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

App Graveyard - Keep your Distance

As of March 2017, there were an estimated 2.8 million apps for Android users (and 2.2 million in the Apple App store). Apps are everywhere, and they are being built and launched every day.

"There's an app for that" is part of our language today, so much so that even that phase is now trademarked by Apple.

The construction software space has been inundated with apps and specialized construction software that promises you the world in exchange for a one time purchase or monthly subscription. You'll never be able to test them all - you don't have enough time on the clock!  To winnow the field, you'll have to be very specific in your search, discover what they don't offer that is critical to you, and short list those apps/systems that best fit your needs.

Having been around since 2001, we've seen construction software companies rise and fall. Some were great systems with a decent user base and rich feature set, but still, they went by way of the dodo bird. And with their demise, a slew of builders, contractors and specialty trades were left scrambling to retool with a new system.

I recently went through a list of some construction websites that I had saved, and thought it would be good to see where they are now in their development, or whether they still had a pulse. It didn't take long to see that many are history.

While not an exhaustive list, here is a sampling:

  • www.hammerati.com
  • www.constructionprofitsystems.com (some videos still exist)
  • www.mytrades.ca
  • www.ebidroom.com
  • www.buildlinks.com (these guys started with $2.5M in funding back in the day, ouch!)
  • www.myct.com.au
You can search on each of these, and find some remnants online of what they were, what they promised, but the sites more or less are down... for good.

Other sites are dying on the vine. They still exist, but haven't been updated in years. 

  • www.constructionbusinessonline.com for example. No updates since 2014.

One "project management suite" in particular got my interest. We'll call it ABC software. The founder of ABC subscribed me to their list back in 2011 so I received all their marketing pieces about how their system was the best, and it would save me time and money, and do everything for the contractor.

While ABC's website is still up, the founder has moved on to another company (quick check on his Linkedin profile), their blog hasn't been touched since 2013 and their last Facebook post was early 2014. So... all those customers that were "running more productive and effective businesses using the [ABC] construction software suite" - where do they go for support, or who do they call when they can't access their data anymore?

I called one of their "customers" today and he confirmed my suspicions. It all started out great, but in the end, they couldn't reach anyone at the company, and finally were forced to move on to another software system.

Do you want to take that risk with your data? Your business? And quite frankly, your time which you never get back?

Three of our "veteran" customers who opt to subscribe annually and renewed this month for another year of service (a multi family home builder, factory built home manufacturer, and custom home builder) have been with BuildIT now for 14, 13, and 8 years respectively. They have been using and benefiting from BuildIT longer than most of our competitors have been in existence !!

So, when you are deciding on software, you should pay your respects at the App Graveyard before choosing to bet on Software X that just made its debut and hasn't got a track record yet. Then take BuildIT for a test drive and see why we're the rock solid choice.

 Scott Hutchinson
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1

Productivity - and why it should matter to your construction business

Get more done, in less time, at lower cost, with higher margins. More profit, less stress. Easy to say, hard to do, especially if you're in the construction industry.

Recently, ConstructionDIVE published an article on why the construction industry struggles with productivity gains vis a vis other "rival" industries. The content is good, worth your time, worth taking notes (their stock photo on the other hand doesn't cut it - 3 guys, 2 wearing ties, 3 different coloured hard hats - never ever happens).

For 15 years, we've been helping contractors and specialty trades benefit from BuildIT... one of the pioneer web based efficiency tools created specifically for the construction industry. Efficiency and productivity are huge parts of our business ethos, and guide much of our development. 

In my previous company, I worked with residential and commercial contractors teaching them how to use proprietary building products that beat conventional products hands down. We created custom design software solutions that helped architects, engineers and suppliers (contract lumber yards, truss manufacturers, and panelizers) size and specify products way faster than doing it "the old fashioned way" with tables, charts, and legal pads.

So when you investigate BuildIT for the first time, you'll see a "systems approach" to managing jobs, contacts, scheduled tasks, files and communications. Add to that mix the magic of collaboration - everyone (you, staff/employees, trades, investors, clients, design professionals, building officials, vendors) working together, on the same page, to produce something of value.

The aforementioned article boldly claims that "collaboration is the key to productivity"... and we couldn't agree more. They hint at the "old guard" who do not have a collaboration background, but rather are individualistic and view constant collaboration as a negative. No software solution can fix that... but over time, as new hires come on board who are open to embracing new technologies and methodologies, they will totally embrace tools like BuildIT in order to make the magic happen on their job sites.

BuildIT allows all stakeholders on the job (wherever they are) to have access to computing power, real time scheduling, and instant notification. Our notification system lets your people know what changed, and what's coming up - you control who gets notified, when, and under what circumstances. It's all done for you, automatically - allowing you to focus on higher priorities that generate greater returns for your time (read: more profit).

I spoke with a customer yesterday that had to fire two employees. Employee turnover is disruptive and costly. Unlike a warm body, the BuildIT web based scheduling system is a fraction of the cost of an employee, it never calls in sick, is available 24/7, and actually comes with a real human being on standby should you need that support to crank out a schedule, or solve a problem. It's a remarkably good deal.

Take a bold step towards greater profitability in your business - it all starts with a free test drive.

 Scott Hutchinson
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1