Category Archives: Builder Resources

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

Posted in Best Practices, Blog, Builder Resources, Conasys, Constellation CRM, Customer Service, Field Scheduling, LandDev, News, NEWSTAR, OnLocation, The Constellation Team | Tagged | Leave a comment

Home Builder Software: ERP vs. BOB

Integration is the key!

A lot has been written on this subject over the years, but most of the verbiage has dealt with generalities. Builders have asked me to explain some of the differences and I have tried to relate these differences to their business.

The Best of Breed (BOB) solution is usually interfaced together by one of the vendors involved in the solution. Indeed there are solutions available that require a vendor of accounting software, sales software, project management software and customer service software. The system interfacer will claim that they have married together the best of all solutions on the market, by bringing together four databases. Let us consider this claim when it comes to a comparison the truly integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software.

Consider for instance an integrated ERP customer service module:

  1. Does it integrate to the purchase order module, in such a way that warranty staff are able to easily determine who did the original work on the lot?
  2. Does it integrate to the sales module so that all customer information and option selections are automatically transferred over?
  3. Does it integrate to accounting module to the extent that all work on the lot that cannot be charged back, is automatically posted to the warranty cost code in the costing module?
  4. Does it integrate to the accounting module to the extent that all backcharges approved by customer service, automatically reduce the payment to the errant subcontractor on the next pay run?
  5. Does it integrate to the purchase order software to allow warranty to issue customer service purchase orders that can be tracked through the normal process of the builder?

These are integration questions from just one module! Most or all of these will not be handled by BOB software.

Consider other more general questions that I have found important to the builder:

  1. Is the production software integrated to the extent that the closing entry to the general ledger with all the associated Work in process and Cost of sales entries (etc.) automated on a lot by lot basis?
  2. Can sales see the current status of all lots in a community by virtue of having the schedule integrated to the sales module?
  3. Can the approvers of an agreement run a margin report on a new prospective deal by virtue of having the budgeting and costing software integrated to the sales module?
  4. Can the builder run a report with data from all four BOB modules? An example may be where the CEO requires a field from warranty to be included in a required accounting report. As a general rule the BOB supplier would recommend that the builder set up yet another database to consolidate the reporting.
  5. The vendor portal in most solutions does a good job with purchase orders. However does it integrate to the accounting software to the extent that the trades can see the check number and amount that paid the purchase order?

I could go on and on but true integration that pays back to the builder.

One objection pointed to the ERP vendor is that you have “all your eggs in one basket”. Check out the ERP vendor you are dealing with as it may be that the vendor is on very solid financial ground. In a BOB solution you must do due diligence on say four vendors, any one of whom could bring down the solution which no one really owns. Will any one or all of the vendors continue to be a best of breed vendor? Who decides this?

When problems occur in an ERP solution it is one call to one vendor. In a BOB solution you would be faced with four numbers. Many times they may say the problem is another vendor’s problem.

Don’t get me wrong, I have seen BOB solutions function but usually to the extent that IT resources are hired to run it. The running cost of a BOB solution has to be higher because of the databases involved and the resulting reporting requirements.

I ask the reader one question. If you built a software solution, would you not want to be in complete control of it?

Share this article or connect with Simon via LinkedIn.

LinkedIn: Simon Gardner

Posted in Best Practices, Blog, Builder Resources, Online Resources | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

NEWSTAR Management Software for Homebuilders

Myers Barnes for Builder Magazine asks builders a tough questionAre you a tech company that builds houses or a home builder that only sometimes uses technology?

With key examples, Barnes illustrates how the new breed of bottom-up technologies are changing the competitive landscape for builders across the country. Website development, social media, virtual floor plans, mobile apps, GPS, QR codes and Google analytics are just a few of the new “power tools” available to help builders edge out the competition.

When you leverage these power tools to communicate… You can find your buyers more adeptly. You can locate and reach out to them and pull the right buyers out of a crowd. You can measure their response to your messaging, and alter it as needed.

Customizing floor plans for a prospective buyer, right in front of their eyes. Social media incentives to fill the sales center. A QR code on your “for sale” sign for immediate property information. Leveraging technology as Barnes suggests can differentiate you from your competition in real time – but these are all front-end technologies. What about the back office? What about the management software that powers your business?

With a builder management software solution in place, these efficiencies will carry throughout your organization. Integrating your CRM system with production, accounting and warranty provides a 360-degree snapshot of your customer, building the relationship throughout the customer lifecycle. Your team can respond to customers with accurate and personalized information at any point in the process.

Standardize communication with vendors, from trades to suppliers, providing access to tasks, schedules, and accounting information to reduce calls to your warranty department – and correct defects faster for the homeowner.

Provide your customers with a personalized portal for accessing information about their new home, and communicating with your customer care team.

Our digital marketing team, G.1440, can asses your website for free and help fine-tune your approach for appealing to both your customers and to Google’s web crawlers.

Request a demonstration of our software solutions for homebuilders. We would be happy to provide you with a free consultation of your business and isolate efficiencies that are specific to the way you build homes.

Posted in Blog, Builder Resources, Warranty | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Homebuilder Moneyball

Take an ‘everything matters’ approach to operations, and ‘small ball’ will get you the wins.

With ballparks opening across the country, Clark Ellis for Big Builder draws similarities between the inflated numbers produced by “The Steroid Era” of baseball and the inflated numbers of the early 2000′s housing market.

