Archive for the ‘Roofing’ Category
Service and specialty contractors have complex and highly specialized business needs. Examples of these types of contractors include: electrical, HVAC, plumbing, roofing, siding and sheet metal, landscaping, painting, carpentry, concrete, excavation, drywall, masonry and flooring.
In contrast to general contractors, who typically focus on longer term, large-scale jobs, service and specialty-oriented companies have many more specialized jobs to bid, manage, and execute. They have to juggle customer requests, coordinate service schedules, track parts, and manage a fleet of trucks; all of which must be done as effectively and efficiently as possible to ensure quality service while maintaining maximum profitability.
In a tough economy, service and specialty contractors are intently focused on reducing costs by maximizing their team’s efficiency. They want to take advantage of the newest technologies so they can streamline their operations and optimize customer service. The leaner their business processes, the more productive their teams can be. So, they’re looking to simplify operations by employing tools that enforce accountability while tracking business performance.
Service and specialty contractors looking to identify potential cost reductions and productivity improvements should first examine their information systems and related business processes. Many contractors experience difficulty with one or more of the following in their systems and processes:
Lack of Integration – Using multiple applications or manual processes
Error prone multiple data entry points
Tedious Workflow due to high volume and complexity of jobs and agreements
Difficulty managing complex inventory (e.g. parts, multiple locations)
Purchasing of equipment, parts coordinated with inventory, accounting and service
Poor equipment tracking and management
Communication breakdowns between staff, dispatch and back office teams
Dispatching the right technician with the right skills for the right amount of time
Difficulty making billing adjustments, and billing schedule
How new technology can solve these problems
Software is currently available that provides integration across purchasing, inventory, service management, accounting and other functional disciplines. Benefits include improved access to data, improved workflow and accuracy, and better inter-team communication. Here’s what you should look for in a top notch software package for service and specialty contractors:
- Complicated importing and exporting of data and bouncing back and forth from one software application to another are eliminated.
- Applications improve customer service by allowing dispatch to respond to incoming service calls, manage field technicians and process work orders and bills from a single work space.
- Modern, easy-to-use interfaces are intuitive and flexible. Layouts can be customized. Navigation is accomplished using process maps and Outlook-style menus.
- Work spaces provide interactive inquiries so users can easily work with their data. An example might be to examine a client site, edit trip data, and drill down to associated purchase orders or invoices within that work space.
- Information is stored in a centralized database providing the flexibility for remote access and add-on application integration. Automated and web-deployed updates help IT departments save time and cut costs.
- Process maps provide a visual representation of everyday role or department processes that simplify training.
- Critical financial and cost information is easy to access so users can quickly make important decisions and manage the bottom line.
iPad and Mobile Technology
Mobile technology is improving communication between service technicians, office and dispatcher with on-line real-time access to schedule changes and GPS location data. As a result, technicians always know where to go and what to do. Techs are also capturing more business opportunities in the field.
How to find the right technology and Solution Provider
You want a company with deep industry and business process expertise and a proven track record; one that can focus on creating a long-term relationship to create knowledge and usability of their systems. They can assign the right people, skills and technologies to help you improve your performance.
Before you decide on a solution provider look for the following:
Superior Implementation Methods
Refined methods for implementation, training and support services must include conducting a needs analysis to determine the solution and critical path schedule for a successful implementation while communicating progress at every step. Pre-built standard implementation methods reduce the time and resources needed for a successful software migration. You want a company with proven experience in specialty and service business operations, one that can provide:
- Software implementation, training and support services focused on the construction industry.
- Specialized material and resource database development for estimating and procurement.
- Hardware and network integration.
- Outsourcing with third parties or applications that specialize in your trade for creating maximum value to core competencies.
Experienced professionals deliver innovative solutions to assist in transforming your organization’s finance function, using best practice in finance management to achieve improved business performance.
The ideal company will help you define roles for each employee within the office workflow for increasing productivity and eliminating unnecessary costs.
Trust and Value
The lowest price is not always the best value. Look for a company you can trust to be there over the long haul; a company providing services that add value to your solution:
- Personalized Service – A company that wants to know you and your capabilities and resources for getting your business where you want it to go.
- Real-Time Answers – If your system needs attention yesterday, the ability to log into your systems and give you a helping hand.
- Reports You Need and Use – Consultants skilled at creating customized reports.
- Local and Regional Training and Seminars – Face-to-face and online skills improvement.
