According to Brian Javeline and Michael Carson, two of the three founders of Pompano Beach, Fla.–based ServusXchange, managing your business online isn’t that complicated — or risky. They offer their online service MyOnlineToolbox.com as proof.
“If you understand online banking and are comfortable with that, then you can understand MyOnlineToolbox,” Carson says. MyOnlineToolbox offers most of the same tools as Windows-based business applications, such as managing estimates, change orders, schedules, and invoices; communicating with subs, suppliers, employees, and customers; and total mobility. The difference is that MyOnlineToolbox is Internet-based. The standard service costs $89 per month and does not require a contract.
That’s a relatively low cost of entry, Carson says. “If you look at the cost of a server-based platform — easily $10,000 to $60,000 for the software alone — that pretty much eliminates the small- or medium-sized company,” he says. All MyOnlineToolbox needs is a computer and an Internet connection.
Here’s how it works: A remodeler uses the program to create an estimate and e-mails it directly to the homeowner for approval. He can then electronically send work orders to trade contractors needed for the project.
When trade contractors enter the MyOnlineToolbox platform, all the tasks entered by the remodeler auto-populate the “New Job” form, giving contractors the ability to create estimates, work orders, or invoices, without manually entering project information. As the job progresses, contractors update their work orders, and the remodeler’s job status is updated as well. Contractors can also purchase materials from any suppliers that accept fax or e-mail orders.
“It’s the way you and I might collaborate on an Outlook meeting request,” Javeline says. “Every date is part of your database. Now imagine that’s a job with directions, materials, changes. Right now everyone’s leaving voice-mail messages all over the place. This inefficiency is killing the industry, especially for small businesses.”
Embrace the Technology
Collaboration is key, as the secure, online community allows all parties to share common project information. Next on the horizon for ServusXchange, winner of a Dell Top 10 Innovator award, is the capability to better connect with customers by letting them view, approve, and make payments online.
“This is for anyone who is more embracing of the Internet and being part of platforms,” Javeline says. “It’s taking business information and passing your subset to the next guy. Every single day somebody in his 60s who is retiring is replaced by someone who already wakes up with technology on his mind. The 40-and-under crowd knows they have to do it.”