Even before shovels break ground and crews arrive, there’s plenty that contractors need to get done if they want a construction job done right.
From building proposals and creating estimates to finding subcontractors and scheduling shifts, contractors’ responsibilities can seem endless. Add it all together, and they sometimes feel as if they spend more time managing a job than actually working on it.
That’s a problem that can be efficiently solved without pen and paper, according to Scott Siegert, director of Client Services for construction management platform Buildertrend.
In a recent interview with PYMNTS, Siegert explained how the company’s software platform helps its more than 11,000 contractor customers manage everything for a project right from the job site — including creating proposals, connecting with and managing subcontractors and employees and, of course, getting paid when the job is done.
Getting the Job
For a job of any size or scope, the first step — and perhaps the most important one — is winning the bid process.
A large part of contracting goes beyond just working on the construction project, Siegert explained. It also entails securing help to make it easier to execute. Finding customers, building bids and planning proposals are all crucial for contractors, but it can be a frustrating, time-consuming process with no guarantee of payment when it’s all said and done.
Buildertrend software works to enable contractors to generate sales leads and interest in their companies, Siegert said. The platform offers automated email marketing tools designed to reach those who are planning or considering building or remodeling. It also helps contractors build proposals and bids with both start-from-scratch and premade templates. Users can save successful bids as custom templates for use on future proposals.
If customers like what they see, Buildertrend’s software allows them to sign off instantly via a mobile or desktop device. This helps contractors avoid wasting time that could be spent working on the construction project.
“Our users can reach out to their customers and then build out an estimate — complete with appropriate markups for their prospective customers — so the customer can see exactly what the bid calls for and know what they’re approving,” Siegert said. “It also then has tools to move those proposals forward and bring them from a bid stage to project management.”
Managing the Job
Once a signed proposal has been secured and the project transitions from planning to building, that’s when the headaches truly begin for those steering the ship toward its destination, Siegert explained.
With construction underway, a contractor’s management responsibilities include everything from coming up with each day’s to-do lists, scheduling appointments and managing work from other experts and subcontractors to keeping track of their own employees’ hours and locations.
That’s a pain point Buildertrend aims to resolve through its software solution.
The platform offers both short- and long-term planning features to help contractors know what they need to get done on any given day, week or month. It connects them with subcontractors, like electricians and plumbers, to get those to-do list items done and helps with both scheduling and paying for their work.
“When we think about project management, we think about trying to help with all of the different [activities] you would need to be able to conduct from a job site,” Siegert said. “There are features built in for everything from a contractor’s daily punch list or to-do lists to scheduling things and making changes based on the long-term outlook of a project.”
Buildertrend’s software makes communicating with customers easier for contractors, enabling them to load photos, videos or written updates to share with clients instantly from a job site. This gives clients a window into the construction’s progress.
“There are features built in for both document sharing and photo or video sharing,” Siegert said. “You can even mark up documents, photos or videos in case a contractor needs to make adjustments or wants to highlight something.”
Buildertrend offers tools to manage a contractor’s Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest feeds too. He can then easily update customers and observers about notable projects on social media and share his latest creations.
Finishing the Job
Even after the foundation has been laid and the walls have been painted, contractors still have more work to do before they can declare any project done and bill a customer for it, Siegert said.
To solve this friction, the software allows contractors to track costs and purchase orders, bill customers and accept payment via credit card, debit card or eCheck. It also integrates with accounting software like QuickBooks and Xero, so contractors can accurately track internal expenses and payments and record them.
Most importantly for Buildertrend’s customer base, all the software’s capabilities — from proposals and planning to payment acceptance — are mobile-friendly. The company worked for a long time to build an app that would allow contractors and construction managers to view their plans, modify schedules and access other features from the office, job site or anywhere else, Siegert said.
“Field access is a must,” he added. “When we talk about project management or even collecting payments, these are all things that our customers want to be doing and need to be able to do on a job site.”
After all, Buildertrend’s clients don’t want to spend their time in front of a computer screen. They’re depending on a payments-powered solution to help them manage their jobs while they pitch plans to prospective clients and turn those plans into realities.