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May 16 2016

2016 Customer Award Winners

Albi Homes, 2016 SAM Award Winner

We’re turning the spotlight on our customers this week, as the 2015/16 awards season comes to a close. With the 2016 Builder 100 list announced, the Housing Leadership Summit about to kick off, and associations from Florida to B.C. announcing their top prizes, this awards season did not disappoint. While we tip our hats to award-winning builders everywhere, we would like to take a moment to single out a few special prizes won by Constellation customers.

 

2016 CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence

The Canadian Home Builders’ Association held it’s annual National Awards for Housing Excellence on May 6. The CHBA presented 33 awards this year, at its 73rd National Conference in Kelowna, BC. The prestigious awards recognize builders from across Canada, in categories from sales and marketing through custom renovations.

Albi Homes from Calgary received both the Design Excellence Award and the Marketing Excellence Award in a sweep of the two top awards given for cumulative results in the New Home Awards and Marketing Awards categories. Albi received four awards in total and 11 nominations in a highly competitive competition. Wow!

Congratulations to Albi Homes on this impressive double win — and see below for more honorable mentions from the CHBA Awards.

Read more about Albi’s win in The Calgary Herald.

 

2016 BILD Awards - Great Gulf Homes

2016 BILD Awards

The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) of the Greater Toronto Area held their annual BILD Awards on April 28. The GTA’s top builders, developers, communities, designs, and campaigns were honored in 47 categories from over 900 submissions.

Great Gulf Homes took home Home Builder of the Year for Low-Rise. The award is selected with input from surveys of new homeowners — happy customers are a true testament of quality construction and service. Many buyers plan to consider Great Gulf first when it comes time for their next purchase.

“We are very proud and excited to have been recognized with this award and want to congratulate and thank the entire Great Gulf team on our win for the Homebuilder of the Year Low-Rise. I would also like to thank recent new home buyers for their trust and confidence in our ability to provide them with well-built, architecturally well-designed homes,” said Christopher Wein, President Great Gulf. “This is the third time in our company’s history that we have won this prestigious award and at a particularly fitting time as we celebrate our 40th anniversary.” [via The Star]

Congratulations, Great Gulf!

Read more from The Toronto Star, and click here for more photos from the BILD Awards.

 

Neal Communities, Professional Builder's 2015 Builder of the Year

Professional Builder 2015 Builder of the Year

Back in December, Professional Builder presented this prestigious and sought-after award to only one builder, who did not actively apply for the award, and whose innovative ideas and business results represent the best in home building.

“Our consistent goal is to combine the discipline, efficiency, skill and processes of a publicly owned homebuilder with the agility, customer care and attention to detail of a private builder,” says Pat Neal, founder and CEO of Neal Communities. “To be recognized for excellence with this respected award is a special honor that we are humbled and pleased to accept.” [via Neal Communities]

Neal Communities closed close to 1,000 homes in 2015, and was named #45 on the Builder 100 list. Congratulations to Neal Communities – winners of the “Academy Awards” of homebuilding!

Read more from Professional Builder.

 

Broadview Homes, Builder of the Year 2015 SAM Awards

2015 CHBA-UDI Calgary Region Association SAM Awards

Last month, the newly amalgamated Canadian Home Builders’ Association-Urban Development Institute Calgary Region presented their annual SAM Awards for sales and marketing excellence.

Broadview Homes, part of the Qualico Group of Companies, was named 2015 Builder of the Year as well as taking home the New Homebuyers Choice Award. The latter award is based on feedback from new buyers – who may have been influenced by Broadview’s commitment to pushing boundaries. “We keep taking chances,” says Broadview Homes vice-president Peter-John Woolf. “We sit down in our design room and if we see something that’s innovative and new, we get excited that maybe some aspects of it haven’t been done. That’s what we want to do for our show homes.” [via Calgary Herald]

Congratulations to Broadview Homes! Read more in The Calgary Herald.

 

Honorable Mentions from the 2015/16 Awards Season

Sterling Homes, winners of two print marketing awards at the CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence
Branthaven Homes, winners for Multi-Family Homes in the under 1000 Square Foot category at the CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence
SigNature Communities, winners of the Best Logo and Best Brochure, High-Rise at the BILD Awards
Geranium Homes, winners of a number of BILD Awards, including the People’s Choice Award
Empire Communities, winners of Best Sales video at the BILD Awards
Homes by Avi, Multi-Family Builder of the Year at the CHBA-UDI Calgary Region Association SAM Awards
Brookfield Residential, winners of multiple community and marketing awards at the CHBA-UDI Calgary Region Association SAM Awards
Hopewell Residential, winners of the Show Home Parade of the Year at the CHBA-UDI Calgary Region Association SAM Awards

 

Credits:
http://www.chba.ca/about/news-pubs.aspx?id=119
http://calgaryherald.com/life/homes/new-homes/albi-homes-wins-top-national-awards-for-housing-marketing-excellence
http://www.bildgta.ca/media_releases_2016_detail.asp?id=1012
https://www.thestar.com/life/homes/2016/04/29/tridel-great-gulf-honoured-for-great-work.html
http://www.probuilder.com/2015-builder-year-neal-communities
http://www.nealcommunities.com/about/news-and-awards/news/2015/december/neal-communities-dubbed-builder-of-the-year/
http://www.chbacalgary.com/photo-gallery/60546-sam-awards
http://calgaryherald.com/life/homes/new-homes/broadview
https://assets-production-webvanta-com.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/000000/38/66/original/news-releases/2016/2015%20SAM%20-%20Winner%20Press%20Release%20SG%20FINAL%20with%20List.pdf

 

Photo credits:
Albi Homes (Facebook)
BILD (Facebook)
Neal Communities
The Calgary Herald

Recent blog posts

    August 21 2019

    How Attending the Tech Lab at the Build Smarter 2019 Conference will Help to Streamline Your Team’s System and the Homebuyer Journey

    Almost 80% of customers expect consistency across departments when they’re interacting with a company, according to the 2019 State of the Connected Customer Report by Salesforce.

