BuildIT - Return on investment is a "no-brainer"

When was the last time you "wasted" money on something?

You took some hard earning money, bought a widget that ultimately gave you nothing in return, other than the initial feeling that you may get something out of it at some point.

  • the exercise machine that is collecting dust (and clothes)
  • that food mixer appliance that looked so easy on the infomercial but when you use it - not so easy, so you go back to the knife and cutting board
  • that stock you bought, thanks to a tip from your buddy - you're still waiting that puppy to climb back up to the purchase price
  • that box of software you bought a few years ago that promised the world, and now it's a bookend on your shelf

OK, now that I've re-opened a wound, let's cut to the chase.

Everyone comes to BuildIT looking for one thing - a solution to a problem. Finding the right solution will put money back into your jeans, or time back into your life, or will reduce the stresses of running your business... or if you're lucky, ALL 3 at the same time.

You part with your hard earned dollar to subscribe to BuildIT; mentally you are doing the math - the "what's in it for me" equation. You need to see a major return on investment, and you need to experience that return (make it yours) right out of the gate.

It's the story of many of our customers... and it can be your story too !!

Let's look at ways you can win with BuildIT.

1. Saving money - miscommunication

Every job you do requires a number of tasks, and responsibilities from other parties. The more tasks required, and the more people involved, the more mistakes will occur. Those mistakes generally are caused by miscommunication of some sort. Communication issues are the main cause of grief, and profit loss. This is an undeniable fact. Ask yourself, where do problems occur that cost you $$ or time, and chances are, you'll attribute that to a breakdown in communication.

BuildIT is the perfect solution for keeping you and others "on track". Any and all issues are documented in one place, tied to the job. There is no mistaking who is responsible for what, who said what, what was to be built and when - all that information IF YOU TAKE THE TIME TO ENTER IT, is in one place, and there to serve your interests down the road.

Scott Sedam of True North Consulting, an advisor to high volume homebuilders, claims from his organization's research that for every residential construction job, there are about 30 - 35 subcontractors and vendors. There is typically one mistake that takes place for every 5 outside people involved in the project, so you can expect 6 - 7 mistakes per job. These mistakes, thanks in large part to miscommunication (not getting the information in time, red lined drawings that are unclear, building off outdated specs or schedules, etc.) WILL COST YOU time, money and aggravation. And the dollar cost will be well in excess of what our typical customer would pay for subscribing to BuildIT for a year.

Use BuildIT properly (even minimally), and you will reduce errors, and have a back up that protects your interests should errors occur, and passes the onus of responsibility on to the other party.

2. Saving money - labor

Think about what it costs you for a part time or full time "warm body" to help with the "administrivia" of running your business. Now imagine a full time office assistant that never calls in sick, is available 24/7, does not give you "attitude", does not spend hours you pay this person each month checking Facebook, Twitter, playing Solitaire, checking CNN's latest headlines, etc., does not contribute to shrinkage, does not increase your risk of embezzlement - and you get this for a whole month, at a fraction of the cost of that "warm body" (perhaps, 1 to 2 hours' wages of that person's time and loading) !! Our customers make this claim that BuildIT saves them $1000's per month in wages. I calculated with one customer in Texas that his return on investment with BuildIT was 47 to 1 - think about it - for every $1 he spends on BuildIT, he saves $47. Do the math.

Having said this, we recognize that you do need adequate levels of staffing to run your business effectively, and office administrators do play a vital role in the operations of many small to mid sized contracting businesses. BuildIT can augment your business, assist your team with becoming more organized for success, and even give your office administrators a tool to help them accomplish their tasks quicker and with less error. Each person knows where to go for the information, where to post the information, and this will free up your staff to do more valuable functions that drive your business forward in terms of professionalism and profitability.

3. Making money - new revenue

We have customers who use BuildIT to their advantage - to get new business.

How?

Simple. You're competing with other companies offering a similar product. Your price may be in line with theirs. What distinguishes you from the other guy? If you use the worn out platitudes like "we're honest", "integrity in everything we do", "unsurpassed customer service", your customers will blow right by. You need something that truly sets you apart.

Professionalism - customers want to do business with someone that looks good, and gives them the "feeling" that they're dealing with the pros. You use the many construction document templates in BuildIT, which can be printed off, or emailed, showing your letterhead and all the details. AND, you let them know about a system that will keep them informed 24/7 about their project, where you are at any point in the schedule, and a place where they can view any files pertaining to the job.

You offer them the following:

"Mr. Future Customer, if you choose us, we have a web based service that will allow you to view your project schedule at any time of the day. Through this system, you can see how your job is progressing, and you can even communicate with us on any particular task on the schedule. I will also post files for you to review - contracts, specifications, progress reporting, pictures - anything that you need to see along the way will be available through this service. There is no website to remember, no username and password to maintain - just check your email and I'll send you a link."

