The concept of a customer-facing remodeler who is unwilling to accept technology is no longer the norm. Today, it’s only the outliers who resist these innovations.
Even more interesting are all the ways in which new solutions (like artificial intelligence) are used in business.
If you want to keep up to date on the ever-changing business and consumer experience technologies, these four overviews from successful remodelers provide perspectives, advice, and actual tech stacks to kick-start your search for the next problem-solving product.
The Young, Hungry Company
Revenue: $2 million
Location: Corvallis, Ore.
Percentage of Revenue Spent Annually on Tech: 1.3%
Technology is part of how we operate. It’s a must. It’s essential.
I enjoy customizing things, and that was one challenge with past products like Buildertrend. Today, our business is not dependent on only one system. This way, if a system decides to jack up the prices, or if it changes something, then it doesn’t affect us.
Before integrating a new piece of technology, I talk to people and see what they recommend. And usually it’s people who I want to run a business similar to. It’s not as helpful to gain insights from companies unlike yours.
You need to be curious and open to change.
Nobody wants to scale inefficiency, so I use technology to become more efficient. It also has to be collaborative, which is why I like G-Suite products over Microsoft. Another question I ask is, “How can we not afford to have this?”
For instance, Matterport is expensive, but the value and efficiency it’s achieved by allowing us to serve people better, get more done, and be more accurate makes it worth the investment.
I like to try different things and keep what works. You need to be curious and open to change. And at the end of the year, we analyze if this added value and is worth what we’re spending on it. We also always do a free trial.
Any business owner needs a system like G-Suite, and a system to track departments, such as Monday.com, and Slack for team communication.
Tech Stack Standouts:
The Big Player
Revenue: $26 million
Location: St. Louis
Percentage of Revenue Spent Annually on Tech: 1.9%
Technology is a key component of our business. In fact, I don’t think we would be the size we are or as profitable without technology. It ties everything together from first touch to finishing a project and beyond.
Some may think a piece of technology would solve all their problems, but others may think they don’t need to make an investment because they’ve been fine up to this point. What gets you to a certain size isn’t necessarily going to be the thing to get you to the next level.
If I don’t embrace it as the head of the company, it’s hard for me to hold other people to embrace that technology as well.
Technology can play a big part in your growth, it allows you to do more with less. It also allows for less redundancy and reduces errors.
For the most part, I am the driving force behind technology at the company. I have a passion for it, but also, if I don’t embrace it as the head of the company, it’s hard for me to hold other people to embrace that technology as well.
We do engage our employees to understand what their pain points are and ask them for feedback on what will be helpful for them. I would empower a team member to look at a product, do research on it, and then bring that to the team.
I don’t think there’s a barrier to entry from a financial standpoint. This is not an expense, this is an investment. And there should be a return on that investment in productivity, efficiencies, effectiveness, and then eventually (hopefully) with the bottom line.
Look at effectiveness through soft measurements like customer and employee satisfaction, and measure objectively by examining the time it takes to complete a task.
I ask: What challenges or problems are we trying to solve? And what’s important to us as an organization?
With new software, my recommendation is to include stakeholders across the organization from the beginning all the way to implementation, no matter what size you are. This will create more buy-in.
Make sure you have a regular cadence throughout the year for talking about your tech with your employees: what’s working and what’s not. The more engaged you are with employees, the more they’re going to be helping with the adoption of use and maximizing the return on investment.
Tech Stack Standouts:
- Microsoft Outlook
The Established Remodeler in a Tech Transition
Revenue: $14.5 million
Location: Salem and Nashua, New Hampshire
Percentage of Revenue Spent Annually on Tech: 0.62%
We have used Remodeler’s Business Solution since 2004, and we’re probably one of 10 companies left in the country using it. For some time, I’ve been looking for something else. In our business, our sales team does sales, design, and estimating. So we need an estimator that an average person can use.
I think specifically one of the areas where we can improve is giving production more information, so our project managers have real-time cost data, and where their understanding of projects is better because of that dynamic link between accounting and the field.
We’re not just seeking a new management software, but also switching from Sage to QuickBooks. Integration between systems, like QuickBooks and our banking platform, is an opportunity to streamline and improve trackability.
I don’t want to bring in additional software platforms to supplement the things that are deficient in a software, and one of the things challenging about vetting software programs is it’s impossible to really appreciate the program until you use it.
If you have 65 people, and you’re making the decision to take away the tool that they’re used to and comfortable with, I don’t feel like I have the option to screw that up. I feel it’s my responsibility to give them a tool that is better than what they’re using, and one that the process of adopting it will not be so painful.
In this process, I made a standardized grading sheet where I set up the criteria most important to me, and then I score on a one to 10.
It’s a very burdensome task that involves research, working directly with the company, and clearly identifying what you need.
Tech Stack Standouts:
The High Touch Versus High Tech Company
Revenue: $6.5 million
Location: Chesapeake, Va.
Percentage of Revenue Spent Annually on Tech: <1%
We’re setting up our business to scale out, and to do that, you have to harness technologies that different types of people in the same role can use. We’ve adopted new technologies recently that help us become more automated.
What products you decide to use comes back to your long-term goals and what you want for your reputation. For example, I like to have complete control over that front-end client experience. I like it to be manicured and tailored to that individual client.
With that being said, there are technologies that I have tried to adopt into my process that I’ve rejected because they took too much control and communication away from me.
Some programs house all the communication with the client inside the portal and I can’t wrap my head around that. I think it’s too impersonal. I like to talk directly with my clients, and it means I have to juggle a lot of balls all the time, but I use another spreadsheet software to simplify and streamline that process.
Over the past year, we rewrote our operating and client management systems into a custom program in Smartsheet. It allows us to drop in all communications into the client’s line, basically taking the things that are like a Hatch and a Buildertrend and putting it all into one operating system for the whole company.
There are technologies that I have tried to adopt into my process that I’ve rejected because they took too much control and communication away from me.
I’m sure there are great products out there that bundle technologies, but the user is going to be limited by whatever the product has built into it. Without relying on a licensed operating system, I can go anywhere. We don’t know what technologies we’ll adopt in a couple of years, but we want a platform that’s open to go in whatever direction we need.
With regards to client intake, I anticipate at some point that I won’t be able to do it all on my own, and that I will have to either adopt some sort of technology or train someone. This is an area that I’m going to choose what’s best, not what’s cheapest.
I do all of our videos and photos, and I really believe that it’s a lot easier than people think. More owners should be grabbing cameras and going in with their clients and taking these pictures.
Tech Stack Standouts: