The Best Supporting Tech Nominee Is . . .

tech as supporting app for accounting software

Hubdoc! 

Whether or not you faithfully watch the annual Hollywood extravaganza known as the Academy Awards, you know there is a competitive division known as “Best Supporting Actor.” Much like the movie world, the real-life accounting world has tech. Tech which supports the big-name players. Those in the supporting rolls make the movie (or the accounting) so much better.

Let’s break this down

The best tools you own don’t perform well if they’re used with the wrong attachments. For example, your top-of-the line drill is no good if the wrong bit is inserted. Put the wrong blade in your table saw and there will be trouble. If using the correct accessories is important in the shop or on the jobsite, using the correct accessories in your office tech stack is just as important. By choosing the correct accessories for your subcontractor office and accounting needs, you begin to develop your tech stack.

What is a tech stack?

Consider the Apple or Google app stores that provide add-on apps for smart phones. The basic tool is your phone. The tech stack you create through adding the apps gives you a well-rounded and useful tool. A tool for getting many things done outside of simply making phone calls. In the same manner, you can drop in at the QuickBooks app store and find a plethora of “accessories” to add to your accounting software.

Which brings us back to Hubdoc

If you took time to peek at the offerings for apps on the QuickBooks page you likely noticed Hubdoc among the mix. And, the simple explanation of what Hubdoc does is listed on that page as, “Your key financial docs in one place automatically.” What they say is true, yet it is best not to skim over that brief sentence and move on. If I could give you a drum-roll right here I would. This is really rather astounding when you think about it.

How much time do you, your office staff, and your project managers waste scrambling to find minor as well as major pieces of your accounting information? How many people or desks do you disturb, how many places do you search in your digital or physical spaces to gather up all the info you need for your bookkeeper?

Wouldn’t you welcome a better way to collect, store, and organize your documents? Put simply, Hubdoc can save you valuable time and help you increase efficiency.

Next week I’ll dive deeper into Hubdoc. It is a fantastic accessory which aids your ability to organize and systemize your construction office. Oh yeah, by the way, here are some of the things our clients have said to us about Hubdoc:

“Oh man, this is going to make my job so much easier.”

“That’s it? Wow, this way is so much better than what we’ve been doing.”

“I didn’t know how much better this would be until you showed me.”

Your call to action

Give Schulte and Schulte a call today so you can take your spot on our waiting list.  480-442-4032 or connect with us here.

The Efficient Construction Office Part 2

Efficient construction offices take time and planning.

Efficient construction offices take time and planning.

This is the second in a 3-part series dealing with efficiency in a construction contracting office. The first installment, having to do with the basics, can be found here

Being efficient is all about systems and processes

Finding ways to make your construction office operate more efficiently begins with determining simple, thoughtful solutions for the various systems and processes necessary to get from point A to point Z. You already have systems and processes in place, whether or not you know it. I think you’ll see what I mean if you take a moment to consider diets.

You’re on a diet whether you know it or not

Assuming you eat, (and I’m going to make that bold assumption) you’re on a diet. Be it good, bad, or somewhere in between you are on a diet. The same thing goes for your construction office; you’re either functioning with poor systems and processes or you’re somewhere on the scale of good, better, best systems and processes.

The words “processes” and “systems” are often used synonymously

I know, because I’m guilty. Yet, they are distinct. A process helps you run systems most efficiently. A system has a process built around it – the process involves specific, documented responsibilities and next steps.

While your entire business could be considered a system, there are smaller systems within it. Each of these smaller systems –  advertising, bookkeeping, sales, permit management, supplier management, and so on – should have a process built around it. The process is the steps you take in order to help the system run as efficiently as possible. So how do you determine what each step of a process is or should be? One way is to create a process map.

Create a process map

There are a few ways to accomplish the task of process mapping. One is using an online tool such as smartdraw. Another online tool is Lucidchart where you can also find a brief explanation of a process map.

Or you can rely on the pen and paper method. What you will be creating is a “map” of the sequential steps involved in any given process.

If you’re a one-man-show (or a one-woman-show) then a piece of paper and a pencil or a pen may suffice. If you have a number of people working in your office you may wish to use sticky notes and a wall surface, or a dry erase board. The main point here is to get everyone who is involved in an individual process to be involved in the creating of the process map.

Especially if you’re creating the process map with several people involved, I suggest the analogue method simply because a “scruffy” visual will make it more inviting for people to participate. If you create the map online, things might look “done” to the participants and they’ll be less likely to want to “mess it up.”

Process mapping explained

One of the best places I’ve found for a great overview and tons of information concerning process mapping as well as process improvement is from a process consultant named Ian James. His videos are entertaining, his British accent is a pleasure to listen to, his information is geared toward an office setting, and he understands that people are the most important factor concerning process improvement.

Take a few minutes to watch some of his videos or read some of his articles. He gives an excellent overview of the hows as well as the whys of process improvement.

You may wish to start with this set of articles which deals with classifying different process types. Or this spunky video having to do with ways to overcome the pitfalls you may encounter when trying to do process mapping.

Documenting the processes – no silver bullet

One more article you’ll find most informational on Mr. James’ site is this one having to do with process documentation. It is lengthy and chock full of good info. He says, “The goal of process documentation is to provide a means to communicate what the process is.”

Consider why you may need to communicate what the process is.

  • The person who regularly completes a process is on vacation or has left your business.
  • A new employee needs to be brought up to speed quickly.
  • The process is only used occasionally and people (even you) may forget what the process is.
  • Everyone is on the same page when it gets down to “this is how it is done.”
  • Your construction business is able to maintain and grow better through consistency.
  • Having the written process makes updating and improving easier when the time comes.

“If you don’t write it down, you don’t own it.” Michael E. Gerber, author of The E-Myth

This looks time consuming

If you’re concerned about the time involved in the whole idea of creating processes for multiple systems here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • It is likely you already have some good processes in place (and at most, may only need to document them.)
  • You aren’t expected to have every process documented perfectly in the next week or even within a month.
  • There are plenty of processes already mapped out and ready for you to use in the form of SaaS. (I’ll talk more about that in the next installment of this series.)
  • There are a few SaaS applications which are designed to make documentation and the use of set processes available, so you won’t need to start from scratch – think templates.

Setting aside time to create documented processes will, in the end, save you time + headache. Take a look at this post to be reminded why it is worth the effort.

In the next article of this 3-part series the focus will be on ways to build, maintain, and use documented processes on your journey to cultivate an efficient construction office.  

Get in touch today, see how Schulte and Schulte can be of service to your construction contracting or service business by calling 480-442-4032.

17hats: All-in-One Business Management Software

In this monthly post, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to one of the many apps that we at Schulte and Schulte endorse and recommend to our customers.

As a firm of construction accounting specialists, we love to help companies in the construction industry with their books and finances, part of that help is finding different apps or software that can help our clients out.  During this monthly feature, we take a look at several apps that we love at Schulte and Schulte, LLC, and dig a little deeper into our favorites.

This month, we would like to introduce you to 17hats.

As a business owner, there are multiple “hats” that you will wear as you go about running your business.  By hats, we are talking about the different roles you will play on any given day, from accounting, marketing, client communication, lead development, etc.  17hats is a brilliant piece of software that is designed to integrate each of these different hats into an easy to use business management tool.  We could go into detail talking about each of the different tools that are built into 17hats, but for the sake of time we will highlight a couple of the features that we appreciate the most; specifically the Overview Page, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Workflow Management.

Overview Page
This dashboard is what you will see whenever you log into your 17hats account.  It has been designed to incorporate a 3-day calendar view of all events and to-do’s that you have set up.  Underneath the calendar is a list of all action items from every ongoing project that you have, as well as a list of client email correspondence that is needing your attention.  This dashboard is customizable to include this above information, as well as other options available for you.  It is a really handy tool to get a bird’s eye view of what needs your attention on any given day.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
A lot of effort has been put into developing this CRM tool to make it easy to use.  As the above video shows in its example of adding a new lead and the development of that lead into a client, 17hats utilizes its CRM to assist you in keeping your contact information and projects accessible. It also stores all email communication and documents sorted by client.  This means no more searching through your email account for that important message from a client’s project you are working on.

