Grow Your Business with Tech in 2017

In a contractor’s day, there is no such thing as downtime. Therefore, when contractors told us one of their biggest challenges was not being able to access the tools they need to run their businesses anytime day or night we listened. It’s why ABC Supply created the ABC Connect program in 2015. This program makes it easier for contractors to work with us by integrating with trusted business-management systems—AccuLynx Quick Order and EagleView Construct—contractors are already using. ABC Connect helps contractors create estimates and place orders quickly and easily, so they can run their projects more efficiently.

ABC Connect also integrates with our Pictureit software to allow contractors to create virtual photo renderings that can shorten the customer decision cycle. Pictureit provides pre-mapped stock imagery, which includes more than 80 popular North American home styles, or you can upload a photo of your customer’s home.

So far more than 2,700 contractors have used the ABC Connect program. One of those users is Catherine Brenneman, the director of operations at Authority Roofing in Frisco, Texas. Brenneman’s role at the company is to identify business solutions that streamline operations, to save her team time and help the company stand out from competitors.

She recognized the need to bring more tech into her company’s way of doing business, so she turned to the ABC Supply Connect program, which integrates with her software system to provide 24/7 access to ABC Supply’s products and pricing. ABC Connect makes ordering building materials seamless, so Brenneman can place orders faster. The system also ensures the accuracy she expects, so the right product is selected, purchased and delivered.

Here are some ways ABC Connect boosted Authority Roofing’s business:

    Streamlined Ordering
    Authority Roofing’s business serves more than 30 cities across four counties, so new jobs come in constantly and the ordering process never stops. Because ABC Connect integrates with the software Brenneman already uses, she is able to easily turn material lists into orders as she receives them. And because orders are created electronically, the system can flag issues so mishaps are caught before they become problems that impact deliveries.

    Total Product Visibility
    Like any contractor, Brenneman knows what products her supplier offers. But even the most experienced professional needs to occasionally look up items and prices—especially the ones he or she does not frequently order. Instead of having to pick up the phone and talk to her supplier or visit a location, Brenneman has her entire ABC Supply branch’s product line at her fingertips and can search for the information she needs through the ABC Connect integration with her software. This gives her the opportunity to take on other projects during the day.

    Anytime Access
    Brenneman needed a way to place orders 24/7. Whether she’s at the job site, in the office or at home, ABC Connect’s integration with her software lets her turn an estimate into an order with just a few clicks.

By integrating technology like ABC Connect into your workflow, you will immediately see the benefits, from cutting the time it takes to create estimates and place orders to improving job-site safety.

Whether you are considering ABC Connect or another tech program, here are five areas of business that every contractor can improve with the use of technology.

    Managing a Job
    Technology yields two important benefits: you can store information electronically (including placed orders) and you can build material list templates. These benefits enable you to order (and reorder) materials faster. Project management software also enables you to keep every document, photo and/or video pertaining to a job in one place, which helps with organization, makes files more accessible, and makes it easier for you and your team to stay on the same page.

    Another advantage of working with an electronic project management program is that it can decrease costs associated with purchasing and printing paper while freeing up space that you’d otherwise need to store paper files.

    Communicating with the Team
    Your projects often involve many different people and hundreds of details. If one detail is missed, it could mean a project is delayed, costs more or has to be redone. To avoid this, make sure your crew is as connected and informed as possible on the job by embracing mobile apps and devices. Technology helps your crew better communicate with each other by allowing them to track and update jobs from the field so that everyone knows the current status of projects.

    Whether on a job site, in the truck or at the office, technology can help your team retrieve project status updates and communicate with each other and suppliers from anywhere, which can increase overall work production and efficiency.

    Estimating Projects More Accurately
    Accurate estimates can make or break a job. One of the benefits of using an aerial measurement program is that it can provide accurate measurements without requiring a crew member to climb onto a roof. Not only does this make things safer for your crew and reduce the chance of over or underestimating the amount of materials needed for a job, but using measurement programs that integrate with your supplier makes placing orders more accurate.

    Ordering Building Materials
    Contractors rarely have traditional 9-to-5 workdays, so it’s important to have the ability to place orders anytime, anywhere. The ABC Connect program makes ordering building materials seamless, so contractors can place orders online, 24/7. The system also ensures the accuracy contractors need by flagging issues before they impact a job and sending a confirmation notification when materials arrive at a job site.

    As you’re looking to add more tech solutions to your business, know that your supplier is also improving their processes with tech. For example, ABC Supply uses a delivery notification system that confirms when your crew receives the materials for a job.

    Working with Customers
    Not only does tech help improve your workflow, it also makes it easier to work with customers. Leveraging tech tools can help you bid faster and provide digital models of projects before they start. With online product visibility through tools like ABC Connect, you can quickly respond to potential customers by sending accurate information electronically. The ABC Connect program’s partnership with common software platforms also lets you distribute bids and reports that include your company’s customized branding.

