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Guest column: Why going ‘mobile’ in your flooring business makes sense

March 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 19

By Kurt Wilson

 

With the explosion of mobile devices in the last few years, many new software programs and apps have come on the market that are designed to be used by flooring professionals. That begs the question: Why should you get onboard the mobile train?

Answer: Mobility enables your sales, estimating and installation team members to be more productive. For example, sales professionals can use their cell phone or tablet to look up product pricing and availability from the showroom floor and even give their clients a proposal document before she leaves the showroom floor. Using a mobile application, sales professionals can create a quote with product quantities after they have used the app to draw the floor plan and estimate these quantities.

If your business employs dedicated estimators, they can use mobile applications to receive project assignments from the sales staff or management, then send the estimated project back to the salesperson within a work period. Consider the Measure Mobile and Mobile Order Entry programs from RFMS, for example. Tim Blanchard, district manager, Design Source Flooring, Lenexa, Kan., can attest. “Measure Mobile and Mobile Order Entry have significantly empowered our sales team to independently and professionally close sales calls without relying on office staff or after-hours legwork. We have also seen a substantial increase of greater accuracy in regard to floorplan layouts, providing an increased cost savings on material and labor charges to our clients.”

Blanchard is not alone. Andy Coomer, account manager at ProSource, Nashville, is also a believer. “After using Mobile Order Entry for several months, I am 100% on board. In my opinion, this is the best thing to come along since I have been at ProSource. I’m able to hand my customers a written estimate and email them a copy before they leave the showroom floor. I’m even able to check inventory on the showroom floor. That’s efficiency.”

As technology improves, the costs of deployment have significantly gone down. This means flooring dealers no longer need to pay large sums to purchase hardware and software. Today’s mobile devices are affordable, and many apps either have free versions or can be used on a cost-effective subscription basis.

Must-have tools
When deciding on what software or apps you use, consider the way the apps work together with your main business management system. This is important to prevent duplicate entries. Check to see if the software has features that allow remote access to your main database, real-time inventory checking, payment acceptance and posting, along with attachment of signed documents. In addition, the software should sync to your main database back at the office.

Mobile apps should also have the ability to use cell phone camera technologies to improve the way orders and quotes are created. For instance, many dealers use the camera feature to put together a project in the software and take photos of the product to attach to the quote to give to the customer. The warehouse can also use the attached photos to immediately confirm the receipt of the correct product when it arrives.

Bottom line: In today’s competitive business environment, it is vital that we take advantage of technology and use it to make us more professional and profitable. Mobile devices are here to stay. With our economy and business sector enjoying a very healthy and busy climate, it is critical that your business can keep up. By utilizing time-saving devices and apps, you can improve your profits and keep your staff current with their technology skills.

 

Kurt Wilson is the apps product manager for Measure by RFMS. His role entails working with RFMS’ mobile applications and their integration with the RFMS Business Management System. He can be reached at kwilson@rfms.com.

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Retail Lead Management builds new integrations with flooring ERP systems

Columbus, Ohio—Retail Lead Management has recently completed the development of its initial integrations with two flooring ERP systems: RollMaster and RFMS. The company is also scheduled to launch its Qfloors integration in time for The International Surface Event in Las Vegas.

When the Retail Lead Management first launched its software in early 2017, the biggest piece of feedback it received from many of its users was they wanted a way to avoid having to enter data twice in their lead management and ERP systems. These new integrations resolve this issue by enabling users to seamlessly pass customer information from Retail Lead Management to their ERP systems.

In addition, the company is planning to release new B2B services which include companies and contacts. This will give users the ability to keep track of all homebuilders, apartment and condo complexes, and other commercial leads their companies are managing.

Retail Lead Management will be at the Creating Your Space and Floor Force booths at Surfaces. The company will be doing software demos and explaining how its software can help flooring retailers see, manage and close more leads.

For more information, visit retailleadmanagement.com.

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Technology: Cloud-based software helps flooring retailers stay mobile

November 27-December 11, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 13

By Lindsay Baillie

 

In keeping with the growing computing demands of small and large businesses alike, technology companies are developing a host of cloud-based software programs and systems. The primary goal is to provide their customers with improved data sharing and security, better user access, easy upgrades and software fixes.

