Putting numbers on the Knowify productivity improvement

It is nearly impossible to make it through a day without encountering an eye-roll-inducing product claim. You know the kind: Younger! Smarter! Healthier! Richer! Marketing language has extended so far into the realm of the preposterous that most of us are immune to it.

But it’s one thing to make a claim, and another thing entirely to back it up with numbers. We here at Knowify have long promised productivity increases – but what does that mean exactly? Is it a soft, wishy-washy claim that you’ll feel more organized and ‘productive’, but mostly business will roll on as usual? Or does it mean a significant change in your business processes in a way that will lead to efficiency, growth, and (hopefully) business transformation? Here’s what the data have to say:

Companies take on 20% more jobs by the end of their first year
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Introducing Knowify 3.0

Meet Knowify 3.0 – a sleek, glossy, user-friendly platform that will help you with running your contracting business in an efficient and professional manner.

We are still the Knowify you know and love with our classic construction features such as bids, change orders, and progress invoices, allowing you to seamlessly transition from paper to online-based processes. However, with your feedback, we’ve polished it and made it even better. Today, we release Knowify 3.0 with the goal of going one step further: providing you with the business intelligence that will give you an edge in the market.

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Should I Include Overhead in My Job Cost?

This question (in its many flavors) is one we encounter quite frequently at Knowify. We know from experience that accountants can have pretty strong opinions about this question, but we’re also not afraid to share ours. In short: No, you should not. Here’s why:

Including overhead in job costs only tells you about the past. Focusing on project-based profitability helps you plan for your future.

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Working the niches

A recent article by Roofing Contractor Editor Art Aisner, on “Young Guns” highlighted the next generation of roofing contractors and industry professionals positioned to succeed in their markets and industry. All those profiled were under 40. What makes them unique, is their ability to identify key gaps in their markets and to create the right infrastructures to run and grow their businesses.

Finding a niche in a saturated market
Dustin Guess and Chris Perry are one such pair. They started their roofing careers in high school working for a company owned by a friend’s father, staying through college graduation. They did demo, managed projects and sold the occasional roof to a friend or family member.

As college grads, each pursued other careers. Then, in 2008, Hurricane Ike wreaked havoc on Texas’ eastern shore. In the wake of the nearly $30 billion devastation, the two found opportunity — insurance restoration work. They started a small roofing company focused on insurance adjustment work in Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia. They liked the work, but the travel exhausted them. So, in 2010 they launched Absolute Roofing & Waterproofing, a residential roofing company serving the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Perry’s father, a veteran salesman, joined the company in its second year. By 2016, Absolute had moved to Frisco, Texas, and expanded to Waco. Guess and Perry added commercial and industrial roofing work to their business model and diversified into metal roofing and fabrication, selling to other contractors.

The company currently has about $7 million worth of work in its pipeline, 15 full-time employees, and uses subs to maintain a 70/30 commercial/residential split. Survival and profiting in a market saturated with roofing companies remains a challenge, despite the area’s rapid construction growth. Texas, in particular, does not require roofers to be licensed, so that when disaster hits, everyone hangs out a shingle and competition is fierce.

Guess and Perry say that key to success is being willing to outwork, outhustle, and outperform the competition. And, they credit their vision to their commitment to do things the right way and to give the best client experience to each and every client.

What Guess and Perry don’t spell out is that rapid growth required them to develop a business-appropriate infrastructure. Roofers, other trades, and even general contractors can only ensure their clients of the best possible experience (and that their companies remain profitable) when jobs are specified properly, bid accurately, and executed on time and on budget and that requires access to real-time information.

Be on the cutting edge of industry evolution
Another under-40 “Young Gun,” Caleb Strickler has taken the gospel of “access to real-time data” to heart. Working on roofs with his father as a teenaged project manager, he quickly realized that the best way to make more money — and move up the ladder, before eventually getting off it — was to stay productive and strive to be on the cutting edge as the industry evolved. Strickler currently is a field supervisor with Puff Inc., a provider of cold-storage and controlled-atmosphere storage which evolved into roofing, spray foam, and coatings.

