I don’t know where I got this bit of trivia, but I do remember somewhere in college reading that the railroad companies went out of business because they thought they were in the business of running trains on tracks instead of moving cargo from one part of the country to another. They were focused on the wrong side of the problem and almost became obsolete.
The same fate could befall a number of companies in the remodeling industry — unless, of course, they start shifting their focus.
Clients have a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips. Some of that information may not be the most accurate, but the access to information has changed client expectations. They expect you to provide them with information at the drop of a hat.
They want to know where they are in the process, when something will start, when something will end, and how much something will add to the cost. They want to know what’s happening in their house every day — and when you’re going to be done before you even start. In other words, they want a lot of information.
Information is best delivered through technology.
Technology in Budgeting
Many clients do research on what things might cost before contacting remodelers, designers, or architects. There are a whole host of good resources and articles out there that talk specifically about cost, like Consumer Reports, HGTV, and the Cost vs. Value Report.
Providing clients with good information will help them make decisions about whether to go with your company or not. It also helps establish a level of trust between remodeler and homeowner.
But how exactly do you deliver this information quickly without technology? If you keep track of all project details in a database, you can send the estimated cost of a particular project in the matter of minutes — and with pictures of associated work, no less.
Technology in Design
I remember the good old days of blueprints when you needed to make a change, you just drew it on the piece of paper and taped it over the blueprint. Of course, you still had to worry about everybody working off the same version of the plan — but that’s a story for a different day.
Nowadays, design software is absolutely amazing, and 3-D renderings are no longer a problem. There’s technology that hosts drawings in the cloud so that contractors, subcontractors, and vendors can access the most up-to- date versions of the plans. Clients can even log into the cloud-based repositories for these designs and make comments from the comfort of their own homes.
Technology keeps everyone on the same page with the design. And if someone can’t make it to a meeting, you can even host a virtual one through the likes of zoom, a platform for individuals, small teams, and even large-enterprises to video conference with people anywhere in the world.
Technology in Project Management
Technology now allows customers, vendors, subcontractors, and employees to logon to a platform and see exactly where they need to be, when they need to be there, and when something needs to be done.
If it rains for a week, it’s no longer necessary to make 12 phone calls to let 12 different people know what’s going on. All you need to do is change the start date of the next step in the construction process and everybody down the line will be notified.
Besides scheduling, customers can now login and approve materials lists and sign change orders. Gone are the long email trails that end up being confusing for all involved.
There are also programs out there that connect estimating, project management, and accounting into one program so that everyone can see where everyone is at any given time of the week. It’s as if information is now empowering for everyone.
Technology in Estimating
Estimating is another part of the remodeling industry undergoing huge changes. You no longer need to sit there with the scale trying to figure out how many pieces of sheet rock are needed for a particular project. Plans can be uploaded to programs that calculate the amounts of material needed just by running the cursor around the outside lines of the plan.
Technology in Follow-Up
Let’s not forget about technology after project completion. There are now programs out there that allow every kind of material or brand of plumbing, furnace, light fixture, etc. to be entered into a database — so that in the event of any recalls, warranty issues, service issues, or manufacturer updates — clients will be able to get this information.
The good news is that most companies can improve their service and delivery by making a huge investment in technology. In fact, many of them can make the most out of the resources they have on hand. You just need to be willing to use it.