While there are multiple differences between a cloud-based system and an in-house program, one of the most significant is the fact that a cloud-based system is not housed within a customer’s desktop computer. This allows the user to access specific programs anywhere as long as he or she has Internet or browser access. What’s more, because cloud-systems do not require direct changes to a user’s desktop, updates and software fixes are more easily implemented and can often be customized for each user.

Following are some of the industry’s top cloud-based software systems and their recent program updates:

American Business Software
ABS offers FloorPro, a cloud-based software that often looks different for each customer. According to Joseph Flannick, ABS president, the software consists of 400 to 500 programs depending on how it is configured for a specific customer. In addition to a customized system, updates—which are delivered through the cloud—are also specific to a user and dependent on his or her needs.

A key feature of the system is its versatility. “Not everyone gets the same thing at the same time,” Flannick explained. “Across the course of a year there are generally 150-200 new updates and a lot of stuff are things people have requested. Our software is developed for cloud-based operation, so it works extremely fast in a cloud-based environment.”

Comp-U-Floor
Comp-U-Floor has offered its ERP software as a cloud-based option for more than 10 years. The company currently has thousands of users accessing its cloud services from the U.S. and Canada.

“Our Comp-U-Floor ERP software has been redeveloped under a web and mobile platform,” said Mark Wiltgen, sales and marketing manager. “What this means to our clients is the software is no longer based on a Microsoft Windows platform, which limits the type of devices that are used to access the software. Users can now access the Comp-U-Floor ERP software on any device with an Internet connection and web browser. This allows users to be completely mobile and still have access to the software.”

FloorSoft
FloorSoft’s cloud-based software for measuring and estimating was developed in 1998. Since then the program has grown to include more than 1,500 users in 46 states and Canada.

“When we started our program we didn’t really have a development partner,” said John Petrel, president. “Now that we have a product we found users have a lot of ideas and they’re willing to tell us how to make it better.”

According to Petrel, the company collects suggestions and puts them on an issue list. Then every two weeks FloorSoft has a meeting and reviews all of the issues and suggestions. These ideas are then put into production. “Once we deliver them to production we put out a notification to all users and we acknowledge the person or persons who had the idea,” Petrel explained.

What’s more, the company has developed a system to assist users who might have to use the program in areas without Internet access.

“Even though we are cloud based, when you are in the field measuring you don’t have to have Internet connection,” Petrel explained. “Before you go out into the field to measure, you contact the cloud and the system takes all of the information about the job and downloads it to the client. Later, when you reconnect, you can bring the data back to the cloud so anyone on the team can access the data.”

Measure Square
Measure Square currently offers cloud-based software through its popular FloorLink CRM system. Recent enhancements have improved efficiencies for users across the system.

“In our most recent update of the FloorLink CRM, we have added a dashboard function that makes it easier for administrators to keep track of various aspects of the sales and installation process,” said Darienne Jordan, office coordinator and marketing manager. “As well, we have added a job funnel to keep track of job progress with all installers and estimators. This updated version is designed to make it easier to keep track of and follow up with customer management for those utilizing our software.”

One of the biggest benefits to using cloud-based software is the ability to see and share projects amongst a group of users. “This makes for more effective management of projects and saves time when having to access product databases or needing to make changes to a takeoff for an existing project,” Jordan noted.

NivBen
NivBen’s Premium Flooring Estimator 2040 is a cloud-based software program that can be used for residential projects and new commercial buildings. The software includes other programs such as proposals/samples, schedule measure request forms, a roll manager and an instruction manual to help streamline processes.

“Bidding on projects big or small can affect the bottom line if not done right,” said Dennis Benton, president. “The use of computers has helped me and my company fix ‘miss measures’ or math mistakes. You are able to estimate showing master cuts and fills with all seams showing. Proposals can be made much faster because all quantities are transferable over to the invoice.”

The Premium Flooring Estimator 2040 draws from the PDF layout provided by the architect all the products that are being specified for bid. These take-offs separate each product needed to be estimated and supply the user with all of the quantities for that layout.

Pacific Solutions
PacSol Cloud, the company’s browser-based system, allows users to check customer and vendor information as well as work orders via an Internet browser.

“We’ve had a cloud-based system for years because our technology runs on Apple products,” said Bob Noe Jr., president. “The downside is it only works on the IOS system, so we have started writing some modules.”

