Tag Archives: Contrado Group

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)


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.

 

The Housing Recovery: 5 Lessons We Learned

August means school is back in session, and it’s got us at Contrado thinking about what we’ve learned since the downturn. Although it was a time of struggle for everyone in the home-building industry, there was a silver lining — learning a whole lot about survival. Apart from learning how to embrace efficiency the downturn taught us how to adapt and how to use the proper tools that were key to our survival. We’ve compiled a list of the lessons we learned (with an inspirational flair) to help guide your post-downturn learning strategy, even if you aren’t going back to school this year!

 

1.  To Be an Industry Leader We Must Always Keep Learning and Improving.

Start with honing in on your company’s successes and failures, and educating yourself on current products/services in the industry that could make you the leader of the pack. Investing in the right product or service, like Virtual Option Sales, could be the difference between selling a home or not — putting you either ahead of or behind your competition.
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” JFK.

2.  Don’t Ignore the Signs.

Be aware of market conditions and USE THEM TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. It’s hard to accept losses and to embrace a dark cloud — but always look for the silver lining. With learning comes a bit of vulnerability, but don’t let that stop you! There is room in every mind (and company) to learn something new that you will thank yourself for later.
“Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.” Benjamin Franklin

3.  Use Survival of the Fittest to Your Advantage.

Take a tip from Darwin and recognize that if you cannot adapt and evolve to what is currently happening in the home-building industry, your company could eventually become extinct — but in this economy it could happen in the blink of an eye! Learning how to adapt, evolve, and change to be more successful is an ongoing, never-ending process that will lead you beyond survival, and hopefully to the top of the food chain.
“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” Socrates

4.  Learning Something New Will Benefit you Professionally and Personally.

It goes without saying that learning a new skill will widen your horizons, and learning in any situation is almost always personally rewarding. Happier employees, happier company.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Gandhi

5.  Take a Risk.

A calculated risk, that is. It might be the last thing on your mind when you are in panic-mode, but taking risks is a big part of survival. Simply reacting to your surroundings won’t get you very far in most cases. Getting to the top will require a balance of defense and offense.
“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” Picasso

So now is the perfect time to ask yourself: WHAT DO I WANT TO LEARN?

Most likely you have always had something that you wanted to learn – after all, curiosity is human nature! If you are drawing a blank, a few common ideas and skills that would also potentially benefit your career are learning how to:

o   Speak a new language (whether it be Spanish, Sign Language, or HTML code!)
o   Network within your industry
o   “Let go” of things and embrace positivity
o   Integrate your business operations to increase efficiency
o   Strengthen your leadership skills
o   Create a research study to discover what your ideal customer really wants
o   Find a creative new hobby
o   Stay current on market trends
o   Tell jokes
o   Explore technology (especially if it will enhance your business!)  

We at Contrado have taken it upon ourselves to learn and embrace efficiency – which for us has included learning the cutting-edge technologies in the home-building industry today, Call us to hear more about what got us through the downturn!

 

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.

Shifting Gears in 2012


Stewart-Shifting Gears

Performance-Driven Approach through Integrated Process Management (IPM)

Shifting gears is second nature to NASCAR driver, Tony Stewart.  It’s critical to gaining the results needed to maintain his lead and charge beyond the checkered flag in first place.

For years, home builders were somewhat content with the minor shifts necessary to conduct their businesses.  They found there were manageable corners to take.  Today, however, there are many new variables as a result of a culture-shift effecting the purchasing habits, expectations, desires, and vast amount of products available to homeowners.  So, how do you respond and position your company in order to remain a leader?

Industry experts note that looking to technology alone won’t solve the issue of efficiencies, time-to-market issues, costs, and more.  What you, as a builder need to wrap your arms around is a “performance-driven team philosophy” where through people, processes and technology combined, you will experience the most profound changes to your bottom line, improved accuracies and faster time-to-market products.  This optimized approach recognizes the key drivers and integrates the right results for home builders.  The shift is gaining momentum through an innovative solution by our experts at The Contrado Group tabbed,“Integrated Process Management (IPM)”.  Now in its second year, IPM has been refined in 2011 and is proving highly effective for valued clients such as Maracay Homes, Scottsdale, Arizona who improved their time-to-market results by 60%.  How does translate in dollars? Well, a big bundle comes to mind!

Staying in the race in 2012 will mean making major shifts, according to industry professionals.  Improving efficiencies have driven builders to advocate an integrated approach by steering clear of their outdated, convoluted, building-in-isolation process into a results-driven project delivery model.  An IPM program by The Contrado Group will provide you with a steady and single-source of information/technology starting as early as the conceptual drawings , into structural design/drafting (BIM), to project management, to sales options, and then to the all-important marketing/sales solutions.  Our BIM (Building Information Modeling) affiliate, AmeriCAD (http://www.constructech.com/news/articles/article.aspx?article_id=7929) , sets the core technology standard for the Integrated Process Management platform and allows the reduction of risk through better information throughout the process.

It is reported by home builders currently working in a BIM environment (http://bookstore.ashrae.biz/journal/journal_s_article.php?articleID=827) , that they are not only gaining efficiencies via clash detection, coordination, scheduling, etc., they are also reducing risk of exposure for schedule and budget overruns, claims, and more.  Looking at the current climate, owners that would put down big dollars to purchase land and start a community may be reluctant. So what will help convince them otherwise? Understanding that there is a much better risk scenario out there and that is what BIM and Integrated Process Management (IPM) is delivering to the industry.

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