    Is your team hitting that expectation?

    According to this same report, 60% of customers see most companies as having siloed departments rather than one cohesive system.

    What does this tell us?

    Businesses who aren’t already using an ERP system that syncs across departments must innovate or they’ll get left behind. But what if you’re not sure how to use certain functions? Attending the Tech Lab at the Build Smarter 2019 Conference will help you out with that because it’s not just about having the software.

    It’s about knowing how to maximize efficiency so that every department is working as one big system.

    For example, if there’s a breakdown of information from the sales center to the purchasing department, the homebuyer isn’t going to have sympathy for you. This applies to all data that travels across departments. So, making sure that every department knows how to use the ERP efficiently is paramount.

    Homebuyers see that through the experience they’re going through starting from their first interaction with your company all the way to referral sales. Based on the same Salesforce report, 84% of customers say the experience they had with the company they bought from is just as important as its products or services. That’s 4% up from last year’s report.

    It’s safe to say that if your departments aren’t working together to create an exceptional experience for your homebuyer, then you should start thinking about it now.

    When you get a ticket to the Build Smarter 2019 Conference, you’ll be able to spend time at our Tech Lab to clarify information about features, clear up any confusions you had, and ask about functionalities you’d like to know more about. It would be like having a live product specialist at your side all day.

    The conference will be held on November 18-20th at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona where hundreds of North America’s most information-hungry builders will attend. Whether you’re in marketing, sales, estimating, purchasing, warranty, customer success, or leadership, this conference will help you be more efficient day-to-day.

    Read more >

    July 18 2019

    Top 5 Discoveries at the Build Smarter 2019 Conference

    Decoding Today’s Home Buyer, and So Much More.

    The Build Smarter 2019 Conference is just around the corner, kicking off on Nov. 18 in Scottsdale, Arizona. This year’s event will take place amidst a much more positive outlook than the industry experienced in the recent past. According to a report from Wells Fargo, “The outlook for residential construction in 2019 is improving versus late 2018, and there are sufficient tailwinds to carry the industry through any near-term economic turbulence.”

    That’s very good news. It also makes this an interesting time to be a builder. We’re entering a ‘now or never’ reality in which builders must adopt new ways to market, manage, and communicate – or risk getting left behind. Critically, they also find themselves catering to a whole new class of home buyers that are accustomed to convenience and personalization in the digital age.

    To that point, we’ve themed this year’s conference, The Expectation RevolutionExploring Building Trends, Technology, and Innovation for the Evolving Home Buyer, featuring an agenda packed with fresh content, education, and technical training. Here’s a taste of what’s to come, including five discoveries attendees can uncover at Build Smarter 2019.

    (Check out the full agenda and registration details at the Build Smarter Conference site)

    #1:  Buyer behavior is radically changing, and we’ve got the data to prove it.

    The building industry is experiencing an expectation revolution, driven by highly-discerning home buyers. It can be difficult to know when and how to adapt your business to keep pace. Understanding buyer expectations takes the right strategy and insights. In our keynote, Decoding Today’s Home Buyer, Mollie Carmichael, principal with Meyers Research, will join us to reveal the latest home buyer data to help you understand their evolving demographics, preferences, and expectations.

    (For more on 2019 Industry Predictions and Building Trends presented to you by Meyers Research, try our webinar, “2019 Industry Predictions and Building Trends”.

    #2:  Digital innovation has impacted the home shopping journey – just ask the buyers.

    According to a Builder Online article, millennials are set to finally enter the housing market in a very big way, stating, “aging millennials are set to close the headship rate gap with prior generations – likely driving steady long-term growth in residential new construction.”

    That’s one explanation for drastic changes in builder/buyer interactions – from the way buyers search for listings, to how they view homes, and how they prefer to interact before, during, and after the sale. The whole industry is undergoing a digital transformation urged by consumers that are digitally-savvy and always on-the-go. How do you respond?

    We’ve put together a variety of sessions to help builders tackle this trend from the inside out. In a live Q&A session during our Innovation Panel, attendees will hear from real-life home buyers, builders, and industry experts about how innovation has impacted their personal journey and experience.

    We’ll also present Social Media: 5 Tips from Builders,a how-to session on Maximizing Your Online Marketing and Listing Exposure, and bring in a design expert to talk about New Design Trends and Tools – packed with ideas to help you ride the digital wave, expand your online presence, and attract a steady stream of buyers to your listings.

    #3:  The market is unpredictable, but you can rise above it.

    As every builder understands, there are many factors that are beyond control. It can be difficult to know how to evolve in an unpredictable market. Luckily, builders have access to a secret weapon – and it lives right next door. Your customer is a powerful asset to sharing the insights you need.

    In our Live Builder Interview: Marketing & Sales Strategies to Win Home Buyers and Earn Trust Forever, a builder will share their strategies for attracting buyers in an often-unpredictable market, and how to build positive customer relationships throughout the process.

    We’ll continue the discussion in Best Ways to Earn Referrals and Transform Your Customer Experience, as well as our Builder Panel: Finding Your ‘Aha’ Moment from Customer Feedback. Guests will learn from our CustomerInsight expert how to acquire and translate customer feedback, and hear first-hand from builders how they walk alongside their homebuyers and use what they learned as a catalyst for process and business transformation.

    #4:  Trade management can either be a thorn in your side or a chance to excel.

    According to a recent NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Marketing Index survey, the availability of labor is the leading concern for builders in 2019. Issues with trade management have long plagued builders, often resulting in delayed closings, construction quality issues, and diminished customer trust. Builders must keep projects running smoothly to ensure they are prioritized by the most dependable trades, as well as proactively pinpoint quality concerns.

