Timesaving Technology

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Keeping track of all the details on 200 annual jobs is a challenge for any company, but especially difficult for one with just two employees.

March 01, 2003

 

Keeping track of all the details on 200 annual jobs is a challenge for any company, but especially difficult for one with just two employees. Ty May, president of 17-year-old full-service remodeling firm Custom Technologies in Plano, Texas, says he used to spend one or two days a week taking care of callback items, whether doing them himself or getting one of his 10 subcontractors to handle them. His wife, the company's chief financial officer, did the bookkeeping but also had her hands full raising their children.

May wanted to provide better customer service and also to stop working seven days a week, 12 hours a day. He's now down to 50-60 hours per week, in part because of a program called Punch List (www.punchlist.com) from Bosch Power Tools that he's been using since 1998. Having purchased the first Palm Pilot on the market, May was looking for a program that would work on a hand-held device, which he found more practical than taking a laptop to job sites.

 

Ty May's preferred hardware and software
Ty May's preferred hardware and software
Ty May's preferred hardware and software
Ty May's preferred hardware and software
Ty May's preferred hardware and software
Ty May's preferred hardware and software
Ty May's preferred hardware and software
Ty May's preferred hardware and software
Ty May's preferred hardware and software

"Since it's basically a database with a well-designed layout, you can use it as simply or as complicatedly as you want to do," he explains. May has customized the program over the years with his clients, subs and terminology. He uses the program to capture the scope of work on the initial visit and then to capture change orders and punchlist items during the project. By pulling up a series of menus, he can note the need to fix a light in the master bedroom or to paint the powder room as well as who's responsible for doing it.

Every day or two, he syncs his hand-held to one of his five computers to update the office records. From his computer, he then could fax or e-mail task lists to his subs, but he prefers to print out lists and deliver them on the site. Written documentation means they can't say, "You never told me that," and delivering it in person means May doesn't have to worry that they didn't check their fax or e-mail.

"Customers are happier because they don't have to remind us about things they said," May says. "And we can do more jobs now." His advice to other contractors: Don't forget to enter yourself as the first sub so you can keep your own running task list.

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