Workflow Management
The video above gives a snapshot of the process involved within 17hats’ Workflow Management.  You are able to create templates for almost everything you will end up passing onto a customer, from engagement/proposal questionnaires and feedback forms, quotes, invoices, and more.  It has e-signature technology built into the app to allow anything that needs a signature or feedback from a customer to be sent from the app, and also allows you to track what has been sent.  17hats has a one-way sync that will allow you to sync invoices into QuickBooks Online, which is music to our accounting ears.

We love 17hats, and would like the opportunity to share it with you.  If this sounds like an app that you would be interested in checking out, please let us know!

CoConstruct: Custom Build and Remodel Software

In this monthly post, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to one of the many apps that we at Schulte and Schulte endorse and recommend to our customers.

As a firm of construction accounting specialists, we love to help companies in the construction industry with their books and finances, part of that help is finding different apps or software that can help our clients out. During this monthly feature, we take a look at several apps that we love at Schulte and Schulte, and dig a little deeper into our favorites.

This month, we would like to introduce you to CoConstruct.

CoConstruct is geared specifically for custom home builders and remodelers. This software is designed to include everything that goes into home building from initial client leads, all the way through punchlist and warranty work. The video above gives a brief overview of the software in action, particularly the financial setup of a project start. CoConstruct has a lot more features baked into it than we have time to get into here, but we want to highlight a couple of the features that we believe set CoConstruct apart from other similar apps and software.

Keep Your Clients Informed – “If the clients ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”
Keeping your clients informed as the project progresses is an essential part of any custom build, and CoConstruct takes a lot of the time involved in doing this off of your hands. Included in the software is a client-only web portal that shows them the information they are looking for; 24-7 access to selections, costs, photos, conversations, job calendar, and more. This gives them the opportunity to know exactly where the project is at, and also allows them to share progress photos and your work with their friends through social media, which translates to referrals for your company!

Improved Client Communication – Kiss the “he said, she said” goodbye
CoConstruct has patent-pending communication technology that allows all communication between your team, client, and trade partners to be found in one place. This allows everyone involved in the project to be on the same page, and if changes happen then everyone involved will be in the communication loop without having to worry about forwarding emails, IMs, or text messages to all of the relevant parties.

Finish Strong – Leave a great last impression on your clients
CoConstruct makes it a priority to see your client’s projects through to completion, even while you are moving on to new jobs. You won’t get caught dropping the ball with your clients and subcontractors regarding warranty work with the reports and reminders that will come up, months and years down the line. It’s the “little things” like this that can make or break a great referral for your company, and CoConstruct has your back.

We love CoConstruct, and would like the opportunity to share it with you. If this sounds like an app that you would be interested in checking out, please let us know!

JOBBER: Business Management Solution for Field Service Companies

 

At Schulte and Schulte, our passion is in working with any company that fits under the construction umbrella.  This includes construction service businesses like plumbers, HVAC techs, roofers, landscape techs, etc.  Some of the apps that have been, and will be, featured in this blog series are feature filed and do have elements that would be beneficial to construction service businesses.  However, we feel strongly about finding an app or software solution for each of our clients, and this month’s featured app, Jobber, is a great solution for anyone in the construction service industry.

 

 

 

Jobber is geared toward any company that focuses on construction field service. It is a comprehensive business management solution that will aid any small to medium-sized construction service company. There are three main areas that we’d like to focus on as we dig into this app: Client Features, Team Features, and Business Features.

Client Features
Jobber has some features that will impress your clients and help keep your client information organized. It has an excellent customer relationship management (CRM) tool to keep your client’s information and communication organized. As you communicate with your different clients, whether by sending a quote, getting an e-signature, or reminders to follow up with clients, Jobber keeps track of all communication and saves it in each specific client’s file to help keep you as a construction service business owner more organized.

Team Features
These Team Features integrate both the Jobber computer software as well as their mobile app, which is available for both tablet and phone on iOS and Android. Included are various tools like Scheduling that allows you as the construction service business owner to easily create new jobs for clients and assign them to your team with only a few clicks; Map View Routing that will automatically send notice to your team as they are out in the field giving them the information that they need to get to and work the next job; and GPS Tracking so that you get a clear picture of where your team is at throughout the day as well as tracking employee hours and labor costs.