All things being equal, by you offering this service, you are now set apart from 95% + of your competitors who haven't yet graduated to web based construction tools like BuildIT.

4. Saving Time

Have you ever calculated what your time is worth, per hour?

Have you ever calculated how much time you would save on each project if you carved off, say, 5% of the time?

Time is money - do the math. And start saving time today by using BuildIT. Take the time saved and invest it in new business. New business = new revenue = increased profits for the year.

Do this, and then call us with your answer so we can brag even more about how BuildIT contributes to our customers' bottom line.

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In short, you're not here to buy technology because it's cool (although, we admit, it is a cool tool). It HAS to either save you time, make you $$, help you avoid embarrassment or costly call backs, or help you get the next job and have a leg up on your competition.

Put it to the test today - we'll partner with you, and help you get some success under your belt.

 Scott Hutchinson
 scott@builditsystems.com
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1

Technology Adoption Challenges for Construction Businesses

(This article reprinted with permission. Thanks to Josh Groves, President of jobtrio.com, the largest directory of construction contractors on the web. The goal of jobtrio.com is to efficiently connect contractors with consumers who truly value their services.)

Within any company, it is never easy to convince the workforce that a new, technological advancement has made an old way of doing things obsolete. For instance, no matter how my staff tried to explain to me the advantages of the new Windows 7 operating system over XP, I dragged my feet and resisted the change. From my observations, this aversion to technology adoption is far more present in the construction industry than any other major field.

For the most part, construction companies live and die by their continued presence and productivity on the jobsite. Typically, there is little thought given by management to company-wide initiatives or employee training because these acts would necessarily pull the workforce out of the field. Therefore, even if one day of training on a new technology might result in large future gains in employee efficiency, managers usually are not willing to take the risk.

I experienced this first hand as a construction industry Operations Manager for a medium-sized company. Every day I would watch at least thirty minutes get wasted by each employee as they struggled to determine which tasks were to be priorities for the work-day.  The fix seemed simple to me: adopt a basic, web-based system which could allow workers to login and view updated project management information. My estimate was that this system, taking into account training and maintenance, would pay for itself in a matter of a month.

Needless to say, I encountered tremendous resistance from my boss and from all of the workers in the field, and the initiative never got beyond my written proposal. 

This is just one example of what I experienced time and time again -- PDAs, driver GPS, field laptops -- I could never get my company to consider any of these technologies, and, from speaking with others whose businesses rely on their contractor's license, this sort of stone-walling is quite typical.  But, what is to be done? 

My first inclination is to say that until a younger, more tech-savvy generation of contractors who understand the value of technology investments steps into management positions, we aren't likely to see a change anytime soon.  However, if you are dedicated to your company's long-term success, it is wise to fight the good fight, and eventually your supervisors might adopt some of the new, money and time saving technologies which could be key to your company's survival.

 Scott Hutchinson
 scott@builditsystems.com
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1

BuildIT's Top 10

It struck me the other day...

BuildIT has been around for almost a decade - and I've been with BuildIT since the beginning.  Over the years, the questions I get asked by prospective customers (and new ones) are basically the same.

Here are the top 10 questions, in no particular order, with our carefully prepared responses.

1. Is my data safe and secure? And what happens to my information should you go out of business?

A: Absolutely, your data is safe much safer with us than on your own laptop. Our servers are located in a large professional hosting facility in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Our customers' data is stored on servers with RAID (multiple redundant) hard drives, immediately backed up to other servers with RAID hard drives, and regularly copied offsite to increase redundancy of backup protection. For more information on the security of your data, click here.

We understand that anything is possible. We want to assure our customers that they own their data. So at any time, their data can be downloaded off our server, and copied over to their computer. We can also do a "data dump" of all customer data, burn that to a DVD, and send it to a customer.

2. What does "area" and "code" mean when you create a new scheduled task?

A: Area and Code fields are for customers that wish to further differentiate/sort their tasks.

Imagine you have 100 tasks, and you want to filter out just the 8 tasks that are related to "inspection". Type in "inspection" into the "Area" field. Now, this value "inspection" will be available in the picklist for future tasks.

When viewing your schedule, you can adjust the filters in the left margin. One of those filters is "Area" - you'll see the value "inspection" there. Select, and refresh your list, and the view of those tasks related to "inspection" will display.

Those fields are really user defined. "Area" could mean 1) area of the project, 2) geographic area (SW, NE, County), 3) area of responsibility (financial, preconstruction, warranty).

