September 5, 2016; Volume 31, Number 6
By Reginald Tucker
Developers of measuring software and total retail management systems providers are enhancing their product offerings with new features and benefits. Following is an overview of what’s new and improved:
The Comp-U-Floor point of sales system—which interfaces with MeasureSquare’s mobile system—has been enhanced to further expedite measurement and estimating tasks for installers. How it works: A retailer, contractor or installer can do the measuring and estimating and the information can automatically upload to the Comp-U-Floor enterprise resource planner (ERP). “It basically becomes the point of entry for the entire ERP process,” said Edgar Aya, president of Aya Associates, owner of the Comp-U-Floor program. “An installer can do an estimate and from the site automatically upload it into a cloud-based database, and as soon as the customer approves the quote, the retailer can convert that quote into an order. This program has been updated to allow the installer to schedule the installation. Basically, our software basically closes the order cycle.”
All this is made possible via a mobile app downloaded on the installer’s laptop or smart phone. Not only does this allow faster measurement directly from the job site, but it also improves the level of communication between all parties involved in the transaction—all the way through to the consumer. “After the estimator takes a measurement at the site, he can send it back to the shop where someone can order the materials and e-mail that to the customer within hours compared to a couple of days,” said Mark Wiltgen, sales and marketing manager, Aya Associates.
Dancik Navigator provides a single, affordable solution for managing a floor covering retailer’s entire business from sales and customer relationships to operations and accounting. Navigator is a single, comprehensive solution that provides functionality for every process you need to operate your business. Unlike generic software solutions, Navigator supports integrated industry-specific functionality, encompassing sales, inventory, warehousing, logistics, purchasing, operations, and financials. What’s more, the system is mobile-compatible.
“Retailers or distributors can have their sales teams bid on jobs or work with builders to create quotes and then have those figures, jobs and orders flow directly into Dancik’s core application,” said Greg Grady, director of business development. “Dancik CRM offers benefits over competing products including incorporating rolled goods and flooring functionality into the CRM role.”
MeasureSquare provides both an onsite mobile solution as well as in-house systems retailers can use in the office on their desktops. The mobile system has been integrated with a laser measuring, thereby eliminating the need for measuring tape. Once the installer takes a measurement, he can then transfer the data wirelessly via Bluetooth technology. According to MeasureSquare, the time savings achieved is dramatic.
“We have done quantitative analysis where we collect the data from the users as well as on the time savings of measuring a typical house containing four or five rooms,” said Steven Wang, president and owner, MeasureSquare. “If it is done by hand, it takes about 25 to 30 minutes to come up with the drawing. But with the software it gets done in about 12-15 minutes.”
Another benefit of the system is it reduces manual errors. As Wang explains: “If you measure manually you may not estimate it correctly. But if you measure it on the mobile device it gets color coded. When the installer sees the summary, he knows which direction to lay the carpet and where he has to put the seams.”
NivBen Software offers a variety of programs for accurate measuring and estimating.
The Flooring Estimator Professional System 2040 allows installers to quickly and easily calculate residential installation projects. The program, which can readily handle carpet, sheet goods, tile and hardwood, also includes a proposal/sample management program, work order program and quick key estimator program when purchasing the complete package.
Likewise, the Professional System 2040 takes all the features available in Flooring Estimator and adds additional powerful capabilities. In addition to allowing calculations of multiple styles of floor covering, it lets users enter room dimensions using a PDF as a backdrop. Measurers can also use a GTCO digitizer tablet (also available from NivBen) for blueprint take-off. Both programs are compatible with QuickBooks pro for accounting integration.
While not suitable for smart phones, the programs can be used on other portable devices. “I can run it on a laptop with a 15-inch monitor with no problems,” said Dennis Benton, president. “You can see the whole layout right there on the monitor.”
The FloorRight measurement system from Pacific Solutions allows for more efficient drawing, measuring and order. For example, if a retailer is working with a builder who has a PDF drawing of a house to scale, that PDF can be easily imported into the estimating systems. Using an iPad or similar device, installers can literally use his fingers to “swipe” the screen and begin drawing lines in the desired direction. (Think electronic Etch-A-Sketch.)
As Bob Noe, president, explains: “Essentially the installer sees the PDF blueprint on the screen and then he can trace a drawing on top of the screen to create the rooms inside the software. When it’s all done it allows you to tell it what material, waste factors, etc., that go into a room based on the product type. And at the click of a button it gives you a selected seam diagram layout for rolled goods and produces a spreadsheet for all the requirements of the material for the job. This way there’s nothing lost in translation between the measurer and the installer.”
While the FloorRight software provides the installer with mathematical “suggestions” on the best way to layout material, the user never loses control over what the computer model suggests. “Unlike the Terminator, the computer here is not in charge,” Noe explained. “The software allows you to manipulate the suggested layout to get it to conform to what someone with human intellect wants it to be. It also alleviates fear in using the technology because the installer still maintains control.”
The FloorRight system, which is based on a subscription model, is designed for installers to learn intuitively. However, Pacific Solutions offers training at the client’s site, at its headquarters or via the web.
QFloors specializes in enterprise resource planning, or ERP. While it does not design measuring software, it partners with industry leaders to offer retailers a complete business management solution. (For example, QFloors’ systems seamlessly interface with MeasureSquare.)
“Instead of us trying to create all these different estimators, we take their input and bring it into our software directly,” said Chad Ogden, president and owner of QFloors. “We decided to connect our system directly to MeasureSquare and offer that integration to the client. We have partnered with them to create a good interface between both of us and we’re getting ready to release a new web interface where they are storing documents on the Internet and we’re able to transfer documents back and forth through our cloud services.”
RFMS builds on its newly launched Mobile Order Entry (MOE), Installer Pro Mobile and Measure Mobile3 (MM3) systems. The app, which was rebuilt from the ground up in January 2015, has since seen 14 updates. New features now allow installers to take photos of the job site, input all the pertinent data into the system and share with the store owner and salesperson. Also included in the latest update is a checklist tool.
“We’re taking a mobile application that performs all of the above but now we’re tying it into our accounting software,” said Kurt Wilson, product manager. “This allows the salesperson to be completely mobile whether they are in the showroom or on site and provide the customer with a quote right then and there.”
A key feature of the system is its ease of operation. Wilson recalled a recent training session in which a student learned the system in the morning and went out that afternoon to the jobsite. “It was the first time he used it,” Wilson explained. “He drew the home, applied the product and used the checklist and closed the sale. He said he would never have closed the sale without having that tool.”
The RollMaster FloorMaster product is a collaborative arrangement with FloorSoft, resulting in the first cloud-based measuring solution that integrates with RollMaster. Features that the integration of RollMaster and FloorSoft deliver today include: wireless bluetooth laser measuring; signature-capturing on the screen; emails sent to the user’s smart phone; full appointment scheduling and full job tracking; full capability to calculate supplies and labor; and close-in-the-home capability, among other benefits.
The program has been expanded to include an API call to seamlessly pull all critical jobsite information into the RollMaster job. This way, when the user prints a single or batch of work orders, the diagrams are automatically printed with the installer work order.
“It is proven that measuring on a computer and closing in the home increases close rates,” said Dev O’Reilly, founder, president and CEO.