As a field supervisor, Strickler is more involved in the bidding process, pre-construction, post construction, inspections and permitting process, and in the forensics of existing roofs and insulation/air barrier projects. Puff Inc. has embraced technology to enhance job site efficiency and deliver higher-quality service to customers. The company recently restructured its crews to improve productivity and relies on smartphones for real-time communication, sharing photos and client interaction.

So…if productivity matters, how are you doing?
You’re a contractor and a business owner, not a paper shuffler. There are tools and technologies designed to help you work on your business, not in your business so you can run your business with an eye towards delivering client satisfaction and profitable returns on every job you take on.

Smart operations matter. Just ask the Young Guns
Are you bidding accurately? Allocating time and materials appropriately? Do you know where your people are and what they’re doing? You should.

Accessing tools to deliver real transparency into hours, job assignments, client management, and productivity helps you ensure existing projects stay on schedule and on budget, and help you quickly collate and submit estimates for new business. These tools can mean the difference between eking out a living and making real money. And maybe even cut down the back office cleanup you do nights and weekends.

How do you get there? Do your research. Knowify, for one, can help. We’re already helping contractors integrate their business management needs with accounting systems like QuickBooks from an easy-to-use interface accessible from any device — in the field and in the office.

If you have any questions or wish to share your feedback, you can find us at support@knowify.com.

Knowify. Built for the real world.

Who are you? (And why that matters to the people who hire you)

These days, it’s pretty easy to start a business. Maybe you started your career as a laborer. Then you picked up a couple of small jobs on your own (friends of friends of friends). Then you had to get more help. You hired a pal to take on some of the work, and suddenly you had to get more serious.

You printed up business cards, started chatting up architects or interior designers, made friends with the staff at the local hardware store, or Home Depot, or Lowe’s, asked for and referred business to other contractors or subs who don’t do what you do, posted your card or flyer on the corkboards at any local store or diner that would have you. Then what?

If you are still reading this, then you did not just sit around waiting for the phone to ring. You’re still in business. Growing that business is another matter.

Who should you call?

How about your accountant? Accountants see how other business, whether in construction like you or in other industries, start and evolve all the time. They should be an expert resource. Is yours?

Residential GC-ing, managing subs or even being a subcontractor managing clients, supplies, people, and jobs, is a lot harder than it looks. Add to that, managing your back office — contracts, invoices, collections, timesheets…the list goes on…it’s enough to make a normal person’s head explode.

Ask for help

Ask your accountant for recommendations on how to run your business more…well…like a business. You’re a contractor and a business owner, not a paper shuffler. There are lots of systems that take the pain out of bookkeeping (QuickBooks is one), and others (like Knowify) designed to help contractors manage the rest of their business efficiently and profitability– in and out of the field.

Knowledge is power

Does your accountant have it? Or is the firm simply “doing your books?” Accountants can be very expensive bookkeepers if they are not also advising you on best practices for running and growing your business. Ask for help. Demand recommendations. Discuss the tools and technologies available to you to evaluate the profitability of every client and every job so you can plan ahead.

Smart operations matter

Are you bidding accurately? Allocating time and materials appropriately? Do you know where your people are and what they’re doing?

You should. Accessing tools to deliver real transparency into hours, job assignments, client management, and productivity to ensure projects stay on schedule and on budget can make the difference between eking out a living and making real money. And maybe even cut down the back office cleanup you do nights and weekends.

How do you get there? Do your research. Knowify, for one, can help. We’re already helping contractors integrate their business management needs with accounting systems like QuickBooks from an easy-to-use interface accessible from any device — in the field and in the office.

If you have any questions or wish to share your feedback, you can find us at support@knowify.com.

Knowify. Built for the real world.

US Homebuilders are happy…but are they profitable?

According to Sam Ro, managing editor of Yahoo Finance, life is good for American homebuilders. He cites the earnings of such large residential developers as the publicly-traded PulteGroup (PHM), which reported a 41 percent increase in home sales revenues and a new order pipeline that jumped up 21% to $2.1 billion.

Good business = good economics?

Well…according to the US Department of Labor, the US economy looks great. Earlier this summer, 287,000 new jobs were added, well over the 180,000 new jobs economists expected. Retail sales are strong. Mortgage rates are low. Banks are lending.

