Data is behind the success of nearly every remarkable business, and the construction industry is no exception. The ability to track and analyze past projects and generate learnings from that data to use for improving tactics in the future is a huge advantage for contractors who are able to do it.
However, gathering and storing data is a very different animal than actively utilizing it, and many companies struggle to make that leap. They might have years’ worth of estimating data stored in their preconstruction platform but not know how to access it for analysis.
If this sounds like an issue your company is facing, you could benefit from taking advantage of a CRM integration. You can integrate your existing CRM using STACK’s open API, or you can get started right away with a platform like FollowUpCRM, which is designed specifically for contractors. Here’s how you can use that valuable takeoff and estimate data from STACK.
1. Gain visibility into assignments and deadlines.
With a large team that might be spread across multiple branch locations, it can be tough to keep track of what everyone is working on and what their schedules look like. By feeding data from STACK’s bid calendar into your CRM, you can create detailed reports on your staff’s activities.
See what projects each of your estimators is working on, when bids are due, and what the current status is on each job. You can use this information to determine the average number of jobs your team as a whole bids in a given time, and you can also pinpoint where there might be team members who are falling behind or who are knocking it out of the park.
From a resources standpoint, you’ll get insight into your team’s day-to-day, and you’ll be able to shift personnel as needed if someone is out sick but still has bid deadlines to meet. Having a pulse on what your team is working on at any given time lets you stay ahead of any issues.
2. Give your sales and estimating team better project management tools.
Using that same bid calendar within STACK can create tasks within your CRM for your team so they no longer have to waste time trying to keep track of all their due dates. Tasks can be triggered whenever the bid status is changed in STACK.
For example, a junior estimator who needs a signoff on their work can change the bid status to “awaiting approval,” generating an automatic task in the CRM for a senior estimator to check their work. Or, if a project is won, a CRM task can notify the project manager to follow up with the GC or owner for next steps.
With automated tasks, time is no longer wasted tracking down the status of each project, and team members outside the estimating department who need status information but who don’t have access to STACK are able to stay informed and get the data they need.
3. Generate detailed performance reports.
When your team reaches a certain size, often it’s all you can do to manage the day-to-day, let alone comb through past project information to gather insights. But with a CRM integration, it’s quick and easy to pull reports that will show you which of your estimators is winning the most jobs or which is obtaining the highest margins. You can see regionally how branch locations are performing when compared with other offices.
With this kind of information at your fingertips it’s much easier to make strategic decisions about where more resources or training might be needed, or where your employees are missing the mark. You can use this data to set reasonable sales goals, create a friendly competition among branches or regions, and even judge which markets are ripe for expansion.
4. Improve forecasting and discover your company’s strengths.
Data from your estimates compared to data from your actual completed jobs shows you exactly where you could be losing on profits. Once you have a clear idea of where your company tends to over- or underbid, you can change your tactics to better forecast what each type of job needs. You’ll have a sharpened view of how to adjust bidding to win more work.
In addition, this analysis is likely to highlight specific types of jobs that stand out as the most profitable for your business. Whether it’s a certain set of GCs or owners you work with best, or a specific type of construction project where your team maximizes productivity, trends will emerge that can help you determine a niche or specialty that you may want to encourage your estimators to go after more aggressively.
5. Proactively predict where challenges may arise and avoid them in the future.
A close comparison of budget to actuals also reveals hurdles your team encountered that threw off your predicted numbers. You can spot trends if certain suppliers are priced higher than others or have more unanticipated lags in lead time. Removing these problematic vendors from your preferred list can pave the way for more success in future projects.
Similarly, you’ll be able to determine if there are types of projects in which bringing on an additional partner can make for a smoother project experience. For example, more waste than expected can mean additional cash out of your pocket. You can try to plan for the waste, or you can use a financing partner like Billd for future projects to free up cash flow and negotiate better terms with suppliers.
Data Gives Your Company a Strategic Advantage
What all these tactics offer is a way for you to streamline your approach to estimating and stay ahead of the competition. Developing your business plan with data as its backbone puts you in an elite category of contractors who are at the top of their game.
With STACK, you have the data – all you need is accessibility. Contact us today to learn more about our CRM integration.