Commercial Contractor Thrives with ConstructionSuite
M.A. August Construction Company
Altamonte Springs, Florida
Florida area Contractor, Michael August, Owner of M.A. August Construction Company, uses ConstructionSuite and ConstructionOnline to complete outstanding hotel and restaurant projects on time, in budget, and with incredibly satisfied clients.
Commercial Project Launches String of Success
Michael August, 25 year industry veteran and Owner of M.A. August Construction Company knows what it takes to run a successful business. Opening his own construction company in 2003, Michael's 18 years or prior construction experience has taught him that to run a successful business, satisfied clients are crucial. Satisfied clients spread excitement quicker than any advertisement, and recently, he's realized just how important their word of mouth truly is.
It all started with a commercial hotel project for the Comfort Suites Hotel in Ormond Beach, Florida. This project had a few firsts - Our first hotel and their first time using ConstructionSuite. This four-story, 72 room hotel took a mere 9 months from start to finish, and the owners were so incredibly pleased, they couldn't help but spread the word. The recommendation from the Comfort Suites owner was so convincing to a fellow hotel owner, the Holiday Inn Orlando changed their contractor and signed with M.A. August Construction Company a short two weeks before the decision deadline.
"We're so busy and it's all from word of mouth - our reputation, how we did it, how quickly we did it - well, it spread like fire and now we're getting lots of work all over the place," said Michael August, expecting upcoming commercial projects in the Pennsylvania area and multiple residential projects in the Tampa, Florida area. Everyone from the owner to the architect, and even subcontractors, share their raving reviews of M.A. August Construction Company, but, what is it that makes them so great? Well, it's a number of things, including their use of UDA's products, ConstructionSuite and ConstructionOnline.
ConstructionSuite helps M.A. August Construction Company attract potential clients, particularly with the professional quality paperwork initially presented to them. M.A. August Construction uses ConstructionSuite, which includes 140 customizable contracts and forms ranging from 'Cost plus Percentage' to 'Design Services' Contracts. HHC takes advantage of the automated proposal wizard on a daily basis to help them quickly create professional paperwork. The proposal wizard allows users to select a template and then insert project and client information, dimensions, allowances and options, as well as any other special conditions while in the wizard, and it then generates a comprehensive, professional proposal including those intricate details in a matter of minutes. Not only does this feature ensure accuracy, but it saves users a substantial amount of time and the final product exudes professionalism.
ConstructionSuite - The Features Sell Themselves
ConstructionSuite enables M.A. August Construction the opportunity to easily create estimates and schedules, integrate with QuickBooks for their accounting purposes, and also manage their leads. It's all of the features combined that truly makes August love the program, particularly because they add professionalism and credibility to all of the work they do. After so many years in the business, Michael's learned just how important it is to show value and credibility to potential clients. He said, "Being able to generate a professional proposal within minutes, being able to change things on the fly and create another proposal just as quick - all of it professional instead of on a legal pad. Well, that adds to your value and credibility as a general contractor and with UDA's ConstructionSuite, we've got all this."
Michael's favorite feature in ConstructionSuite is the Project Workflow, which is a dynamic resource users take advantage of to keep their project progressing with ease and accuracy. The project workflow is available in ConstructionSuite Premier Catalyst and higher and acts as a big picture checklist of the major points within each project. "The workflow is something I use from the start of the project to track how much time is spent on each project, and at what stage the project is at. It's especially useful during the bidding stage so I can see where we are in terms of getting our takeoff's generated and creating estimates... it lets us keep track of what's done, who's doing it, while also giving us a great checklist to make sure we don't miss any steps," said Michael August. Making managing and tracking your project much easier, the workflow gives users the opportunity to set and reuse successful outlines that cover the entire construction process from planning and pre-construction, all the way through closing.