    This is an issue we’ll tackle in one of our Builder University sessions, The Top 3 Challenges of Trade Management. In this session, a builder will share what approaches they find most useful for fostering a positive builder/trade relationship, and talk about the best tools to use to improve trade communication and management.

    For effective methods to enhance your trade management, try “5 Keys to Effective Trade Management”.

    #5:  Relevant builders understand how to bridge the gap between construction and technology.

    From evolving expectations to digital disruption, we know the industry is rapidly changing. We don’t want you to simply survive, we want you to thrive. Our goal is to give you the power to build smarter, equipping you with the technology and data you need to remain agile to adapt and grow. Constellation’s solutions help you bridge the gap between technology and construction, and our Build Smarter Conference reflects this approach. Ultimately, we know you need hands-on training to get the most out of your technology investment. With a myriad of software training seminars, our tech lab, and product user groups, you’ll gain the best practices, tools, and technical know-how you need to improve and grow your business.

    To learn more about the Build Smarter 2019 Conference, read the press release, watch the video, or visit our conference registration site.  We hope to see you there!

    Resources:

    Navigating Volatility in the U.S. Residential New Construction Sector, © 2019 Wells Fargo Securities and L.E.K. Consulting

    Report: 2019 Will Be Good for New Home Building, February 19, 2019, BuilderOnline.com,  Builders: Materials in 2018, Labor in 2019, March 18, 2019, NAHB

    Chaluvadi, Ashok, Top Challenges for Builders: Materials in 2018, Labor in 2019, March 18, 2019, NAHB

    Read more >

    April 4 2019

    Top Strategies & Technologies for Multi-Family Home Builders

    Improve your Multi-Family development process, construct the right mixed complex project for your land, and manage your construction effectively. 

    As a multi-family home builder, you understand the extra amount of back-office technology, time and resources needed to bring a multi-family production to market. Whether it is a high-rise condominium or a community of town-homes, managing all aspects of the production is critical to attracting modern buyers to your multi-family project and will ultimately allow you to offer a high-quality condo or unit at a reasonable price.

    Research Your Land Options & Maximize Your Project Construction Potential

    The building process begins with land development. Due to the increased complexity of bringing a multi-family complex to market, homebuilders should always compare various plots of land prior to the purchase. Factors to consider include the location of the community, its surroundings, and which possible project styles can be developed with the unique attributes of each plot of land.

    Homebuilders should be looking at the various ways product design can be optimized to improve the quality of life for homeowners in addition to how profitable the project can be when the community goes up for sale. For example, if you have a land option by a body of water with a nice view, consider optimizing your project design to include a high-rise portion, this way, you can offer a premium value add-on to the high-rise suites by charging extra for the units with a view. If you are considering a rural area, perhaps offering townhomes to allow for more living space for prospective buyers that are families might be a better option since families tend to enjoy more space.

    Don’t leave the process of planning the development to chance, you should always leverage tools that allow you to compare building scenarios based on the types of land available against the profitability of the construction type. This ensures that you are purchasing the right land for your business goal, creating an estimate of which construction project is possible on the land, and forecasting how profitable the project will be if you acquire the land.

    Make Informed Decisions Through Integrated Accounting

    Your accounting team should have clear oversight. Your accounting division should become preemptive regarding company purchasing & costs of resource acquisition and construction. They should be able to forecast profits from the sales opportunities existing in the company pipeline as well as project profits from upgrade offerings sold in your multi-family projects.

    All your business functions and processes should tie back into your accounting department. When this process shift occurs, decision makers at your building firm will begin to understand clearly each of their department success metrics, and how to be more efficient to ensure the company meets pre-determined goals. Sales teams will become results driven, your construction team will become time sensitive, and your purchasing team can become more strategic about how they acquire assets for construction. Ultimately, this efficiency in your build process will allow you to offer the suite or unit at a reasonable price while securing your forecasted profit.

    Establish a Dynamic and Profitable Operation at your Multi-Family Sales Centers

    Making the needed sales records and upgrade revenue is critical to the bottom line for the multi-family project profitability. But multi-family homebuyers often expect special amenities, this is especially true with high-rise productions where homebuyers are still investing large sums in their mortgages for a shared community. Also, décor studio management is a trending must for builders and it could potentially become complicated as the number of units increases in multi-family production in comparison to a single-family project.

    Implementing a tight-knit process amongst your sales and décor studio staff is a critical element to the multi-family puzzle. Visiting sales centers has become a ritual for the modern home buyer. Prospects expect to be in awe when they enter a sales center and they want to see the various unit options, amenities and upgrades that are available. Implementing a sales and décor management solution that allows homeowners to create their dream space while still allowing you, the builder, to commit to those upgrades in your build cycle, is key. Your sales and décor management software should digitize the sales an upgrade selections process. It should allow builders and their homebuyers to focus on the experience of enjoying the product offering inside and out instead of being too overworked with paperwork and product catalogues.

    To hear a panel of design studio experts and homebuilders discuss décor center management technology trends, watch “The All NEW Design Studio Experience” recording.

    Select a system that showcases all your available suites/units for sale in real time, your system should allow your décor agents to link upgrade packages to a homebuyer’s contract and seamlessly drive that data from the sales center to the job site where construction has every detail needed to deliver these upgrades. After all, if there is one thing that should be autonomous and accurate is the process between sales to construction.

    Manage More Deficiency Requests while Optimizing Your Customer Experience

    If you are a home builder considering the production of a multi-family project, be aware that you will be catering to more homebuyers since you would be building upwards as well as outwards. How can home builders manage deficiencies or warranty requests in large amounts? The secret can be found in homeowner portal technology, perfect for multi-family projects and popular amongst condominium property managers. These portals allow homeowners to self-serve their warranty needs directly with the product vendor – and can issue claims through the portal anytime, anywhere via mobile. This eliminates long hours on the phone and standardizes the way builders manage and fix homeowner deficiencies. After all, a modern multi-family project needs all the smart features and technology that will enhance your home quality and still prove to be helpful in managing large amounts of warranty requests the modern way.

