15 years... and getting better each day !

Happy birthday to... us. 15 years since BuildIT incorporated, and the idea of BuildIT was incubating many months prior to this.

A lot can happen in 15 years. I've certainly earned the increasing number of grey hairs on my head. My little girl was learning how to ride a bike when we started, now she's rocking 3rd year college courses. And my son who was in diapers during the early days of BuildIT is now a lethal weapon, a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

As one of the major investors who clearly saw the potential in this idea, I want to personally thank the founders - Craig, Denis, and Michael - for their foresight and tireless efforts to get this thing off the ground. And to all those past and present who have been a part of building BuildIT, we are truly grateful.

With age comes credibility. Over the past 15 years, we've seen software companies come, and go. And the question we are asked often is "so, how long have you been in business?". It's a fair question... if you are entrusting your data and desired operational efficiencies to a company, you want to know they are going to be around for a while to support you. You can rest assured... we've been around much longer than most software we're compared to in our space.

Well, 15 years in the software world is a lifetime. And while new apps pop up every day, many of them are abandoned or discontinued. Even well funded ones. Google and Microsoft have discontinued over 70 applications each since they started... all they touch is not gold after all. We see it in the construction software space regularly. We'll get a call from a software searcher, "Hey, have you heard of construction software ABC?". No, and after a bit of research, it is clear they are just starting out. And to be fair, we started out too many years ago. But... we rolled out BuildIT a bit differently.

Before we went "to market" with a retail product, we already had a proven system. We struck a special arrangement with some key product testers (contractors, home builders, specialty trades) that gave our team valuable feedback and allowed us to establish a reliable, stable application before we welcomed our first retail customer. And I was present when we received our first cheque... it was at that point that I knew this was going to work. And it has.

Imagine, you entrench yourself/your team with a software program, get used to it, get results... fall in love with the thing even. And poof. It's gone. And you're left scrambling, trying to retool while ensuring your business doesn't miss a beat. It's no fun. It's one of the reasons we have customers return to BuildIT all the time. Just got a call the other day from a customer that was using BuildIT back in 2009, and now, 7 years later with a new company, he's wanting to propose it to his team. Why? Because, in his words, BuildIT works.

Being around for as long as we have does give us a leg up on the competition for sure. Add to that our background in construction, the ease of use of the application and how we have nailed simple online construction scheduling and collaboration features, and you have a recipe here for success. Your future success.

Come join the party !

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

Pay per Project ? No way !!

We get asked this question all the time...    

   "Do you charge per project?"

Short answer - No.

Thanks to our competitors, many of whom charge "per project" pricing, it does drive a chunk of business our way. Many of you see that being charged more and more for the same software seems a bit odd.

And what's really fascinating is that the market by and large is willing to accept this. Some of your competitors are on the hook monthly for their project management system, and what they pay fluctuates depending on the number of projects they do.

One of our software competitors recently announced a multi million dollar round of investment (curious why they need millions more if they are also boasting a huge user base... shouldn't their revenue cover their operating and development costs!?). And in that press release, they claim they stand out by offering construction software tools in a single platform, charging per project rather than per user.

Imagine if Microsoft found a way to charge you "per Word document", or "per Outlook email"... same software, yet they get into your pocketbook each time you click [save and close] or [send] !! I think if that were the case, many of you would be hitting the road looking for alternatives.

And we're seeing many users of such project management systems jumping ship... they may like the software, but they're only using a fraction of the features available, and they need to stop hemorrhaging from the high monthly charges. The party may be soon be over for software companies that charge too much. And adding more features won't be the remedy - there are many solutions out there that will meet your scheduling and project management needs, question is, who can do it without breaking your bank each month.

Smaller, agile, low cost alternatives. Live support from someone who actually has a background in construction.

Speaking of which...

BuildIT. Our pricing is simple. Our customers pay a low monthly rate. And you can do as many projects as you wish without being penalized.

No long term contracts. And... you can suspend any time if you go through a season in your business where you don't require our service. We'll still keep your account backed up and ready to go... for when you return.

