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Saving Time, Saving Money
Of course, time equals money, so by saving time, you become more profitable. Hordyk says with design software you will spend less time designing and estimating each project, plus your designs will have a better perceived value and thus you should be able to charge more for them.
Include Software makes design software even more useful and efficient. Integrated with design programs such as Vectorworks, PRO Landscape or On-Screen Takeoff, it allows for the import of data from a design, which, in turn, allows it to create estimates and proposals that feed into production, operations and accounting once the work is sold. This eliminates duplication of processes and re-entering of data. For example, a lot of companies doing designs via CAD programs will typically replicate the plant lists and materials lists in an Excel spreadsheet. That takes extra time and could lead to errors if they add the wrong plant materials or quantities.
“We also give them estimate numbers, costs and pricing so they’ll be able to have a budget for the job,” says Nanette Seven, vice president of Include Software. “Then, they’ll have their job cost already set up to see if their projects are profitable.”
The cost of $35,000 includes all training, implementation, data conversion and tech support for the first year.
“It’s easy to learn,” Seven says. “Our software is very robust. We typically work with companies that do more than $1.5 million in sales and encompass their entire business, so there is a curriculum focused on learning the software and implementing it based on the specifics of the company and their needs. The estimating part is very simple to learn and operate, however there are some complexities with accounting and production.”
The real savings, Seven says, is not having to add any exorbitant overhead costs as you grow.
“When you take an integrated program like ours, you don’t have that duplication from Excel to Quickbooks to spreadsheets to schedule boards,” says Seven. “It’s already in there, so once it’s in there it doesn’t have to be regenerated. We’ve seen companies go from $2 to $2.5 million in sales to $5 to $7 million without adding any administrative staff.”
For one $8 million company, Seven says, using Include Software resulted in $800,000 in savings. Another company that was using their iPhones and iPads to upsell existing clients improved its closing ratio on enhancement sales to 70 percent because they had the info from Include on hand when they were with the client in the field.
Bigger companies like these, says Seven, can most readily reap the benefits.
“Smaller companies are not able to get the benefits because they’re not large enough to get a return on investment by using these systems,” she says. “The owner is typically doing sales and making sure crews have what they need, and only till they get to a certain size does a product like Include become beneficial.”
Even with big companies, Seven says there has to be a cultural shift in a company before it can realize the value of design programs or business software add-ons.
“One of the biggest pitfalls is an unwillingness to change,” she says. “If the culture in the company isn’t willing to change, then that’s a barrier. The owner has to be an advocate for the change and has to hold people accountable and responsible for embracing the change and doing something about it.”
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