with your customer) just because it is what you know. Online engagement with your potential customers, for example, has been proven to help homebuilders understand what is in demand. If you knew what your homebuyers wanted, wouldn’t you do everything to give it to them?

5) Technology provides an enhanced customer experience.

Not only does it include the “ooooh’s” and “ahhhhh’s” we mentioned earlier, but it engages your customer in a way like never before. The options available, the flexibility of choice, and the novelty of customization come together for an amazing customer experience in creating the home they’ve dreamed of. Allowing homebuyers to customize their homes using today’s design technology will bring homebuilders up to par with the other industries that are booming along with online technology. If home automation technology isn’t enough to get you on board, then you might just miss the boat!

Just like the summers in Arizona, you can warm up to new home automation technology!

The Harsh Winter is Over – The Springtime of HTML5 Has Arrived

HTML5 technology is new, fresh, and now gaining wide acceptance and support on all platforms. Why now? Because the supply is finally catching up to the demand — the demand created by web users everywhere to be able to browse on all of their devices.

As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.

Technology continues to evolve at an alarming rate, and our options for browsing online have tripled in the last decade alone. Desktops and laptops, tablets, and a spectrum of smart phones – all using browsers that only supported Flash. But Flash wasn’t made for our multitude of viewing devices, and that’s when HTML5 was born.

HTML5 proves to be the next logical step for interactive and viewing technology.

As the snow melts and the flowers bloom, we find ourselves in the “springtime” of HTML5, a standard that is now feasible because people demand it, and the supply follows — all modern browsers are now supporting it at to a greater or lesser degree.

At Contrado we use HTML5 to allow our customers to give their homebuyers the freedom of interactive technology anywhere and everywhere. Homebuyers can view their interactive floor plans, elevations, and exteriors at home on their laptops, on tablets at sales centers, and even on their phones while on site looking at their lot. HTML5 increases the end-user’s exposure to the amazing products that their homebuilders provide, in a meaningful and impactful way — definitely game-changing when it comes to accessibility.

If you want your content to be available to everyone and anyone, everywhere and anywhere, HTML5 is how to adapt.

It is what allows us to provide optimal visibility for everything. Responsive design, flexible content delivery, having your content available where needed, and even making the devices more usable. Although there was never anything inherently wrong about Flash and what we used before , it was the users and their demands that changed.

If you are wondering if HTML5 is right for you, why not ask yourself:

  • What do your customers need?
  • Do they need to view your content everywhere and anywhere?
  • Will they only be using it on their desktops?
  • And do you want to tailor to the device that they are viewing on?
  • Do you want to have major continuity for all devices?

In the homebuilding industry, the last thing you want to do is exclude any potential homebuyer. So our best bet is, you will be needing HTML5!

Top 3 reasons HTML5 is changing the way we build and sell homes:

1. Flexibility of “View Anywhere” – home, office, on the go with your smart phone, on iPad, ANYWHERE!

2. Continuity of experience. You provide the same user experience on all viewing devices for homebuyers.

3. One integrated experience where you can the take the plans anywhere. As long as you save, if you adjust at work, you can view at home and edit, and take to the sales center and anywhere else.

To see an example of what your interactive floor plans could look like with HTML5, check out ContradoVIP.com on all of your devices!

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.

 

4 Great Reasons to be Thankful this Year

We are on the rebound!

The homebuilding and housing industry has seen pretty dark days. But for the past few years, things have definitely been looking up. Here are a few reasons we at the Contrado Group are feeling pretty thankful this Turkey Day.

1)  Arizona has not one, not two, but THREE spots on the forecasting for 2014′s Top 10 Housing Metros

Thank you Prescott, Phoenix, and Tuscon!

2)  New Homes sales are up 20%

Recovery has definitely been shaky, but 2013 has shown a significant increase in new home sales. According to the Commerce Department, 20% more homes have been sold nationwide this year than in 2012. This is a good sign for us, and we are thankful for it.