- Communication –Publishes an email newsletter or blog with technical tips and schedules of upcoming classes and software enhancements.
- Users Groups – Has local and/or national users group to learn from other users and create informal learning chains.
- Hardware and Network Support –Works with local and national Information Technology companies to share resources and knowledge of customer’s technology environments and recommend reputable companies.
Backed by Software Industry Leaders –Represents only the best in class software for the service and specialty contractors industry.
The ideal solution provider will work closely with you to develop the scope and standards of the services you require. They will incorporate substantial capability improvements and cost reductions into an innovative solution that meets your needs. They will apply pioneering process improvements and standardized leading-edge technologies to create and sustain business value.
What can you expect for your service and specialty contracting business? Finding the right technology and the right solution provider will likely result in streamlined financial operations coupled with substantial and sustained operating cost savings; transformational business outcomes with less risk, less capital and faster timelines.
It seems like you just can’t get away from all the grim financial news. No matter where you go, there it is. At work, restaurants, grocery stores, the park…it’s all people talk about. So now, more than ever, it’s time to test your metal. What are you made of?
If you’re a roofing company in Arizona, you’re pretty scrappy. You are likely doing better than most. Industry news tells us roofing is not taking as a big a hit here as in other parts of the country , for several reasons.
1. The weather. You can virtually work year-round.
2. The weather. The heat here is hell on roofs which means plenty of repair work.
3. People need roofs. Period. The work has to be done. You can skimp on red meat but skimp on roof repair and you will pay dearly in the end.
So what are Arizona roofing companies doing to shelter themselves from this economic storm? Many companies are cutting their overhead. Many have reduced their staff and their hours.
Others have reduced benefits. On the chopping block are 401k’s, holiday pay, dental plans, personal sick pay and employee assistance programs.
Minimizing work truck expenses is another way people are coping. Companies are carefully planning out their routes, driving less and still others are switching to smaller vehicles.
However, they are deliberately increasing their marketing. Not only are they touting their regular services many companies are diversifying. They’re offering green products, adding cleaning services after installation and adding solar installations, to name a few.
But it’s not all bleak news. This year’s International Roof Expo held in Las Vegas was by all accounts a success. Not surprisingly, this year’s theme was “Planning ahead for a Challenging Year.” Nearly 400 companies were there marketing themselves. We at DB Data Inc were among those representing Sage Timberline Office. Officials tell us 7,472 people attended, only 367 less than last year. What does this number tell us? Roofing companies are not giving up, they are simply preparing for the future.
“We’re very pleased the International Roofing Expo was a tremendous success for both exhibitors and attendees,” said Donna Bellantone, Director of the IRE. “With solid attendance during a tough economy, the show continues to deliver a valuable service as the leading industry event for products, education and networking in the roofing industry.”
Daren Baldwin, President of DB Data Inc, just came back from the Vegas IRE. What he heard over and over is that roofing companies want ONE integrated system that will link sales with accounting. If that’s what you’re looking for, we’d love to help.
Many companies are using this downtime to analyze the way they do business. Upgrade their accounting system, examine the way they monitor equipment and expenses and most of all prepare for an economic upswing. When it comes, and it will, many companies want to be prepared. Now is the time to implement changes. There is more time to incorporate new software, new technology and new ideas. People are more open to change, especially if it means continued employment and longevity for their employers and themselves by default. Take a good hard look at the way you do business. Can a new accounting system better prepare you for the future? Can you implement tracking devices and field devices now so when the busy time comes, you’re ready for it? In the end, streamlining your business, improving your ways of tracking finances and investing in the future, are all things you, the business owner, can stay focused and bring clarity to the current situation.
This economic storm will pass – question is — will you be ready?
At the January 2009, International Roofing Expo at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, I spoke with several owners of roofing companies about the software they use for cost accounting, estimating and project management. In a couple of the breakout training sessions, there was a general agreement that Sage Timberline Accounting is recognized as the best cost accounting software for medium to large roofing companies. This made me happy since I represent Sage Timberline. There was also alot of rumblings about consolidating all of the various softwares into a single integrated software that can handle processes of a typical roofing company. For example, roofing companies need Customer Relationship and Sales Tracking software which is commonly referred to as (CRM software). CRM software is more important to Residential Roofing companies opposed to Commercial Roofing companies. These companies would love a solution that allowed the CRM software to track and create sales proposals and then flow seamlessly into the Cost Accounting software if the work is awarded. From here, the accounting department can buy the materials, manage the job and bill the client.