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  1. #1
    Joe Stoddard Guest

    Default ?? ImproveBuild ??

    A while back there was a lot of noise about ImproveBuild . To date nobody from there has contacted me, despite best efforts from this end.

    Does anyone know if they're still in the game or what's going on? Their site has not changed in months.

    Thx in advance
    JLS


    IMPROVEBUILD

  2. #2
    Kitchenguy Guest

    Default Re: ?? ImproveBuild ??

    Joe,
    I thought Improvebuild was the answer to my software needs, but it has not panned out that way. The program does have great promise but there are a few things which were difficult for me to accept: not completely XP compliant; the software requires a lock to run (very inconvenient when moving your laptop from one location to another...); the program does not justify its high price; the program is only compatible with one cost database, HomeTech ($600 - steep!); general navigation from screen to screen did not flow to my liking; a number of little technical issues, which were addressed quickly by the company, but still an annoyance.
    With more development $$ and time, I think the program could become something great. However, as you have said in the past, staying power is the name of the game for a small software company. I thought they were the magic bullet, but I have learned it does not currently exist.
    I am also dissapointed they have not made the software available to reviewers. Since we are looking for the same thing, it is to their advantage to accept helpful input from other professionals.

  3. #3
    Joe Stoddard Guest

    Default Re: ?? ImproveBuild ??

    Well the devil is in the details - sounds like you leaped before you looked - that's definitely not my evaluation protocol :-)

    The problem is, there's a good chance there will never be more development time or $$ because they'll never get profitable enough to do it. Since I've been doing this I've seen dozens of small developers with innovative product ideas come and go.

    Three years in the black (not selling on venture funds) - 300 solid users (users willing to pay for support contracts or similar)... then we'll talk. In my experience the companies who are unwilling to send me review software are either afraid of what I'll find... or they're not organized enough yet to handle the requests and track NFR copies in the first place.

    JLS

  4. #4
    Kitchenguy Guest

    Default Re: ?? ImproveBuild ??

    Au contraire....The frustration is that I looked EXTENSIVELY before I leaped. I tried several trial versions of different programs and looked at many different solutions including all of the options you suggested. After several months of looking, ImproveBuild seemed to be the answer. Unfortunately, as you yourself have pointed out, it is very difficult to evaluate a program until you have test driven it. I paid $450 for a quarterly license which was my test drive. I was committed enough to finding the right solution for my business that I was willing to pay $450 to determine if I had found it. Unfortunately, my hard work and research not whithstanding, ImproveBuild came up short. The hard truth is that solid applications which incorporate lead tracking, estimating, project management and proposal writing for the remodeling industry do not yet exist.

  5. #5
    Joe Stoddard Guest

    Default Re: ?? ImproveBuild ??

    Well that's a bummer -
    but $450 to find out is cheap - if you were 2-3 years down the line and found it out you could add a couple-three zeros to that.

    The solution does exist for you - but you have to build it on paper before you can build it in software. Then you can see the deficiencies of one approach over another, like overlaying a piece of tracing paper over a map, and can tackle those specific areas. What we do during an evaluation is build that map, so the pieces can be fit over top. We do what we can with stock applications, and then build the connectors as required, or modify the business processes to fit -- whichever makes the most sense financially.

    JLS

  6. #6
    Kitchenguy Guest

    Default Re: ?? ImproveBuild ??

    Joe,
    How right you are! I should have known better. You can't automate a bad process, or NO process, and expect the software to cure all sins. I still have a lot of work of my own to do. Thank you once again for your terrific insight.

  7. #7
    Joe Stoddard Guest

    Default Re: ?? ImproveBuild ??

    Hang in there - you'll get it. You know what you need to do. You know how to reach me if you need help.

    Question for you - do you have any idea what the size of your niche is ? I.E. How many kitchen showrooms are also doing custom installations, etc. I see kitchen showrooms all over the place, you'd think someone would have addressed this market by now.
    JLS

  8. #8
    Kitchenguy Guest

    Default Re: ?? ImproveBuild ??

    Great question, Joe. You have discovered another of my sources of frustration. I believe the market to be quite substantial (1,000's of dealers). This is a very disconnected busines, though, much like remodelling. Meaning, there are not too many "best practices" that one can draw from to establish one's own procedures. Hence, there are hundreds (I am sure) of businesses just like mine who are inventing their own wheels every day. I am certain some do this extremely well. I would be willing to pay $$ to tap into that resource in lieu of inventing my own wheel; it is just not cost effective. Your thoughts?

