Going mobile. It’s no longer just a 1970s song from The Who; it’s how more and more business is being done as technological advances allow people to leave the confines of their place of work without losing productivity.
The flooring industry is no different as many of the products and services being introduced this year focus on helping to get owners, managers and salespeople away from the store and where their customers are. Software developers are launching programs that make a retailer run a more efficient operation, such as tools that are easier to use.
With so much going on, Floor Covering News surveyed some of the leading providers of flooring software to see what they are bringing out in 2010.
Mark Mashewske, brand manager, said the company’s new Navigator program brings the latest Web 2.0 technology to the flooring industry. The program includes a new point of sale pro- gram, file management system and financial statement builder.
“Navigator is designed to be as easy to use as today’s best Web sites,” he explained, “while managing all the flooring industry applications that Dancik has been known for since 1985.”
Floor Covering Soft
FloorEstimate, the Pro 2010 edition (FEP2010) is being referred to as the next generation flooring layout and estimating program for commercial and retail applications as it integrates the process across multiple business areas.
“FEP2010 stands out from competing products,” explained Steven Wang, the company’s chief developer and founder, “due to its versatility as a Web- based enterprise estimating application that can be collaboratively worked on, edited and updated from any location, allowing everyone involved to share and be notified of the most current information.”
He pointed to four business aspects where the program is beneficial: major chain stores, multi-family, contractors and mobile solutions. On the latter, Wang noted FEP2010’s onsite measuring features and integration with Disto Laser meters has been enhanced. In addition, floor and sub-floor conditions can be reported with an estimate. It also interfaces with QuickBooks, so transferring estimates to the accounting pro- gram can be done with a single click.
From new modules to expanded uses, the company is preparing for a very active 2010.
Topping the list of new capabilities is the ability to use all of the features in the Kashmoo.com system from any advanced mo-bile device, including iPhones and Blackberrys, allowing users the ability to manage their business while away from the store.
Tim Magnuson, president, said one of the unique things that Kashmoo has done is to give dealers the ability to handle related industry segments, such as cabinets, countertops, window treatments, decorations and lighting. “To stay competitive, many flooring dealers are expanding their offerings to make themselves a one-stop shopping destination. One of the problems encountered with this was being able to incorporate these new items into their system so as to manage everything together. Now they can.” While many software companies are starting to integrate their systems with QuickBooks, he noted Kashmoo has always has that ability.
For 2010, the company expanded its QuickBooks interface to be compatible with QuickBooks Pro, Premier and Enterprise, and also added integration with sales orders, vendor bills and more. “Changes that the user makes in Kash moo.com are instantly shown in QuickBooks and vice versa, saving hours of data entry and avoiding possible typing errors.”
Later this year, Kashmoo will release a new Web-based flooring B2B module as well as a general Web-based programming interface that will allow the system to exchange information with many other third- party software systems, such as estimating and takeoff software systems, and Microsoft Access and SQL databases.
The fifth platform migration of its FloorManager and JobRunner systems are being re- leased. FloorManager is Pacific Solutions’ residential management system while JobRunner is for commercial applications.
Don Kilbourne, vice president of sales, said the new CRM (Contact Relationship Management) module allows sales staff to start tracking leads at any phase, and coordinate all the contacts that may become involved, whether it is an individual or multiple categories, along with material approvals, submitted proposals and the journal of all email communications with each participant. It also integrates with Microsoft Outlook.
In addition, he said the company’s FloorRight Estimating in 3D is nearly instant, and now comes preloaded with over 180 of the most popular wall tile patterns “so users can quickly calculate wall tile versus the hours it otherwise takes. And it eliminates the expense and job delays that spring from the trims that are often missing when the takeoff is done without the 3D ability to see all the wall and trim surfaces.”
Both programs now have an iPhone application allowing users to do such things as check inventory, purchase and work orders, and look up products and customer files.
The JobRunner application will also include change order management.
Version 5.1 has been released with a host of powerful new features that allow users to gain more control of their overall business operations and add to their profitability, noted Chad Ogden, CEO.
Included in the upgrade is QFloors Mobile, a subscription-based feature that gives users the ability to operate the system via a smartphone. Ogden said it uses the same familiar QFloors screens, most of which are for- matted to fit entirely on the phone’s screen, and works via remote desktops such as GoToMyPC or through some social media networks like LinkedIn.
“Basically the user can do all the things he would normally do when helping a customer or finalizing a sale,” he explained. Two other new aspects of the program include Quick Estimate and Document Manager. Quick Estimate is a specialized calculator for the floor- ing industry that can handle both hard and soft surface measurements, while Document Manager allows users to attach any type of document to the invoice, so everything related to that job can be connected on one file.
New search features and the ability to take and move different screens in and out and size it the way one wants help round out the upgrade.
“The new 5.1,” Ogden said, “will help a retailer broaden his business opportunities and make his staff more profession- al. And the Mobile function frees retailers from being tied to their store and gives them quicker, easier access to the information they need.”
In addition to seeking 200 retailers who currently use QuickBooks and want to volunteer as beta testers for its fort coming Interact 2010 (FCNews, Feb. 8/15), the company has added a 3D component to its measure product, a Client Management Model (CMM) and announced it is expanding beyond North America.
Terry Wheat, president, said the goal of the measuring prod- uct was to make it simple for the smaller players as the average dealer does not have a technical person on staff.
Along with being available in four languages—English, German, French and Spanish— it includes 3D renderings and the use of actual manufacturer products.
The CMM feature allows users to more easily manage/ track their customers, from the time they walk into the store to the sale. It syncs with Outlook and works with both residential and commercial users.
Another new feature to the RFMS system is the ability to track and show related items from the manufacturer, such as moldings and accessories. “So,” Wheat explained, “when you sell a piece of wood, the associate pieces, such as trim, will pop up and allow the salesperson to show the customer right away. This will also ensure no pieces are missing when it comes time to install the job.”
As the industry’s most widely used software system, RFMS is taking its system overseas. “The system already supports the metric system,” he noted. “In fact, it was built that way and converted to U.S. measurements, so it made sense to begin seeking partners outside the country.”