In many areas, the supply of homes for sale remains tight. This is especially true in the affordable entry-level segment of the market — homes for first-time buyers and replacement homes for existing homeowners looking to upgrade. According to a Zillow Real Estate Market Report released this summer, homes are selling faster than they have since 2010.

The issue is inventory. In many parts of the country, the urge to buy far outstrips the supply for sale. Nationally, there are 4.7 percent fewer homes on the market than there were a year ago. Rising home prices do make it tempting for current owners to sell, but then what? Where will they go to? Concerned they may not afford an affordable replacement home, many do not put their houses on the market.

Good news for big contractors…what about you? For many residential GCs, commercial/residential subcontractors, and the trades, business also is booming. Buoyed by people staying put, and renovating.

Boomers who stay in their homes, renovate to accommodate changing lifestyles, changes in mobility, even boomerang children and grandchildren. First-time home buyers, looking to move, are stymied. So, they often “upgrade in place,” throwing up new walls, upgrading fixtures, or otherwise sprucing up their current living situations — even as renters.

Some contractors say they are so busy, they don’t even have time to bid on new business. Bad. Bad. Bad.

Sales pipelines demand filling

If this is your first rodeo as the owner of a construction-related company, you should know these good times will not last forever. For those who’ve survived a recession or two…how many times do prospective client have to call your cell phone before you finally send them your estimate? We all know that today’s jobs will end. And then what will you do? Start looking for business before or after you run out of money?

Estimating should be easy – click, click, send If you’re meeting with prospects, you’ve already invested substantial time. Don’t let it go to waste. Send over your estimates.

If paper is a problem, then automate. You’re a contractor and a business owner, not a paper shuffler. So, maybe it’s time to give up your Excel spreadsheets for something more efficient?

Ask your bookkeeper, or your accountant about tools and technologies designed to help you work on your business, not in your business. Ask about tools that help you run your business with an eye towards delivering profitable returns on every job you take on. They are out there!

Smart operations matter

Are you bidding accurately? Allocating time and materials appropriately? Do you know where your people are and what they’re doing? You should.

Accessing tools to deliver real transparency into hours, job assignments, client management, and productivity helps you ensure existing projects stay on schedule and on budget, and help you quickly collate and submit estimates for new business. These tools can mean the difference between eking out a living and making real money. And maybe even cut down the back office cleanup you do nights and weekends.

How do you get there? Do your research. Knowify, for one, can help. We’re already helping contractors integrate their business management needs with accounting systems like QuickBooks from an easy-to-use interface accessible from any device — in the field and in the office.

If you have any questions or wish to share your feedback, you can find us at support@knowify.com.

Knowify. Built for the real world.

The US Commerce Department says residential construction spending was up in March…

So, how are you doing?

According to Engineering News Record Washington, DC Bureau Chief Tom Ichniowski, the latest Commerce Department’s US Census Bureau monthly report on completed construction just released this week says that residential construction is up percentage wise more than other categories. The Census reports that the estimated value of projects “put in place” in March was better than the expected, up 1.5 percent month-to-month towards a $441.8 billion annual rate — assuming everything stays on track. Better yet, the Census figures are up 7.6 percent over March 2015.

Good news, right?

Maybe…The answer depends on your area of focus.

According to Ken Simonson, The Associate General Contractors of America’s Chief Economist, spending on multifamily residential construction jumped 5.6 percent for the month and 34.6 percent year-over-year. But the bad news is that single-family construction spending this March was flat compared to February 2016. It’s still up 13.4 percent compared to last March, but is that someone trying to make lemonade out of lemons?

Anirban Basu, chief economist for the Associated Builders and Contractors which focus on nonresidential sectors, hedged his comments a bit, saying, “While the last several months have failed to deliver significant spending growth, many contractors indicate that they remain busy and that backlog levels are satisfactory.” However, he added, given the uptick in employment and foreign investment in the US, plus low interest rates, even stronger results could have been expected.

Uptick or downturn smart operations matter

Regardless of the economy, you know that doing good work is not enough if you’re not turning a profit. Are you? Are you bidding accurately? Allocating time and materials appropriately? Do you know where your people are and what they’re doing?