"Code" could mean 1) CSI master format division code, 2) accounting code, 3) PO number, etc.

3. What is the difference between a "to do", a "note" and a "task"?

A: "To do's" are like virtual Post-IT notes. They are related to a BuildIT user, and can be connected to a job. They allow you to deal with the slippery items that if not "written down", cost you time, money and aggravation in the end. One BuildIT user can create "to do's" for him/herself and for other users.

"Notes" are related to a BuildIT user, can be connected to a job, AND can be connected to ONE contact in your database. Use "Notes" to log conversations, verbal commitments, and any potential litigious situations. Remember that a short "digital" pencil is better than a long memory!

"Tasks" are the individual elements of a "schedule". Like "notes", "tasks" are related to a BuildIT user, can be connected to a job, AND can be connected to ONE OR MORE contacts in your database. Tasks can be displayed in LIST view, GANTT chart view, and CALENDAR view.

4. How many customers do you have?

A: For competitive reasons, we can't disclose any numbers. But we can tell you that we've been in business for many years, and have enjoyed building a customer base, and a valuable application that solves real problems for real construction professionals. Each of our customers has a contact database of their customers and business associates, and each of those has access to a free website from BuildIT that allows for collaboration between our customer, and our customer's contacts. And many of our customers have multiple users in their company that access the system. So when you add all those up, the number gets quite impressive!

Really, the question reflects the concern of the prospective customer - he doesn't want to be the first guy taking the plane up into the sky on it's maiden voyage. No worries there, we welcomed our first retail customer back in 2002 - I was there when they delivered the cheque... it was a great day at BuildIT!

When we hear this question, we realize the underlying question is "If I choose BuildIT, will I be in good company with other customers like me that are finding success with the program?".  The answer is a resounding YES.

5. Are you the only one who answers the phone?

A: Most of the calls get sent through to my line — I like to talk!  And it frees up the rest of the team to focus on development of the application, and other corporate stuff. But with a simple, easy to use application, online help system and online video tutorials, most folks get up and running with BuildIT wil very little input from our tech support line. Still, we encourage you to call !

6. How do you print out a schedule to send to a client/builder/subtrade?

A: You can print from your browser, or from the yellow "do this" control in the top right. If you want a PDF of the schedule, you'll need a PDF driver on your computer. If you don't know what that is, call, and we'll help you create a PDF at our end.

Alternatively, you can share the schedule in real time with anyone in your contact database. The big win here is that you're online schedule is "real time", whereas a printed schedule gets out of date quickly which can be a pain in the pocketbook when someone builds the wrong thing from the old printed schedule.

7. Do you have linked tasks / Critical Path?

A: Kind of. While our scheduling system is simple, and we haven't complicated the task editor with "linkages", we do have a simple way to create a Critical Path... so when you make a change to one task, that has a cascading effect on the rest of the schedule from that point forward, then yes, we have a way to do that. More on that at this link.

8. What happens when the Internet goes down (or I don't have access to the Internet)?

A: It's like asking what happens when you're car runs out of gas? We find another way to get to our desitination, or we don't go anywhere. The same could be said of BuildIT's "web-based" application. Being "web-based" means just that. Without access to the Internet, you can't access the application. However, the benefits of having 24-hour access – even while on vacation – easily make up for the other possible problems like being unable to get back to your office, fire, theft, broken computers, etc.

For most BuildIT customers, Internet access is ubiquitous - it's everywhere, available 99%+ of the time. So it's really a moot point for them - but they have asked the question too!

For you iPhone and Blackberry users, you can access your BuildIT email right from our server. And version 5.0, being worked on as I write this, will give you mobile access to optimized screens of the BuildIT application - expect this in early 2010. 

9. What is your pricing?

A. Low. Way less than most comparable construction software products – and reasonable.  With BuildIT you easily achieve a rapid return on investment, literally within weeks of getting up an running with the system. For current pricing, check out our pricing page. We'll help you determine the optimum number of user accounts to get started with, and the subscription plan that best suits your budget. 

10. How do I organize my contacts?

A: There are a number ways to organize contacts in BuildIT: by job, by contact group (client, contractor, subtrade, design professional, etc.), by user defined fields in the contact record, and alphabetically (by First Name, Last Name or Company Name). BuildIT's "contact picker" allows you to select contacts for assigning to jobs, tasks, notes - and for sending out email, web faxes and text messages. Each customer has unique contact organization needs - we'll help you with that as we configure your account to suit your unique business requirements.

Didn't get your question answered? Well, it may be in the Top 20 or Top 30 list. Or it may be an original. Give us a call. See if you can surpise us with a "never before asked" question, and put our customer service to the test!

 Scott Hutchinson
 scott@builditsystems.com
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1