According to Noe, converting to cloud is something that takes time and requires knowledge about what platforms a company is developing for. “Converting to cloud for us is building the very best solution so when users access it through any device it rocks. To make the software really right we have to think: What does the user need to see when she looks at this program on her phone? If we were to jam every feature into the Android phone that’s on a desk platform it would be overwhelming.”

QFloors
QFloors offers two types of cloud software technology: QCloud, which has been around approximately 15 years, and QPro, a new product that was developed over the past few years.

QCloud gives users access to their complete QFloors system through servers stored on the cloud. Customers access their QFloors software through an icon on their desktop. QPro is based on web browser and mobile app innovations. This type of system is accessed via any type of device with a web browser and removes the expense of paying licensing fees to third-party companies.

“You are not required to download or install anything, and you can use whatever brand or type of device you wish as long as it has a web browser,” said Chad Ogden, CEO and president. “Once the users log in through the browser, they can then access their QFloors system and data.”

Eventually the full QFloors system will be converted to this new QPro technology, beginning with QPro POS+, which is expected to be released by the end of 2017.

RFMS
RFMS offers numerous cloud-based software and services—a web-based hosting service and several mobile applications. With the hosting service, RFMS users can access the company’s business management software using the Internet. All the software is in the cloud, which means the RFMS user no longer has to worry about system updates, hardware maintenance, backups or operating system updates.

“We also offer two distinct products that use cloud technology to streamline the way the sales process works in the flooring operation,” said Maria Cauchon, media services director. “With these two applications, a salesperson can estimate, create quotes or orders and post payments using any mobile device. RFMS Mobile allows orders and payments, product look-ups and more while in the field or in a customer’s home. The information then connects to the cloud to sync up with the database, updating the main RFMS system.”

Measure Mobile 3, another RFMS application, lets users draw rooms and apply RFMS product information to create a quick estimate. “RFMS Mobile is undergoing a soft rollout and we expect to see many features and upgrades in the next quarter,” Cauchon said.

RollMaster
RollMaster software is delivered one of two ways. The first is via a secure cloud-based server that the company hosts and protects; the other is via a user’s own installed server. Regardless of how the user chooses to set up the software, the program can be accessed from anywhere at any time with Internet access on a laptop or desktop computer. “We are moving in a very mobile-friendly direction with the software,” said Kelly Oechslin, marketing coordinator. “This means several browser-based and mobile phone applications can access key data from the system.”

A couple of these products include the RMMobileSales app, which allows for outside salespeople to look up customer data, product pricing and inventory availability. The RMWeb Installation Calendar app connects floor layers in the field with the scheduling and installation component of RollMaster software. The company’s new API Integration allows for non-flooring-specific business features to interact with RollMaster data. This includes features such as Testimonial Tree to gather and post online reviews, marketing integration and CRM platforms.

Surge1
Surge1 is a fully scalable, cloud-based platform designed to provide office automation for installation companies. Surge1’s product provides a complete, standalone solution that also integrates easily with existing systems.

“Our solution was designed from the ground up by installers,” said Jacob Myatt, CEO. “Our installation specialists work with our development team each day to create the best solution for office, field and warehouse.”

The company is working on several updates including its offline mobile app, which is expected to launch in the first quarter for Android and Apple products. This will allow flooring installers to see their schedules, pay sheets and measure diagrams when they travel to an area outside of cell service.

 

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RFMS adds implementation team, trainers

image001Tuscaloosa, Ala.—RFMS, a provider of business management software for the flooring industry, recently re-organized its software implementation department to improve the way new users go live with the program. The company also added Jennifer King to its implementation team, and Jamie Gauen and Cindy Thompson to the RFMS training team.

King was a previous RFMS user and brings years of experience not only in the flooring industry but with the RFMS business management system. Gauen bring many years of experience using RFMS and looks forward to providing top level training to all RFMS clients. Thompson previous worked with the RFMS Helpdesk team.

The implementation team prepares a new user’s database, which contains items such as vendors, customers, chart of accounts and accounting setup, product data, commission tables and more. This assistance enables the new users to begin to use RFMS at a faster pace.

“It provides both the client and the trainer with improved education on using the RFMS software without getting bogged down in the initial setup phase,” said Joey Denson, implementation manager, RFMS.

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RFMS biennial user conference draws record turnout

May 22/29, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 25

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 11.28.38 AMBirmingham, Ala.—RFMS, developer of business management software for the flooring industry, held its biennial user conference here earlier this month. The two-day event drew a record turnout for an RFMS event with over 250 users from more than 115 companies traveling from the U.S., Canada and even New Zealand.

