Like many startups, when Klenck Company was founded in 2008, they handled many of their processes using pen and paper and relied on QuickBooks for their accounting. The management team of this demolition and site work contractor, based in Indiana, understood that to be truly established and grow they needed to automate their entire construction process from bid to cash.
It has made a huge difference for Tim going from the handwritten method; and, I would say it has cut my time in half moving away from the spreadsheets.— Matt Elfreich, Estimator and Project Mgr.
Growing to $8 million in its first four years and employing up to 35 people at a given time, Klenck Company turned to the ProContractorTM by Viewpoint all-in-one business management software solution. Leading the change was the company’s estimator and project manager, Matt Elfreich, who initially wanted the software to perform takeoffs. He explained, “We have now rolled it into takeoff, estimating, accounting, and project management. We are using it more and more each day.”
Elfreich looked at other products for estimating, but found they didn’t offer any options for accounting and project management and were expensive for managing just one area of the business.
Quick and Accurate Takeoff and Estimating
The takeoffs and estimates for the demolition side of the business are performed by Tim Klenck, the firm’s president, who had always relied on paper and pencil. The utility and site work estimates are handled by Elfreich who utilized spreadsheets before moving to ProContractorTM by Viewpoint.
With the manual method, Klenck would have to start from scratch every time he did a new estimate. And, for Elfreich, he often worried about errors in the spreadsheet formulas. For a typical job, which is between $200,000 and $500,000 for this contractor, there could easily be 60 spreadsheets feeding into the master spreadsheet, each with its own formulas. “If one formula was off, it could make a huge difference; especially on bid day, when you’re running around like your head is cut off. One wrong number could significantly impact a $500,000 job.”
Thanks to Viewpoint Klenck now has a comprehensive database of historical pricing and cost items for materials, equipment, and labor. With quick access to accurate data, the estimators can be up and running on a project quickly because the features are easy to use. “My favorite feature for estimating is the simple activity selection in ProContractorTM by Viewpoint,” explained Elfreich. “Once your catalog is set up, it is truly plug and play. We simply do the takeoff, plug in the numbers, do some manipulations based on the specific job, and it calculates the numbers for us. It is by far the nicest part of the estimating software.”
With ProContractor by Viewpoint, Klenck has reduced the time on the manual demolition takeoffs from approximately four hours to just one. “It has made a huge difference for Tim going from the handwritten method; and, I would say it has cut my time in half moving away from the spreadsheets.”
Klenck Company leverages ProContractorTM by Viewpoint for performing takeoff, completing estimates, as well as using the Bid Day & Proposals module to send out bids and then track wins and losses and other valuable data. With access to historical data, Klenck is able to save significant time bidding on similar jobs in the future and can determine what changes need to be made on future bids based on the true numbers from completed jobs.
Efficiently Managing Projects
Prior to using ProContractor by Viewpoint, the contractor didn’t have any mechanism or system to help manage its projects. Elfreich said that once a month he would meet with Amy Lillich, the firm’s accounting coordinator, and they would go through the active jobs and see what needed to be billed. If Elfreich wanted to do any cost reporting, he would have to ask Lillich to print the information from QuickBooks. It was a reactive and time-consuming chore that could be laden with oversights and unbillable mistakes.
On that point, Elfreich related an anecdote about how ProContractorTM by Viewpoint helped him identify an error to save the company $30,000. He explained how once a week he picks a random project and runs through the cost report to see what’s being costed to the job and to make sure there are no red flags. “This very morning, I picked a random job, and it happened to be one where we didn’t bill out. We were showing a profit of only $6,000 on the job and it should have been $36,000. The ability to run through those cost reports real quick in ProContractorTM by Viewpoint enabled me to easily catch this error, saving us $30,000 just this morning. It’s really been a huge help all the way around.”
“Project Connect is my favorite project management tool in ProContractorTM by Viewpoint,” said Elfreich. “I can go right in and see costs, payables, receivables, and much more. It is so much easier than having to make phone calls and wait for others to be free to look up the data I need. Now, I have access at any time. I also like the Dashboards in ProContractorTM by Viewpoint. I’m a visual person and it is helpful to see the details broken down and graphed out as it pertains to each job.”
Klenck also uses ProContractor by Viewpoint Mobile Connect to communicate and share information between those in the office and those on job sites. It allows access to timely project information at all times from an iPad mobile device. “With Mobile Connect, we are trying to go as paperless as possible,” Elfreich explained. “We are receiving all paperwork from the field and processing it electronically. Our guys really like it and it is a huge improvement as far as getting information from the field to the office.”
Also, Elfreich explained that by giving the team in the field access to certain numbers, such as budget amounts for cost codes, they know where they stand on the job at any point and know whether they need to speed up their work or if they are actually making good production.
