Archive for the ‘Best Practices’ Category

Online Marketing Best Practices Webinar for Home Builders

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
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Final Reminder – Register Now

Date: Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 1 PM EST –
Presenter: Mike Lyon – Do You Convert?

Click here for your video invitation to this event.

With more and more new home buyers going online to begin purchasing their new home, home builders need to consider the following:

  • Search engine results and rankings are critical
  • Websites need to be organized to capture more prospect information
  • Prospect follow-up needs to happen quickly
  • Sales staff need to be accountable for every prospect
  • Prospects that are not motivated now can become motivated at any time, so ongoing communication is important

The session will be presented by Constellation HomeBuilder Systems and Mike Lyon and will feature a detailed presentation, product demonstrations and an opportunity for questions.

Important Registration Information

After you register for this session, all participants will receive an email confirmation via WebEx confirming your registration with an event URL and event password.  If you do not receive a confirmation, please contact Cathy Kotsopoulos via email or by phone at (888) 723-2222 ext 6140.

The Facts about HST

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009
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With the HST announcement by the Ontario government in March the great unknown was how this would affect our clients?

I have attended the various seminars and workshops put on by the OHBA and BILD hoping to get definite answers to all my questions as to how the HST will be applicable to Homebuilders.  At these sessions there have had experts from both the private and public sectors.

I did get some information but all the rules have not been defined by Canada Revenue Agency or the Ontario Finance department.

Things You Should Know about HST – HST will be implemented on July 1, 2010

According to the Ontario Ministry of Finance the HST will be revenue neutral.  It will reduce the amount of tax paid by Ontario businesses.  That prior to the announcement there was a 2% o 3% RST (Retail Sales Tax) component already factored into the Home Sales price.

To take the Ontario New Housing Rebate the house must be the Primary residence.  The same rules and conditions as the GST rebate.  If the sale is “grand- parented” then there is no Ontario New Housing Rebate.  The Ontario New Housing Rebate can be claimed by the Home Buyer or can be assigned to the Builder.

For the HST rebate calculation the existing GST rebate remains unchanged.  For the Provincial portion of the HST the rebate will apply to the first $400,000 of the purchase price.

With the “Grand-parented” sale the Home Buyer does not pay the HST only GST.  But the Builder is able to claim the Input Tax Credits on all costs paid after July 1, 2010 related to the house construction.  The Builder will pay 2% of the selling price times a factor based on percentage of completion on July 1, 2010.

One of the changes with the HST implementation that the Builder must be aware of is Disclosure.  What I mean by this is that the Builder must disclose if the Agreement of Purchase and Sale was signed between July 19, 2009 and June 30, 2009, whether the 8% Provincial component of the HST applies and if the purchase price is net of the New Housing Rebate.  If this disclosure is not made then the Purchase Price is deemed to include the 8% Provincial component of the HST.

A builder is considered a large business (annual sales above $10 million) then the PST component for the Energy (i.e. Gas, Electrical), Telecommunications (excludes internet services), Vehicles and  Food, Beverage & Entertainment  will be restricted from applying for the Input Tax Credit on the PST portion only.

Ontario – New Harmonized Sales Tax

Friday, August 21st, 2009
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Have you ever asked a question and wish you had not?  That happened to me last week.  I asked one of our senior managers (a CA) “What do you know about GST/HST and the pending harmonization?”  His response — “It’s Complicated!”

Being an inquisitive type I started to do some research and — wow — was he right.  This new mandate for Ontario (and maybe some additional provinces) is going to have a significant and profound impact on our industry so I thought I would share some of what I have learned with you. 

First of all, it is a most interesting name – Harmonized Sales Tax – sounds pleasant… right?  Not exactly, based on what I could find out it brings harmony because in order to implement HST a builder is thrown into chaos bordering on pandemonium.  It is difficult to fathom how a builder, remodeler, or renovator can manage all of the requirements and continue to run their business.  For this reason, Constellation HomeBuilder Systems is making changes in our NEWSTAR Enterprise production and accounting system, to help the builder deal with the new tax rules and we’ll be ready when the rules come into effect.

Let’s cover a couple of the basics.  When? The new law goes into effect July 1, 2010, less than a year away.  Who is impacted?  All companies including builders, remodelers, and renovators are subject to the new regulations.  To further confuse you, some of the exemptions you had in the PST regulations no longer apply.  Not confused yet?  Well then, they will add some new exemptions for you to understand and keep track of.

You need to be planning for and understanding how you are going to comply with these new regulations.  One piece I read had some reassuring news… “The province acknowledges businesses will have to change their accounting systems”. 

With past regulatory changes Ontario builders have been able to rely on internal resources to address them.  This one is going to be a little tougher.  The transition rules for projects already under contract or under construction are likely to be more complex and require more information from your production system.  As an organization you can train your staff to learn the intimate details, or you can rely on your software partner to build these rules into their systems.  Constellation has a proven track record for doing this with Tarion requirements, GST calculations, payroll taxes, and other regulatory requirements in Canada and the United States.

