"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
 scott@builditsystems.com
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1