ProContractor by Viewpoint Mobile Connect comes in handy for documenting projects and tracking equipment, too. “When a new piece of equipment arrives on a site, we take a photo of it and of the meter reading,” explained Elfreich. “At the end of the day, the team also takes a photo of the job site, so that if there are any discrepancies, we have proof in our system. This allows us to note progress and if other trades come on site and dig up our work and we’re asked to re-grade it, we have documentation right in ProContractorTM by Viewpoint that shows how we left the site. This has made a huge impact.”
With equipment being such a large expense for a demolition and site work contractor, ProContractorTM by Viewpoint has also helped Klenck manage and allocate these equipment expenses. “We have now set up all of our owned and rented equipment in ProContractor by Viewpoint,” said Elfreich. “The field crew enters equipment data on an iPad while at the jobsite. We are able to determine if we are spending our money the right way and actually bill our equipment expenses to the jobs in which the equipment is being used, making job costing much more accurate.”
Gaining Financial Control
Prior to ProContractor by Viewpoint, Klenck relied on QuickBooks and manual processes to handle its accounting processes and Lillich found it was becoming more difficult to manage as the company grew and their jobs got larger.
“Management reports were an issue for us. They were too broad. We did not have the information we needed for management to make confident financial decisions. This was the biggest challenge of QuickBooks,” she stated. “We also didn’t have the tools to manage jobs specifically and the detailed information for forecasting future jobs.”
Other challenges included the lack of detailed cost reports and codes, not having budgets set up for the estimates; and manually processing timecards, Work-in-Progress reports, and cash flow reports. Additionally, QuickBooks limited their ability to use proper construction industry accounting processes.
“Most of us had come from another construction company and knew what we needed to handle each area. But we also wanted to bring together estimating, project management, and accounting all in one place,” explained Lillich. “Matt was already using ProContractorTM by Viewpoint for takeoff and estimating, and after seeing I saw demo of the solution, it just made sense to leverage more of what it offered.”
The accounting team also benefits from the Mobile Connect module for processing payroll. Superintendents in the field are able to submit timecards for their team on a daily basis using the cost codes already in the system and without having to go back to the office. This saves the field crew and accounting team time and frustration associated with handwritten timecards. With ProContractor by Viewpoint, Klenck’s payroll processing time has been cut in half.
Lillich explained how it’s not just saving time on the data entry, but it cuts down on mistakes and on make-up checks that have to be written for hours missed. “I’m a big fan of the Company Dashboard in ProContractor by Viewpoint,” she noted. “It gives me everything I need in one place, from payables and receivables to profit and loss and balance sheet information. I look at it several times a day from a financial reporting standpoint.” The Company Dashboard provides a complete view of financial information and one-click access to details enabling Lillich to feel confident in the numbers she provides management.
The Work-in-Progress reports are the next biggest feature that Lillich uses. On a weekly basis she pulls up a management report to see where projects stand, where they are going, and if there are any red flags that need to be discussed.
Like in many areas, the accounts payable side is aiming to be paperless by scanning documents and processing them electronically. “I use the Payables functionality to go back and reference information frequently,” said Lillich. “Being able to easily reference data is a huge time saver for us. The automated routing of the invoices is a really nice feature, saving us a lot of time and hassle during the approval process. From a management perspective, it gives me comfort that we are costing correctly to the right jobs and that the project manager is able to see the data and make the decisions instead of the accounting team making decisions related to job costs.”
The increased accuracy is a significant benefit for Klenck. For accounts receivable and payable, Lillich explained that when the company had QuickBooks, users could manipulate the financial data at any point in time until a period closed, which is access that most construction accounting professionals don’t want to allow. In contrast, with ProContractorTM by Viewpoint, there are strict financial controls requiring users to follow the rules of accounting and providing safeguards for the company. It makes the users accountable for what they enter.
Partnering for Success
As other accounting coordinators may feel when it comes to changing systems and processes, Lillich was concerned about transitioning the data from one system to the next; however, she was pleasantly surprised. “Viewpoint made it easy for us,” she explained. “The support they provided to get us up and running was great. It was a lot easier than I expected it to be. I did all of the online classes and we had three days of on-site training, which was very good. The Viewpoint team listened to us and helped us figure out our processes.”
Elfreich and Lillich concurred on the customer support from Viewpoint. “We’ve had great correspondence back and forth with their team, receiving fairly expedient responses. All-in-all, our overall experience has been really great,” said Elfreich.
The Value of All-on-One
Although Klenck grew rapidly since it was founded, the company is now focused less on growing big and more keenly focused on providing high quality services and running more efficiently than ever before, which is key to profitability.