    The Verdict

    If you are interested in an integrated solution for your next multi-family project, feel free to contact us. Learn more about NEWSTAR’s capabilities for multi-family productions. Whether you are an existing Constellation customer or a home builder, find out how NEWSTAR can support multi-family builders in various building functions.

     

    Source – The Many faces of Multi-Family

    Read more >

    January 24 2019

    Proven Strategies to Dominate the Customer Experience Space

    Customer experience leaders weigh in on the best methods for tracking and improving the homeowner experience. 

    When 87% percent of home builders expect to earn new business through word of mouth referrals, excellent customer experience is not only a company attribute, it’s a success metric.

    The homeowner journey is the logical and emotional perception your buyers and homeowners have of you during the sales, construction, the home closing process, and long into home ownership. This means that customer experience is a team effort that needs to be planned and measured for effectiveness with your sales teams, your construction teams, your internal members and your warranty agents.

    Understanding Your Homeowners at Critical Moments

    Every company handles surveys and uses that information to learn more about themselves, their brand, and the product. Homeowner surveys are excellent ways to understand the complex and long process of bringing a home to market from the customers’ eyes. Customer experience professionals recommend at least 3 surveys: a survey during the construction process, a survey a few days after the home closing day, and a survey 1 year after home closing.

    The reasoning behind this is simple, the survey during construction is set to understand the worries homeowners might have about the plan for construction and your company’s overall sales performance. A survey after home possession is far more accurate than the day of home closing since it illustrates a genuine critique untainted by the excitement of getting their new home.  The final survey is set far into the future after home closing, to get the homeowner thinking about you collectively and about how you handle warranty claims. By gauging your homeowners at the moments where they are most vulnerable, you can expect to get a true reflection of how your organization handles those key home building milestones critical to production. The image below helps illustrate the varying levels of homeowner satisfaction throughout their journey. Advanced home builders are indeed measuring their success by the weakest links in their process where the homeowners are most vulnerable.

    homeowner Journey

    Analyzing your Customer Care Performance and Automating Processes

    All team members should work together with the goal of “making your homeowners dreams a reality”. As a company, track and learn from comments in the surveys discussed earlier to gauge your employees. Great comments should be celebrated, and negative comments should be learned from and used as motivation for future sales and interactions. As leadership, making customer experience a discussion or a “nice to have” in your company culture isn’t enough. You need to implement a quantifiable way of measuring each members performance through the customer satisfaction surveys, as well as reward the key performers by giving them a higher stake financially within your company based on that performance. Instead of rewarding sales representatives who bring new business, realize all employees act as facilitators of the business relationship with homeowners. After all, your homeowners are likely interacting with many team members outside of your sales team.

    Giving your team members the right tools to serve customers is also crucial, the right to earn a homeowner’s referral is fermented long after the home is sold, built or owned. Homes today carry a hefty price and therefore homeowners mandate the builder be involved in fixing it for cases that are related to its manufacturing. Leaders in customer experience are known to have implemented technology solutions such as online homeowner portals for assistance with warranty claims. Popular with developers in the high-rise condominium business due to the volume of potential warranty claims in a smaller setting compared to a residential neighborhood, the concept can also be applied to detached communities and everything in between. Homeowner portals not only simplify your organizational method for warranty but also allow you to help your homeowners to help themselves first with an online manual.

    Competing in Customer Experience

    A little healthy competition doesn’t hurt! Getting together with your peer builders is an excellent way to exchange ideas and to further understand the different techniques home builders are using to make their clients’ dreams come true. The CustomerInsight Home Owner Mark of Excellence Award is an event that allows homeowners to publicly assess their builders and trades and recognize the best of the best. Although a company should strive to improve amongst itself, awarding the best of the best allows builders to share ideas, celebrate wins, and provides an industry benchmark to aim for year over year.

    The Mark of Excellence Home Awards

    The H.O.M.E. Awards is an annual competition that celebrates excellence in home ownership experience. Each year, the industry’s top home builders and trade partners are honored by their customers at this prestigious event. Winners of these awards are builders who strive to not only build beautiful homes for their customers but to ensure the best possible experience every step of the way. These builders represent excellence in both products and services in the residential building industry. The Awards are named after those who matter most, the Home Owners.

    Click below to attend this red carpet event and learn more about customer experience with your peers in home building.

    Read more >

    December 14 2018

    Top 4 Homebuilding Topics to Consider for 2019

    The residential housing market is healthy, but there will be obstacles during 2019. Prices for new homes may be slowing but there still will be a great opportunity for home builders with the right strategy for the upcoming year based on what builders have learned from 2018.

    Residential home builders and developers learned many great lessons in 2018. News headlines suggest that new home prices are declining but the market will still be competitive going into 2019. Coupled with advances in technology, the labor shortage affecting all blue-collar industries, and new emerging trends in home building – builders have many topics to consider for the coming year. Read the top 4 topics builders will face in 2019 and what builders need to know about them to prepare.

    A Strong Building Process Will Be Paramount

    In a thriving market, home builders may feel safe that their products are a sure sell, but as prices begin to cool and competition rises – you can bet your market competition is coming up with new ways to bring on new homeowners. Whether it is perfectly aligned construction schedules to maximize building efficiency or a customer experience that will have homeowners referring you to their friends and family, expect technology to become part of the solution. With a tight process, expect homebuilders to become more scientific with the way they do business, reports will become their best tool under their belts. For example, for your sales team – tracking monthly new home sales and upgrade sales by each sales representative could make for a competitive company culture. In regards to bidding and purchasing, perhaps establishing a report on costs for resource versus the cost of production could allow you to make better decisions when selecting vendors for your homes’ materials. In accounting, a high-level dashboard report for projected revenue could also become a critical tool for executives to understand the overall company performance. Assigning metrics to each building functions role will become paramount as home building processes take a methodical transformation, with home production optimization comes growth for the builder.