Pay per project... it's like paying through the nose. No thanks.

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

Home Builder / Remodeler Software and Online Selections

Word in the street is this: online selections aren't all they're cracked up to be.

Now, we're not negating the fact that some large volume home builders and remodelers have taken advantage of online selection systems offered by some home builder software packages. Given the market, the product, the type of builder, and the client, this approach to selections may make perfect sense. Certainly does in theory. Get the client to go online, and do the work of reviewing options, and nailing down their preferences. Click. Send. Done.

If this is what you’re after, and you cannot be convinced otherwise, call us and we’ll give you a recommendation or two. There are some good packages out there.

But, online selections are not for everyone. In fact, quite the contrary.

  :: Some homeowner clients won't go there -- they simply will not play ball that way.

  :: Some builders have tried it, and are dropping the service for simpler, less costly software solutions. 

Before you follow the crowd and pay a premium for a mid-level or enterprise level project management suite with all the bells and whistles including online selections, consider the following:

  1. Custom home builders and remodelers are typically hands on with their clients -- there is a trusted relationship and often the clients will want to get the builder's opinion before proceeding with a selection/upgrade -- like a sanity check. This is best done in person, or over the phone, not online.
  2. Generally home builders and remodelers work with their clients at the design stage, nailing down specifications in a typical specifications document. This is what they have used to price out the project. And this is what the client has agreed to when they signed the contract.
  3. If the client uses a design professional (architect, interior designer), chances are the specifications are nailed down well in advance of the build.
  4. Throughout the build, the client may well wish to make a change... that is what change orders are for. We have them. They are easy to fill out, and ensure the change is agreed to by the client and builder (along with the price difference) before the change is carried out.
  5. If you are building for a demographic that prefers face-to-face interaction (generally baby boomers and older, but there are folks in all age ranges that this applies to), they will exchange the online selection process for a call to your cell phone or a meeting on site... and they likely won't respect "normal business hours"!
  6. The online selection process is not intuitive for many people, especially those not up the technology curve. Imagine some of your clients that are self proclaimed computer illiterates attempting to maneuver around a 3rd party online selection website - they'll probably be on the phone with you. Congratulations, you are now in tech support!
  7. The process of getting to the 3rd party online selection website is wrought with friction. Consider that a client has to first go online, then go to your website, then click on a "client access" link if they can find it, then they have to remember a username and password... as if they don't have several others they are trying to recall. That friction will cause a percentage of customers to avoid that process altogether and call a real live person... so you need to account for that.
  8. Online selections are not applicable to the majority of construction businesses. For instance, they wouldn't be applicable to commercial/industrial project managers, specialty trade contractors, spec builders, or residential builders who have only a few jobs they do each year -- so you would be paying a premium for a system that has online selection features you wouldn't use.

I actually had a high end custom home builder tell me (within the last 12 months of writing this) that he would never force his clients to go to his website, log in to some 3rd party software system, and make changes to selections on their home. In fact, he felt that process would be damaging to his reputation, and a disservice to his clients. They were paying a premium for his knowledge and concierge service. Therefore, it made sense that they should have access to him at any point along the process.

Of course, this is one builder's opinion, and we're not implying that this is true for all home builders and remodelers.

Having said that, you ought to consider how you want to be perceived by your clients, and the way in which you want to interact with them.

For instance, you can use an online service called Houzz and share Ideabooks, and manage selections with your clients there. Some builders use Houzz to organize selections by room, and by indoors/outdoors. For builders like this, adding the online selection process to their website would only serve to complicate matters.

BuildIT customers (those who are home builders and remodelers – we have a wide variety of construction professionals that use the system) can use a specifications document with the client. It would be completed up front and stored in the project files area. Changes during construction would be dealt with via change orders. Simple. Easy to do. Has worked efficiently for years.

If you prefer the tried and tested approach, and need help constructing a custom, well formatted PDF specifications document that can be filled in with the BuildIT system, give us a call and we'll help you out.

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