3)  55+ single-family markets are on the rise too

Although there is continued improvement in sales in all segments of the market, the 55+ single-family markets have shown a significant increase. With improved market conditions, potential new home buyers have been able to sell their current homes so that they can buy new homes that fit their specific needs.

4)  Technology is making everything better for everyone

Whether we like it or not, the speed of technology today is changing how homes are designed, built, and sold. The technology that new homes offer is also a major selling point to today’s consumer, only making it easier for home builders to sell more of what customers really do want.


(Click to watch video of the Housing Leadership Summit on Technology Changing How Homes Are Built)


6 Reasons You’ll Sell More Homes Using Interactive Technology

As consumers in today’s world, we have slowly but surely migrated towards using all of the available interactive technologies on the market, for our everyday lives. The internet and smartphones alone have changed this everyday way of getting things done and going about our day.  However, we as businesses often shy away from integrating our everyday processes with the available interactive technology that is on the market today.
Here are 6 huge reasons why Interactive Technology will positively change your customer experience, and inevitably sell you more homes.

1)     Curiosity

Interactive Technology for builders, whether it be a floor plan, a model home, or a design tool, will spike the interest of almost any prospective buyer. Curiosity is a crucial first step in the process of buying a home, and what better way to create it than to provide a new technology to your prospective buyer that they have never seen before?

2)     Engagement

Another important side effect of using Interactive Tech as a consumer is becoming engaged. Even something as simple as a website can help engage your buyer — where they will invest their time, brain power, and even emotions into whatever interactive technology you are providing them.

3)     Improvement

The option to improve a home — to have options for better lighting, new electrical technology, and floor plans specifics — is another powerful tool that is more likely to sell a new home than not.  Being able to go from “good” to “better” will win your prospective buyer over more often than not.

4)     Attachment

The interactive technology available to homebuilders today allows prospective home buyers to take control of the process and become attached, even during the early stages of online research. Attachment is another powerful emotion that statistically leads to more successful home purchases and closings.

5)     Personalization

For those in the market to buy a new home, interactive tech gives home buyers a strong sense of individuality. It may have started out as a generic base model, but after a few tweaks here and there, they aren’t buying a cookie cutter home anymore. They are buying a home that has been fully customized for their own specific needs. Making an otherwise cookie cutter home into one’s own personal dream home is a feature that many home buyers will tell you is invaluable. Especially for the control freaks of the world!

6)     Scarcity

These all might seem like common sense, and an obvious case to why each builder should be incorporating these technologies into their processes. But until it becomes an industry standard, it remains a very special addition that is unique and scarce. All the more reason to pay top dollar for the home of your dreams!

Bottom Line: Either way you look at it, virtual experiences & technology is the future. When we think about it, how much has moved online in the past 5 yrs alone?
Socializing (FaceBook), calling (Skype), videos (YouTube), meeting (GoToMeeting), dating (Match), car-buying (AutoTrader), movie-watching (Netflix).  There are interactive museums (Children’s Museum of Phoenix), interactive learning products, tools, & software.
The list is really endless. Everything is going online, including buying a home!  Okay, maybe not literally just yet. But who knows? We’re probably not that far from it.

Google Glasses aka we are really in the 21st century now!

 

Homebuilder Event Season is Here!

Things have been pretty busy for us at Contrado lately, gearing up the past few months for some of our favorite annual events. Here’s a quick summary of what’s been happening, who was involved, and what we learned from these fun industry happenings.

Southwest Builders Show

Each year we look forward to SWBS as a great event to reconnect with local industry folk in a fun, social, and supportive environment. It’s a great place for local vendors to showcase their new products, technologies, and businesses themselves. Social in nature, but an opportunity to networking with local partners, we have been the recipients and the givers of support from local vendors and builders alike from around the Valley.

We had a booth in a prime spot next to the putting green, showcasing our Interactive Floor Plans, our interactive Customer Discovery Centers, as well as Aterra’s Design Tool.This year’s Southwest Builders Show itself had 20% more vendors than last year’s – new vendors being one of many good indications that the local homebuilding industry in Phoenix and Arizona is improving. The Forecast Luncheon was informative and positive – most of the industry experts outlining the signs of a market rebound for our industry. A strong comeback and a bright forecast definitely set the mood for a great day in Downtown Phoenix.