    For the complete guide on selecting and growing your building firm through integrated management software, read the complete “Homebuilder E-Guide: Selecting Management Software”.

    Labor Shortages – Getting Creative During Construction

    Construction and scheduling trades are critical phases in a home builders’ job. It is what brings homes to market for homeowners. The current state of affair for builders is finding the right trades who are committed and fair in terms of their compensation. Due to the lack of interest from millennials in the trades and their higher educational qualifications in comparison to their parents (baby boomers), expect the labor shortage to last a while unless the societal outlook changes on blue collar labor. Expect pre-fabricated housing to emerge as a staple supply chain asset for homebuilders. Manufacturing companies have already come into market and operate as factory line warehouses that manufacture the different parts of homes. The home frame, roof, panels, and decks will all become manufactured offsite and shipped to the lot for assembly. The role of operations managers and superintendents will become more paramount as their role becomes more logistics based than technical in terms of managing home builds.

    Interior Customization and Home Upgrades

    Interior décor and amenities for new home buyers have become the new expectations from building firms. Home buyers desire the experience of going to a home builders sales office and choosing the different finishes to customize their home interior. Managing these décor appointments also is proving to have taken an interesting turn for 2019. We are seeing many new technologies appearing in design studios, virtual reality has been a tool to showcase alternate finishes to homeowners, we are seeing tablets and mobiles used for quick spec lookups on products. Even the main process has become automated, the focus is now on homeowners and their wishes. As interior décor catalogues become digitized, digital product libraries are helping builders serve contracts to homeowners quicker than ever.

    For the complete guide on design studio trends developing in the residential homebuilding industry, read “Top 2019 Design Studio Trends for Homebuilders”.

    Navigating a Lucrative Market in 2019

    Although the headlines regarding real estate costs are telling us there will be a slowdown in the housing market, the market itself is steady and great for business. There are few factors at play here, Americans are generally feeling good with their job security, the employment to builder permit ratio is above average across the country, and millennials are also entering the homebuyer market and surprisingly choosing to move farther out from the main city’s and selecting smaller entry-level homes in comparison to their parents, the baby boomers. The vacancies in trade jobs have allowed trades professionals to capitalize on the job crater. This intern is driving up costs for builders and ultimately home buyers. Although prices and new homes sales are decelerating don’t expect the market to collapse! During a market like this one, it is time to consider all facets of the business of home building. Customer experience is no longer optional but an edge that will determine which builders gain control of the various markets. Process becomes crucial and the technology driving it as time becomes of the essence during construction, the lack of skilled labor will also pose a choice for builders as their trade base evolves to include wholesale building material manufacturers. One thing can definitively be said, this market will require creativity and commitment to all facets of home building.

    For 2019 residential market statistics and opinions from building executives – watch the webinar on “2019 Industry Predictions and Building Trends”.

     

     

    The Verdict

    The market is healthy for homebuilders but there will be challenges along the way. Regardless of the challenge, whether it is dialling in a steady construction process, optimizing building strategies to bypass the lack of available trades, or optimizing your customer experience and product selection to cater to the wishes of homeowners. Builders will need to get creative in the business, embrace innovation and technology, and keep homeowners at the forefront of everything they do.

    Sources - Why Millennials are Not Interested in Trade Jobs

    Read more >

    November 20 2018

    Top 3 Hidden Secrets to an Immediate Customer Experience Boost

    87% percent of home builders expect to compete in their market based on customer experience, here are immediate tips to align your company mission correctly for increased referrals.

    The Case for Improving Your Customer Experience

    With 87% percent of home builders expecting to earn new business through word of mouth referrals, excellent customer experience could be the new frontier for home builders to improve the way they do business. Although there is a surge in new home sales demand and the home builder’s willingness to compete through customer experience, how well equipped are home builders in handling homeowner demands? Citing a popular study from The North American Homebuilders Association, it is evident that while home builders have made investments in technology to improve their overall operations, the same can’t be said for tracking customer satisfaction with home builders at an 18% adoption rate nationally. On the other hand, giving homeowners the ability to monitor their home construction is also at a low 22%. Read the following tips to immediately change how your company handles the homeowner journey and improve company ratings.

    Chart

    Source – NAHB.org

    1.      Focus on The Customer’s Lifestyle Instead of “Selling”

    This first tip is powerful as it can be implemented into your sales and customer care process immediately. While a concrete sales process from outside sales to interior décor upgrades is critical to the bottom line of your business, training your realtors and sales on a human approach is key to winning their hearts and earning their referral. NAHB also cites that a homebuilder’s referral market often constitutes 80 percent of their new sales. Therefore, the way we approach potential home buyers needs to be optimized. Train your sales team to build a rapport with new homeowners, keep them in check during all steps of the building cycle, and answer their calls and requests promptly. For example, during the sales and decor appointment, train sales to understand the type of family or homeowner they are selling to, understand their budget, and what they are comfortable with in terms of upgrades. For example, if they are a young couple looking for their first home, perhaps these homeowners are willing to sacrifice home space but will opt-in for better amenities such as high-end appliances. Another example is serving a family with children, this type of prospect might look for upgrades around the home that revolve around family gatherings such as a kitchen island, child-friendly appliances or perhaps more lot space altogether. All this will improve the products you serve them, and the amount of time second-guessing is reduced in your sales discussions. Consider creating content for your new home models with applicable home interior upgrades to allow your homeowners to create a mental Wishlist of what to expect when buying from you, try to build these upgrade packages based around your ideal types of homebuyers and sell that lifestyle. A home reflects the owner’s desires and lifestyle, by closely reading what selections they are gravitating towards in the décor appointment, you can make educated guesses to the styles they may also prefer. At any given moment in the sales process or at the design center, always prioritize the comfort of the customer based on their desires.