Business Features
Jobber gives you the ability to send out customized invoices so that you are in control of what your clients see on their invoices. It also has the option included of accepting payment for service right at the jobsite. Also included are Reports that provide a bird’s eye view of how your construction service business is doing, Time Tracking that makes it easy to review and complete payroll, and Accounting Sync that seamlessly integrates with QuickBooks Online to assist with your monthly bookkeeping.

We love Jobber, and would love the opportunity to share it with you. If this sounds like an app that you would be interested in checking out, please let us know!

Construction Contractor, Got a Problem with Your Financial Reports?

Do your financial reports measure up?

Because your financial reports should tell you much more than what you’ve already done. Because your financial reports are more than numbers for the tax-man or the banker. Because your financial reports are all about guiding you to scale your business. We’re glad you stopped in.

Check Us Out!

Since Schulte and Schulte, LLC came into being we’ve been construction-accounting-centric.

We have knowledge and understanding concerning what construction contractors need when it comes to financial reports. With almost two decades of “being in the trenches” of construction bookkeeping and accounting, Tonya, the co-founder of our firm, has deep knowledge about what contractors need. She and her team all work diligently staying ahead of the curve concerning all the latest and helpful contractor accounting technology systems and support apps.

We know what you want and need

We have no desire to send our clients a mound of reports they don’t understand and won’t bother reading. Our intention is to instead work with each of our clients by providing reports which are meaningful, reports which answer the kinds of essential questions contractors have about managing their individual companies.

The well qualified “regular” bookkeeper has no experience with the specific requirements of contractors, they therefore aren’t able to make suggestions themselves. At the same time, many contractors are not familiar with the capabilities of the robust bookkeeping software or SaaS systems available and therefore aren’t aware of what to ask for.

This “two ships passing in the night” scenario leads to a communication gap that can be devastating to both parties.

Our services are designed to allow you to scale your business

Tonya, recently said, “I take great pride in my work. I love getting each piece of the accounting puzzle to fit in the right place. But, even more fun for me is seeing the lightbulb go off over a client’s head. I get excited when I can hear in their voice that moment of recognition when understanding dawns. I like it when they ‘get it’ about another important aspect of their financial documents. I love my job!”

If you’ve had it with the status quo, if you’re looking for the right bookkeeping and accounting firm to aid you in scaling your construction contracting or subcontracting business . . .well, let’s just say, now is the time. Call 480-442-4032 today. Or Toll Free: 866-629-7735

KNOWIFY: Manage Your Entire Contracting Business in One Place

In this monthly post, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to one of the many apps that we at Schulte and Schulte endorse and recommend to our customers.

As a firm of construction accounting specialists, we love to help companies in the construction industry with their books and finances, part of that help is finding different apps or software that can help our clients out. During this monthly feature, we take a look at several apps that we love at Schulte and Schulte, and dig a little bit deeper into our favorites.

This month, we would like to introduce you to Knowify.

Knowify is an app that is a huge help to any subcontractor, whether that be commercial or residential. Some of the features that won us over at Schulte and Schulte:

Job Costing & Estimating
With Knowify’s powerful estimating tool, you can plan your jobs, itemize your material budgets, and schedule your people to create comprehensive cost estimates. These estimates can be translated into bid line items with a single click.

Bids, Contracts, & Service Work
You can quickly create bids and contracts on your own letterhead and send them through Knowify for electronic signature. You can also easily create service tickets and schedule technicians on work orders.

Time Tracking & Scheduling
Replace the whiteboard, create and maintain your schedule in Knowify so that all your people can see what needs to be worked on while they are in the field. As your people work on work orders, they can punch in time and reimbursements via Knowify’s mobile app. As your people put in time, Knowify will track how you are performing on each job compared to your budgets and estimated costs.

Knowify is truly cloud-based. You can access your Knowify account on your desktop computer, laptop, or tablet; it’s time tracking is most easily handled through the mobile app that is available for either Android or iOS.
We’ve been impressed with Knowify’s truly unified, fully integrated platform. All of its different modules (contracts, time tracking, purchasing, and invoicing) integrate seamlessly to ensure that the products and billable time covered by our client’s contracts are billed correctly.

We love Knowify, and would love the opportunity to share it with you. If this sounds like an app that you would be interested in checking out, please let us know!