  9. #9
    greg Guest

    Default Re: ?? ImproveBuild ??

    Hi Joe,

    I just looked at the demo CD they sent me. The program certainly appears to be thorough/robust. I would be curious to know if you or anyone else has had any additional experiences with the program??? Like kitchenguy, I have been doing some thorough research on programs in this price range, and I am seriously thinking about dropping the initial $400+ or so (paid over 4 quarters) for the program but the above referenced posts certainly give me reservations.

    Any further feedback (and or other users) would be greatly appreciated.

    Regards,
    Greg

  10. #10
    Jeb Breithaupt Guest

    Default Re: ?? ImproveBuild ??

    We have used Rbs Improvebuild for One and a half years. It is Great!- We have improved our profitablility and control 100%. It is a total business solution. Contact me if questions.

  11. #11
    Jeb Breithatupt Guest

    Default Re: ?? ImproveBuild ??

    Bob,
    We initially estimated a job using HomeTech. A very detailed estimate with plans. The estimate was about $100,000. When we actually walked subs and suppliers through later, the estimate was over $150,000 not due to selection increases by the client. We lost the client and scarred our reputation. It was a disaster. I don't think much of Hometech estimating systems.

    Jeb

  12. #12
    Ada Fann Guest

    Default Re: ?? ImproveBuild ??

    I am the Office Manager and Bookkeeper for Jeb Breithaupt Design/Build, Inc. Since using RBS Improvebuild for 1-1/2 years we have simplified our initial client contact thru the end of the project. We have everything from begining to end of the project plus if there is no project we have the information to run marketing and sales reports. We thought the price a little high - but you get what you pay for. I think this is one of the best investments that we have made.

    Regards,
    Ada

  13. #13
    Joe Stoddard Guest

    Default Re: ?? ImproveBuild ??

    No offense, Jeb but that's misleading to readers.

    C'mon, we're really supposed to believe that "HomeTech" caused Jeb Breithatupt -- a quality remodeler with 20+ years experience -- to miss a $150K project by $50K ?? Anyone who has been in business two years would smell that something was wrong on a project that size if their numbers were coming up short. Just a quick multiply of the square footage would get you closer than that.

    We both know that an estimate is only as good as the quantity take-off, the accuracy of your cost book, and the way you have your assemblies set up. HomeTech is like anything else - it has to be set up and customized with your own costs and assemblies or you're just guessing, and it needs to be checked against historical costs before rolling out on a real project. You can create big mistakes with *any* estimating software, and HomeTech is only as accurate as the guy running it.

    I'm also assuming you mean "improved profitability 100%" figuratively, not literally because I also don't buy that any piece of software is going to double a remodeler's profit margin, unless it (the margin, not the software) was pretty awful to begin with. I wish it were true, I'd be retired now if it was.

    Jeb and Ada - what is your relationship with ImproveBuild? I can't tell if you're reselling it and using it, or are just happy users, or are a paid endorser or what? I posed this to you last May and never got a response. Their website is currently down so I can't check, but as I remember aren't you mentioned by name in their promotional literature? Nothing wrong with that, but if true obviously you have more interest in the success of the product than the average user. I don't have a problem with user/endorsers, but I want my readers to know what they're reading.
    JLS

  14. #14
    Rex Guest

    Default Re: ?? ImproveBuild ??

    I have been the estimator/production manager for Jeb Breithaupt Design/Build for 2 1/2yrs. I agree, you hit the nail on the head! It has to be customized to your costs, and checked back to past jobs to be updated (as with any system)Once the up-dating/learning curve is done it works great. Don't expect it to automatically fix your problems,(or blame it if it doesn't) until you have updated it. I have seen the office before and after Improvebuild, the process from to start to finish is more systematic and the flow is much better,not to mention bottom line profit.

  15. #15
    Joe Stoddard Guest

    Default Re: ?? ImproveBuild ??

    Thanks Rex
    Bottom line, you can pound a nail with a hammer, or you can pound your thumb. None of this stuff replaces what's already between your ears.

    JLS

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