Just as clients aim for the greatest possible ROI on their remodeling projects, remodelers looking to improve processes should seek technology solutions that provide the biggest bang for their buck. The money saved can be used to properly implement those systems and prepare your business for growth. Here are two systems that provide real value:

CRM: Customer relationship management systems make you look more professional and give you company “memory” that can bring new staff members up to speed on 10 years of a client's history in minutes. Add the ability to send professional marketing pieces, track project documents, and schedule sales and warranty service appointments, and you'll see why I advise remodelers to make CRM their first software investment after their spreadsheet and word processor.

Purchasing systems: There is no single better way to control your hard costs and improve completion quality than to implement a “purchasing system” — but that doesn't mean you need a complex accounting system. In fact, most accounting systems do a lousy job with purchase order forms because they lack the ability to add notes about the job or materials use. You're often better off creating your own P.O. forms with your office application.

You'll also need scopes of work for each trade. Instead of creating them from scratch, start with the National Association of Home Builders' The Scopes of Work Program book and disc (www.builderbooks.com).

WHAT ABOUT INTEGRATION? “End-to-end” software integration is every remodeler's dream, but integration can be a double-edged sword. You can spend $100,000 trying to eliminate 10 minutes of reentering job information. More on the topic of software integration in future columns. —Joe Stoddard is an industry consultant and the director of builder operations for Dynami Solutions; www.joestoddard.com.