5 Tips to Help You Streamline Your Construction Contracting Business

There are deadlines to meet, customers to satisfy, and (let’s face it) the important dollar to chase.  You work hard to build your contracting business. Finding ways to streamline the regular functioning is an ongoing process. Today, we present five “tools” for you to use in making your business run a little more smoothly.

 

Close the door!

Even if you decided to start your own construction contracting firm because you didn’t like your former boss’s real or implied closed door policy, you really need to close the door sometimes.

Both doors. Close the virtual door as well as the actual door – for a half hour or so. If you’re a morning person, close the door in the morning. If you function at your best later in the day, that is the time to close the door. Make this a regular part of your daily routine.

Use the private time you enjoy behind the closed door to plan, assess, gather your thoughts, refresh, breathe. A word of warning — it may be harder to teach yourself to take this time than it will be to teach those around you to honor this time. But, it is worth it!

 

Say “No” like you mean it!

Whether your contract is with your ideal client or that pesky frequent-change-order dude there are still times when you simply need to say, “No, I won’t be able to do that.” It isn’t because you don’t want to satisfy your customer, your colleagues, your staff, or whoever has made the latest request. It is because you are the one responsible for setting your healthy boundaries.

It’s not uncommon for the owners and managers of construction contracting firms to over-extend themselves. (Heck, even we bookkeepers can find ourselves in this quagmire on occasion.) Bad thing is, too many “yeses” leads to too many “stresses.” Learning to say no and avoiding the guilt trip that accompanies the response frees you to make the “Yes” call on the important matters.

 

Get, learn about, and use good Apps and Tech Tools!

You already know that using the right tool for the job is imperative. Don’t neglect the right tool for your office.

A couple of apps we use and recommend frequently are Hubdoc and Knowify.

Hubdoc is all about document automation, it lets you turn paperwork into data which is actual useful.

And, Knowify is a tool for managing your entire contracting business in one place.

Oh yeah, we ought to let you know, we have an entire series coming up all about these two apps as well as a few others. We’ll give you the “down low” and let you know how to put them to good use in your construction contracting business.

*Update* Check the first in this series about apps we recommend. It is all about Hubdoc.

*Update* Here is another article by our Technological Operations Leader, Steve Lewis, letting you know more about Knowify 

*Update* Find out all about Jobber and how it can work for you.

*Update* Look at what Steve tells us about CoConstruct — cool stuff!

*Update* Steve let’s us in on the story about 17hats.

Build the Team you can count on!

It is hard to get good help these days.

Especially in the construction industry.

Here are some ideas as well as links to some of the places you may want to search for that “good help” you’re in need of.

Field or shop employees

Whatever forces (and there are many) have brought about the difficulty of finding skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen in the construction industry these days, there are still some methods which may be worth trying to find that “just right” new hire.

This rather lengthy but quite informative article is worth perusing if you’re having difficulty finding and keeping excellent field and shop staff.

We noticed a couple of local sources for schools which you may wish to contact. One is at the high school level, and you can go to the website here and the other is college level, access it here.

Two sources found here and here are available if you’re willing to pay for staffing.

And, if you simply want to pay for ads you can check out Monster or go with one or more of the local newspapers.

Plus you can try one or more of these 5 no cost or low cost methods of advertising your need for skilled workers

  1. The tried and true, longstanding method of word of mouth is still viable and useful. Tell your present employees, your friends, your colleagues, your social contacts what type of person and skill you’re searching for.
  2. Hang a banner on your shop or office building.
  3. Place a Craig’s List ad.
  4. Put an ad on your website.
  5. Create a clever video ad to be used on all your social media sites.

Office staff 

While it may seem easier to find office staff there is still the need for caution and due diligence when you’re ready to hang out the “help wanted” sign. Some places or ways you may wish to try are the local newspapers and Craig’s List for simple ads, word of mouth, on your website, or through a staffing agency.

And, because we ourselves are an outsource firm we can’t pass up the opportunity to mention outsourcing as a viable alternative to in-house help. You may want to hire a virtual assistant for administrative tasks, or find a marketing guru, seek a social planner, or . . . well you get the picture. Whether you need someone long term or for a one-off there are plenty of outsource sources available.

Having the right people on your team will also allow you to delegate more easily.  Of course, building your team will take time, yet once they are in place, your shop and office will be better prepared and better qualified to get the job done!

 

And lastly, 5 Simple Tricks to Shrug off the procrastination monster!

