The design of SmartContractor incorporates two basic philosophies:
- "Systematize" to improve efficiency, control and profit, and
- "Documentation and Communication" to improve your customer relationships.
What does "systematize" mean?
It means, rather than doing everything as though it is the first time you did it, you decide what is the best way to do it, and then you always do it the same way, or until it makes sense to do it another way.
The advantages of using a "system" for everything you do are...
- Efficiency: Figure out the best way to do a task and repeat that method each time, rather than starting from scratch for each task.
- Consistency: If you use the same process for tasks you repeat, you know your process will produce consistent results.
- Scalability: You can teach someone else, like an employee, how to do a task and then never have to do it again, and you'll know that it will always be done the way you want.
You can apply a system to everything you do in your life, but especially everything that you do in a construction business.
SmartContractor is a "system" (actually, a lot of "systems"). It is a computer program that automates the best way to do a whole lot of little things that need to be done in the process of estimating, bidding, purchasing, subcontracting, cost tracking, invoicing, and accounting construction projects.
The idea behind SmartContractor is that you're not just buying "software," you're buying a "system" that will guide you down the path of operating your business efficiently, consistently, and profitably.
When you learn to use SmartContractor, you're not just learning to use software, you're learning practices that will...
- allow you to estimate more accurately,
- provide better documentation and communication to your customers,
- improve your professional image,
- better manage your construction schedule,
- better manage your materials purchasing,
- better manage your subcontracts,
- better manage your employees, and
- better manage your bottom line.
Documentation and Communication
In our years of experience in the contract construction business, we have made a few observations about the relationships between contractors and their customers:
- Many contract construction customers complain that their contractors are disorganized.
- Many contractors complain that their customers constantly pick apart and dispute their invoices.
- Many people who have had the experience of remodeling their home, or of building a custom home, say that it was extremely stressful and that they would never do it again.
- Many contractors complain that their customers are a pain in the neck.
We believe that no one is trying to cheat each other. Contractors aren't in business to deceive or swindle their customers, and people who hire a contractor to build or remodel their home do not go into it with the intention of cheating the contractor out of what they owe for it. We believe that all problems between contractors and their customers are a result of one thing: poor documentation and communication.
What do we mean by "documentation"?
Documentation starts with a good estimate. If you don't start with a clear, detailed, and accurate definition of what work is being proposed, then you have no way of knowing what was agreed upon once work is started and it comes time to invoice the customer. This is probably the single biggest source of trouble in customer relationships.
SmartContractor gives you a quick and easy way to create an accurate estimate and proposal. If you start with an accurate and detailed estimate, and if you print it out for your customer in the form of a proposal or contract, then you have a very clear definition and communication of the scope of work that you are proposing. Which means that you have something to refer to when any disagreement arises about an invoice.
Good documentation also means creating detailed change orders for any deviations from the original contract. Consistent and complete change orders are just as important as a clearly defined estimate before you start the work. As work progresses, the original estimate is only as good as the accuracy and completeness of the change orders that you enter to document every change from the estimate.
SmartContractor makes it very quick and easy to create (and print, or email) change orders.
So as long as you start with an accurate and detailed estimate, and as long as you always create a change order for any changes from the estimate, then when it comes time to invoice your customer, it's all down in black and white. If your customer signs the job proposal, and signs every change order, then if there is any question about anything on an invoice, it is very easy to talk about because it's all on paper.
What do we mean by "communication"?
Communication means making all of the information about the progress, changes, scheduling, and accounting of the job available to the customer whenever they want to see it. Communication means presenting all of this information in a very clear, consistent way and presenting it with a professional image.
SmartContractor makes it extremely easy for you to make all of your customer's updated job information available to them on the internet, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without having to spend time on the phone answering questions. SmartContractor can automatically generate and post any or all of the following documents to your customer's personal website:
- Job Schedule
- Allowance Schedule
- Customer Selections
- Draw Schedule
- Extra Purchase Report
- Change Orders
- Allowance Variances
- Job Proposal/Contract
- Job Options/Alternatives
- Invoices (or AIA G702/G703 Payment Applications, or Draw Requests)
- Job Progress Report
- Job Site Photos
- Job Recap and Accounting Summary
Through systematizing your processes and helping you provide excellent documentation and communication for your customers, SmartContractor helps your bottom line. Your business will run more efficiently, your customers will be pleased with the level of communication you're able to provide, and everyone wins.