    Using digital models of a job can help you amplify sales pitches by accurately showing prospective customers what their finished projects will look like before the job starts. Having the ability to work together with your customers to create digital photo renderings of their homes will also help them feel confident about the remodeling decisions that they are about to make.

    Keeping a Job Site Safe
    Technology can and should be used to improve safety. Here are some ways that it can help:

  • Limit salespeople’s time on elevated surfaces by capturing ultra-accurate images and dimensions from photos, drones and aerial imaging software.
  • Know if a job site is hazardous before you arrive using satellite imagery, and arrive safely using mobile mapping systems.
  • Anticipate structural faults without entering the building by using high-powered thermal cameras. This type of tool can also save you headaches and your customers money by identifying specific issues like punctures or gaps in roofs.

Visit ABC Supply’s blog or talk to an ABC Supply representative to learn how technology and the ABC Connect program can help you do more business, better, by harnessing the power of technology.

Four Ways Technology Boosted My Business

We all know technology can benefit our businesses in many ways. The challenge is selecting the right technology from the hundreds of apps and programs out there.

One area I needed technology to help with was providing a more seamless and efficient way of ordering materials for different jobs. Luckily my tech selection process was made a little easier when I learned my building materials supplier had an online program that could connect with the software I was already using.

After talking with a sales representative, I was able to start working with the online program the very next week.

Here’s how it works:

  • I can take aerial measurements— within 98 percent accuracy—of a roof without getting up there to take manual measurements.
  • The software uses the roof measurements and my distributor’s real-time pricing and products to create a materials list.
  • I turn my materials list into an order I electronically submit to my distributor from anywhere.

After working with hundreds of orders since implementing this program in September 2015, I’ve experienced a 20 percent decrease in the time required to process orders for building materials and have seen more efficiency and accuracy in my projects.

Here’s how this technology helped my business:

Project Visualization

Prior to taking advantage of this program, I placed orders based on information from project hand sketches. This would often lead to time-consuming follow-ups with my team to get more details or confirm information. Now I can electronically enter aerial roof and wall measurements, review and update them if necessary, and create materials lists.

Having all our important information in an electronic tool is great! I no longer have to call my team to confirm handwritten information. This has resulted in my team being more efficient and reduced the number of ordering errors that come from misinterpreting information on a piece of paper.

It’s also helpful to have an electronic tool where I can look up all my orders and see when they were placed and what items were included.

Accessible Products

Having technology that integrates with my supplier gives me the ability to access real-time products and pricing during and outside of business hours. This flexibility is so important. One evening I needed cost information on a skylight and all I had to do was go to my account to get the price through the online program.

Manage Business 24/7

From creating estimates to submitting orders, one of my favorite features of this technology is that it gives me the option to access projects 24/7. This lets me place many of my orders after business hours or on weekends, freeing up my time during the day to focus on other projects. I also no longer need to scan or fax orders, and I can quickly locate order information, like date ordered or materials lists, if I need to.

Seamlessly Work With Business Contacts

My business specializes in storm damage and roof replacement, so my team often works with other parties, such as insurance companies. Not only does the software I use integrate with my supplier’s program, it’s also a tool used by some insurance adjusters to measure and quote roof repairs. Being able to use the same or a similar type of software with different groups of people makes my job easier by streamlining our process.

No matter what project we are working on, we have one goal: make the roof repair and replacement process easy for our customers. But that doesn’t mean things have to be harder for my team. And thanks to the technology we’ve incorporated into our workflow, it isn’t.

It can be tough (and often overwhelming) trying to figure out what technology will be the best fit for your business, especially when so many options claim to help with things like efficiency and accuracy. My advice for finding the best solutions for you? Talk to your team to identify areas you want to improve and then check with your distributor to see if it has any technology solutions for your business. The more you can simplify the steps you need to go through to place orders and get materials, the easier (and more accurate and more efficient) your job will be.

Brian Schaible relies on the ABC Connect program, which integrates with AccuLynx Quick Order and EagleView Construct, to streamline his business. To learn more about ABC Connect, read an “Online Exclusive” about it.

Atlas Bolt & Screw Company LLC President Retires After 32 Years

Randy Ridenour retires after 32 years with Atlas Bolt & Screw Company LLC.

Randy Ridenour retires after 32 years with Atlas Bolt & Screw Company LLC.

Randy Ridenour, president of Atlas Bolt & Screw Company LLC, has decided to retire at the end of 2016 after 32 years with the company. Ridenour joined Atlas in 1984 as Central Region branch manager and held positions of increasing responsibility leading to his promotion to president in November 2009. “Throughout his career, Randy has made a positive impact not only on Atlas but also on numerous industry associations where he is respected for his service,” said Michael Hartley, president of the Marmon Construction Fasteners Group. Ridenour will continue to support Marmon as a consultant on various initiatives during 2017.
 
“To say that Randy will be missed would be an understatement,” Hartley said. “At the same time, he has built a management team that will enable a seamless transition in leadership and continued exemplary service to Atlas customers.”
 