Owners, managers and users learned about software developments, collaborated with industry peers and strategized with RFMS staff. All 82 RFMS staff members were present to meet and network with the attendees. “Our client base attendees represented billions of dollars in business revenue, including some of the largest and most successful dealers around,” said Dave Dumoulin, director of sales.

Themed “Discover the Possibilities of 2017,” the meeting was designed to inspire users through community engagement and software training. “We consistently introduce many system enhancements per year influenced by industry trends and customer feedback,” said Terry Wheat, president of RFMS. “This conference offers opportunities for users to discover why the new features were developed and how they can be implemented to add real, tangible value to their company.”

This year marks the first time RFMS has offered an off-site training event with an actual “hands-on” opportunity. At any given point over the two-day conference, up to 100 users were logged into their own private “cloud” and received instructor-led training using their own computer. “This is the first time of which I am aware that such a large group was able to learn in a hands-on setting,” Wheat said. “We work with a third-party data hosting company that created a hosted cloud right inside the hotel without the use of the Internet. It was absolutely amazing to see technology be deployed in this way.”

Rocky Pack, COO of Floors LLC, said that while it is always a difficult decision to commit several days for staff members to attend an event like the RFMS user conference, he said the event was well worth it. “I cannot overstate the value of the time spent, after hours, networking with the RFMS staff and with other dealers. Being able to include other users and trainers and programmers in a common conversation allowed for several obstacles to be overcome quickly as well as the long-term advantages of building the relationships.”

Features of the user conference included:

  • Hands-on training: 30 sessions covering the best business practices for commercial, retail, builder, multifamily and measure software.
  • Owner sessions: Two days of various management/owner topics such as financial benchmarking, mobile applications, ecommerce in the flooring industry, new features and reporting.
  • Mystery interactive dinner theater: Participants (users and RFMS staff) worked in teams to solve puzzles and participate in challenges to discover what or who killed President Zachary Taylor.
  • Pre-event reception: Tuesday night kicked off with a welcome reception for everyone and complimentary technical assistance was provided for hands-on students.

Following the user conference, the entire RFMS staff enjoyed a day of team building activities, donating 11 bikes to the Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham and finishing off with a family night dinner and entertainment.

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Technology: 10 steps to choosing the right flooring software for your business

May 22/29, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 25

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 10.36.50 AMA retailer’s quest for the perfect flooring software can be compared to a customer’s journey to finding the right floor. Concerns such as the type of software, the store’s traffic and the software’s maintenance are all things to consider before implementing a specific system.

With tons of enticing choices in the market, it can be difficult to find the best fit. Luckily, software companies in the flooring industry are more than willing to share tips and key questions to ask when looking for flooring software.

Following are some of their considerations and suggestions:

Make sure it’s easy to use
Ease of use and good design are two of the most important things to look for when choosing technology, according to Chad Ogden, CEO and president of QFloors. “If a software system has all the features you want but is hard to use, you won’t be able to use the included features.”

He also warns that most, if not all, software companies will say their software is easy to use, so be sure to ask a host of questions about the software including: Can you play around with the software yourself? How many mouse clicks, screens and drop downs are needed to complete everyday tasks? (The more steps, the more complicated a system can be.) Other questions to ask dealers: How long did it take to convert from their old system? How long does it takes to train new employees on the system? Were there any unexpected charges?

In terms of measuring software, Dr. Steven Wang, president of Measure Square, explained that while the software should be easy to use, “it should also be fully featured so you can measure the details. You should be able to work with a laser to measure an office or residential floor.”

Get other opinions
In addition to talking with the software manufacturers and their current customers, QFloors’ Ogden suggests seeking the advice of other industry members. “Ask fcB2B suppliers that you deal with which software works well with their systems. Ask WFCA which systems it recommends.” (WFCA recently created a technology division that specializes helping dealers in this way.)

Bob Noe Jr., president of Pacific Solutions, also stressed the importance of talking to other software users. “The ability to speak with current users about their experience with a system and the software provider is invaluable.”

Do your research
Before you jump into using one software program, make sure you have done your research—on both your business and the different programs available.