The Project Workflow feature is only one way that ConstructionSuite and ConstructionOnline save M.A. August Construction an inordinate amount of time in their daily activities. August said, "On an average, I spend about 50% of my time using UDA's ConstructionSuite and ConstructionOnline, but that time would have been doubled had I not been using this program." ConstructionSuite saves Michael time, particularly while he's working in estimating and scheduling. "Since this system ties everything together, you can basically track your project from your estimate, into your schedule, and then use that schedule to let you know what the duration of your project is going to be," said Michael, "when figuring my general conditions and job costs on site, like how long I'll need a trailer or supervisor, etc... well, since I generated my estimate within ConstructionSuite, it can then get sent over to create a schedule and I'm prepared - ConstructionSuite ties it all in for me."
M.A. August Construction uses QuickBooks for their accounting purposes, and as users of ConstructionSuite, they have an easy-to-use integration between the two programs. ConstructionSuite users can transfer account, customer, and item information over to QuickBooks, enabling them to easily create estimates, invoices, and purchase orders. This integration makes things so much easier for the user, but more importantly, removes the margin for error because users don't have to enter the same information into both programs. The QuickBooks integration also gives users the ability to import actual costs back into the ConstructionSuite program so they can truly compare the estimated and the actual costs within their estimates. "The best part about the QuickBooks Integration is that, from the inception of the estimate, all the way through completion of the project, we can see what our job costs are. This helps us evaluate what our next job is going to cost and helps us be much more accurate," said Michael.
As a member of the TotalCare Community, UDA's Service and Support Plan, M.A. August Construction enjoys features that seamlessly connect ConstructionSuite and ConstructionOnline, UDA's newly released web service designed for construction professionals in need of the freedom to share plans, estimates, schedules, photos and more from anywhere, anytime. One of the most popular TotalCare Only Features, the Enhanced Suitelink, lets ConstructionSuite users connect with their ConstructionOnline account and instantly upload files and information to ConstructionOnline. ConstructionSuite users can transfer contacts, projects, photos, and documents to ConstructionOnline with just a click, making it easier and quicker to share information with their team members. Members of the TotalCare Community also receive unlimited priority phone support, Quarterly RS Means CostBooks updates as well as other product updates and upgrades, and additional TotalCare Only features like Enhanced Suitelink and Weather Tracking by Project.
Residential to Commercial: The Transformation
Previously, M.A. August Construction did a lot of residential work, mainly in heavy hurricane areas in Florida. The rough hurricane season is what instigated Augusts' creation of the 'Ultimate Florida Home', which essentially builds the homeowner a hurricane proof home. The Ultimate Florida Home was typically built and positioned to avoid damages, intentionally building the house out of reach of falling trees, and the homes included storm proof materials such as hurricane proof windows, aluminum shutters, gas powered appliances, and a safe room equipped with a generator to remedy difficult times during power outages. Many houses in the Florida area are ready for the next big storm, all because of M.A. August Construction and the Ultimate Florida Home.
The UDA Planning Guide, a feature found in ConstructionSuite, was one of the other tools that Michael used to attract potential clients while doing Residential Construction. The planning guide is a detailed questionnaire that custom home builders use to interview homeowners in order to ensure the perfect home gets built. Michael said, "The UDA Planning Guide - when you present that to a homeowner, you get an immediate WOW! It sells itself." The planning guide asks the homeowner questions that vary from room requirements like ideal room dimensions and the number of bathrooms , all the way to family questions like 'where do you spend most of your time?', and 'do you typically entertain?'. This feature is included in all Residential, Commercial, and Green versions of ConstructionSuite.
Now that M.A. August Construction has transitioned into commercial construction, particularly hospitality construction, Michael still loves what he does because he truly enjoys the entire construction process, regardless if it's residential or commercial work. When asked about his favorite part, he says, "It all goes back to estimating. Building a project on paper before the first yard of concrete or the first spade of dirt is turned - being able to put this together in three weeks and know how much it's going to cost, how long it's going to take... all before we even hit the job site. Plus, being pretty darn accurate about everything doesn't hurt either." ConstructionSuite helps Michael with all of these activities so the company can get a project done on time and on budget - one of his top priorities. "The most important thing to me is bringing a project in on time and on budget. ConstructionSuite helps us do that and it's what keeps business coming back," said Michael.