With Ridenour’s retirement, Scott Bowers, Atlas business unit manager for metal, and Don Bratcher, business unit manager for wood, will each have full autonomy to run their business and both will report directly to Hartley. “With their knowledge and experience, Scott and Don will provide leadership as Atlas builds on its reputation and market position,” Hartley said.
 
Atlas Bolt & Screw Company, a Marmon/Berkshire Hathaway company, offers a range of construction fasteners that reduce installation costs and extend the lives of metal buildings worldwide. Its broad product line serves both metal to metal and metal to wood applications. Founded in 1896, Atlas is one of the oldest companies in the fastener industry.
 
In addition to Atlas, the Marmon Construction Fasteners Group includes Robertson, Pan American Screw, and Western Builders Supply, which together serve the construction, industrial, and other markets with a variety of fasteners. The group is part of Marmon Engineered Components Co., a subsidiary of Marmon Holdings Inc. Marmon Holdings, part of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., is an industrial organization with 2015 revenues of approximately $8 billion.

Emerging Trends in New LLC Acts

Although the Limited Liability Company (LLC) is still a relatively new form of unincorporated business structure, LLCs are now outpacing newly formed corporate filings in most states and are quickly becoming the predominate form of new business entities across the country. The appeal of the LLC is obvious; it combines the corporate- style limited-liability benefits to its owners with the pass-through taxation benefits of partnerships. With these benefits, it is no surprise that contractors across the country are now choosing LLCs in lieu of corporations or partnerships when selecting their business structure.

Every state has now adopted an LLC act, but these acts vary significantly from state to state. Despite the growing popularity of the LLC structure, many states are still operating under old acts implemented more than 20 years ago, and many of these acts have not been significantly revised. Instead, they have been amended on an as-needed basis in an attempt to keep up with emerging LLC developments and case law. This has created piecemeal and disorganized acts governing LLCs.

To solve these problems, states across the country have been extensively revising their LLC acts or implementing completely new acts. Currently, 11 states and the District of Columbia have formally enacted new LLC acts based on the Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act (RULLCA). These states include Alabama, California, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. In addition, South Carolina has been considering adopting the RULLCA. Other states, like North Carolina, which hasn’t officially adopted the RULLCA, have enacted new LLC acts and looked to states that had already adopted the RULLCA for guidance.

These new LLC acts are reshaping the LLC landscape. Contractors of existing LLCs and those wanting to form LLCs should be aware of the potential impact changes to their state’s LLC act can have on their company. Contractors need to be aware that the LLC act they initially filed under—and have been operating under—may now be significantly different or may no longer even be applicable. Failing to review newly revised or implemented acts may lead to unintended or adverse consequences, especially in states that are already operating under a new LLC act.

While a state-by-state analysis of new LLC acts is beyond the scope of this article, there are several trends emerging from states that have already enacted new LLC acts. These trends may soon be universally applicable and it is beneficial for the contractor operating or considering an LLC to be aware of them.

The Operating Agreement

Arguably, one of the most significant and widespread trends emerging from the new LLC acts is that many of the acts are eliminating the requirement that the operating agreement be in writing. Under many of the old LLC acts, an operating agreement was commonly defined as a written agreement between its members. Under many of the new acts, however, an operating agreement can now be a written, oral or implied agreement between its members. This is a broader definition of what qualifies as an operating agreement and essentially allows any type of agreement between members to become part of the operating agreement governing the LLC.

Although this change provides greater flexibility within the business because companies no longer need to adhere to a strict operating-agreement structure requirement, it also opens the door for increased internal litigation. Under these new LLC acts, internal disputes among members are likely to increase when operating-agreement terms are ambiguous or when members claim there was an oral or implied operating agreement.

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Accelerate Cash Flow By Collecting Payments in the Field

NetSecure Payments Inc.'s TradeRoute

NetSecure Payments Inc.’s TradeRoute

NetSecure Payments Inc., a provider of mobile payment processing services, has launched its TradeRoute payment acceptance service designed to accelerate cash flow for contractors and service professionals.

Unlike other solution providers that provide a fixed and limited set of payment services targeted at a general market, TradeRoute provides a comprehensive suite of services tailored to the workflows of service professionals. Including unique features like remote check deposit; mobile PIN debit; and online tools for pre-payments, deposits, recurring payments, and online invoice payments, TradeRoute stands apart from the pack.

TradeRoute’s key advantage is that it runs on the smartphones and tablets that service professionals already have in their pockets. No additional hardware is required, keeping upfront costs to a minimum. Transactions are fully secured and encrypted, so employees can safely collect payment while out in the field. Check payments are also fully guaranteed, reducing the headache of collecting on bounced checks.

The developers understand the need for accelerated payment options, especially in businesses where service is provided before payment. TradeRoute promises to dramatically reduce the time spent chasing receivables, so business owners can focus more on growing their business and less on managing cash flow.

TradeRoute also has a private label program and a developer SDK, allowing third parties to quickly leverage TradeRoute payments into their existing payment ecosystem. TradeRoute supports iOS, Android, Windows and BlackBerry environments.