Builder MT

Held by our Alliance Partners Sales Simplicity (CRM) and BuilderMT (operational system), this year’s event in Denver gained momentum and doubled its participants – from 50 last year to over 110 this year. It continues to be a great place where builders nationwide can come to learn about and test the latest software updates from these companies. Among the events were showcases, trainings, future development demonstrations, and a suggestions portion from their current client base. Very technology-based, so we felt right at home!

We showcased our Interactive Floor Plans, our interactive Customer Discovery Centers, our Design Tool & Aterra Designs Kiosk, as well as our Interactive Model with Toll Brothers.

Hyphen Solutions

A new event for Contrado, this was a quick trip to Vegas for an opportunity for our company to provide a special presentation to an exclusive crowd in the homebuilding industry. Top builders and their information technology representatives came to learn about the different cutting edge technologies available to home builders today – and we were honored and excited to be a part of this powerful technology conference sponsored by Hyphen Solutions. The event centered around the technology supply chain management in our industry – highlighting interactive technology as the epicenter of it all. This change in our industry – interactive technology & integration becoming a mainstream standard – is what we have been looking forward to for years.
Our special presentation featured a step-by-step process of our enhanced home-buyer experience that showcases our Interactive Floor Plans, our interactive Customer Discovery Centers, our Aterra Designs Kiosk & Design Tool, as well as our Interactive Model with Toll Brothers.

 

Are You Catering to Your Home Buyers?

3 Ways to be more Customer-Centric in 2014

When asked, most homebuilders will most likely answer “yes” as to whether or not they consider themselves Customer-Centric. And why not? Being Customer-Centric is important, not only to the happiness of your customers, but to the long-term financial success of your company.
Not only that, but customer-centrism is huge in any industry that heavily relies on today’s ever-changing technology – we have to keep up with the times and the new trends of the home buying experience, or we will get blown off the road and fall by the wayside. But the truth is that only a handful of homebuilders have actually tailored their home buying experience to their direct customers. Why? Well, in the long, tedious, complex process of building a home, we lose sight of the big picture — of what is best for the customer. Considering the habits of today’s consumer, there are 3 distinct and crucial steps to sufficiently accommodating your home buyer:

1. Provide Useful Information

Buying a home starts with fact-finding, and there is such a thing as “too much.”  There is also such a thing as “too little,” and finding a good balance of the information you provide to your potential customer is the absolutely vital first step. It’s your initial hook. From the information you provide on your website, to the content you include on your marketing collateral, to the signs and displays you have up at your sales centers and model homes — all information provided should be trim, concise, and relevant. It absolutely has the ability to sway your customer’s decision!

2. Give Them Control

Letting your home buyer have control of the process gives them the opportunity to take ownership of their new dream home and form an emotional bond to it. Homebuilders often fall short on this step due to a lack of interactive tools provided to their potential home buyers. Today’s technology allows for most of the home buying process to be done online, just like everything else we do — from shopping for clothing, to managing finances, to dating. Not keeping up with today’s interactive online technologies could be losing your company a lot of money, and even worse: lifetime customers.

3. Provide Many, Many Options

Buyers love personalizing, and they will often gladly pay more for it — in fact 60% of consumers will spend more for a better buying experience. We are living in a time where options are everything (flash to your neighborhood grocery store). Being able to customize your car, your phone, and your home are just a few examples of the desires and standards of your average consumer today. So when it comes to new homes, being able to choose your architectural style, your dining room lighting, and your cabinet materials either online or in the design center is the standard premium of today’s new home buyers. But the good news? All of these options reinforce ownership –  the most influential emotion in making that decision to buy.

All of these steps actively engage your potential home buyer, while genuinely understanding what it is that they want. Following through and giving them what it is they want will turn them into a lifetime customer.

At the end of the day, this is the business of turning houses into homes!

 

 

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