Robust software systems aim to give specialty flooring dealers a leg up in the business and especially their competition. Flooring-specific software helps to not only manage the day-to-day but also streamline operations as a whole and build business. Cloud-based software solutions are designed to do all that while remaining mobile. According to flooring-specific software providers, cloud-based systems save time and money and, most importantly, can be accessed from anywhere. The latter is a key feature in the age of COVID-19 where many dealers and their associates are learning to work remotely.
Following are some of the industry’s top cloud-based software systems.
American Business Software
FloorPro ERP software is designed to run lightning fast in the cloud, according to Joseph Flannick, president, American Business Software. FloorPro is “client-server,” meaning the software is installed and runs independently in each PC, tablet or mobile device. Much of the interaction with the user is handled locally, thus eliminating the inherent delay of sending information back and forth to the server.
“The main advantages of cloud solutions are the ability to work from anywhere,” Flannick explained. “Many phone systems permit calls to be distributed to various individuals, which may be working from home. With cloud software, users are already set up for remote access, so all users have access to the same software from home. In addition, it eliminates the cost of servers and reduces the level of in-house expertise needed to manage the server infrastructure and network. This typically eliminates the need for IT people.”
Flannick noted that security measures can be more robust with cloud-based systems. “If the client device (PC, tablet, mobile device, etc.) is lost, stolen or hacked, you can simply replace it, reload the software and you’re back in business,” he said. “Even if a device is lost, there is no loss of data or privacy concerns; the data is stored on the server and not the lost device.”
PropertyLink takes tools from the Measure Square Estimation Engine and puts them on the cloud to allow for fast quotes, work orders, multi-unit bidding and quick-turn jobs to take place from anywhere. This software application allows property owners and managers to organize, track and process jobs across thousands of units and properties with ease and precision.
“Cloud-based software helps a business be more versatile by allowing the execution of daily operations and tasks from anywhere,” said Jim Riherd, vice president of operations, Measure Square. “Everyone has a phone, tablet and computer. They are not all the same platform within an organization, but they all have a web browser—which is the window into the cloud.”
Riherd added that flooring has always been based around building relationships—and those are best built in-person. “That is now the greatest challenge everyone is trying to adapt to,” he said. “Granted, plenty of us use programs that are locally installed on a machine—called on-premise software—but there are disadvantages, such as the need for installing updates, not having data centralized and challenges with collaboration. With the cloud, you get seamless access from any platform. The updates are automatic [and run in the background], which means there is no disruption to the organization.”
RFMS offers numerous cloud-based software and services—a web-based hosting service and several mobile applications. With the hosting service, RFMS users can access the company’s business management software using the Internet. All the software is in the cloud, which means the RFMS user no longer has to worry about system updates, hardware maintenance, backups or operating system updates.
“Cloud-based software allows flooring dealers to gain security, flexibility, cost savings and accessibility to their important business data and processes,” said Rod Bayless, director of sales and marketing, RFMS. “Cloud-based software also allows flooring dealers to give up things such as costly hardware maintenance, insecure servers, outdated programs and inflexible operations.”
During this time of uncertainty and the importance of social distancing, cloud-based software can also allow flooring retailers to offer non-contact services, such as in-home measuring and consultations with customers. “With many programs available that use mobile devices, sales professionals can do many necessary tasks such as communicating with customers and the office, taking orders, payments and much more,” Bayless added.
RollMaster software is delivered one of two ways. The first is via a secure, cloud-based server the company hosts and protects; the other is via a user’s own installed server. Either way, the program can be accessed from anywhere at any time with Internet access on a laptop or desktop computer.
“Cloud-based software supports businesses in two big ways: it’s a money saver and a time saver,” said Kelly Oechslin, product marketing manager, Rollmaster. “The money savings may surprise users because they come in many different ways. Primarily, it removes the need to invest in expensive server equipment to house the software. Users also save money on backups—they won’t pay extra to protect their data.”
To further demonstrate the access and reliability of the software, Oechslin noted the entire RollMaster staff has worked remotely since 2005. “We know how to effectively deliver a cloud-based platform as well as help dealers transition to a home-based work environment,” she explained. “The ability to easily access your business data from anywhere lends itself to a remote work environment. This means fewer people need to congregate in a showroom, and staff can work a more flexible schedule so they’re better able to juggle both their personal and professional lives.”
QFloors offers two different kinds of cloud software: QFloors—uses the same basic cloud technologies that have been around the past 20 years—and its new QPro—a 100% browser-based software utilizing newer technologies.
Advantages for using the newer technology include end-user price, speed, improved user experience and an interface similar to what users might expect. According to Chad Ogden, president, QFloors, users interact with it much like a web page.
Ogden cited three significant benefits to cloud-based software: 1) Lower IT costs; 2) A higher level of security; and 3) Mobility.
“Those business owners who were already using cloud-based software had a significant advantage when everything went into lockdown,” Ogden said. “The benefit of being able to continue to run your business from your home computer (or laptop, phone, etc.) became even more important. It was truly a lifesaver and a lifeline for many. Over the past few months, we had many customers express appreciation for this remote connection ability. Post-COVID, even once stores are open, the mobility and device independence that cloud-based software brings will be even more greatly appreciated and will continue to be extremely relevant.”
By Ogden’s estimates, there are currently thousands of dealers not taking advantage of flooring-specific software. “They use generic software like QuickBooks or Excel, or even sometimes just pen and paper,” he said. “The flooring industry has so many unique aspects to it, and it truly is ludicrous not to be using software specific to those needs.”