HST is complex and I can show you how I came to this conclusion.  I “googled” HST and on the first page of search results I found some good information.  Here are a few of the links I found worthwhile.

http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/gst-tps/menu-eng.html
http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/gst-tps/cnstrctn/menu-eng.html
http://www.canadabusiness.ca/gol/bsa/site.nsf/en/su07017.html#a1

The reason I say complex… The first link I gave you above has no less that 17 additional links to find more information.    Are you equipped to deal with this?  To make matters worse these taxes add to the purchase price of your houses and construction projects.  So how are you going to do this?

It is time to rely on your software partner.  Let them (us) do the heavy lifting and make the changes to your accounting and production system.  It is your software company that should be responsible for these changes.  Constellation has been very involved with the local home building associations and we will continue to be involved to ensure that our systems will include the functionality our customers need. We have already made the necessary changes for GST/PST and TARION and as a Canadian company we have a better understanding of these changes than any other software provider.  So if you are managing these statutory changes outside your core software, it is time to make a change.  If you are sitting on the fence delaying a software purchase now is the time to decide.

It is not all bad news.  There could be a small buying frenzy created because of the new taxes.  A buyer will see savings should they purchase and close before Canada Day next year.  Leverage that information and create a sense of urgency in your buyers.  Show buyers how delaying their purchase will cost them more money.  If you have inventory homes or lots waiting for new homes your sales team can take advantage of this knowledge.  Sell a few more homes and ease the transition.  Now that is what I call harmony!

Free Event – Online Marketing Best Practices and Prospect Follow-up

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
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FREE Event – Online Marketing Best Practices and Prospect Follow-up

With more and more new home buyers going online to begin purchasing their new home, home builders need to consider the following:

  • Search engine results and rankings are critical
  • Websites need to be organized to capture more prospect information
  • Prospect follow-up needs to happen quickly
  • Sales staff need to be accountable for every prospect
  • Prospects that aren’t motivated now can become motivated at any time, so ongoing communication is important

The session will be presented by Constellation HomeBuilder Systems and Mike Lyon and will feature a detailed presentation, product demonstrations and an opportunity for questions.

Date: Tuesday September 1st, @ 1 PM Eastern

– Enroll Now

NEWSTAR Enterprise 9.2.4 Service Release Overview – Now Available

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
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 The NEWSTAR Enterprise 9.2.4 video overview is now available in the NEWSTAR client care center.

This recording covers major enhancements in the latest NEWSTAR Enterprise service release and it is available anytime for Constellation customers.

It’s easy to view. Simply login to the client care center at www.constellationhelpdesk.com, click on the NEWSTAR link at the top, and the event will be listed on the left in the NEWSTAR Video Library.

This session is recommended for Sales Managers, Purchasing Staff, Construction Managers, and Warranty Coordinators.

To request a user account, or if you need to reset your password, click here.

PCBC Day 3 Recap

Saturday, June 20th, 2009
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Day three at PCBC 2009 began with a motivating keynote by Seth Godin. His challenge to the home builders in the audience was to figure out how to build a home that will be lived in because the buyers like it, not becuase they will make a bunch of money when they sell it in 6 months. The home is more than the granite countertops, 4 bedrooms, the great room and a nice backyard.  The home needs to be part of the community and that begins with communication.  The builder needs to learn from the crowds that want to buy a home, identify a niche, design a home and a community that people want to live in, one that fits their lifestyle, allows them to live near people with shared interests, and one that people will tell stories about.  It is those stories that will bring motivated buyers into the sales office. Stories that people identify with and stories about the people that will become neighbours.  Telling stories is so much better than simply talking about how many bedrooms, bathrooms, square feet, and parking spaces the buyer will have in their new home.

If you are a builder doing something different, post a comment and let us know.

Here is a picture from the event.

Seth Godin at PCBC 2009

PCBC 2009 – Day 2 Recap

Friday, June 19th, 2009
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We had another great day at PCBC 2009 and some very savvy builders visited our booth. Some were looking for home building software, some were starting new businesses, and some were frustrated with their current software partners.

An existing customer that has been using one of our systems for a long time was blown away with how much more they could be doing with our software.  They could be using scheduling better, they could be following up with leads quicker, they could be providing all their warranty materials online, they could be tracking supplier quality better, and they could be using more of our built-in reports.

As a software partner, I feel that we have let them down. They should know that we have been working hard to improve our products and provide them with tools to make them more effective and efficient.  I encourage any builder with a slight interest in wanting to do more with technology to run their business to give us a call.

I’m looking forward to Seth Godin‘s talk on Friday.  Should be fun.

PCBC Day 1 Recap

Thursday, June 18th, 2009
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Constellation had a great day 1 at PCBC 2009. We met a bunch of home builders that are just getting started or looking for ways to improve their businesses with technology. Our online home owner warranty and service guides were a hit, with a few builders learning how to reduce warranty costs, while communicating online with their new home buyers.

