Case Design and Remodeling Inc. realizes no two employees, clients or projects are the same. Accordingly, we offer varied technology solutions to our team members. This flexibility allows each person to use technology that takes advantage of his or her individual strengths and, at the same time, adapt to the needs of clients. Throughout the past several years, we have supplemented or upgradedtraditional solutions for accessing project documents, estimating projects, conducting client meetings and communicating with field staff. Many of these solutions were introduced by employees who were empowered to take the initiative to seek new ways to better serve clients.
One way Case provides flexibility is through a choice of platforms for our estimating software. We, not surprisingly, employ a traditional computer-based estimating system that project designers can use to price projects in the office or in a client’s home using a laptop. In recent years, however, iPads have become an important sales tool. Consequently, we have created bathroom and kitchen estimating tools that can be used on these portable devices. This allows designers to estimate a project in the client’s home, as well as for the client to make material selections. Each system allows for the creation of an accurate estimate and contract. The project designer has the power to decide which tool best fits the client and project needs.
Because a good portion of Case’s employees work away from the office, our staff can securely access company files and resources from a cloud-based file storage system called Egnyte. This system allows employees to read and edit project files from the office and field on virtually any device. Although some project managers still opt for carrying hard copies of project plans with them, others now simply carry an iPad. They log in to the cloud file server and have access to the latest set of plans for their projects.
Even though a remodeling project is a big investment for clients, finding time to meet face-to-face with project designers can be difficult. Therefore, the ability to meet clients remotely has become a necessity. We use online meeting services and applications such as FaceTime, Skype and GoToMeeting to meet from a distance. We’ve found offering online meetings can make it easier for homeowners to carve out 30 to 60 minutes from their schedules to review project plans and even make material selections. Before initiating online meetings, make sure employees know the capabilities of the meeting service they are using and are comfortable using it to make a good impression.
For the craft persons building the projects, Case offers each a smartphone or traditional cell phone. Although some team members initially were hesitant to convert to a smartphone, the tide is turning. Currently, about half of the craft persons are using smartphones, which offer better email communication than traditional cell phones. Additionally, a smartphone allows team members to log into Case’s CRM application to view schedules, and they can record time on the job via the company’s online time card application called HH2 from Digital Business Integration, which ties into Case’s accounting system, called Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate.
After craft persons enter their hours worked, project managers review and approve the hours. For those who do not have a smartphone, Case has set up dedicated time card computers in each of its offices that can be used to access the system.
In summary, there is usually more than one way to accomplish a goal. Every person has his or her strengths, weaknesses and preferences. It makes sense to make available technology that accommodates those differences. Today there is a variety of cost-effective solutions available to small and large companies. The best way to see if a new tool will work is to empower employees by letting them try new things. If someone finds something that works, encourage them to share it with others. In the end, you are bound to add solutions to your company’s technology toolbox.
Karen Eckert serves as the Director of Information Technology at Case Design and Remodeling Inc. She has been working in the technology field for more than 20 years.