Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Halloween fun with Constellation

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012
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Last week we had a little Halloween costume contest at our head office in Markham, Ontario. Some topical costumes stole the show: the software pirate is every developer’s worst enemy; the Halloween daemon is lurking where you lest suspect her; the Constellation homebuilder fixed a warranty issue, then the world’s worst handyman broke it; and the sheriff of Constellation kept the situation from getting out of control.

Who would you vote for to take home the prize?

Habitat dedication of 96 Ritchie Ave

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012
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Last week, we were thrilled to attend the dedication ceremony for the 96 Ritchie Ave. Habitat for Humanity build. Our very own marketing specialist Lauren Hughes hammered in the joists holding up the first floor – in the rain!

Although overshadowed slightly by World Habitat Day also on October 1st, the eyes and the hearts of volunteer builders focused on Ritchie Ave. for a remarkable moment. The Sinato family, with mom Lorena and son Bryan were absolutely thrilled to accept the keys to their new Habitat home. The new home will open many doors, none more important to the Sinatos than the accessibility features that will allow Bryan, who is legally blind and lives with cerebral palsy, to thrive. Lorena gave a heartwarming speech to let the crowd – filled with sponsors and volunteers – know how much the home would mean to Bryan. Bryan, on the other hand, could not stop dancing.

We are very pleased to be a part of an industry that is so committed to giving back to the community. Thanks go of course to @HabitatToronto and to @BILDGTA for making our (seemingly insignificant) build day possible. Further thanks to those who shared in our rainy day experience, @EurodaleDevelopments, @MadhouseAD, @RenoMark and of course all of the amazing full-time Habitat workers and volunteers.

2012 Race for Humanity

Monday, July 23rd, 2012
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On July 19, Constellation entered two teams in BILD’s 4th Annual Race for Humanity in support of Habitat for Humanity. The “Amazing Race”-style event took our teams from The Toronto Star headquarters at the foot of Yonge Street to Centre Island, as well as to CityPlace, Pinnacle, and a number of other recent build sites in between. Challenges along the way included icing a cake, riding the log ride at Centreville, and using a slingshot to remove some angry birds from their perch.

Our two teams of five racers competed valiantly along with 23 other teams from the BILD community. Constellation NEWSTARs Amrita, Lunnette, Angelo, Simon, and Kevin were stacked against a difficult route, finding themselves running as far east as Sherbourne and as far west as Bathurst in pursuit of a single challenge! Constellation High Risers Anna, Elaine, Dimitrios, Chris, and Lauren rode a wave of good timing and knowledge of city landmarks to finish in an unofficial second place! Both teams ran themselves to the limit and all were equally exhausted by the time we arrived at BILD’s 20th Annual Charity BBQ.

Our teams brushed elbows with a number of Constellation’s customers, including Empire (the winners!), Geranium, Monarch, Reid’s Heritage, Ballantry, and Countrywide, although customer courtesy may have – at times – given way to competition!

The Race alone was able to raise over $18,000 for Habitat – all of which went to the charity as The Toronto Star and In2ition Marketing Insights covered the costs. Combined, the Race and BBQ raised over $45,000 for Habitat for Humanity.

Photos from the event can be found on our Twitter feed @ConstellationHB as well as on BILD’s blog and Facebook page. Thanks go to @BILDGTA, @TorontoStar, and @In2itionRealty, and congratulations to @HabitatToronto and @Empire_Living!

Constellation would like to thank all participants – NEWSTARs, High Risers, and otherwise! It was a great day for a great cause.

Reflecting on IBS 2012, Lessons Learned.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
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A certain sense of optimism could be felt at this year’s IBS show, with more than 51,000 builders, remodelers and other members of the home building industry in attendance of the four-day event.  While nobody claims the economy is recovering at the rate we would all like, there are signs of improvement over last year’s show.  This economy has forced us all to be more creative in finding ways to increase our growth, while keeping an eye on the bottom line.  The fine line between wanting to do more while not overextending ourselves has never been more difficult to decipher.

This sentiment was most apparent during Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s speech, one of the event’s keynote speakers.  He stated that 1 ¾ million homes are currently unoccupied and for sale, and one in five mortgaged homes in the US is currently ‘under water,’ meaning it’s worth less than what the homeowners owe on it.  The Federal Reserve predicts a further one million homes per year for the next three years will fall into foreclosure.  Obviously not the kind of news 2,500 people in attendance wanted to hear.  Bernanke did offer a few options on how to help the housing market stay on its delicate road to recovery.  The foreclosure to rental initiative aims to shift some of the burden of managing foreclosed and vacant homes to private investors.  By mandating that the properties be used as rentals, the program seeks to lower rent where foreclosures have hiked up demand and to stabilize communities in the hardest-hit areas.  Bernanke also discussed the option to reduce foreclosed inventory by land banks.  It was evident that it will take different options in different parts of the country for the housing market to stabilize itself.  Not one solution would fix all.

