Whether your installed sales program is a startup or a thriving addition, tracking the progress, materials, and costs of each job is essential to reaching your goal–profitability. As your installed business grows, you'll need to consider elevating the ways you track a job and its costs. Here are good, better, and best ways to do that.
When getting an installed sales program off the ground, pencil and paper are still a tried-and-true method of tracking projects. Once a contract has been signed, the next step will be to order the materials and assign the job to a crew on a date agreed upon by the customer.
Track the job via invoices kept in separate folders and work orders doled out to the installers. Move the invoices to other folders as the project moves through its phases: materials ordered, materials delivered, installation crew on site, and completion.
If you are using full-time, in-house personnel, post jobs on a whiteboard or use clipboards that you can maintain. Place daily work orders in cubbyholes so crews can check them each day. But beware: you might find installation personnel swapping jobs they are not interested in.
Keep accurate accounts of labor, fuel, and materials used in the job and how great your margins are once you've been paid. Office personnel must manually track each phase of the installed job, herding with paperwork through each step.
Use Excel spreadsheets to track materials, deliveries, and job progress, and Outlook for scheduling. Outlook will show when your crews are available for a jobsite. This is important when your manpower specializes in particular installed jobs such as fireplaces, cabinets, doors, windows, or installation.
At this stage, you should cut paperwork and slim your margin for error. Store the data electronically so more than one set of eyes can view and track it. This will come in handy if some materials are missing from a jobsite and you need a special delivery.
When upgrading your overall installed sales program, hire a full-time supervisor, not only for assigning projects but also for inventory control. As the cost of a job grows, your margins get smaller.
You can use the spreadsheet to keep track of crew hours as well.
Using an automated platform lets you factor in all of a project's costs before it starts and keep track of them. Additionally, a job can be handed off seamlessly to each member of the installed team, from the salesman to the supervisor to the crew, giving each a good idea of what's going into the project and leaving little room for lost paperwork.
An installed job may be paid for at the start, halfway through, and once it's completed. Therefore, you don't want unfinished projects and materials delivered showing up on your accounts receivable statement until the job is done. And at the end of the job, you might want just one bill–the price that was agreed upon in the beginning, not a bill containing a list of materials delivered. Systems such as Activant's Falcon Installed Sales program let the user estimate labor costs. If you need a change in the job and cost of materials, you can enter it with an invoice readily available. This could prevent arguments that might arise after a verbal change has been agreed upon but the customer does not like what he sees in the final bill.