"UNLI" Rice, and how it applies to construction software

Several months ago, our family flew to Manila Philippines to greet our new 13 year old adopted son. We spent a week there, meeting his caregivers, dealing with paperwork, and getting to know this young lad who would become part of our family. One of our first meals together was at his favorite restaurant Mang Inasal (translated to English - Mr. Barbeque). The place was packed with locals, so I knew the food had to be good.

I stood there in line looking up at the menu, and saw "UNLI RICE" plastered everywhere.

Of course, I'm thinking this must be a local dish, some national variety, perhaps loaded with spices and herbs. I figured why not, it was only a few pesos more... and as they say, when in Rome ... !!

We sat down, and while we were eating, this staff member was walking around with this huge bucket of white rice, strapped around his waist, like a snare drummer from a marching band. He scooped up some rice, and dumped it on our son's plate. At that moment, I learned two things:

   1. UNLI is short for "unlimited"
   2. Our new son has hollow legs (just like me at that age)

Unlimited. Let that word sink in for a minute. It sounds like a great deal, but in reality, it doesn't take long to satiate anyone's stomach when you're dealing with that much starch.

I've heard it said by all the smart and self proclaimed geniuses in Reddit that there are a finite number of atoms in the universe, so really, is anything truly "unlimited"?!

How does this apply to construction software? Well, you'll often hear or read about unlimited users, unlimited client/trade portals, unlimited jobs, and unlimited data storage - let's tackle each one here:

1. Unlimited users 

At first glance it sounds impressive, but for the vast majority of our customers (and our competitors' customers), they require relatively few user accounts to accomplish their business objectives. In fact. many BuildIT customers function quite efficiently with a single user account (often shared by 2 or more people on the team). Fewer customers have 2, 3, 4... 10 user accounts, and a small percentage of customers require more than 10 user accounts to satisfy their team's requirements. That's true for all small to mid sized construction businesses. And it's true for our larger competitors too, who may boast more features, or claim to offer a "better mousetrap". We all tend to follow a simple parabolic curve where the greater the number of "user accounts", the smaller the number of actual customers. 

This curve applies to the following 3 other unlimited offers as well. So while unlimited sounds appealing, like rice, you will evenutally reach a limit.

2. Unlimited client/trade portals

At BuildIT, we hope our customers do well, and increase their business, and we don't penalize them for having more customers and doing more work. Some competitors charge for giving their clients and trades access to scheduling information via a "portal" or weblink. Not so with BuildIT - we've never charged extra for this. And for those that advertise unlimited client/trade portals, keep in mind your company can only deal with so many people. Only one time in 17 years have I loaded a customer's contact database with over 5000 records. I can guarantee that 80% of those records were so old, they were either deceased, out of business, or have new contact information - it would be a full time job for several weeks to clean that up. And even then, 5000 is a far cry from "unlimited" !

3. Unlimited jobs

While some of our competitors continue to dip into your pocket for each new job, BuildIT users enjoy running as many jobs as they can possibly manage. Again, how many jobs can a single general contractor or tradesperson physically manage? While our software is scalable and you can create new jobs all day if you want, there is a limit to how many jobs a single person, or small team can effectively manage. Even large corporations run into capacity constraints. So the lure of unlimited jobs needs to be tempered with realistic order files. What's more important is for you to understand how your software pricing is indexed to the number of jobs that you run. I spoke with a prospect yesterday whose company is using a "field" software for construction. In one month, he launched several jobs and was billed $2000 by this supposed #1 construction software. $2000 !! His company would spend less in 1 whole year subscribed to BuildIT than one month with this software, and it astounds me that construction companies continue to endure these obscene rates when less expensive alternatives exist.

4. Unlimited data storage

Back in the days, you could charge for data storage. Some companies still do. But times have changed. Storage is cheap, and readily available. Many cloud storage options exist, some with generous free data... up to a point. Construction software companies have charged for data storage, and may offer different pricing tiers for different amounts of storage. Truth is, most people don't know if they need 1 GB, 100GB, or 1 TB of storage. So that can create anxiety for new customers who are concerned they'll reach a limit. Along comes "unlimited storage", and while that is what is marketed, at some point, hard drives/storage devices fill up. At BuildIT, we don't charge for storage - most customers don't come anywhere near to making a dent in the massive terabytes of user storage space available, and since storage technology today is cheap, it's easy for BuildIT to add storage capacity as our customer base and file storage needs increase.

As you shop for construction software, look for these claims, and ensure you fully understand their pricing structure, especially pricing that is variable and tied to increases in users, vendor/client portals, active customers/projects, and data storage. For some BuildIT competitors, come prepared with a calculator and run through some "worst case scenarios" so your accountant doesn't freak out at a surprise $2000 monthly bill !

