Software Profit Drivers
Flooring industry-specific software systems are helping drive efficiency and profitability. We spoke to some technology leaders to learn about the latest innovations they are offering retailers.
When Artisent Floors, a large multi-family housing dealer based in Memphis, Tenn., was looking for software that could allow them to expand for the future, they switched to QFloors because they saw how the software’s ease of use and integration could streamline their business and make them more efficient. Artisent does an average volume of 200 jobs a day among 11 locations, according to Nick Farrish, controller.
“QFloors is helping retailers improve business efficiencies and drive profit in a few ways—first, by streamlining operations and reducing overhead costs,” said Chad Ogden, president of the software company, which has been supplying software needs of the industry for 20 years. “Because of its intuitive design, QFloors simplifies and ‘goof proofs’ tasks. It shrinks workload across the board, whether the dealer formerly used other flooring specific software, generic software, or no software at all. It cuts out a ton of navigational steps.”
As the industry grows, and the business needs and demands of retailers and distributors change, QFloors has increased its capabilities to meet those needs.
“Like most industries today, change is a given, so investing in a flooring-specific software company [is like] having a partner to help forge through the changes,” said Kelly Oechslin, product marketing manager, RollMaster.
In the past five years, QFloors has added hundreds of features to its portfolio.
“It’s safe to say we have added at least 500 new features to QFloors in that time alone,” Ogden said.
The Floor Covering Business to Business Program (fcB2B) is another program that is bringing tools for profitability to the industry. The software management system is being utilized in the flooring industry to communicate seamlessly with one another. Comprised of manufacturers, distributors, associations, industry groups and software providers, fcB2B is making it possible for floor covering businesses to connect with their suppliers electronically and transfer information back and forth. A dealer’s flooring software “communicates” with the supplier’s software, and information including product catalogs, price updates, billing and shipping notifications can be shared instantly, saving time.
FcB2B Version 3.0 is now in the works and Ogden says it will bring a higher standard of sophistication to this technology “To the end user, it will mean a more seamless, accurate and smooth result.”
Another new B2B addition is the capability of checking product status from within the dealer’s software (for instance, how much product is available at that supplier, timelines, etc.) In addition, for the first time, both suppliers and software companies will be required to certify their products against this new 3.0 standard. The World Floor Covering Association will act as an impartial overseer, to certify each flooring software, distributor and manufacturer as they meet the specific standards required. This certification will benefit everyone, because the quality of the technology will be increased across the industry. End users will also be able to quickly know which suppliers and software companies are compliant and which are not.
QFloors is further responding to customers’ desires to connect and share information with other outside software products, like scheduling, estimation, CRM and or payroll software by creating technologies that will offer the ultimate flexibility in allowing other apps and software to connect with QPro, its browser-based software. In addition, the company has greater integration with Measure Square estimation products.
Migrating from one system to another can be scary considering things like ease of use, required system downtime and training, but companies are alleviating these concerns.
“A lot of companies know they need better software, but they are afraid of the downtime that switching systems might create,” said Ogden.
Farrish said QFloors worked with Artisent hand-in-hand through the process: “You’re not reaching out to a cold hand to help you; they are there with you every step of the way. We were able to not be down a single day during our conversion to QFloors, and we caught up on all of our work within the week that our trainers were onsite.”
With every purchase of QFloors, the company offers free and unlimited phone and online training, for all of an operation’s employees, for the first year of purchase. “We’ll give people as much time and focus as needed to help them get up and going. The reason we can do this is that QFloors tends to take less time to implement than other software options.”
The company also provides free two-day basic training classes in Salt Lake City. And as an add-on option, QFloors offers a four-day onsite training and conversion, which has been popular among new customers.
“We go to their business and in four days help train their entire staff and help them convert their data over to using QFloors,” said Ogden. “This option allows them to minimize downtime and really hit the ground running.”
Measure Square offers a variety of software for the flooring industry, helping with measuring with a laser, creating takeoffs, generating invoices/proposals and getting digital signatures from clients.
“We have a sophisticated cloud platform; our project links make it easier for collaboration and sharing; we use next-generation technologies like AR (Augmented Reality) and AI (Artificial Intelligence), such as for analyzing paper-based floor plans,” said Tom Taulli, vice president of marketing for Measure Square.
During its 17-year history, Measure Square has invested in leading technologies that will equip flooring service providers with sophisticated software and technology. Most recently, the company has focused on the development of a cloud platform.
“This has allowed easier sharing of project files,” Taulli said. “In fact, we have a feature that sends a link to a project file–and the person who receives it just needs to click it to see and interact with the project.”
Measure Square has also invested in its 3D capabilities and leveraged AR to develop a measuring app to create floorplans. The company is supporting its customer base through a variety of training options and vehicles. In addition to phone and email support, the company hosts webinar and in-person training. The company has also taken to social media, where it has a robust offering of informational and training videos on YouTube.
“The ease of use has been the real surprise,” said Measure Square customer Steve Kellogg, owner of Flooring Liquidators in California. “We knew the tech savvy sales members would be willing to adopt it, but even the guys that usually shy away from tech have embraced it, it is that easy to use.”
Through integration, RollMaster is finding more ways to deliver the ultimate flooring software experience to its customers.
“This means one software system, like RollMaster, can effectively manage both your flooring activities and your other business and marketing tasks without needing to enter data more than once,” said Kelly Oechslin, marketing coordinator. “Some examples RollMaster has integrated include data analytics from Tableau, online reviews with Testimonial Tree, e-Commerce with WooCommerce, estimating software integration with Measure Square, credit card payment integration with ChargeItPro, and more. We also allow our clients to bring us applications they have interest in via our open API policy.”
With these integrations, Oechslin says double entry and the associated errors can be decreased, which will save retailers time and allow them to focus more on managing their business.
“The data analytics tools, whether via Tableau or Excel, allows owners and managers to quickly pinpoint trends or issues. The visualization of data is a game changer for any business, and we’ve found a way to make it attainable for all our customers.”
Kerridge Commercial Systems
“Access to workflows via portals are the trend” said Greg Grady, vice president of sales and marketing, Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS), formerly Dancik North America. “Whether it’s giving consumers a pay portal for credit cards or sending out a satisfaction survey to capturing proof of delivery via signature capture or job site photos, leveraging technology is being increasingly embraced by the flooring industry.”
Any time you can be more efficient with your processes, service your customers faster and with greater accuracy, or analyze how your business is doing using customized dashboards rather than canned reports, these things will give you a competitive advantage in the marketplace whether you are a single location or nationwide business, says Grady.
KCS’ Navigator solution has been servicing the flooring industry for more than 35 years. From retail creation of electronic selection sheets to a wireless warehousing solution for inventory management for distributors, to electronically sending data downstream from the manufacturers, KCS’ solution is geared to how the floor covering industry operates.
KCS has created a sales portal for greater data access to offsite personnel that is smartphone optimized. “We’re adding electronic proof of delivery (ePod) for digital signature and image capture for job site and home deliveries,” said Grady. “We’ve also added document scanning and storage for the necessary automation of paperwork and processes in the accounts payable department.”
In addition to providing regular training classes via the web or hosted at its corporate site in Cary, N.C., KCS also conducts custom training (either at a customer’s facility, via the web, or in Cary) to meet specific needs. “We do this so that at the end, you can have material that is specific to your workflows with your data so that the learning curve is shortened for anyone that needs it,” said Grady.