    2.      Communication Goes A Long Way

    Communication is key during the sales, construction, interior decors appointments, and during the big day that is home closing. But the Homeowner journey does not end there, one of our clients Lokal Homes, a builder ranked 138 on the top 200 builders list, has a pre-established roadmap for all their sales and warranty professional abide by.

    You will notice that in their roadmap, communication does not break off from homeowners after the home closing, as a matter of fact, their employees are encouraged and incentivized to promptly follow up in a form of a letter or satisfaction survey post-home possession. The moments beyond the home closing are when homeowners tell you the truth about your builder brand and whether you can count on their referral.

    3.      Provide the Right Tools, Listen, Collect the Data, and Evolve

    In the last couple of years, we have observed the home builders leading the way in customer experience pay close attention to their negative reviews first. These builders turn their negatives into a positive to increase their customer rates and referrals. They also have a standardized customer journey assessment process and implement surveys before and after home closing. To get qualitative and quantitative results, they measure success and homeowner’s dissatisfactions over a period and learn from the feedback. This can also become a powerful motivator for your team members, incentivize your sales and customer care representative to go above and beyond for homeowners. Reward great performance and improve poor performance.

    To learn more how production homebuilders are reviewing, assessing, and reorienting their process to suite a positive homeowner experience, try “Builder Interview with HoneyField Homes”.

    Many consumers claim that they are willing to switch brands if they find that the company is unknowledgeable or unable to serve their customers. Home building is the same! But in our industry, failing the customer could mean the loss of a future referral sale. Ensure your team is trained on all your products and that all your interior upgrade packages have warranty information that is easily accessible by homeowners. Some of the clients who are on national heights have even invested in homeowner care portals also found as part of our CustomerInsight suite of solutions. Follow the link to learn more.

    The Verdict

    Being emotionally involved first with your homeowners during your sales and warranty process is key to attracting and nurturing homeowner relationships that translate to referrals and more sales! Establish a road-map for your sales, construction, and customer care processes where your homeowner will receive critical updates from a selected representative of your company. Keep your client facing teams armed with product knowledge and customer first with the right incentives. Track and monitor your performance as a company and on an individual level, celebrate wins and learn to change your process for reoccurring issues. Finally, allow your homeowners to have accessibility, homeowner warranty tools can limit stress on your claims department and allow your homeowners to feel safer and self-sufficient.

    Sources

    Builders’ and Remodelers’ Use of Information Technology – NAHB.org

    5 Smart Business Tactics for Growing Your Building Firm – ProBuilder.com

    Businesses Lose $75 Billion Due To Poor Customer Service – Forbes.com

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    October 18 2018

    Five Steps to Selecting & Purchasing Homebuilder Management Software

    **Read this post before beginning your search for homebuilder management software!**

    Homebuilder Management Software is a tool designed to improve productivity, enhance efficiencies, and streamline operations for a residential construction company. Selecting this software is a decision that will impact your business for years to come.

    Before reaching out to software vendors, it is important to establish your goals and requirements. The following steps are designed to help home building companies identify which software is best for managing their business and which technology partner can support their goals and company structure.

    For the full e-guide, try reading “A Step-By-Step Guide to Selecting HomeBuilder Management Software”. 

    Step 1: Establish Goals and a timeline

    By establishing what your company is currently lacking in terms of process and what your company already does successfully, decide on an overall goal. That goal may include increasing revenue and profitability, improving communication between the office and the construction site, enhancing accessibility during project management, increasing employee productivity or even increasing customer satisfaction. The timeline should be your company’s second step. Highlight key moments in this timeline including the research phase, the software provider review phase, when a final selection is needed, and when the implementation process needs to conclude. This will ultimately guide the software provider in seeing which integrated solution is best for your company, and what is the best possible method to implement the software to fit the structure and goals of your company.

    Step 2: Determine Software Requirements

    Selecting a Homebuilder Management Software system requires careful thought and consideration. All companies are different, and therefore requirements will be unique. First, document your company’s processes and identify unique systems as well as strengths and weaknesses. Then determine how technology can address these processes. Try to identify these requirements across all your core business functions including land development, purchasing, sales, accounting, construction and warranty departments. Beyond that also think big, how many homes did you produce this year versus how many do you hope to accomplish the next? Does this system function for single or multifamily communities? By determining what the requirements for your business will be, you can effectively mitigate risk and ensure all avenues are considered before proceeding with your software purchase.

    Step 3: Explore Software Vendors

    Once goals, timelines, and requirements have been established, the next step is to research and evaluate Homebuilder Management Software vendors. When selecting a vendor, there a few checklist items you must consider:

    • Ask questions relating to your business’ specific processes to ensure it meets your needs
    • Ask for a demo to get accustomed to the feel of the software
    • Determine if the software meets your technology needs, such as whether they offer a cloud or hosted solution or require an on-premise server
    • Read software reviews with a focus on usability, functionality, quality, and support
    • Keep in mind the five keys to consider during the software purchase process to avoid looking only at features and functionalities

    Take the time to truly get to know the vendors available and the market. Look beyond the software to determine what each vendor is about. Consider building relationships with your final options, after all, selecting an integrated home builder management solution is essentially a company partnership.

    Step 4: Learn about New Software

    To ensure a vendor can help your business succeed, ask to read their case studies, watch product videos, and speak with customers currently using the Homebuilder Management Software. Ask the vendor for as many case studies, videos, and references as possible that relate to your specific business or industry. With the vendor’s references, you need to ask the hard-hitting questions. Regardless if you feel the answer may be negative. All aspects of a software system and a technology partner will influence the trajectory of your company. Ask about the overall implementation process, was training provided by the partner? Why did they choose this vendor? And what are the overall benefits to their system in comparison to others? By asking these questions of the reference, you should be able to gauge how the vendor performs, as well as the results you should expect by implementing the Homebuilder Management Software.

