March 14, 2014 — The TecHome Builder Summit, held March 4-6, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Austin, marked a watershed moment in homebuilders’ relationship with technology products and services.
Three days of immersive engagement with informative and inspirational general session content, best practice sharing roundtable discussions and structured connections with manufacturers and integrators proved transformational for most of the 80 progressive builders in attendance.
Builders headed back to their offices with a clear understanding that technology is a key weapon in their arsenal as they fight for market share with used homes and for the business of two huge market cohorts—the Millenials and Baby Boomers.
Indeed, most builders who attended now believe some level of home automation and interactivity should become standard in their homes and that they need multiple well-merchandised upgrade paths from the base offer to appeal to a variety of buying personae.
According to the Summit Guest Survey fielded after the event, 95% of guests agreed that as a result of the event:
- They will be working on including more technology as STANDARD in our homes
- They will be working on developing well merchandised UPGRADE PATHS for home tech
- They will be more aggressive in MARKETING ENERGY technology options and upgrades “In three days, the TecHome Builder Summit accomplished what the technology industry has been trying to do for two decades—to get builders to think beyond basic pre-wiring as a standard,” said John Galante, president of AE Ventures, producers of the Summit.“We also saw strong traction on energy technologies and a real hunger for attacking the marketing and merchandising issues surrounding technology to improve take rates and profits.”
Tuesday, March 4
The Summit kicked off with a presentation from Celebration Associates Director of Technology, Amy Westwood, aimed at updating builders’ understanding of the telecommunications infrastructure required in today’s homes. Gigabite bandwidth now arriving at homes in cutting-edge communities and cities needs new and improved wired and wireless infrastructure built into the home. Electrical infrastructure needs to be upgraded and improved to accommodate technologies like LED lighting and electrical vehicle charging. Westwood’s presentation and robust Q&A session with the audience proved fruitful and sparked the idea for a TecHome Builder Special Report on the topic, scheduled for release in June 2014.
Up next was the first of two Summit Roundtable Sessions, sponsored by GE Home & Security Technologies. TecHome Builder editor-in-chief, Steve Castle, and Mike Moore, principal of Moore Leadership and Peak Performance, provided thought-starter presentations that sparked lively discussions on ways to improve sales, marketing and merchandising practices related to technology features and options.
Then it was on to fun stuff for the Summit Kick-Off Reception on the 17th floor of the Hyatt Regency Austin, sponsored by SolarCity. Sponsors and guests were treated to Texas BBQ and refreshments, live music and a great view of Lake Ladybird and the always-under-construction Austin skyline while building new friendships and business relationships.
The Summit’s Integrator Limelights: Apex Audio Video, Datasmart & Duncan Security, Home Pro Home Technologies, SES Design Group and Xssentials mingled with the group all giving short welcoming remarks regarding their excitement about builder partnerships.
Wednesday, March 5
A fascinating panel presentation on energy technology for homes, sponsored by Eaton’s Cooper Wiring Devices Business, started Wednesday. Steve Castle moderated a superhero panel of Jacob Attala from KB Home, Eric Simon from Energize the Experience and Tim Costello from BDX. Guests and sponsors were able to get inside KB’s evolving vision of super energy efficient homes and received rousing, inspirational advice from Costello on how to leverage social credit as a sales tool for energy tech features.
In Wednesday’s luncheon session, sponsored by Savant Systems, LLC, AE Ventures president, John Galante, moderated a panel including Savant president and founder, Jim Carroll and Alarm.com VP of marketing, Jay Kenny.
The session helped builders understand the mass-market success of interactive home automation and security in the used home market and welcomed advice to develop their own standard offers as well as upgrade paths.
A best practices session on design, construction and after-occupancy support, sponsored by Clare Controls, followed later in the afternoon.
The three Wednesday sessions sandwiched 42 boardroom presentations (seven concurrent groups convening in six 35-min. time slots) where Summit sponsors presented their products and builder support programs and took in the suggestions of the builder market leaders in attendance.
Wednesday night featured a reception at the headquarters of Summit strategic partner, BDX, followed by a club crawl in Austin’s famous 6th Street entertainment district.
Thursday, March 6
Thursday’s breakfast presentation from world-famous ad man and best-selling business author, Roy Spence, was an emotional and inspirational highlight of the event. During the session, sponsored by LG Electronics U.S.A., Inc., Spence exhorted builders to look at themselves as in the life improvement business and to leverage the very real life improvement features of home technology, especially with the emerging Gen Y market.
The majority of the day was dominated by one-on-one meetings between builder guests and sponsors.
The Summit concluded with presentations from The New Home Company’s Joan Marcus-Colvin, BDX’s Doug Sylvester and John Galante on leveraging technology tools, like options and selection software to better organize tech offers, achieve higher take rates and manage implementation for higher efficiency and profitability.
The inaugural event concluded with a champagne toast to all of the leaders and pioneers who invested their time, energy and money in the Summit.
Stay tuned for the official wrap up report released on the event.
For more information on sponsoring the 2015 event, being held March 25-27 in Austin, TX, contact Jasmine Leitzel, business development executive at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-618-8329.