Imagine our industry if electric floor sanders were never embraced because they seemed too difficult to learn how to use. Imagine what customer communication would look like if we never embraced mobile phones because the technologies seemed cumbersome and unnecessary. It turns out both of these tools are necessary and easy to use after small amounts of training.
Imagine technology tools that can help you be more efficient and accurate. Envision increased profits just from the implementation of one new technology. Now, imagine these tools are easy-to-use and affordable. Is this too good to be true? I think not, and at the NWFA Wood Flooring Expo, I spoke with three member companies that agree with me.
First, I spoke with Joe Meyecic of Kapalua Floors in Troy, Michigan, an NWFA Certified Professional (Install and Sand & Finish). When Meyecic started his business, he knew technology would play a big role in his business plan to help maximize efficiency and profit. Although Meyecic uses many technologies, we discussed how he uses QuickBooks Online for payroll, proposals, and more.
The advantage of using QuickBooks Online is the ability to connect with many other applications to extend the capabilities. For example, Meyecic uses the TSheets time tracking application to track employee time, plus it simplifies payroll and even job costing.
Meyecic also uses QuickBooks Online for proposals. By setting pricing centrally to producing proposals at the customer’s location during the first visit, Meyecic’s team can deliver a full estimate on-site and easily adjust it as a customer desires then and in the future. Using these technology tools decreases inefficient processes while increasing customer conversions.
Next, I spoke with Osiel Betancourt of Insight Flooring Technologies (IFT), Dallas, Texas. IFT won the Plank Tank contest at NWFA Expo for the best business idea. Betancourt is an NWFA Certified Installer who spent years visualizing ways estimating could be easier than using a pen, paper, calculator, and even Excel. After years of conceiving and testing, QuoteHero was born in 2016.
QuoteHero is an iPad app developed specifically for the flooring industry. It uses room measurements and product information to generate a proposal for the customer to sign right on-site. Having this tool while at the customer’s location offers instant information for eager customers and offers contractors many advantages such as increased productivity, reduced human error, flexibility, and the ability to close jobs on the spot. Additionally, invoices can be exported to QuickBooks with just a couple of clicks.
With low monthly costs and development and support teams behind the app, there should be little to no barriers to implementation. IFT tells me they have many other ideas for functionality in mind including integration of measuring lasers and a catalog feature to browse flooring options. In Betancourt’s mind, there are no limits to how technology can help our industry.
Finally, I spoke with Ted Schultz of QFloors, based in South Jordan, Utah. Ted explained how the vision of QFloors is to create software for the industry that is easy to implement and use on a daily basis. As the third generation in the industry, Chad Ogden and Trent Ogden used this experience to create industry specific software for flooring companies, large and small. Ted tells me that even longtime, experienced flooring installers who have used paper and pencil for years find it easy to use.
Schultz described how the company’s QFloors software allows for point of sale, inventory management, estimates, credit card swiping, on-site customer sign off, and a complete accounting package. In addition, QFloors also works with QuickBooks.
One unique feature of the software is the ability to calculate profit margin during all steps of the proposal process. In fact, many businesses using QFloors software have seen immediate and dramatic profit increases because of this feature.
QFloors has extensive training and support available and their internal development team is always working to improve and advance the software and includes customer feedback in future software plans.
Schultz explained the benefits of using the software package. Changes to projects are quickly performed, installs are scheduled more accurately, inventory management with purchase order generation avoids material shortages, managers receive sales reports, and more. All these add up to happier customers, increased accuracy, and higher profits.
In the end, all three companies I spoke with have the same vision – increased accuracy + greater productivity = higher profits. In addition to these three member companies I spoke with, there are thousands of other companies and technologies that are available to small and large businesses that also have this same vision. In my mind, that is exactly what technology should be, a tool that helps businesses succeed.
Just as we embrace tools that are introduced into our industry to assist with flooring installation and maintenance, I urge us to embrace technology tools that aim to help the industry and our businesses as well. I truly believe that embracing technology is the way we maintain and even gain a competitive advantage over challenges in and outside of the hardwood flooring industry.
Segway inventor and FIRST Robotics Competition founder Dean Karmen said, “Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turns into an innovation.” I challenge you to share with me what technology has helped your business succeed, grow, and innovate.
Jodi O’Toole is Director of IT and Web Development at the National Wood Flooring Association in St. Louis. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.