    Step 5: Choose A Solution and Get Started

    Once you have selected a vendor and are confident they can meet the needs of your business, you are ready to start the implementation process and begin your partnership with the vendor of choice. The ideal implementation process should begin with a kick-off meeting where the vendor will gain a better understanding of your business’ needs, determine the launch date and discuss best practices during this phase. Again, a great software provider will look at your current business processes, identify what is currently working then identify areas of deficiencies against the industry standard. Training services are also a must from a software provider, digital literacy skills must not be taken for granted especially for a specialized solution that is specific to home building management. Before launch, see if your software vendor can set up work scenarios to self-train your employees before real life building tasks occur. With a gradual buildup of the software solution and slowly easing into end-user adoption, you will surely succeed with your software selection.

    The Verdict:

    The software selection process for homebuilders is a great time to solidify your company’s trajectory. Choose a strategy, establish a timeline that fits your all your system requirements for your core business, explore your vendor options and their software, then finally, commit to your system with a trusted partner.

    As a full suite software provider for home builders, contact us for a business review, you can also read the full software selections guide. If you are unsure if enterprise resource management software is a worthy investment, find out how much other builders are saving in terms of time and resources.

    Read more >

    August 29 2018

    What’s new this year at Build Smarter 2018 Conference?

    This year’s conference in Nashville will be Constellation HomeBuilder System’s biggest turn out to date! What’s different about our 2018 conference is our session diversity. In previous years, our conference has mainly been for training customers on our software. This year, we have gathered the best industry experts to speak about the latest building trends, market data, and the future of homebuilding. We are introducing a new Builder University sessions track, which will be presented by top builders to share best practices. We are also bringing the largest customer care & professional services team to date! Drop by our tech lab for any software questions you might have.  Also, make sure to join user groups led by our software specialists to impact the development of your software solutions.

    NEW Builder University Sessions Presented by Top Builders & Experts

    Our highly anticipated university sessions include DSLD Homes as an event to surely attend. DSLD Homes is famous for mastery of even-flow scheduling of their construction team and their trades. Learn from an industry leader how they bring a home to market in just 43 days! Another anticipated session presented by our sponsor Meyers Research will discuss national housing market statistics in hot markets and what it means to a builder’s strategy. You can also drop by our Builder Roundtable on “What Customer Experience Means to You”, where we discuss the importance in the Customer journey for homeowners during the sales cycle. We are also including home builder university sessions exploring future developments that include predictive homebuilding powered by artificial intelligence and the trend of perfricated housing and what it means to the overall process of homebuilding. University sessions are perfect for gaining best-practices in building and learning about future trends in your industry.

    More User Groups

    At Constellation HomeBuilder Systems, we develop our software with functionalities our builders demand. Attending your software user groups ensures you are part of the discussion on how we can best serve you to build more homes. The user groups are also the best time for us to reveal our 2019 product roadmap! Ensure your voice is being heard by telling us key performance areas you wish enhanced. After all, you are an expert in building and we want to learn from you as well! We added more user groups this year. Make sure to arrive promptly on October 3rd. User groups for NEWSTAR, FAST, BuildTopia, LandDev, and Design Studio Manager will be held live at 4 PM immediately followed by our cocktail reception in the main ballroom!

    ROAD TRIP to a Signature Homes Design Studio

    Wednesday, October 3 @ 1:00pm

    We are currently offering builders interested in improving their design center operations the chance to hit the road with us and see the Signature Homes Design Center in Nashville. Signature Homes has kindly opened their doors to other builders to learn about the best practices for design studio management that improve appointment workflows and increase your product margins. Here are three main reasons to join this tour:

    1. Learn how production builders are improving décor appointments with homeowners to elevate brand and improve upgrades sales
    2. See how Design Studio Manager software works in real life!
    3. Experience Virtual Reality technology and how it is impacting the interior selections process

    Improved Tech Lab for All Your Software Questions- Drop by, Anytime!

    Our Customer Care & Professionals Services team are excited to meet you! Our tech lab is back better than ever, from setting up sales campaigns to creating on-demand reports, our experts have you covered. Visit our tech lab to meet one-on-one to have your software questions answered. Our professional services team will also be present to take on any product enhancement requests. Our tech lab is a great way to get hands-on support from our customer care team, so you can walk away with key tips from our experts on how to maximize your software value.

    Exciting Sessions for Every Builder

    Our marketing team has been hard at work the past few months securing the right speakers and builders to join us to bring you sessions that will truly impact your business towards success. Whether you are attending the user groups to see how you can influence your software or interested in the general education sessions from our builders, we are sure you will find something useful to implement in your business after your Nashville trip that will positively impact your company bottom line. Join us with +300 home builders from across North America. Register Today.

    Read more >

    July 26 2018

    Home Builder Analysis: Home Building Software ROI

    How home builders find savings by implementing software and deploying integrated and automated services for building tasks.

    Our client’s success is our number one priority. Money matters a lot in homebuilding, every dollar counts, and beyond improving your product offering, finding the right land to build on and acquiring resources for the right price – investing in a homebuilding system that’s truly integrated could be the investment to save you money and resources in the long run.

    As you will see, our findings show that an average home builder producing 200 homes at an average selling price of $350,000 and approximately 30 employees can profit from integrated management software by improving hours of ineffective process and optimizing the margins of their operations. We have taken a conservative estimate for wages and for all other variables, and this standard is based on decades of industry experience with hundreds of home builders using Constellation software in their business.

    Profits during the Building Cycle

    Calculating Field Construction and Sales Operations Savings

    The industry standard index dictates that the average building firm of 30 employees about 10 percent would be directly involved in the construction process (3 employees), each builder would be compensated an average of 25 dollars. Due to improved data flows between the head office and on-site builders, each builder will save 4 hours per work week since manual paperwork is eliminated. Considering a 50-hour work week. It is estimated Builders can save an average $15,000 per year.

