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.

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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 Revolution: Exploring 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

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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 homebuilder, find out how NEWSTAR can support multi-family builders in various building functions.

 

Source – The Many faces of Multi-Family

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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.

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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

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