“Gather facts from all of the credible software providers,” Pacific Solutions’ Noe explained. “Don’t get tunnel vision about a single system just because your buying group or a colleague recommends it. Remember, it’s not always what a system accomplishes, it’s how elegantly it accomplishes a task that differentiates one system from another. An inefficiently designed system will increase the total cost of ownership for many years to come.”

Once you have collected enough information about each software company, begin to compare systems, features, prices, etc. Mark Wiltgen, sales and marketing manager, Comp-U-Floor, suggests retailers make a list of everything they want the software to accomplish. This will make it easier to determine which software package is the best fit.

“As the saying goes, you want to compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges,” Wiltgen explained. “Too many times we see retailers choose vendor products because of the price or get a trimmed down version of the software to lower the cost. When taking this approach, the retailer will usually end up looking for new software or costly upgrades within a year, because the software has limited functionality to meet the changing requirements as the business grows or changes.”

Determine the cost/time savings
As a business owner, time and money are two very important factors. QFloors’ Ogden suggests retailers ask about any additional costs including demos, adding on features, B2B, training and maintenance fees.

Retailers should also find out whether or not a software company is interested in expanding its features. According to Kelly Oechslin, marketing coordinator for RollMaster, retailers should ask the following: “How expansive is the software with the fcB2B initiative? Is the software company dealing with only a few vendors and a handful of electronic files, or is it up-to-date with everything the industry has to offer and making efforts to continually update and improve? How is the software working to develop other avenues of automation, such as credit card processing, barcoding, electronic document storage, cloud-based access and data storage for 24/7 access from any Internet connected device, etc.”

While concern for immediate costs is important, retailers should also be aware of long-term costs. Comp-U-Floor’s Wiltgen explained that retailers should ask companies if the software will help them grow their business, and will it be able to accommodate that growth without significant costs or upgrades?

Remain committed
Incorporating a software system into your business requires follow through, specialists say. It is a commitment that requires constant upkeep by all members of your team. “Even the best software will not work if it is not correctly implemented— which means it starts with management and works down to each area of the operation entering data every step of the way,” Rollmaster’s Oechslin explained. “That’s when a business will truly see the benefit of a flooring software system.”

Ask for demos
One of the best ways to test if a software program is right for your business is to request a demo from the software company. “After you have narrowed it down to a few finalists, request an online or onsite presentation for all of the key people in your company,” Pacific Solutions’ Noe said. “When the majority of your staff takes ownership of the new system at the onset, it’s less likely that you will need to push or compel them to use the system down the road.”

Focus on flooring-specific programs
For Dave Dumoulin, director of sales, RFMS, finding a software program tailored for the flooring industry is key. “Our industry has many different requirements. For example, when purchasing carpet, we are purchasing by the square yard or by lineal feet. Does the software handle roll calculations? Many of the common, off-the-shelf software systems only handle the unit count of each or box. In our industry, we use a tremendous amount sub-contractor labor. Does the software handle labor properly, including installer purchases and deductions? Or does it treat labor the same as a product vendor through accounts payable?”

Choosing a flooring-specific package helps automate and control key business functions unique to the flooring industry such as sales, purchasing, inventory control, etc. It should also increase productivity by eliminating many manual tasks as well as provide ROI by helping to control costs, track job profitability, report sales trends and improve customer service, experts say.

Beware of the ‘one-size-fits-all’ program
Software that handles front and back end office functions can be broken down into three categories: off the self, flooring specific and completely custom, according to Joseph Flannick, president, American Business Software (ABS). The off-the-shelf software is the least expensive and can accomplish basic functions. However, it has its negatives. “The disadvantages [to using this software] are that these packages don’t handle the unique aspects of flooring such as run numbers, dye lots and square foot/carton conversions. It’s a one-size-fits-all environment and there is little room for customization.”

This type of software might be useful for newer companies, experts say. However, users should expect to upgrade as their company grows.

Look into integrated software
Another point to consider is whether a software program can be integrated throughout your entire business as well as with other types of software. RollMaster’s Oechslin suggests asking the following: “Will the flooring software automate every aspect of your business or will you have to rely on another software for, say, accounting or installation scheduling? If a flooring software is fully automated, will it allow for real-time job costing when you have an opportunity to correct issues, or does it give you that data after the fact, when it’s too late to correct?”

Using an integrated software program makes performing various tasks on a job site easier and can reduce human error, according to Measure Square’s Wang. “The easier your measure solution is integrated with your business management the better; that way you don’t have double entry or have to switch to other software.”