During the show, builders of various sizes, business type, needs and wants visited our booth, requiring software to accomplish a multitude of different tasks.  Some of them were looking to grow their business and wanted to leverage technology to do so; they foresee growth this year and wanted to ensure their company is technologically prepared to handle it.  Others were start-ups, some former executives from national builders starting their own company or independent builders capitalizing on new opportunities in their communities.  It became very clear that all builders were looking for ways to streamline their business operations, maximize their profits while decreasing their costs, basically to do more with less.

At Constellation HomeBuilder Systems, we are in the unique position to offer a variety of different software solutions specifically designed for the homebuilding industry.  HomeDev Pro and BuildSoft continue to have a solid base of custom and small production builders.  For builders building at the 100 home mark and looking to maintain that level, Builder360 and BuildTopia offer end-to-end functionality to address their needs.  Our flagship products, NEWSTAR and FAST are the only fully integrated single database solutions to handle every aspect of a large, multi-state production builder.  Much like the Federal Reserve will continue to work diligently for different solutions across the country, Constellation will continue to develop, support, and enhance its product suite for all types of builders.  From website to warranty we have the right product for every builder.

Constellation OnLocation-Warranty Video Posted

Friday, October 15th, 2010
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We just put the finishing touches on the latest OnLocation-Warranty customer experience video.  The video describes our mobile solution for paperless PDI, inspections, and warranty walkthroughs.  Home builders can capture electronic signatures on a tablet device and immediately send deficiency information to the back office system in real-time to create a work order and process backcharges with fewer errors in less time.  Additionally, the signed customer copy is archived in the system for all authorized users to see. This new home warranty and customer service walkthrough software solution for homebuilders is available for NEWSTAR Enterprise.

The Value of a New Home Sales and CRM System

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
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Recently, I had the opportunity to visit with a client and was pleasantly surprised.  The Sales Manager explained that they weren’t currently using all of the features in their new home sales system to capture all the sales information, but then she explained that they did use it for many important functions.  She explained that even though they didn’t use it to its fullest extent, it was still a very helpful tool, and she excitedly described how it recently helped her land a very important sale.

A husband and wife had come into the sales office one day and told her that they had visited and taken a look around a couple of years ago, and liked what they saw, and they were getting closer to being ready to buy.  The Sales Manager welcomed them back, and invited them to take a look around the model, and politely excused herself, saying that she needed to take care of something in her office and that she would be back in just a moment.  She rushed back into her office and pulled up their names in their CRM system, and was able to refresh her memory by reading all of the detailed notes she had recorded during their earlier visits.  She returned to her buyers, and created opportunities to work the pieces of information that she had gathered from their visits 2 years ago, into the conversation.  The prospects felt very special and thought it was absolutely amazing that she remembered so much about them.

The Sales Manager told me that she ultimately closed a sale with them, and that the prospects mentioned they were very impressed with her ability to remember them.  While she recognizes that there were many other factors that impacted the final purchase decision, she was also confident that her effort to enter additional prospect information in the new home sales and CRM system played a large role in landing the sale.

Another Reason to Get Leads into Your Sales System Immediately

Monday, April 26th, 2010
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When your website is hooked up to your sales system in real-time, you can start to analyze data in powerful ways.  Without this real-time integration, you won’t know exactly when the lead came in… it would most likely show up as 50 leads every Monday morning, some of them may have expressed interest almost a week ago. (if they submitted their contact information right after you did the import)

Having said that, here is some aggregate analysis for lead distribution by Day of Week and Time of Day.  If you look at the charts and imagine how this fits in your prospective home buyer’s day, you should be able to decide when you want your sales staff available to answer questions by e-mail or phone and schedule appointments for your sales agents.

Lead Distribution – Day of Week

  1. husband/wife procrastination factor “can you look up that house we saw last weekend?” it looks like it takes a couple of days for the husband/wife to get around to it.

Lead Distribution – Time of Day

  1. Look for homes online around lunch time
  2. During afternoon meetings, before leaving the office, they look for more homes
  3. Driving home and eating dinner, so no looking for homes at this time
  4. Look for more homes after dinner around 7pm.
  5. From 8PM to 10PM, put the kids to bed
  6. Kids are in bed, time to look for homes again.

Note: Although 8AM, doesn’t look like a prime time for leads, there is some opportunity on Monday mornings as you’ll see below.

Lead Distribution – Day of Week and Time of Day

  1. Around noon on Sunday, they look for homes online
  2. They might be driving around looking for homes in the neighbourhoods they like between 1 and 5pm on Sunday.
  3. Around 6pm they look up the homes that they saw on their Sunday drive
  4. At 8 AM on Monday, they get to work and look at more homes.
  5. At 4 PM on Monday they look for more homes before leaving work
  6. On Tuesday at lunch and towards the end of their workday, they look for more homes.
  7. They look for more homes on Tuesday around 10 PM, then they forget about it until Friday as they prepare for their weekend.

Shea Homes Selects Constellation BuildServ’s Ownership Guide To Boost Customer Satisfaction To Higher Levels

Monday, December 14th, 2009
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Markham, ON, December 14, 2009 – Constellation HomeBuilder Systems, the largest provider of software for home builders, helps Shea Homes of Walnut, CA boost customer satisfaction to higher levels in 2009 by helping them monitor and improve the new home buyer experience from contract to warranty.