We had some great conversations with builders looking for integrated software systems like BuildSoft, Builder 360, NEWSTAR and FAST.  Builders are looking for sales systems as well, so it was good timing when Mike Lyon came by the booth to chat about how Constellation Sales, NEWSTAR Sales and FAST Sales are helping home builders improve their websites and prospect follow-up processes to help close more sales. (starts at about 2:45)

Constellation HomeBuilder Systems Releases New Products and Welcomes You to the 2009 PCBC Show

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009
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Markham, ON (PRWEB) May 27, 2009 — Constellation HomeBuilder Systems, the largest provider of homebuilder accounting software, will be presenting several new software products at the 2009 PCBC, June 17-19, 2009, San Francisco, CA. Home builders are invited to see the latest homebuilding software technology to help builders control costs more effectively while preparing for normal home construction and sales levels.

As the largest homebuilding software provider, Constellation reported an increase in sales from smaller home builders between March and May of 2009. Unlike many other software providers in the homebuilding industry, Constellation is committed to supporting our customers, participating in industry events and supporting trade publications regardless of the current market conditions. Recently, home builder confidence has started to return as demonstrated by a strong commitment toward technology investment. As home builders prepare for improved market conditions, investing in technology ahead of growth can help delay staff increases with better control systems in place to ensure future profitability.

If you need better software to manage your home building business, visit us at the show to learn how the best builders are transforming their businesses and utilizing Constellation products. Don’t forget to ask about our PCBC 2009 show specials.

Constellation continues to demonstrate an unmatched commitment to invest in new technology and services for home builders of all sizes, whether you build 5 homes or 10,000 homes annually. In addition to the numerous enhancements in Constellation’s industry leading ERP product suite, NEWSTAR, FAST, BuildSoft, Builder 360, as well as Constellation CRM, and LandDev, we are introducing six, leading-edge products specifically designed to help home builders meet the challenges of today’s recovering market.

At PCBC, builders can see firsthand why Constellation’s industry commitment and product enhancement efforts continue to make our technology solutions the first choice for home builders seeking world-class software and services.

Please join us to see the latest new products at the Pacific Coast Builders Conference 2009, June 17-19, 2009, Moscone Center at Booth 1316 in the South Hall.

Constellation’s most recent new products include:

Website Sales Integration – WebLeads

Constellation WebLeads is an automated web-based lead qualification and prospect management tool for home builders. WebLeads allows you to quickly qualify, personally respond to, and narrow your focus on prospects that are ready to purchase. Never lose another lead and convert more prospects into homebuyers by immediately responding to new prospects’ online inquires by effectively qualifying and communicating in real-time.

NEWSTAR Enterprise Workflow Management Software

Constellation NEWSTAR Workflow Management is a web-based solution designed for all commercial, residential or condominium property managers with remote building locations and any locations outside head office. It delivers consistent, timely and accurate information to internal or external users for faster, automated and more efficient invoice status, approval and payment control.

Warranty and Homeowner Expectation Management: Driving Referral Sites

Constellation BuildSERV – Ownership Guides is a hosted web portal and e-mail service for the delivery of home care and warranty information to new home buyers. Multiple touch-point communication tools help you track responses and reinforce your warranty and customer service standards. Integrated lead referral programs offered during and after the warranty period will help you drive referral sales.

Constellation Extended Hosting

Constellation Extended Hosting offers homebuilders a cost-effective alternative to upfront hardware and software licensing costs. The NEWSTAR Enterprise and FAST homebuilding production and accounting systems, available in a stable, secure, scalable and supported environment, gives homebuilders instant online access from any location with Internet connectivity.

Constellation Promotional Marketing – Constellation Forms and 4-Color Printing

Constellation Forms is an easy, affordable and effective marketing solution for all home builders. No job is too small or too large. We specialize in creating high quality, four-color marketing materials that look amazing online and in print. We offer design and printing services for stock and custom printed promotional materials. Constellation will work with your marketing staff to translate and develop your concepts into exceptional promotional pieces designed specifically for any target audience. Produce powerful images that best represent your company and deliver the right message to your prospects, all while saving time and money.

Constellation Builder Broadcast – E-mail Marketing System

Constellation Builder Broadcast provides you with affordable e-mail campaign management tools tailored to your requirements to produce polished, professional and targeted e-mail campaigns and services. Measure the effectiveness, impact and overall results with detailed, accurate tracking, reporting and analytics to give you target audience feedback so you sell the right product to the right customer, and open doors to discover and explore new channel and market opportunities.

About Constellation HomeBuilder Systems

As the largest home building software company in the industry, Constellation HomeBuilder Systems has helped more than 2,100 builders manage their information technology costs with integrated software solutions to run their business from dirt to warranty. From planning to homeowner services, we have land development software, new home sales and marketing software, production, purchasing, scheduling, accounting, warranty, electronic homeowner manuals, and vendor portal solutions designed exclusively for the home building industry.

Media Inquiries:

Cathy Kotsopoulos
ckotsopoulos(at)constellationhb.com
(888) 723-2222

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Constellation User Conference – Large Builder Roundtable Discussion

Friday, April 24th, 2009
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We had a number of medium and large volume builders discussing everything from the recent stimulus programs, selling new homes, doing more with less, implementing software systems, working with trades and suppliers, vendor portals, home builder websites, the impact of green building on home builders. Some of the builders share their success stories in the current market and how they are leveraging technology to do more with less.







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Video