Software solutions

CE Pro Software Deepening: Integrators Seek Simplified Software Solutions

Paul Ostrin from Unlimited integration in Houston explains his frustration with industry software like this:

“When I call my HVAC contractor for a service call, the person answering the phone can immediately look up my system in their computer during the call. In their system, it instantly tells them what kind of equipment I have installed and when it was installed. It checks my address and makes an appointment for next Thursday’s service call, for example. When I hang up the phone, I immediately receive a text message confirming the appointment for next Thursday. And then the day before the meeting, I receive a text confirming me: ‘Are we still good for Thursday?’

Here are some quick facts related to CE Pro research that showcase the current state of the software market.

“On the day of the appointment, I receive an SMS informing me that the technician is on his way indicating the time slot in which he will arrive, with his name and photo. Then, an hour to 30 minutes before the meeting, I receive an SMS indicating his current position, saying: “He is on his way”. The technician comes to my house and does his job. There, he takes my credit card and slips it into a remote payment system. After he leaves, I receive an SMS with a link to a customer satisfaction survey asking: “How did we do?” and a link to leave a Google review.

“And this HVAC contractor is a small business with two trucks. It’s annoying that my HVAC guy has a better software system than the AV guy – and everything runs on an app. It’s just ridiculous that the custom install industry doesn’t have software that can do something like this. I pay something like $12,000 a year for software licenses and can’t even get it to work properly on a mobile app. There is a vacuum of simplicity in the industry; it’s super frustrating,” he says.

Ostrin’s experience is not unique. Integrators from all walks of life shared their frustrations and industrial software needs in the CE Pro 2021 Software Deep Dive. new software or running costs. They also tend to buy four new pieces of software every five years. They also note that on average, they have abandoned three pieces of software over the life of their company for various reasons.

So why go through all the headaches of buying and learning software if it’s so complicated? The bottom line. Dealerships report that using an end-to-end software solution to help run their business adds a median 13.4% to their bottom line. For the typical custom installation business that made about $1.36 million in revenue last year with a 30% profit margin, that means the software alone directly adds almost $55,000 to the bottom line. net. wow!

For some integrators, the benefits of software implementation are even more apparent. A total of 4% of integrators say they have seen their results increase by 50% by adopting different types of software. Meanwhile, some resellers must see other benefits in the software than improved profits; around 6% say that using software does not improve their bottom line at all.

Faster installations, improved documentation and the possibility of closing more sales are the main reasons given by dealers for the results obtained using software

Dig into data on integration software

According to the study, 97.6% of all integration companies use at least one type of software to run their business. (This means that 2.4% of integrators are still old-school operators who only use paper and pencil for everything from quotes to invoices.) The most common is a spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel, which is used by 76% of integration companies. Accounting/invoicing software (68%), design/CAD software (53%) and internal communication software like Slack (48%) are the other most used types of software.

The median number of software solutions used per integration company is six.

As noted, integrators say they sometimes stop using certain software after a while. The main reasons for this stoppage are simply that the software has too many bugs or simply does not work, the cost is too high, or it is incompatible with other software. Sometimes, however, it’s not so easy to just stop using certain software.

An integrator has expressed extreme frustration with the ongoing access fees he continues to pay for software he discontinued years ago, but still needs to be able to access data from that old software for his old customers or projects. Nearly one in 10 integrators (9%) say they pay more than $10,000 a year for software.

Ten years ago, the idea that one piece of software could run your business was a pipe dream. Today, 14% of integration companies say they use some type of multifunction software system to run the business.

As noted, the median number of software solutions used by an integrator is six. About 2% of integrators use more than 21 software. When it comes to selecting software, cost is the number 1 priority, followed by speed, support, and compatibility.