Who is IES Residential?
Founded in 1973 as Houston-Stafford Electric, IES Residential, Inc. quickly became one of the nation’s largest and most respected electrical contracting firms, performing work nationwide for many of America’s leading builders and developers. The company is known for quality of work, excellent service, and a strong commitment to customer satisfaction, evidenced by its long-term growth and extensive list of repeat customers.
With multiple divisions operating throughout the U.S., the company now provides a wide variety of residential wiring services, including electrical; voice, data, and video design and installation; security and fire alarm systems installation and monitoring; and solar power installation services.
Before implementing Bolt, the company was managed through multiple schedules contained in several three-ring binders. There was no visibility into scheduling, available manpower, or inventory, and so backcharges were often incurred for showing up to a job late, causing a drain on profitability, and dry runs and duplicate jobs were also a problem.
We spoke with Brian Hartley, Division Manager in McKinney, Texas, about his division’s growth in recent years, and how he attributes much of the expansion to ECI’s Bolt Construction Scheduling Software, which the division implemented five years ago.
Brian says “We’ve grown from the time we started using Bolt by 75%. Yet I haven’t had to increase my staff by 75%. Each person on my team is actually able to handle more of a workload because they can do it more efficiently using the Bolt application.”
“We’re able to grow and increase revenues without having to increase our staff needs as much. And it’s made us a lot more efficient and profitable because of that.” The company has nearly doubled its workload capacity. Says Brian, “In 2016 we started approximately 2,748 jobs. In 2022, we’re on pace to do 4,800 jobs!”
With Bolt, the team runs a highly efficient division. The field supervisors know the up-to-the-minute status of each house, which is updated multiple times throughout the day. Bolt prevents the division from ordering crews too early and prevents them from executing duplicate orders. “We’re able to eliminate dry runs and some of those duplicate service calls that have already been done,” Brian remarks.
“Everything that my supervisors need is always right there at their fingertips in that iPad. They don’t have to dig around through that binder or find their yellow notepad. They’re not searching for blueprints in their house files or a file cabinet in the back room. All that information is more easily accessible to them on a daily basis wherever they’re at.”
The team cites the extra tools Bolt provides for its efficiency including the ability to have documents and photographs in an electronic file as opposed to a paper file. From a top-level perspective, Brian attributes the software’s utility to its design by industry experts. “Because it’s designed around the new construction industry, it makes trades in the industry more efficient and profitable, and it makes their jobs easier to manage.”
When Brian arrives at the office in the morning, he views the schedule to see the jobs going out for the day. “I like to compare that to our manpower to make sure we’re capable of meeting those needs. It ensures that we are keeping up with materials for the near future so that I can forecast and make sure our orders are accurate.”
The main way the office staff uses Bolt is through warranty calls and schedules, as well as scheduling roughs and trims. They are able to take POs and enter that information into Bolt. “Previously we didn’t have that ability with our calendar,” Brian adds. “So, we wasted a lot of time with what was on schedule, what kind of manpower we needed, what kind of material needs we had coming up. Now we can all look to this one centralized place to get that information much more quickly and efficiently.”
The division’s service technicians update their schedule throughout the day using Bolt, including emergency service calls. The information is instantly updated, and everyone involved gets the update simply by refreshing their iPads.
The software also sends automatic notifications to IES Residential’s builders. “It’s really a key benefit to the builders as much as it is for us,” Brian adds.
The division’s field supervisors have access to all of the documentation they need, including the redline electrical plans, optioned-out purchase orders, blueprints, photographs, and inspection information to walk jobs and to make sure each house is done properly. The division is completing jobs more quickly and accurately, and passing inspections more quickly. But it wasn’t too long ago when a manual process was in place.
“Prior to Bolt, each of my supervisors kept their own schedule, their own calendar in a 3-ring binder. So we had essentially 6-10 different schedules, and now with Bolt, it puts everything into a centralized calendar, a centralized schedule where I can see all their work anytime I need to. That allows me to forecast better, it allows me to see what kind of a workload the supervisors have, as a team or individual,” says Brian.
Before implementing the software, backcharges were a drain on profitability, though the company avoided them as well as any contractor in the industry. “Previously we might have been backcharged for not getting to a house according to schedule,” says Brian. “But with automated communication and documentation tracking through Bolt, there’s never a doubt we went to a house on time. Also, we’re able to download documents like photographs that show the work that we’ve done. If a backcharge comes up because we’ve done something the builder feels was in error, we have all the proof we need to back up the work that we’ve done and easily get that information to the customer.”
The team hit the ground running with Bolt and look forward to a technology-fueled future
The division’s success in a fast-growing region is predicated on having a streamlined organization with the right tools to maximize production. Says Brian, “I would recommend Bolt to others because it’s made us superefficient. At a time when it’s busier than we’ve ever been, it’s more difficult to get manpower. We’re able to grow and increase revenues without having to increase our staff needs as much. And it’s made us a lot more efficient and profitable because of that.”
“When we implemented Bolt five years ago, it was really an easy transition,” Brian remarks. “After doing things the same way for 20 years, it can be difficult to leap into new technology. With Bolt, even some of us who’ve been around for a long time made an easy transition. I’ve got one supervisor, David Brown, who’s been with the company for 30 years. He continued using a flip phone until just recently, but even David was able to pick up an iPad and utilize the Bolt software and he’s actually one of the biggest fans of Bolt out in the field today.”
Brian wraps up the interview, recalling his division’s history and looking optimistically to its technology-driven future. “For over 20 years, we were doing everything with pen and paper, and I can just imagine in the future when I want to hire a new supervisor, and I hand them that 3-ring binder and yellow notepad, they may just turn around and leave and go find another job. But with Bolt, I can hand them an iPad and the tools and technology they need to actually do a job that is up to date and efficient. It’s more attractive to younger talent.”