    Hours per week saved due to automation = 4 Hours

    X

    Weeks worked per year excluding weekends = 50 weeks

    X

    Hourly wage = $25 Dollars

    X

    How many builder/ superintendents employed = 3 Builders

    TOTAL Savings Per Working Year = $15,000

    Calculating savings due to Reduced cycle time due to field integrations

    More importantly, the amount of savings created from improved communication between builders and trades is around $90,000 dollars per year. A builder invests significant capital in terms of labor for each extra day a home sits on a lot incomplete. With the new and improved scheduling capabilities integrated back into your accounting process, expect a 6-day decrease in your home build cycle which ultimately cuts costs.

    Number of homes built yearly = 200 Homes

    X

    Number of reduced cycle days for builds = 6 Days

    X

    Estimated cost per day when a home is under construction = $75

    TOTAL Savings Per Working Year = $90,000

    For more on NEWSTAR’s Scheduling benefits with on-location scheduling, see how DSLD Homes accomplishes a 43-day building cycle on each home, try “5 Keys to Effective Trade Management”

    Calculating improved margins from field integration/scheduling

    The biggest return on investment procured from the construction process will come from integrating your field operations with your schedules. Considering the 200 homes built annually by our sample builder with a 2% savings in upgrade costs averaging to about $ 35,000 per home closed – a building company can find new revenue of $ 140,000 simply by paying attention to the productivity of model upgrades and ensuring that the product upgrade process fits perfectly within your existing construction and trade management process.

    Average upgrade revenue (option dollars) per closing = $35,000 Dollars

    X

    Improved options margins with field integration/scheduling = 4%

    X

    Number of employees = 30 employees

    TOTAL Savings Per Working Year = $140,000

    Savings Generated from Minimizing Back Office Manual Work

    Calculating Home Closing Entry

    Builders/superintendents are each spending 4 hours weekly processing POs. Within a company of 30 people, 1 person works full time administrating work orders and 1 person also helps on a part-time basis. At the end of the year, having a manual process is costing you roughly $ 7,500. As an integrated technology provider for home builders, our concern is the build process. An inconsistent process will also incur the builder running costs from building errors.

    Hours spent weekly per builder Processing invoices/work order/PO’s = 4 Hours

    X

    Working weeks = 50 Weeks

    X

    employees are allocated to Invoice/PO/Work Order Processing = 1.5 Employees

    X

    Hourly wage = $25 Dollars

    TOTAL Savings Per Working Year = $7,500

    Calculating Hidden Costs, controlling committed cost

    Industry hidden costs accumulate over the year from work order processes lacking accuracy in capturing billable and back charge items, keeping consistent to contracted pricing, consistency with buyer selections, and timely ordering and delivery of resources. With integrated software from warranty, to sales, keeping a steady schedule all the way to accounting. Our prospect builder will save $ 87,500 per year while creating an impactful home buying experience to earn them future referrals.

    Average base home sales price = $350,000 Dollars

    X

    Industry % – Hidden Costs, controlling committed cost = 25%

    X

    Number of homes built yearly = 200 Homes

    X

    Conservative adjustment = 50 %

    TOTAL Savings Per Working Year = $ 87,500

    Revenue Generated from Improved Process for Interior Decor Upgrades  

    Design center appointments are the new expectation when buying a new home. The secret to increased revenue for interior upgrades is to offer your homeowners enough customization to please them without sacrificing your automated process. For example, our customers are finding improved appointment productivity with our new product, Design Studio Manager. With a standardized décor center selections process that promotes relevant products to your homeowners, it is estimated that a NEWSTAR user with a Design Studio Manager integration is earning $15,250 dollars yearly (seems low; overall per year or per house per year? Or per week?). $5,250 dollars in earned revenue from having a software system that promotes your upgrade products logically. While the remaining $10,000 is saved money calculated by the manual process your décor agents would have spent selecting products for your homeowners manually.

    Calculating Design Studio Revenue Savings

    Time savings from integrated design software = 1 Hour weekly

    X

    Number of homes built yearly = 200 Homes

    X

    Hourly wage of a designer = $50 Hourly

    +

    Upgrade revenue per closing = $ 35,000

    X

    Percentage increase for optional upgrades = 15%

    TOTAL Savings Per Working Year = $ 10,000 + $5,250 = $15,250

     

    Savings While Providing Homeowner Care and a Simple Buying Experience

    Closer to home sale, builders on average are spending 2 hours with each new homeowner drafting contracts / coming to a sale agreement and 1.5 hours entering home close information. Over the course of a year – the prospect builder would have invested $17,500 for a task that otherwise could be automated. With NEWSTAR, expect sales selections to update in the accounting main module for the real-time budgets analysis and current financial terms. Also, home walkthroughs can be completed on-site with NEWSTAR’s on-location warranty module that directly integrates with the scheduling and accounting departments in case of late-extras or any final adjustments for the fastest reaction time possible.

    Calculating Warranty Process Savings

    Homebuyer Agreements – Hours spent per home = 2 Hours

    X

    Number of homes built yearly = 200 Homes

    X

    Hourly wage = $25 Dollars

    +

    Hours eliminated from automated home closing entry = 1.5 Hours

    X

    Number of homes built yearly = 200 Homes

    X

    Hourly wage = $25 Dollars

    TOTAL Savings Per Working Year = $10,000 + $7,500 = $17,500

    The Verdict

    After examining our clients and their financial performance before and after their NEWSTAR implementation. A home builder producing 200 homes yearly will save $363,625. Over the long term, the return on investment for implementing an integrated software solution comes to $1,818,125 in just 5 years. We acknowledge that all homebuilders are different and operate under many different variables. With the help of industry experts, we have created an ROI calculator to help you customize your potential revenue that is possible with software implementation. Calculate Your Savings today.

    Read more >

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