Be realistic with your expectations
After consulting with the software companies, retailers must then determine a list of realistic expectations they want a software program to meet. “It’s possible the software won’t do everything you want it to do—or if it does, it might not be done the way you want to do it,” ABS’ Flannick said. “The bottom line is software should be viewed as a tool to help you. It should not make things more complicated. If it does, it’s the wrong software for you.”

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Technology: Latest software offers add-ons, mobile solutions for dealers

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:

Comp-U-Floor
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.”

MeasureSquare
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.

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 10.07.42 AMPacific Solutions
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.”

QFloors
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.”

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 10.07.32 AM

RFMS
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.”

RollMaster
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.

 

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Technology: New software aims to maximize efficiency

December 5/12, 2016: Volume 31, Number 13
By Lindsay Baillie

Flooring industry software developers are constantly upgrading their programs to help retailers, installers and contractors become more efficient at estimating, measuring, job scheduling and inventory management.

Following is an overview of programs designed to help maximize efficiency for both retail and commercial operations.

American Business Software (ABS)
ABS’s FloorPro III ERP is an industry-specific system designed to handle most office and warehouse functions for flooring, ceramic tile and stone retailers.

“Our software helps automate a lot of the paperwork processes in the front office as well as inventory and warehousing functions in the back office,” said Joseph Flannick, president. “It helps you prepare quotes, produces documents for your customers to take with them, keeps track of orders and helps with purchasing—especially special orders. Our software keeps track of inventory, creates invoices, does sales analysis and handles the bookkeeping. It helps with pricing, gross margin and profit.”

According to Flannick, FloorPro III ERP differs from general purpose software in that the latter doesn’t always handle inventory. “Most off-the-shelf software cannot handle issues like converting between square feet, cartons and pieces, but our software can,” he explained. “Our software is designed to seamlessly handle various dye lots and run numbers of the same SKU.”

In addition to its multiple features and functions, FloorPro III ERP is also customizable based on what the retailer is looking to accomplish. “Few companies do that these days and if they do it costs a small fortune,” Flannick said. “Depending on what it is, we do most custom programming for free or at a reduced cost.”

Comp-U-Floor
comp-u-floor
Comp-U-Floor ERP, packaged with Hosting service along with the web and Mobile solutions, allows retailers to have a complete ERP that can be accessed from anywhere via the web or mobile device. This allows a retailer to have a system that has minimal startup investment and low monthly costs.

“We support thousands of satisfied flooring industry users throughout North America for whom our point-of-sale, order processing, business-to-business, inventory, purchases, installation management and integrated accounting provide the foundation for growth and profitability,” said Mark Wiltgen, sales and marketing manager.

The Comp-U-Floor ERP is available to retailers of all sizes and can be tailored to automate and streamline many processes. Communication with customers is seamless via email. Purchasing can be automatically generated through the sales order and communicated to suppliers via the web using the B2B module. But the best part, according to the company, is the retailer can add more locations and turn on more features as the company grows, at no additional cost. “Our package is unique and can be tailored to various business models in the flooring market,” Wiltgen said. “The user is in total control of how the system functions based on their business requirements.”

Dancik
Dancik Navigator provides a single, affordable solution for managing a flooring retailer’s business from sales and customer relationships to operations and accounting. In short, the program offers total business management and B2B solutions.

Unlike generic software solutions, Dancik says Navigator supports integrated, industry-specific functionality that encompasses sales, inventory, warehousing, logistics, purchasing, operations and financials. The program, which is mobile compatible, utilizes a point-and-click interface and is adaptable as business needs change.

Navigator also comes with add-on modules to increase showroom productivity. DNav-showroom manager reduces the need to write or extend selections by hand. It manages customer selections by room and area, analyzes product trends and personalizes appointment calendars.

Dancik’s DNav-edi provides B2B solutions that allow the user to create sales analysis transmissions for suppliers and buying groups, provide customized price lists to customers, invoice customers in their preferred units of measure, accept orders, connect to banks, credit companies and other businesses while offering real-time web services.

MeasureSquare
The MeasureSquare estimating application is specifically designed for retail flooring and can be used both onsite and in the showroom. This app enables onsite measuring utilizing a laser disto and offers an accurate estimate to customers. MeasureSquare estimating software also aims to maximize retail sales associate efficiency where it matters most.

