Tag Archives: Homebuilding

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!

“Big Data” Shifts Business Trends

The New Information Age

We are just beginning to wrap our heads around the vast amounts of information available to us in this new information age. With computer processor speed doubling every 18 months along with increasing storage capacity, we can afford the means to assess data in its entirety. This phenomena is known as “Big Data” which refers to our new found ability to crunch a vast quantity of information, analyze it instantly, and draw some astonishing conclusions.

Collecting information is just the beginning of creating the ability of artificial intelligence as we saw way back in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey
 

HAL 9000 (a computer) decides what’s best…………….

Gone Are The Days Of Traditional Statistical Analysis

In the old days, statisticians would have a hypothesis and test it with a random sample of a population. The greater the size sample of the population being measured, the more accuracy of the sample being a representation of the entire populace. This would reinforce the notion of “causality”, that being, we as humans have a yearning desire to try to understand the world around us. What causes things to happen? For example, say we have a theory that someone buys a home because they eat eggs in the morning.  As you can imagine, there’s a fair amount of people who get up in the morning, fix themselves some eggs for breakfast and go off into their day. And, of people who purchase homes, it can be said that there may be a high degree that they also had eggs for breakfast. Thus, eating eggs causes home sales? So, is it realistic to prove this preposterous hypothesis with a statistical analysis? However, if one was to gather a random sample of new homeowners, there would be proof that would suggest that egg consumption yields new home buying behavior. This type analysis is known as causality as opposed to correlation and takes the form of trying to understand a phenomena, coming up with a hypothesis, and proving it through statistic analysis.

Causality vs. Correlation Analysis

Statistical Analysis vs Causality

Some things are best left to try not to understand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Within a correlation model of understanding, we are able to assess just pure raw data and observe correlations without trying to understand the cause of an event. What this enables businesses to do, is to view highly correlated events and capitalize from their relatedness. In other words, if a given situation yields outcomes with a high degree of correlation, then why bother trying to understand why?

In the book, Big Data – A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think the author explains how retailers are just beginning to understand their abilities to assess data for what its worth and understand the correlations of relationships. An illustration of this is how Walmart now sells Pop Tarts during times that precede a natural disaster. They observed that during times where people are preparing for hurricanes and/or a natural disaster, that not only did typical disaster items such as batteries, flash lights, and water sales spike but so did Pop Tarts sales. They then began to merchandise disaster related items and Pop Tarts in stores in order to make it easier for their customers to shop. Now who would have hypothesized that Pop Tarts would be a necessary item for preparing for a Tornado or Hurricane? In hind sight, it maybe easy to explain because of the product ease of use for their customers. However, if one removes the urge to try to understand what causes certain correlated events and just accepts the raw data and that these correlations exist, then a new era of marketing has begun using this strategy.

However, there are many ways to view the world, and one must be cautious as they develop ways to assess given circumstances of events. “Big Data” as some may have us to believe is not the cure all, but can be used in significant ways to observe the patterns of our society. This can be another great tool in ones tool box to be able to predict market trends, product sales, and any other activities if the right data is obtainable and accurate.(Read More – Big Data News Roundup: Correlation vs. Causation)

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.

How Do We Respond To Change?

Change_Homebuilding

Remember the book Who Moved My Cheese that was handed out by many companies back in 1998 during times of restructuring? The book had little characters in it named “Sniff and Scurry” and “Hem and Haw”.

Essentially, the book (synopsis) was about how these two groups dealt with change in their little maze. One group, “Sniff and Surry” just took the fact that their regular place that had cheese had changed and went on their way to search for new cheese. The other group, “Hem and Haw” held out that the cheese would eventually be in the same place and began to wait it out relying on their old familiar ways. The moral of the book is that “change happens”, and it’s best to roll with it and adapt.

It’s ironic that in those times of the Dot-com bubble and the NASDAQ peaking at 5132 we thought that the economy was in turmoil. Little did we know that there was one of the largest housing booms about to occur and that the “Great Recession” would be the follow-up. Or, in the words of Judas Priest the rock band, “You’ve got another thing coming”…………

So, what is it about change that rocks our worlds so much? It is certainly human nature to fear change, but this is not a good reaction. In an article by Sherri Bourg Carter entitled “Why We Dread (and So Often Fail to) Change”, she sites that the unknown or untested are primary reasons for this fear which is one of our most powerful emotions. However, shouldn’t change be a constant for a person and/or company if they wish to pursue a better way? If status quo was the norm, we would not have the advances we use today? However, she also sites that “when fear grips you, you become powerless”. That rings true when Franklin D.Roosevelt had to calm our nation during the Depression with the words, “Only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.

We at The Contrado Group continue our changes as a newly merged company; we too are intimidated by what these changes in our industry are bringing about. However, we are taking these circumstances as a way to position ourselves with new industry alliances. These alliances are with companies that share the same vision of process integration. It is our firmest belief that we are in the midst of paradigm shift in homebuilding. This shift is going to involve more streamlining of processes, a tightening of the supply chain, and strategic alliances. In the end, we believe that tomorrow’s homeowner will be able to have a home that is more efficient, customizable, technology driven, and delivered in a manner that removes any false expectations. Builder’s margins will be able to climb due to increased demand, adjustment of the supply chain, and lower of costs due to operational efficiencies. The future looks bright…………………

How Do We Sell More Homes Together in 2011?

Selling More Homes in 2011

With a warm and heartfelt Happy New Year, we at The Contrado Group, look forward to serving the Home Building industry in 2011, starting with a campaign in Dialog Marketing. The concept of Dialog Marketing is all about connecting on a personal level with customers who will purchase because your company resonates with them enabling you to differentiate yourself and stand out as a leader in the marketplace.

  • What Dialog Marketing is:
  • Relationship driven
  • Bi-Directional Communication
  • Engaging in relevant conversations
  • Permission based
  • What Dialog Marketing is not:
  • Shotgun messaging in traditional media formats
  • Push Marketing
  • Lack of research about the client or prospect
  • Expensive

See Wikipedia’s dialog marketing definition for yourself.

The topics that we  explore will be chosen by you!

Dialog Marketing invites your customers to connect, foster ongoing relationships and forge new ones. The purpose of this message is exactly that.  I’m inviting you to be part of this discussion, contribute at your discretion and learn from others in your industry.  Let’s work together!

The topics covered will be chosen by you.  We plan to research and blend comments of previously blogged topics that will be made available after each topic is introduced. So, to get started, please vote on the suggested topics below that are most critical for your business this year and feel free to suggest additional topics:

Which topics are most important to you?










You will be able to log onto our website (www.thecontradogroup.com) to view our blogs and survey results of each topic. Our goal is grow our businesses together for 2011!!!

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