Guest Post: PipelineDeals
It’s obvious that we have entered something of a construction boom. As we’ve exited the recession, people are suddenly building again, and the construction industry has taken on renewed life. I can hardly think of a subcontractor in recent months who isn’t “out of their mind busy”. As work gets more plentiful, more contractors are choosing to get back into the business.
The startling thing about the construction market today compared to 2007 is how completely technology is a part of it. Contractors, big and small, now rely on a full suite of mobile devices and computers to accomplish their projects and maintain contact with clients and prospects. On these gadgets run a host of software designed to help contractors manage customers, process bids and put together accurate estimates. Computers are also essential to keep their books and manage subcontractors.
The list of potential programs and tools that are available for an entrepreneurially minded subcontractor are easily overwhelming. This article attempts to cut through the noise and offer four distinct pieces of software that are essential for a contractor.
1. CRM: Manage your contacts & bid flow
(Recommended Software: PipelineDeals)
The uncomfortable truth is that striking out on your own in any business requires gaining customers, in other words selling, and this holds true for subcontractors. In most ways, the building industry has very little in common with the organizations that we think of when we talk about selling, but there are some things to learn from how sales professionals manage their business.
Customer Relationship Management (or CRM) is an internet-based platform that sales teams use to keep track of their client’s information and manage the jobs that they have in the works. These are all functions that are just as useful to subcontractors. Keeping track of your contacts and following up on bids in a timely fashion are, more often than not, the key to being the one to get the job.
There is no shortage of options out there, many of which are quite good. We recommend PipelineDeals platform based on the fact that it is designed to help subcontractors effectively manage their bid pipeline and relationships with strategic vendors. With bid tracking technology and essential integrations, PipelineDeals is an essential tool for subcontractors looking for reliable business growth. Learn More About PipelineDeals
2. Networking: Search, Connect & Manage Contractor Connections
(Recommended Software: SmartInsight)
As a subcontractor, we understand building relationships with general contractors is crucial. With a free SmartInsight profile, subs can easily find, connect and communicate with GCs looking for their skills. Once a sub has claimed their free profile, they’re able to build out their qualifications detailing where and what they build, so general contractors can find their current information to connect and send invitations to bid. Other connection features include:
- Ability to conduct a quick search to view potential company profiles you may want to connect with
- Use import and bulk connection tools to connect with more companies for quicker communication and collaboration on current or future projects
- See which contractors have viewed your profile for potential construction projects and contact them
- Share & request project information from contractors
By connecting with contractors in SmartInsight you’re able to speed up the search, prequal and communication process for every project. Learn more about SmartInsight.
3. Estimating: Keeping track of materials, labor and time
(Recommended Software: STACK)
Keeping track of clients is an essential activity for any business, but once you’ve got them on the hook, you need to be able to supply an accurate estimate of what a job will entail including time and expenses. There are a variety of different estimating programs out there which are tailored to specific industries. When choosing software of this kind, like a CRM, it’s important to pick something that offers the functionality that you need without weighing you down with a bunch of features you don’t need.
Select a program with the ability to take into account labor hours, materials and sub-contractors. Providing an accurate bid is an integral part of creating a satisfying experience for the client as well as being critical to your company’s ability to turn a profit. We recommend STACK Construction Technologies, which is the industry’s #1 cloud-based takeoff and estimating platform. From the simplest to the most complex projects, STACK’s easy-to-use software empowers user to quickly perform quantity takeoffs and then incorporate labor, equipment and materials to accurately complete the bid. With STACK, contractors are saving time, eliminating costly errors and winning more profitable work. Visit http://www.stackct.com/ to learn more.
4. Accounting: Expenses, taxes, profit & loss
(Recommended Software: Sage Accounting)
For many small businesses without a dedicated bookkeeper, managing the finances is one of the most challenging aspects of the business. Understanding how a company’s money moves is critical, especially for a small subcontracting business with limited cash flows. Complicating things further for contractors is the need to commit large amounts of money up front for materials and labor long before a project will generate revenue. This means that contractors must keep a close eye on their finances.
In spite of the obvious importance of finances in the health of a business, subcontractors who do not have a dedicated bookkeeper are in the position of needing to minimize the amount of time spent on these tasks for more time in front of customers and on job sites. Selecting intuitive, yet complete accounting software is critical to saving time and increasing accuracy. Much like your bid software, ideally look for a platform that integrates with your CRM so that you can easily pass billing information between your bookkeeping software and your customer database. We recommend Sage, which has been reported as the #1 accounting solution in use by construction professionals year after year within the JBKnowledge Construction Technology Report. Visit https://www.sage.com/en-us/sage-construction/ to learn more.
There are so many different programs built with contractors in mind in the world today that it is overwhelming to try to sort our which of them are the most useful. Even worse, it’s entirely a waste of your time to even try. As you dive into the world of construction related technology, you’ll no-doubt find that there are certain programs that you can’t live without and other that you simply don’t need. Until then, take these four types of software, Customer Relationship Management, Networking, Estimation, and Booking as the foundation of your business. They’ll help get you off on the right foot. Keep you organized as you begin to grow. And focus you on the job at hand.
PipelineDeals is a customer relationship management (CRM) platform designed to help subcontractors effectively manage their bid pipeline and relationships with strategic vendors. With bid tracking technology and essential integrations, PipelineDeals is an essential tool for subcontractors looking for reliable business growth. Visit PipelineDeals to learn more!