“Measure estimating software is critical to [the retailer’s] sales process,” said Steven Wang, president. “The MeasureSquare estimating app solves [the RSA’s] problem of selling right on the spot. It makes sales reps look more professional to win more sales, which then increases conversion rates.”

According to Wang, the estimating app saves RSAs 60% of their time by measuring with a laser meter while eliminating 80% of manual errors. The application also creates seam diagrams, which are available for customer review. The same diagrams and cuts are also available for installers and are more accurate than hand sketches.

“This program is easier to learn on mobile devices like an iPad/iPhone,” Wang explained. “It works alone but can also be used to collaborate with office and field reps through the MeasureSquare Cloud. The application can also be integrated with management software.”

NivBen Software
NivBen Software offers the Flooring Estimator Professional System 2040 to retail and commercial businesses alike. This program and its many features are designed to eliminate inaccurate measuring and estimates for all types of flooring.

“It’s a program that reduces [incorrect] measuring,” Dennis Benton, president, said. “It can take dimensions off blueprints and lay the blueprint out on the digitizer and then trace the walls. The program will do wood, vinyl, tile, carpet, carpet tiles—it will also tell you how much padding is needed and how much seaming is involved. All of this saves you time and money, and it is much more accurate.”

According to Benton, other programs often fail to show important information such as seam layouts. NivBen’s Flooring Estimator system shows fill pieces, seam layouts and labels. It includes a color-coded feature to identify rooms with different flooring, a proposal/sample management program, a work order form and quick key estimator program. The program also creates more accurate drawings, according to NivBen. “You have a printout that you can give to installers, which is a big [deal],” Benton said.

Pacific Solutions
Pacific Solutions sells three primary products: management, estimating and measurement software. Of the management programs is JobRunner, specifically created for commercial business. What makes this program unique, according to Pacific Solutions, is its exclusivity in introducing a business process to commercial business.

“Quite often in commercial flooring businesses are using Excel to calculate their budgets and determine [the cost of the job],” said Bob Noe Jr., president. “Then they’ll go over to a program like Microsoft Word and type up the bid for presentation purposes for the client. Then they give it to the accounting department, which re-enters the job into a program like QuickBooks. So they end up using three separate systems for the job, which opens up room for errors. When all this information comes together in a project management system it takes the whole business out of separate silos and puts them all together.”

JobRunner’s ability to consolidate information and eliminate errors is what makes this program so efficient, Noe explained. “We give [businesses] a tool that can revolutionize redundant tasks and the passing of information from different departments,” Noe said. That is, of course, if retailers operate within the scope and design of how the system is designed. “If a software system has a streamlined process it can create an efficient path for the job to travel.”

QFloors
QFloors’ QPro Software, scheduled to be released in February, is a browser-based system offering customers brand new software, customizable features and operational efficiencies.

“Over the last two to three years we’ve put in effort to upgrade to the newest technology,” said Chad Ogden, CEO and president. “We’ve had to completely rewrite our software to run in a web browser. With this new software you can write within Chrome or Firefox, and we’re the first in this industry to attempt to do this. The technology tools we’re using are less than two to three years old.”

Ogden believes most of the software that is flooring specific is getting old and requires multiple clicks. As technology evolves, newer systems are needed to make software navigation easier.

Ted Schultz, national director of sales, said QPro’s easy-to-use nature translates to fewer clicks to complete tasks, which in turn results in greater efficiency. “On a browser-based program all you need is a browser and as long as you have the URL you can access the site,” he explained.

The QPro Software—which was created without sacrificing features, according to QFloors—allows companies to create custom features and transport them into the software.

RFMS
screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-11-04-01-amRFMS’s Measure Mobile application is designed to streamline workflow while ensuring RSAs use up-to-date pricing and products. “Our Measure Mobile application allows for the mobile measuring of a room, estimating of quantity needed and coming up with a drawing onsite,” said Kurt Wilson, product manager. “The application helps retailers stand out and provide a great experience for the customer.”

For example, when a customer walks into a flooring store and asks an associate for the price of a product, oftentimes that RSA has to walk away from the customer to find out the cost, Wilson stated. Similarly, if the customer asks about multiple products the associate may have to walk away numerous times. “With Measure Mobile the associate can look up prices from a device either in the showroom or the home.”