While ConstructionSuite has made M.A. August Construction Company's transition to Commercial Construction a lot quicker and easier, the software hasn't always been able to save him the time, money, and headaches as it does today. Having been in the industry for over 25 years, Michael August has previously used a wide array of construction software to help fulfill his needs. Michael said, "I used Timberline when it first came out but it was not user friendly, not flexible, not integrated, and had no specifications or proposal integration. It wasn't a suite where you could take an estimate and create a proposal." He has also used WinEst and Primavera, but neither fulfilled his business needs like UDA's ConstructionSuite does.
ConstructionOnline Improves Client Satisfaction
ConstructionOnline and its easy and free web accessibility and its seamless integration with ConstructionSuite is another integral part in saving M.A. August Construction Company time. Michael says, "ConstructionOnline has made it a lot easier for us... our Architects post drawings online and then we send invitations out to all of our potential subs. That simple step lets them all know it's time to apply and submit bids, really quickly." Michael uses ConstructionOnline as a plan room to assemble his team but that's not all.
ConstructionOnline helps M.A. August Construction improve their communication and keep their team, including the homeowners, connected at all times. Michael said, "By keeping our clients informed through ConstructionOnline, it gives them the peace of mind that their project is being handled properly. They can see that the contractor they've hired is professional, keeping them abreast of the progress and really, just keeping them in the loop."
"Before, there used to be this perception that the contractor and subs were on one team, and the owner and architect were on the opposite team. What we try to do is get the team connected, making the owner a part of it all," said Michael, "we're all on the same team, and by using ConstructionOnline, they can see their project from start to finish, including photos of the daily progress."
Michael also takes advantage of our family of mobile apps, particularly OnSite Photo for BlackBerry, to take and upload photos to ConstructionOnline while he's on the job site. These photos get instantly uploaded to ConstructionOnline for connected team members to view, share, and comment on. Sharing photos isn't the only thing users can do on ConstructionOnline - they can also use it to send announcements to their team members, share estimates, change orders, and schedules with their owner, and most importantly, use ConstructionOnline as a center point for all of their project communication needs.
With the time that ConstructionSuite and ConstructionOnline has saved M.A. August Construction Company, they've been spending that free time out in the field working on a multitude of projects, keeping them very busy. But the hotels he's been working on in the Florida area aren't the only way August has been staying busy. The company has been expanding to do work in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and recently in Alabama, having completed work on Calypso's Restaurant in Auburn, and a Studio 6 Hotel in Opelika. M.A. August was signed for those projects, yet again, due to word of mouth.
"We were most surprised by our recommendation to do the Calypso's restaurant because one of our Studio 6 subcontractors' actually suggested us to the Calypso owner. It's a rare occurrence that a subcontractor recommends you, especially since we are a contractor that came in from out of the area. I guess we proved our ability and made it a positive experience for him," said August, "the ConstructionSuite software helps us make it easy and organized for everyone involved and I think that's a big reason why our subcontractors had an extremely positive experience with that project."
Later this year, the company will begin working on an exciting project in the home of Auburn University and UDA Technologies Corporate Offices - Auburn, Alabama. While the project may be similar to others in that it's an entirely green Comfort Suites, what makes the project unique is that M.A. August Construction Company will be hosting and mentoring students from the College of Architecture, Design, and Construction at Auburn University through the duration of the project. Not only will the students get to experience the building process through its entirety, but they'll also get a thorough understanding of green construction and what many contractors reference as 'the way of the future.' August says, "We're really excited to give these students an opportunity to have hands on experience, especially with green building. I hope this is an experience that will shape and enhance their future."
Michael started his career in construction when living in Tampa, Florida, where someone in the industry desperately needed someone who could read blueprints and do takeoffs. Having his base education in Architecture, those things came easily to Michael and he quickly learned how much he enjoyed the industry. Now, after 25 years in the industry, and 7 years of owning his own company, Michael August is happy to see his company, M.A. August Construction just hitting its stride.