Tag Archives: Efficient Homebuilding

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but most of all it greatly benefits the consumer as well, who is probably not interested in living in a new home with outdated technology!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!

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!

 

 

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!

 

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