  1. Think about what excites you. Decide why this task will help you reach your goal.
  2. Change your perspective. Who will benefit when you get this job done? Your client? Your family? Your employees? Envision their pleased reaction when you complete the task at hand.
  3. Make and use a to-do list. Whether electronic or on paper this list is vital. Checking off completed items not only gives you a moment of satisfaction, it also gives you the boost to carry on.
  4. Devote small increments of time to a big task. Avoid overwhelm by predetermining daily time or space limits regarding that one big thing that really must be completed.
  5. Be realistic. Set reasonable targets. Unrealistic targets feed procrastination – you’ll be tempted to think, “Why start on this, it’s impossible to get done.”

 

All streamlining is about is finding the right time to do the right thing. So now is the time to choose the next right action. When you find you have distractions or doubt, come back to this essay. You’ll find something to help get you back on track. Run with it!

Playing Like One of the Big Boys Just Got Easier (3 Apps to Choose From)

Demo versions of Knowify, Contractor Tools and Bolt apps for contractors

Demo versions of Knowify, Contractor Tools and Bolt apps for contractorsAs the world moves forward with technology, a new and unique opportunity is opening up for small contracting businesses. We like to say that we at Schulte and Schulte “help small businesses ‘play like one of the big boys.’” Meaning that, utilizing the increasingly large number of options available in the technological arena, your small contracting business can operate like a large construction corporation.

You can utilize the same powerful tools and resources at a decent price. This is because, thanks to the advent of cloud technology, many tech companies are moving to the subscription based model rather than selling individual pieces of software.

The advantages for small businesses are tremendous. The old methods of software development made it much harder to scale a piece of software for various sized businesses and needs. So, many of the more powerful software choices were economically out of reach of smaller businesses.

Thankfully that is no longer the case. Additionally, the advent of smartphones and tablets is a boon for contractors who need to be able to do a significant portion of their business out in the field.

When I first began working in the construction industry some ahem-ahem many years ago, cell phones were not even prevalent. Job supervisors in the field had to carry massive paper plans with them in their work trucks, make change orders on the job site and hope that the proper person that needed to sign off on them was there. He or she then went on to write take off lists on their ever-present yellow legal pads and try to remember which jobsite that particular takeoff was for and then take photos with their film cameras to be developed at some later date.

Now, every one of those tasks has been automated and shrunk to less than an 8 ½” x 11” piece of paper. By carrying your tablet or smartphone with you onto the job you can do all of those tasks and keep every bit of them in one spot, making decisions on the jobsite much easier and leading to a significant savings in time and amazing increase in productivity – meaning you can take on more work and get it done more quickly!

Let’s take a look at three options available for contractors which can be utilized on mobile devices all of which integrate with QuickBooks Online for seamless accounting information transfer.

 

Contractor Tools

Contractor Tools is a relatively new player in the apps market, but they are growing quickly and have some really excellent features along with some limitations that are worth noting. The developers (makers of the Smart Contractor software) entered the app market with their original offering for iOS (works on iPad, iPhone and iPod) called Construction Cost Estimator. This handy tool brought the hefty Craftsman Costbooks to a portable app that could be accessed from anywhere and searched easily. It also enabled contractors to create estimates on site and get signatures on them right in the app. Building off that idea, Contractor Tools takes things a step further and includes not just the option to subscribe to the costbooks and do estimating, but also the ability to set up multiple customers and jobs for job tracking and costing, set up custom job templates to shorten the time required for putting together estimates, and even keep track of basic information on employees. It has a QuickBooks sync feature and can sync quite a bit of data with QuickBooks Online including:

  • Customer information
  • Job and job estimate information
  • Customer invoices
  • Customer payments

What we like:

  1. The easy to use, straightforward app interface
  2. The link to the Craftsman Costbooks and ability to create custom costbooks
  3. The job costing features (QuickBooks Online’s job costing features are greatly diminished, so this fills the void.)

What we’d like to see improved:

  1. Time tracking – they are developing this and we’re excited to see where they take it
  2. More operating systems supported – also in development currently with a Mac app to come out sometime this fall
  3. Improved dashboard – more job costing information would be a good start here.