Constellation BuildSERV’s Home Ownership Guide, the 2009 Innovative Housing Technology Award Winner, is used by Shea Homes to enhance home builder-to-home owner communications using  content management services, online messaging and warranty management software solutions throughout all phases of the new home construction process to keep new home buyers informed and engaged both during and after construction.

In the recent 2009 J.D. Power New Home Builder Customer Satisfaction Study reveals that customer satisfaction and new home quality has improved dramatically from 2008.  Shea Homes, Walnut CA performance in this survey was enhanced and strengthened through the company-wide implementation of BuildSERV Ownership Guide.   Shea Homes ranks 1st or 2nd in customer satisfaction in all 5 markets where they competed (Phoenix, San Francisco Area, Denver, Inland Empire, and Orange Co/San Diego), and ranks highest in Shea Trilogy Active Adult communities where they compete in 6 U.S. markets.    Year over year, Shea Homes places in the Top 10 for number of homes built each year with approximately 2,400 homes being sold this year.

Shea Homes expanded their commitment to utilize BuildSERV throughout their 11 regions with built-in milestone notification e-mails and web-based appointment scheduling.  Shea Homes expanded from 3 to 11 regions for three principal reasons.  Firstly, BuildSERV helps Shea Homes internally by allowing everyone to upload, share and collaborate regarding the same documents and information for consistency and unification of their branded image in all locations.  Externally, they’re able to proactively communicate with home buyers using milestone-based messaging and appointment scheduling to keep homebuyers informed and positively engaged.  Secondly, Shea Homes tracks and monitors home owner activities and warranty performance with activity timeline reports giving them a clear picture as to how the home owner is learning and using the system while helping Shea Homes meet their legal obligations.  Finally, the implementation process is quick, easy and cost effective so they save time, money and resources.

Once BuildSERV is delivered to the home buyer by CD ROM, web or e-mail, Shea Homes receives campaign management results with reporting on recipients who’ve received, responded to and are using their information and services.  “In essence, instead of delivering the Home Owner’s Manual as a paper 3-ring binder that gets shelved, BuildSERV delivers twelve copies of their Manual electronically during their first two years in their home using BuildSERV’s milestone messaging and web-based Home Ownership Guide”, Chip Pennington, Corporate Director of Customer Service, Shea Homes.

“The next generation of home buyers are expecting more information online, and BuildSERV delivers the effective communication tools they’re looking for with a comprehensive, web-based Home Owner Manual, providing quick and easy access to regular updates about their home and enhanced information services to create better home buying experiences,”

- Robb Pigg
Corporate VP Operations
Shea Homes

Constellation HomeBuilder Systems is the largest home building software supplier helping builders manage their information technology costs with cutting-edge, integrated software solutions to run their businesses more effectively.   Constellation continues to invest in new products and services, while providing regular updates  to keep builders current with today’s technology trends. 

Constellation HomeBuilder Systems (“CHS”) is a division of Constellation Software Inc. (“CSI”), and is a publicly traded company.

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, vendor portal solutions, and web site solutions designed exclusively for the home building industry.

Media Inquiries
Cathy Kotsopoulos
(888) 723-2222

Jeff Benton Homes Recognized for Growth

Thursday, November 19th, 2009
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In 2007, Jeff Benton Homes, implemented the complete FAST Management Platform in a nimble three-month pace and kept right on building into historic profits. A complete builder ERP solution, FAST allows builders to streamline systems, increase efficiency and improve operations, empowering businesses to concurrently grow volume and profit margins.  Congratulations JBH!

Click here to see a recent article about Jeff Benton Homes.

Converting Website Prospects to Buyers

Monday, September 28th, 2009
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A couple months ago Builder G, not their real name, decided to change the way they follow-up with internet leads. They are already a successful builder, but this is still a big step for their company and their staff. Everyone involved in this will learn how to use the internet differently, identify and follow-up with prospects more consistently, and manage their sales teams more effectively. They will make better use of Constellation’s home building software.  I hope we learn a lot as well and we’ll share it with other builders in the Constellation family. 

For most builders, the time is right to make this improvement.  There is some optimism in the market, websites have probably been neglected, more potential home buyers are getting their information online, the length of the new home buying process has increased, and many large builders are attributing their recent success to a better website sales process.

Builder G will make the following changes:

  1. update their existing website so that it is easier for prospects to obtain community/lot/model/upgrade details and provide contact information
  2. utilize one employee to follow-up with all internet prospects immediately to provide friendly information and schedule sales agent appointments
  3. utilize their existing sales system to track each prospect and ensure that only qualified prospects are provided to sales agents

Builder G hopes to obtain the following results:

  1. obtain more prospects from their existing websites (pre-registration and existing communities)
  2. ensure that all prospects are the responsibility of one person and that their marketing database is properly maintained for future prospect campaigns
  3. use the software from Constellation to follow industry best practices and track every prospect from start to finish

We’ll let you know how it goes.