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Management must haves

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While you do the heavy lifting and make the hard decisions, having the right software solutions in place can help lighten the workload and take your business to the next level.

Whether you’re working onsite or off-site, your efficiency levels ultimately depend on having the best tools and good systems in place. And when it comes to business management, housing professionals need tools that can make their day-to-day run more effectively. From simplifying time-consuming processes such as estimating and quoting, through to helping clients visualise what their finished project will look like, or even finding an easier way to manage customer service processes, smart software can make a huge difference to your daily productivity. Here, HOUSING takes a look at some innovative software solutions to lighten the off-site workload and strengthen your business.

Liaise, engage and exceed client expectations

As a home builder, maintaining open lines of communication with your clients is essential at every stage – from managing the design and selections process through to securing approvals, and providing updates. Unfortunately, without good systems in place, managing this ongoing client correspondence can become time-consuming, and, if mismanaged, can impact negatively on the client’s overall experience, and the builder’s reputation. 

Enter Constructive: an exciting new software package designed to improve every facet of your client communication processes, keeping them more engaged while saving you time and money. 

‘Constructive is the home building software your clients can use to stay up to date with build progress, select finishes, and visualise a tailored view of their home design in stunning 3D,’ says Constructive CEO James Salt. ‘It also includes powerful, data-driven reporting to help you analyse client activity, monitor trends and optimise your offering with sophisticated insights.’

Following is a brief overview of the platform’s capabilities:

• The online selections tool allows your clients to make their selections anywhere, anytime – even on their smartphones. It’s fast, convenient and reduces the amount of time you spend in selections meetings. It’s also more cost-effective, eliminating the need for expensive physical selection folders and booklets. This tool allows you to track your clients’ selection process, send reminders, and configure prices for individual items or item groups based on your price structure. 
• The 3D selections function enables clients to visualise their external selections and colour schemes in 3D. ‘In a matter of minutes, you can turn your designs into stunning 3D models for your customers to explore,’ James says. ‘They can try out different colour combinations and see how they will look on their actual home design, not a generic render.’ 
• Your clients can access up-to-date information on their build anytime, anywhere via the customer portal. This all-in-one dashboard elevates your customer service by keeping clients fully updated on where their build is at and what will happen next – without wasting time responding to endless emails or phone calls. Customers can log in to access documents such as contract plans, variations, handover packs, photos and customer surveys. Plus, tracked and actionable communications functions ensure you’ll never miss a client request. 

James reports that more than 75 building companies have already successfully implemented Constructive, with 10,000 clients logging into the Customer Portal and Online Selections monthly. ‘The platform helps businesses streamline the dollar and time outlay usually associated with client communication,’ he says. ‘It improves in-house efficiencies and allows builders to consistently exceed client expectations across the entire build process.’

Gabrielle Chariton

Author

Contributor to Housing

Image courtesy of Constructive
Image courtesy of Constructive

Quote with confidence

Accuracy in quoting and estimating is fundamental to protecting your business’s bottom line. If your quotes are calculated too low, you risk losing money; price a project too high, and you risk missing out on the job. But for many builders, creating accurate, reliable quotes can be a time-consuming and painstaking process. 

SoloAssist is an innovative, user-friendly software package that helps take some of the stress out of the estimating and quoting process in two ways: by improving accuracy, and by making the process easier and faster. Developed and tested over 15 years, SoloAssist allows you to quote with confidence and in less time than ever before. By streamlining and automating tedious manual processes, the software developers claim the package can increase your conversion rates and slash your quoting hours by 50 per cent.

The system is designed to meet the needs of builders, contractors and suppliers and integrates all your estimating, quoting and job management data and provides seamless support throughout the entire job life cycle. 

Use SoloAssist to produce fast, accurate quotes for new homes, renovations, extensions, alterations, additions and small commercial projects. Simply load in a set of PDF plans and take-off quantities, or enter your quantities into the quoting template and let SoloAssist work out materials and labour required for the job. Quantities are measured right on your screen, sending them directly into the quote, and calculating a running total as you go. By reducing mistakes during the estimation process and time lost rectifying oversights, the program has the potential to help users increase profits.

Once a project is underway, SoloAssist keeps you organised by producing purchase and work orders, variations, tracking expenses against budgets and managing payment stages. It also integrates seamlessly with MYOB and Xero so you can stay on top of cash flow and projected profits.