What it costs:

Contractor’s Tools offers Basic, Essentials and Pro packages starting at $9.99 for one user and only one invoice per job. Other options are offered at slightly higher price points.

Where you can find out more:

Take a look at Contractor’s Tools website for more information on the app, pricing and to see some tutorials. You can also download the app and try it free for 30 days.

 

Bolt

Much like Contractor Tools, Bolt was created by contractors for contractors. Bolt is a more robust tool which includes everything from the ability to upload plan documents and draw on them in the field to scheduling, time tracking and reporting. Bolt is a web-based app that can also sync with native apps on your mobile device (for now they only have iOS, but Android and Windows apps are in development, with the Android app set to appear within a month of this writing.) So with Bolt you can create scheduling of materials and people in the office and then supervisors and field personnel can confirm that those schedules have been carried out correctly right from the jobsite. Supervisors can also look at an overall list of work orders and prioritize their day accordingly. The QuickBooks sync syncs both your items list in QuickBooks Online along with invoicing, so that everything can be invoiced in Bolt and then QuickBooks can be utilized for all of the back end reconciliations and financial reporting. Again, Bolt fills in the gap for project costing that QuickBooks Online simply cannot do.

What we like:

  1. The scheduling capabilities are fantastic – including drag and drop ease of use
  2. The ability to mark up drawings in the field is a significant benefit
  3. The fact that the main app is cloud based and accessible from any device with an internet browser.

What we’d like to see improved:

  1. While we do love that drag and drop feature, the layout can be a tad confusing. We’d like to see maybe some icons or colors to distinguish different areas of the screens
  2. The live demo is helpful, but we’d love to see a free trial download or at least demo version to click around in before buying – around here we learn best by doing
  3. More clear information up front about exactly how the app integrates with QuickBooks so that the contractor and the bookkeeper can be sure to be on the same page

What it costs:

Bolt works with clients to design a program and price that works well for them. They offer 1 month free implementation and training so that your setup is customized to your specific business and your employees are equipped to manage it from the beginning.

Where you can find out more:

Take a look at Bolt’s website for more information about Bolt, their story, and to schedule your own live demo.

 

Knowify

Knowify is another cloud-based solution. It is a very robust solution created specifically for sub-contractors and small home remodelers that offers seamless integration of all parts of the project. You can create estimates for fixed price, time and material or AIA-type commercial projects. It has some really powerful dashboard features, including a separate, easy to read dashboard for each individual job. It also has some great time tracking and dispatch management features as well as the ability to customize user privileges. Like Bolt, you can personalize the app to fit your specific business and you can use it everywhere – from the office, to the home office, to the field – everyone in the company can collaborate on the projects together in the same system. There is an Accountant’s View and also a two-way sync with QuickBooks so that the entire company can be working on the projects together, but only those with a need to know are touching the financials. One of the most impressive features of their job costing setup is the ability to not just track budgeted vs. actuals on labor and material COSTS, but to also track expected hours to be worked against actual hours worked and also budgeted materials needed for the job vs materials ordered. While traditional job costing methods can be aggravating to try and understand when overtime hours and material orders are not easily understood using only dollar figures, Knowify’s job costing can help you really see the overall picture and make up for any estimating or scheduling deficiencies in the real world. This app can not only fill in that great job costing deficiency within QuickBooks Online, but it can help you look good while doing it!

What we like:

  1. The billing features including the ability to produce AIA-type invoices with schedules of value
  2. The overall appeal of Knowify’s look and feel including the ease of navigation and simple to read dashboards
  3. The ability to receive email notifications and alerts to help you stay on top of project needs

What we’d like to see improved:

  1. With all these great features, it would be great to add a built-in CRM tool for keeping up with leads in addition to current estimates and projects.
  2. Like other cloud-based options, the information can only be accessed if you are able to be online. In a state like Arizona where contracts and/or service calls might be performed outside of mobile networking, it would be nice to have the native app available and be able to upload and sync data after returning to mobile network or wi-fi access.
  3. We’d like to see the ability to draw on plans or photos right in the app.

What it costs:

Knowify offers simple pricing based on the size of the company starting at $68 per month for 1-5 employees and include about an hour of free setup and training for one of your employees.

Where you can find out more:

Take a look at Knowify’s website for more information about the app, see a customized video demo and to start a free 14 day trial.