Would you like rice with your barbequed chicken?

 Scott Hutchinson
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1

New Feature: Task Color Coding

Of the many things on our bucket list, this was one feature that kept being voted on, both by our customers, and by many test drivers just checking out the system. So we did it !

You can now choose from several predefined colors (29 to be exact) by clicking on the color palette icon, in these 3 places:

1. Schedule tab, top right next to the 25% button

2. Gantt pop down menu (Gantt power bar).

3. From within the Task Edit window

The key benefit here is you can now group your tasks, and use colors to quickly identify those groupings. Now your Gantt can look something like this:

And when you share the schedule with those in your contact database using the "contact schedule" feature, your contacts will see the same color coding at their end:

Scheduling is not always black and white. Try adding some color !

 Scott Hutchinson
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1

Bucking the Trend

Do you "go with the flow", or do you naturally "buck the trend"?  

If you are one of the ones who needs the biggest, baddest, newest widget that hits the streets, then you wouldn't even be reading this. For the rest of you who are looking for the edge, the angle, a key ingredient to the success equation for your business, there may be something here for you.

There are some "trends" out there that are really not worth your time participating in. And some of these trends can cost you dearly.

Smartphones are one of those trends that many of us have paid into. Most everyone you know has one. Question is: are you better off with the latest one with all the bells and whistles, most of which you will never use? Or does it make sense to keep your older one, staving off a new hardware purchase for as long as you can?

When the new iPhone X made its debut, I watched a millennial being interviewed on TV, who had stood in line for over 12 hours so he could be one of the first proud owners and have bragging rights... for a couple days.

While he and 1000's of others across North America were standing in line battling the elements and killing time, I was building my business, enjoying my wife and kids, sleeping... and texting out on my iPhone 5s hand-me-down from my daughter. Nobody asked me what model of phone I had. I continued to make and receive calls. Everything worked, including yours truly. You could say I've bucked the trend and saved some $$ along the way.

We all know someone that got onto some health program, diet/exercise deal, MLM get rich quick business... these abound, they run their course, people spin on them today, and most are forgotten tomorrow. While I respect those that jump in with both feet and admire their enthusiasm, I would caution anyone who would listen to count the cost, buck the trend, and invest their efforts elsewhere.

Here's one trend you don't want to have a stake in: consumer credit card debt. In 1986, consumers owed just over $100 billion on their plastic - that number has topped $1 trillion for 2017. For many of us, the credit card has become a secondary source of income ! The average debt per American household is $5700. This is a really good time to admit being "below average". Most of those that have participated heavily in this trend would balk at the advice of people like billionaire Mark Cuban who says if you want to be rich, don't use credit cards. The average household with credit card debt pays close to $1300 per year in interest alone. Ouch. Buck the trend, pay cash or don't pay at all, or at very least, don't run a balance with your cards.

Another well known trend is online shopping, which is causing a real headache for bricks and mortar retailers. I ordered a laptop a couple weeks ago, and in less than 24 hours, the courier dropped it off at my doorstep - complimentary shipping, so easy, so convenient. The local computer retailer has no chance. But arguably certain items still need to be touched, smelled, or tried on before buying. Point being: some stuff ordered online makes sense, while other things like a custom tailored dress or suit, or designer jeans do not.

When it comes to software, the trend towards SAAS (software as a service) has taken the construction industry by storm. Practically speaking, most construction software systems are server based, and require a subscription to access. The construction industry has been notoriously slow to adopt new technology, so there are still many years of opportunity, and tens of thousands of contracting business that have yet to convert. Great news for companies like BuildIT, and even better news for you if you are one of those that has been slow to get on the bandwagon and benefit from these amazing power tools.

There are a slew of web based project management tools available (at least for now), and certain ones have risen to the top, thanks in part to clever marketing that targets home builders, renovators and specialty trades. But given the iPhone discussion earlier, as a construction professional, you need to ask yourself whether it is important to pay top dollar for what is perceived as the "best solution out there", or whether you should buck the trend and pay less each month for a system that actually meets your needs without added complexity and features you'll never use.

Imagine saving $1200 - $3600 per year or more on your construction software system while still addressing your scheduling, file management and communication needs.

Those customers that have bucked the trend towards overpaying for construction software are ecstatic with the results. And they're not about to tell their competitors (aka "you") how they did it - that is our job !!

In 2018, we warmly welcome new customers who have been trained on competitive systems but are ready to say "no" to the monthly hemorrhaging. It's not about mudslinging here, some of our competitors have great systems - it's about getting you the results you need, for the lowest price possible, if you're willing to consider the options available... and buck the trend!

 Scott Hutchinson
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1