Like most popular business software, ACT! wasn't designed with the remodeling industry in mind. But the customer relationship management software is built for maximum flexibility. There are countless options for modifying ACT! to meet your company's specific needs, and plenty of resources to help you do it.
Add-Ons. A handful of companies, including the New Hampton Group ( www.tnhg.com), pinpoint tools ( www.pinpointtools.com), and eGrabber ( www.egrabber.com), produce low-cost software designed specifically for ACT! Popular add-ons include tools to extend layout flexibility and automate data entry.
Consultants. Consultants provide the most extensive customization. They can also extend your use of ACT! beyond contact management by helping you implement the software's lead tracking, sales, and marketing tools. Bevan Wistar, a consultant with Baltimore-based Zip City Solutions, says he's helped remodelers create ACT!-based marketing campaigns and integrate it with their financial and production management software. Zip City's turnkey services cost from around $900 to $2,000 per user and can take up to two days.
There are hundreds of other consultants nationwide. The ACT! Web site ( www.act.com) lists certified consultants by state, and the company's Kristina Frankel says they average roughly $135 per hour with a two-hour minimum for basic services.
BetterACT! Created by former remodeler Norm Seff, BetterACT! ( www.9dots.com) is a one-step alternative to buying individual add-ons or paying for customization work. Remodeler friendly right out of the box, BetterACT! includes tools for lead tracking; sorting and accessing contact information; creating, scheduling, and sending client letters; as well as project management and managing subcontractors. You can download BetterACT! for $249 or order a hard copy for $299.