February 27/March 6, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 19
By Lindsay Baillie
Las Vegas—Software manufacturers continue to meet the demands of retailers, commercial contractors and installers, providing programs for virtually every facet of their operations. Whether it is business management, estimating, measuring or lead-management software, these providers are tapping into browser- and cloud-based systems to make their programs easier to use and mobile.
Following is an overview of some of the new programs and apps software developers unveiled at Surfaces 2017:
New from Comp-U-Floor comes Web Sales Order Entry, a cloud-based system available on Android and Apple devices. According to Mark Wiltgen, sales and marketing manager, the system allows customers to use mobile applications to create sales orders and to manage their installers. Using the system, the retailer can create an order from the web at any time using a tablet; then the installers have a corresponding app that gives them their work order and list of materials, he explained.
Another benefit: Installers can also click on the homeowner’s address, which links to Google Maps and provides directions. What’s more, the system allows installers to take payments at the installation site and snap pictures that can be immediately attached to the work order or added to the database as a permanent record. Installers are also able to mark the job as installed and print an invoice.
Comp-U-Floor also highlighted its service management system at the show. As Wiltgen explained: “Service management is for retailers who have gone into the service part of the industry, so if they sold carpet but now they are into carpet cleaning, deodorizing or if they sold hardwood floors but now are also into hardwood refinishing, this is a product where their customers can go into their website and order that service.”
In order for a new program to be successful it must be easy for retailers to learn, software developers say. This mentality went into creating MeasureSquare’s new mobile solutions for measuring and estimating. “The new commercial additions have a lot of efficiency enhancements over the takeoff process,” said Steven Wang, president. “People normally spend three hours on bigger [measuring] jobs. With this new version that time is cut in half.”
The new program is powered by different technologies including artificial intelligence (AI) techniques. These technologies allow the program to automatically detect where a corner is located, what the shape of the boundary looks like—so you don’t have to trace each corner with the human eye. “The machine reads the floor plan for you,” Wang explained.
Pacific Solutions rolled out new features designed to enhance current software capabilities. This includes a module that allows dealers to track the claims they may have filed with the mills. Another new feature, which is geared toward commercial flooring, is a bid register. According to Bob Noe Jr., president, this program helps streamline bid register processes and keeps commercial companies organized.
“If [a commercial company] doesn’t turn a bid in by next Wednesday at 10 a.m. [the potential clients] won’t accept the bid anymore, so [a company] might lose out on the whole opportunity to work with them,” he explained. “The bid register helps them keep a log of what needs to be turned in.”
New to QFloors is its QPro Software, a browser-based system available to small and large retailers alike. This new system will eventually take the place of existing software and contains a similar layout to its predecessor, which the company believes will make it easier for existing customers to learn.
“We have completely re-written all of the code,” said Chad Ogden, president and CEO. “We did not use anything from that other system. It’s not like we’re just slapping some web pages onto what we already have, which is the strategy most people use.”
While it was originally designed for an iPad-like device, it could technically run on a phone’s browser, Ogden added. The main difference would be that a smaller device might require more scrolling. To fix that potential issue, QFloors is currently developing QPro phone applications.
Retail Lead Management
Jason Goldberg, CEO of America’s Floor Source, developed and launched RetailLeadManagement.com (RLM) to help solve a common problem retail business owners have when reviewing retail sales associates’ leads—multiple forms of documentation and inconsistencies that only complicate tracking and management.
“What [RLM] does is simplify that whole process. It’s a product we developed to manage retail leads from the point of the lead coming in to the sale. It keeps the retail sales associate organized in an easy way, and as a manager it gives you a full view into what your retail sales associates are doing.”
The user-friendly software entails a minimal amount of fields for the operator. It has a simple recall working page, making it ideal for use on mobile devices, tablets and desktops. RLM costs retailers $19 a month per user and is customizable.
As RLM continues to grow, the company hopes to introduce b2b functionality and provide ways for users to see only what is relevant to them. This addition would expand the type of users to include distributors and manufacturers. Looking ahead, Goldberg added, “We’re adding more functionality—making the customization easier for retailers to do themselves.”
New to RFMS are two new applications. Measure Order Entry offers additional capabilities that allow users to draw and quantify the product and then push all that information directly into RFMS’ core business system. This application allows installers and retailers to take photos of product and finished installations and add them to orders.
RFMS’ second new product is called Mobile Order Entry, which provides a direct link to the company’s core system. The program allows salespeople to be completely unhitched from their desks and stores and still have access to flooring information on their phones. Both the Mobile Order Entry and Measure Order Entry are cloud-based and run on tablets, desktops and mobile devices. Both products are available in the apps store.
“We have another app called Installer Pro Mobile that would allow an installer to log in from a phone to see the job,” Dave Dumoulin, director of sales, explained. “We also have other apps we are working on around client management and managing the contact.”
Retailers perusing the RollMaster booth had the opportunity to preview the company’s new web calendar, an addition to its main product—Business Management Software. The web-based program helps streamline most business processes including job costs and every step of the order process. It can also be viewed on any Internet connected device that is already paired with RollMaster software.
“The web calendar allows installers to pick up their jobs from the phone, navigate the job site, take notes and pictures, and it’s all integrated to the flooring company’s management system,” said Patrick Ferries, national sales manager.
Next on the horizon for RollMaster is a web store that will allow retailers to actually have a storefront on their website where their customers can pick out product. According to Ferries, it will be integrated with their inventory so customers can check out and buy product directly from the dealer’s website.