You should. If knowledge is power, accessing tools to deliver real transparency into hours, job assignments, client management, and productivity to ensure projects stay on schedule and on budget can make the difference between eking out a living and making real money. And maybe cut down the back office cleanup you do nights and weekends. Win. Win. Win!

So how do you get there? Do your research. Knowify, for one, can help. We’re already helping contractors integrate their business management needs with accounting systems like QuickBooks from an easy-to-use interface accessible from any device — in the field and in the office. If you have any questions or wish to share your feedback, you can find us at support@knowify.com.

Knowify. Built for the real world.

How’s your Market doing?

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has released its Multifamily Production Index (MPI) for 2015. The good news is that this study turned in its 16th consecutive reading of 50 or above. The so-so news is that this 0 to 100 measure of builder and developer sentiment about current conditions in the apartment and condominium did decline 4 points to 52 in fourth quarter 2015.

According to the NAHB, this index and all of its components are scaled so that a number above 50 indicates that more respondents report conditions are improving than report conditions are getting worse. Whew!

In releasing the MPI, which provides a composite measure of three key, multifamily housing market elements: construction of low-rent units, market-rate rental units and “for-sale” units, or condominiums, NAHB Chief Economist David Crow said. “Demand for multifamily housing remains strong, which is reflected in the fourth quarter Multifamily Vacancy Index (MVI). And while demand is strong, it’s natural that the MPI would move closer to the break-even point of 50 now that new multifamily housing has largely recovered from the downturn and reached a long-run sustainable rate of production.”

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New Release for Contractors (RFI and more!)

We’re pleased to announce the release of some exciting new features in Knowify. Task Management and RFIs just got better thanks to the feedback from the Knowify community!

Release Notes:

RFIs

Now you can send RFIs through Knowify and collect the information you need from the GC, architect, etc. Knowify will store all RFIs in one place, which will reduce paper, increase organization and save time.

Task Management

After launching on-the-fly task management one month ago, we have been working hard to make it even better. Now you can (1) see what tasks are blocking progress in your job, (2) create dependencies across tasks and milestones, or (3) let people in your organization mark tasks as completed when they are done. With Knowify task management, scheduling, progress tracking, and collaboration across teams has never been easier.

tm_contractor New Release for Contractors (RFI and more!)

If you have questions about these changes, please do not hesitate to reach out at support@knowify.com. If you wish to, we’ll walk you through the changes and answer any questions you might have.

-The Knowify Team

New Release for Contractors

We’re pleased to announce the release of some exciting new features in Knowify Contractors, as well as some important changes in the way functional areas are grouped in the platform. Though it may take you a session or two to get used to the changes, we are confident that they will improve your experience.

Release Notes:

Job Management and Contract Management are now together

The Estimates and Contracts section has been merged into Jobs. From now on, you’ll be able to manage your jobs and their related contracts or service agreements from the Jobs section, which will reduce some redundancies and simplify the navigation.

Project Plans have been integrated with the Resource Scheduler

Now the allocations you create in your project plans will automatically push to your Resource Scheduler when those project plans “Go Live”.

Foreman’s View

We have added a ‘Foreman’s View’ to Time Tracker. This view will make it much easier for a foreman (or similar person) to fill out timecards for all the tradesman on a particular job on a given day. This feature is powered by the Resource Scheduler: it will only display time cards for tradesman scheduled to be on the job on a particular day.

foreman New Release for Contractors

Task Management

We have created a new feature based on the feedback received from the Knowify community: on-the-fly task management. You no longer will have to create whole project plans in order to have access to Knowify tasks; now you’ll be able to quickly create tasks on the fly for both client matters and internal projects, whether those matters/projects have project plans or not. Further, we’ve added priority as a manageable value, as well as a new Task Report that will give you a snapshot on all the collaborative activity going on around your outstanding tasks. We look forward to hearing what you think about it!

other-tasks New Release for Contractors

An ‘Attn:’ field has been added to GC Contracts

This field will enable you to identify the Estimator for whom a particular GC proposal is being prepared. The name entered in the Attn field will show on the proposal PDF. If you have questions about these changes, please do not hesitate to reach out at support@knowify.com. If you wish to, we’ll walk you through the changes and answer any questions you might have.