“The Steroid Era” from 1996 to 2005 produced year after year of incredible baseball records until regulation came down hard on MLB. History has since proven that these numbers were not a meteoric rise in talent, but the result of an external factor: steroids. Here are a few of those numbers:

Isolated Power (ISO): a measure of batting power, 7 of the top 10 scores occurred in the Steroid Era.
40 Home Run Seasons: 27% of all 40 home run seasons occurred in the six seasons from 1996-2001.
Total Home Runs Per Season: Between 1996 and 2005, the average number of league-wide home runs per season was 5208. The average between 1980 and 2014 is 4262.

After “The Steroid Era” the best teams in baseball, once again, are well-rounded clubs focused on pitching, defence, on-base percentage. Baseball calls this razor-sharp focus on the details “small ball” or in Hollywood, Moneyball.

According to Ellis,

In the housing industry, we essentially had our “Steroid Era” as well in the early 2000’s through 2006 or 2007. Interest rates were extremely low, banks were willing to extend credit to consumers with little to no verification, and home building companies were able to borrow using low rates to purchase land and to finance construction. As we all recall, the numbers associated with the results of housing’s “Steroid Era” were just as exceptional for this industry as the baseball numbers were.

And, similar to baseball, homebuilding had its own inflated numbers:

First-Time New Home Buyers: In 2005, these accounted for 600,000 new units. The days of easy financing for the first-time buyer are gone.
Land: Competition has driven land prices up, making pricing from the early 2000′s no longer possible.
Operations: As prices ballooned faster than costs, inflated margins meant lots of flexibility in the operations department. We’ve heard from Scott Sedam and Ken Pinto that pressure from trades and suppliers is increasing fast.

Like the best baseball teams of the past decade, homebuilders must change their focus from a “long ball” to a “small ball” approach to operations and decisions.

Here is Clark Ellis’ How to Play “Small Ball” Top 10 List:

  1. Drive the market research and land evaluation process with realistic product, pricing and costing assumptions, clear roles, responsibilities and accountability. [Solution: Our land development systems manage every aspect of the planning process with strict rules and automation.]
  2. Know your customer: size of segment, demographics, psychographics, submarkets, price points and product needs.
  3. Deliver clean, flexible, low cost and easily constructible product.
  4. Attack and minimize “Sale to Start” cycle time. [Blog: DSLD's 43-day cycle time]
  5. Scheduling system must provide accurate, real-time visibility to trade partners and suppliers as well as internal staff. [Blog: Scheduling for Higher Profits]
  6. Make Material Management a critical discipline with the dual goals of optimizing margins and eliminating time wasted while waiting for additional material to be shipped to the job. [Blog: Pain Points in the Homebuilder Supply Chain]
  7. Engage Trade Partners in a collaborative fashion and develop incentives that align all interests towards executing efficiently, with high quality and on schedule. [Demo our trade partner portals.]
  8. In the context of #4, aggressively and ruthlessly attack Start to Completion (of construction) cycle time with a collaborative and motivated team of builders, trades and suppliers.
  9. Eliminate Punch Lists.
  10. Commit to the market. Partial effort and incomplete execution wastes time and money and only leaves you further behind your competition.

Ellis’ final “small ball” tip is to reduce opportunism: just because a deal is “too good to pass up” does not mean it aligns with your strategy and goals. Reconsider these decisions, while thinking like the manager of the Oakland A’s.

Request a demonstration of how our solutions can help with these goals.

See also: Homebuilder Shark Tank

Read the full article from Big Builder Magazine.
Clark Ellis is a principal at Continuum Advisory Group.

Posted in Blog, Builder Resources, Online Resources | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

Homebuilders range widely in their acceptance and investment in new software and technologies. Every day, we hear from a new builder who is looking to “drop the paper and pencil” or “finally get rid of random spreadsheets” – but we also hear from builders looking to streamline their reporting for a new round of financing.

The data below is from Professional Builder magazine, gathered directly from homebuilders in 2014. The data shows that builders are digging into the digital toolbox to manage workflow, schedule, accounting, estimating, purchasing, project management, and selling.

See below how homebuilders are utilizing technology, and how our solutions can help.

Professional Builder Software and Technology Survey - Software Tasks

We believe that Scheduling, Estimating and Purchasing should form the foundation of any solid homebuilding software solution. However, it cannot stand alone. Our solutions begin with New Home Sales and guide customers through their warranty.

 

Professional Builder Software and Technology Survey - Software Usage

Project Management and Workflow can provide huge, measurable benefits to homebuilders. Some of our customers send tens of thousands of automated workflow emails daily – each one can save you from a costly game of phone tag.

 

Professional Builder Software and Technology Survey - Software Benefits

NEWSTAR Enterprise automatically keeps customers in the loop when it comes to changes to the standard plan. A brand new addition to the Constellation family, Conasys Homeowner Care, is another powerful tool for communicating with customers after their purchase.

 

Professional Builder Software and Technology Survey - Website

Software solutions from Constellation link directly with your website to ensure a seamless transition for your prospects. Followup can begin immediately using our sales solutions – as a module within your management software or as a stand-alone sales management tool.

Request a demonstration of how our solutions can help with these goals.

Read the full article: Professional Builder’s Exclusive Research: Technology Tools

Posted in Best Practices, Blog, Builder Resources, NEWSTAR, Online Resources | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off