Technology: 10 questions to ask potential software providers

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Dec. 9/16, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 12

By Lindsay Gonzalez

 

Flooring software should ultimately support the growth of a dealer’s business, according to RFMS.

Choosing the right software for your business is often a significant investment. Whether it’s ERP, CRM, measuring, inventory, etc., installing new flooring software requires time, money and patience. Before a dealer wastes all three, he or she should have a list of questions ready for potential software providers.

FCNews spoke with several top flooring software companies to compile a list of questions dealers should ask before investing in software.

How long have you been working in the flooring space?

“There are lots of great software options out there for businesses, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are great for flooring dealers,” noted James Wisdom, vice president business development, Measure Square. “In our space, there are many specifics that generic systems just aren’t equipped to handle. Updating or switching systems is never an easy process; it’s even worse if you go through all the trouble just to find out that at the deepest level of need a generic product falls short. There are plenty of great flooring specific software solutions out there.”

What will it cost me exactly?

“It is important to be very specific when asking for prices,” said Chad Ogden, CEO and president, QFloors. “You may need to nail down a sales rep who is giving you a general range. You should ask, ‘What is the cost for X number of users, including all of the training, support, maintenance as well as every feature you have demoed to me? Are there optional add-on costs? What if I don’t purchase that particular add-on?’”

Will your business software support my company’s growth?

“The software you use to manage your business should always have the goals of increasing productivity, accuracy and profit,” explained Maria Cauchon, media services director, sales and marketing, RFMS. “These analytics should be measurable. Many times, store owners will just accept the ‘data in,’ but don’t know how to use the system to get the ‘data out’ to perform important data analysis.” 

Does your software show profitability for each job?

“If the software has the ability to show profitability per job, then the end user can adjust pricing, scheduling, etc., based on the information provided by the software,” said Cindy Trocciola, CEO, CZNTech Pricing. “For instance, if your margins with one client are consistently less than all of your other clients, then you may want to adjust how you’re working with this particular client.”

Do you host and manage the server yourself?

“The majority of our RollMaster Software customers are hosted on our cloud-based network,” said Kelly Oechslin, product marketing manager, RollMaster. “From the beginning, we have owned and managed our secure data network. Our customers will always own their data, but we manage and protect the servers, freeing them from the time and expense of hardware management and giving them access to their data anytime with an Internet-connected device.”

Does your software estimate for all types of flooring?

“Can it estimate using the keyboard and also estimate PDF drawings and blueprints drawing?” Dennis Benton, president, NivBen Software, asked in regard to estimating software. “If you’re in the flooring business, you will do all of those at some time in your career.”

Can we do demos with my entire team?

“It is vital to schedule in-depth demos with each of your software finalists,” said Bob Noe Jr., president, Pacific Solutions. “Your demos should include members from every department in your company. Since each department will have needs that are specific to their area of the business, it might be best to set up a series of shorter demos with each department. If you have buy in from the majority of your staff, the adoption of the software will be a smoother process.”

Can your software integrate with other business software?

“The right software solutions will solve problems and help smooth out the operational workflow within your company by sharing their data with other software in use,” Measure Square’s Wisdom said. “Some providers may offer closed ecosystems that seem great at first glance, but what happens if one piece of their solution falls short? You want to look to providers that are eager to share their data with others through APIs but be wary of simple one-click integration pitches. The reality is that great partnerships and integrations are out there, but even the best partnerships require a bit of configuration.”

May I speak to a few of your current customers?

QFloors’ Ogden suggested dealers ask the following questions to referrals: “What software did you use previously? How long did it take you to get your staff up and going on the system? What has been your experience with the software’s training? How much did it cost? What happens when you get new employees? How are they trained?”

What services and support do you offer after the software is installed?

Joseph Flannick, president, American Business Software, posed this question: “When you have a problem, how long does it take to get the problem solved and how difficult is it to talk with people beyond their first level of technical support?”

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