December 24/31, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 15
By Lindsay Baillie
Technology has changed all aspects of retail. Not only are consumers able to conduct research online, but dealers are able to market to customers and capture leads digitally. What’s more, technology has allowed retailers to completely digitize their day-to-day processes.
As more technology companies enter this space, finding the perfect software system to run a business can be daunting. While some dealers may prefer non-industry-specific software, such as QuickBooks, others may find success using programs and applications developed precisely for flooring transactions.
Following are 10 benefits industry-specific software experts believe dealers can reap by using flooring-specific software in their business.
Fosters relationships. One advantage to using an industry-specific software vendor is the relationship that is fostered between the dealer and software company. In addition to understanding the dealer’s needs, flooring-specific software vendor has the ability to offer tailored solutions and suggestions.
“Every RollMaster software implementation is more than a ‘software sale,’ it’s the beginning of a long-term relationship centered on implementing process control and industry-specific tools designed to enhance margin control,” said Kelly Oechslin, marketing coordinator, RollMaster.
Easier to adopt. One of the potential real costs of incorporating new software is the “soft cost” some dealers face with loss of productivity and a decrease in employee morale. Flooring dealers often experience pushback from employees when they are faced with learning a new system. However, these issues can be minimized when working with an industry-specific software vendor who understands the employees’ needs and speaks their language. “The familiarity of the business and industry-specific process flow reduces the issues with switching to a new system as it reduces costs in support and training,” Oechslin explained.
More cost effective. Pricing for industry-specific software varies from vendor to vendor. However, flooring software companies believe it is generally more cost effective than using a generic software. This, they say, is because generic software is more error prone and can be more expensive in the long run when basic, necessary tasks require additional manual steps.
“When you utilize software for your flooring business, you essentially take the approach to handle your entire production process in the software,” said Ursla Gallagher, sales and marketing manager, Comp-U-Floor. “It streamlines processes such as quoting, creating the sales order, allocating inventory, purchasing, scheduling and invoicing of the job inside one software package.”
Saves time. Industry-specific software has the potential to save dealers time, which ultimately feeds into the system being more cost effective. In addition to reducing operational costs, flooring-specific software presents the opportunity to avoid costly errors.
“The most successful flooring companies throughout North America use, almost without exception, industry-specific software from one of the software companies that specialize in the flooring industry,” said Edgar Aya, president of Comp-U-Floor.
A software system that is developed specifically for the flooring industry also provides the user with the ability to automate and control certain functions. Through automation, dealers are able to streamline sales, purchasing, inventory, etc.
“Flooring-specific applications provides a return on investment by helping to control costs, track job profitability, report sales trends and improve customer service,” said Maria Cauchon, media services director, sales and marketing, RFMS.
Lowers overhead costs. The automation and streamlining processes available with flooring-specific software can also lead to decreased operating expenses. “You generally need fewer employees doing the same number of tasks, or you can have the same number of employees who now have time for additional tasks,” said Chad Ogden, president, QFloors. “Other money-saving benefits include better inventory management, more supplier discounts taken and greater protection against theft and costly mistakes such as double ordering, billing and payment errors.”
One-stop shop. Unlike generic software, which could require outside programs to complete day-to-day operations, most industry-specific software incorporate all aspects of a flooring business. Proponents of flooring-specific systems say they are often able to reduce redundancies in the business and ultimately decrease the number of errors that can occur when operating multiple systems at once.
“The greatest benefit in properly built ERP solutions is they bring all aspects of the business into a single location,” said Bob Noe Jr., president of Pacific Solutions. “It’s surprising in this day and age how many businesses wait until a contract is accepted before the job details are entered into a central system.”
Customization. One of the greatest benefits to using flooring-specific software is its ability to be tailored to a customer’s specific needs, experts say. “An industry-specific software company will mold the software to fit your business instead of you molding your business to fit the software,” said Ariel Fu, vice president of operations, MeasureSquare. “Many companies will choose software developed by large tech companies because they feel comfortable with a big name, but they find out they are forced to change the way they do business because the software does not accommodate their needs.”
When it comes to estimating, Dennis J. Benton, president of NivBen Software, believes flooring-specific programs can save installers from mathematical mistakes and the headache of converting measurements.
There are also other practical benefits. “Typically only industry-specific software will include things like dye lot and square-foot-to-carton conversions on picking tickets and invoices,” said Joseph Flannick, president of American Business Software. “In a nutshell, certain tasks can only be accomplished with industry-specific software while other tasks are considerably more complex and time-consuming.”
B2B. Another benefit to using a flooring-specific system is the user’s ability to share information via fcB2B. “Using an industry-specific software that offers fcB2B capabilities means you can keep your catalogs up to date much easier, with less time and effort,” QFloors’ Ogden said. “You can order through B2B, download your vendor invoices, check stock at the supplier and more—all right there within your software.”
Better accounting accuracy. Ogden also points out that most generic software systems are unable to calculate “use tax,” and that switching to a flooring-specific system may offer greater accuracy with taxes.
“In 28 states, ‘use tax’ is the law for flooring businesses,” he explained. “It is shocking how many dealers—and even more shocking how many accountants—don’t realize their sales tax is being calculated incorrectly. If you are in one of the 28 use-tax states, using a generic program typically means you must jump through a lot of special hoops to be in compliance.”
Boosts sales. Flooring-specific software has been proven to reduce costs across many aspects of the business. For many clients, this directly—and positively—impacts the bottom line.
“Without technology, sales reps have to wait until the end of the day to obtain measures from estimators and start working on the proposal,” MeasureSquare’s Fu stated. “With cloud technology, as soon as an estimator finishes the measure, he can sync the file to the cloud and sales reps can work on the bid instantly. This significantly shortens the turnaround time.”