One of the many benefits of the Measure Mobile estimating systems is the fact that it’s geared specifically toward the retail salesperson. Another key feature of Measure Mobile is it interfaces with RFMS. “Features like the checklist tool and photo feature are designed for quick quote creation and to provide photos directly to customers and installers,” Wilson said.

RollMaster
The RollMaster Property Management Quick Order feature is designed maximize efficiency for property management flooring businesses. This feature complements the software’s RM Web Calendar, an online installation scheduling product.

“One of the most integral features is the streamlined design, which allows for fluid order taking based on the conversation with the property management client,” said Kelly Oechslin, marketing coordinator. “This means the order taker can move back and forth within the program based on the flow of the conversation. The on-screen prior job comparison tool allows for comparing the current order to the last time the unit was serviced, allowing for reduction of errors and duplicate job entry.”

The RollMaster Property Management Quick Order feature is specifically designed to expedite the processing of property management order taking.

“It is further differentiated by the numerous other PM-focused features that are integrated within the streamlined design,” Oechslin explained. These features include a property manager reporting hierarchy, the ability to program multiple levels of special pricing, the advanced template design, the add-on wireless barcoding software and equipment, the inventory projection reports and a customizable web portal.

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Software: Technology enhances the consumer’s buying experience

November 7/14, 2016: Volume 31, Number 11

By Terry Wheat, president, RFMS

wheat-terryThere is a critical need to improve the buying experience of a floor covering consumer. Flooring retailers are not just competing with big box stores; they are also going up against other channels—many of which offer an enhanced buying experience.

So how can technology bring an enhanced buying experience to a floor covering store? By giving the salesperson mobility, visualization tools and immediate quote turnaround. Mobile Order Entry by RFMS (MOE) does all of that and more. Following is an overview.

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-4-49-17-pmMobility: This certainly includes measuring a home, estimating product quantity and coming up with a total selling price—all while on site. However, an often overlooked area where mobility is sorely needed is the showroom itself. Typically, a sales professional will walk back to their desk several times during a visit, leaving their customer on the showroom floor each time for several minutes. The purpose? To look up product, pricing and inventory information. MOE responds to this problem by giving sales professionals the ability to access this information while staying engaged with the customer on the floor.

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-4-49-23-pmVisualization tools: In order to visualize products at their residence, customers are usually provided with a number of samples to take home with them. This is an effective method but it might not always be possible or practical. In an area recently hit by massive flooding, one store experienced a 400% increase in walk-in traffic. Providing all of these customers with samples was impossible. Using visualization tools, however, all of those consumers could have been given something that would assist them in visualizing the products. The sales professionals use MOE to take a picture of each product the customer is interested in, associating that picture with the proposal which is then emailed or texted to the client or printed and given to them. Of course, the photo screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-4-49-27-pmfeature is also a great way for estimators to document existing job conditions prior to install.

Quotes on the spot: Providing customers with an immediate quote, whether it be right after a measure or before the customer leaves the showroom, is always better than responding back to them in hours or days later with a price. Granted, the quote may be subject to measure or other requirements. But wouldn’t it be much better to give the customer a professional document, including pictures, a room plan, notes, etc., at the conclusion of your conversation? This instills confidence in the customer and dramatically improves the efficiency of the sales professional, who no longer has to worry about handling paperwork. Their focus is on the selling process rather than a stack of handwritten quotes that need to be entered.

For more information, please call 800.701.7367 or email sales@rfms.com

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RFMS opens registration for 2017 Owner & Education Conference

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-12-46-29-pmTuscaloosa, Ala.—The RFMS Owner & Education Conference will be held May 10-11, 2017 at the Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa in Birmingham, Ala. The event will feature a varied and specific array of daily training sessions, networking events and educational sessions.

New for 2017 will be a series of half-day workshops during which conference attendees are able to utilize their own laptop to experience hands-on learning opportunities. The workshops will focus on using RFMS by business type: retail, commercial, multifamily and builder.

Similar to past conferences, representatives from many mills and distributors will be in attendance. “The volume of business that our client base does with the manufacturers and distributors are in the billions,” said Terry Wheat, president, RFMS. “They have a vested interest in the success of our clients and are always very enthusiastic to show their support to not only RFMS, but to the dealers themselves through these educational types of events.”

For more information, visit http://www.rfms.com/conference.