Accuracy in quoting and estimating is fundamental to protecting your business’s bottom line
Image courtesy of SoloAssist

Your construction companion

As a business owner, being across every aspect of your day-to-day responsibilities can feel like a challenge at times. However, you can take control of managing your business with Companion Systems. The company’s Onsite Companion software maps all your jobs, contacts, processes, tasks, communications, workplace compliance and resource allocation of trades and suppliers, then automates it – so you won’t miss a single thing. 

Companion Systems was founded in 2002 by Matthew Camenzuli who, following his own experiences in the construction industry, wanted to develop solutions to automate the many paper-based, inflexible systems that were restricting efficiencies industry-wide. 

Nearly 20 years on, the business remains driven by its foundation statement: ‘let us help you grow’. OnSite Companion is one of the country’s most innovative project workflow platforms, tailored to meet the specific needs of business owners within the construction industry. The system is designed to give home builders total visibility over an entire project through a straightforward, easy-to-use interface, with data accessible in the office and onsite; online or offline. 

Fully customisable according to the needs of your company, and individual projects, it improves productivity and enhances team efficiency across all sectors of a home building business. 

With tools covering workflows and processes across sales, pre-construction and construction, OnSite Companion helps increase the conversion of sales traffic and provides guided processes to support sales teams. Specific tools to help improve accuracy in pre-construction include full document management systems, integration with estimating software, checklists and task prompting and duration control.

The system also helps reduce build time, and allows builders to potentially increase dollar turnover per day with customisable templates for scheduling, full activity forecasting, and trade/supplier allocation, WHS and licensing control, defect and maintenance control, and custom detailed reporting. 

Businesses using Onsite Companion can also join the Companion Systems Forum to access further support. Share information, tips, advice and support with other users to optimise your experience with this dynamic tech solution.

When it comes to business management, housing professionals need tools that can make their day-to-day run more effectively.
Image courtesy of Companion Systems

Real-time design and pricing for faster sales

Utecture is a game-changing, cloud-based residential design, visualise and pricing platform. It’s designed to meet the specific needs of volume residential builders by enabling them to design, modify and price changes to house plans in real-time.

‘Utecture dramatically cuts down the time it takes to get a potential customer to contract, so as a sales tool, it’s fantastic,’ says Scott Palmer, Utecture sales manager. ‘The platform allows building companies to provide fast, accurate changes to existing templates and plans, or draw new plans from scratch and provide a price in minutes, alongside a full 3D colour render and digital twin. 

‘If the client likes a set of plans but wants a larger master bedroom, for example, the walls can be instantly clicked and dragged, and the price change will reflect instantly. Utecture software eliminates the need to spend hours re-drafting and re-pricing changes.’ 

So how does this exciting all-in-one cloud-based tool work? Pricing and materials are built into the back end of the Utecture platform. Users can pre-load their house plans, and the platform will convert them to 3D colour renders, and apply pricing and product SKUs from the back end. When clients want to change materials or room size, Utecture automatically pulls the pricing from the pre-loaded price files, so clients get both instant material changes and accurate pricing. 

At the conclusion of the sales process, when the customer is happy with their design or changes, Utecture delivers a full bill of materials, schedule of quantities and elevations/drawings, including a full 3D colour render/digital twin of the building. 

‘When we onboard a new building company, we take their supplier price files, labour constants, margins and wastage coefficients, and work with them to build a kit set of parts for buildings and a relevant pricing methodology,’ Scott explains. ‘This is then automatically applied to front-end client changes by the Utecture platform when design modifications are made. As part of the implementation process, we also load supplier SKUs and products so material selections can also occur in real-time, again with the price changes happening instantly. For example, if a customer wishes to change to a heavier gauge roof and a different colour, that product and price change is captured instantly along with the colour changes on the digital 3D render.’ 

Because Utecture is cloud-based, it enables a collaborative workflow between colleagues who can log on from practically anywhere to see it. Workflows can be customised for each company, and Utecture provides a full range of reporting, permission levels and a full audit trail. Utecture can also be loaded with local building codes and standards (e.g. AS1684 and NASH) that allow basic engineering checks to ensure code compliance. Local factors, such as wind speeds and roof loads, can also be applied to plans and buildings. These can be set by default for a region, franchise or customised as required. 

Building companies can pre-load all of their plans and designs into the Utecture platform enabling the 3D rendering, visualisation and pricing of changes in real-time.
Breaches in the code are notified so changes can be made and plans adjusted accordingly

This article was compiled with contributions by Constructive Software, SoloAssist, Companion Systems and Utecture. 
For more information, go to: 
Constructive – www.constructivesoftware.com.au 
SoloAssist – www.soloassist.com.au 
Companion Systems – www.companionsystems.com.au 
Utecture – www.utecture.com