Shelter Solutions LLC
Increasing project volume with the help of Onsite Consulting showed them more was possible – lots more
Shelter Solutions LLC was using Buildertrend to its max. Or, so they thought. As a customer of the leading construction project management software since 2015, they were seeing true results – but wanted to get even more from Buildertrend. Onsite Consulting showed them how adapting new features leads to new time savings and new business.
The foremost ADU design/build firm in the greater Portland area
Mother-in-law apartments. Garage apartments. Guest homes. Whatever you want to call them, Accessory Dwelling Units are simply small houses built on a lot with an existing single-family home. And nobody makes them better than Shelter Solutions LLC. The construction company pioneered the building of ADUs in the Portland, Ore. area back in 1998. To date, they’ve completed more than any other business in the country – 169 ADUs and counting!
Owner Joe Robertson and his team don’t stop there. A recipient of the Best of Houzz Service Award every year since 2013, Shelter Solutions LLC specializes in a variety of custom-building projects. This includes hundreds of homes as well as accessory buildings like a pottery studio, day spa and more.
Getting more done with less
With just four employees and two independent contractors, Shelter Solutions LLC is a little team that gets a lot done. That’s just the way they like it. However, as ADUs have grown in popularity in recent years, the potential to skyrocket business was there but Joe wanted to keep his staff lean. So, they needed a way to do more with less.
“I wanted to get more efficient from a work standpoint but also from a profit standpoint,” Joe said. “Buildertrend has really let us do that. I’ve been in business for 45 years, and I’ve used pretty much every software – Microsoft, Excel, three or four different accounting programs. But they’re all fragmented. I needed a system that does it all and everyone can understand.”
Before choosing Buildertrend, Shelter Solutions LLC demoed a few other solutions, but it was quickly apparent who was the winner.
“I hired a guy part time to shop different construction management systems, and he made the comment after we choose Buildertrend and began to learn it, ‘It won’t be long until we wonder how we ever did without this’,” Joe said. “He wasn’t wrong.”
To achieve more ease and efficiency, Shelter Solutions LLC started with the Scheduling tool. Joe said they were able to quickly get off the ground as it was familiar to Microsoft Project – but smarter, faster and all around better. Unlike their previous scheduling program, Buildertrend’s feature allows Shelter Solutions LLC to tie billing and invoicing to schedule items.
Scheduling templates have also been a huge benefit for the Portland builder. They don’t have to start from scratch with every new project. In a few clicks, everything is imported and ready to go.
“It’s all so easy to teach, too. I’m 66-years-old, so that’s a big thing,” Joe said.
Selections is another feature favorite for the Shelter Solutions LLC team as ADUs can come basic or as elaborate as any custom home. Before Buildertrend, customers were independently going out and making design choices. It was an organization nightmare to keep track of it all.
“Selections was always a big thorn in my side,” Joe said. “With changing minds and the endless back and forth, keeping it all in Buildertrend has helped immensely. Our selections coordinator can now easily walk customers through their options in the system.”
Buildertrend was already changing the game for Shelter Solutions LLC, but it was time to get even more efficient. That’s when the company decided to take it a step further in September 2019 with Onsite Consulting.
Onsite Consulting to better bank on estimating
Unlimited training is already included for every Buildertrend customer, but Onsite Consulting allows users to really dig deep. It’s training tailored to their needs on their turf. And that’s just what Shelter Solutions LLC got. Our team visited Joe and his crew in Portland for two days of further education that focuses on their specific goals.
For Shelter Solutions, one of those goals meant using Buildertrend as construction estimating software and not just project management. Our consultants helped Joe’s entire team better understand the full suite of financial tools and provided an action plan for further success.
“I knew I could flounder around for months, so I wanted them to come and expose my team to all the modules,” Joe said. “I am hooked on Estimating now. It’s such a slick program. The bids come in, you click on them and they get included in an estimate just like that.”
Not only does this process ensure financial accuracy, it has helped Shelter Solution’s goal of growing the business.
“Customers are really impressed with what Estimating allows,” Joe said. “I can show them the whole breakdown of a job, and they are blown away with the detail of it. It helps me sell more jobs because a lot of other builders just give a vague lump sum.”
20% more business achieved
Since adapting Buildertrend, Shelter Solutions LLC has been able to keep up with the increasingly high demand of ADUs, resulting in an estimated 20% business growth. In the past two years alone, Shelter Solutions LLC has built around 16-18 ADUs each year.
With the added help of Onsite Consulting, Shelter Solutions LLC mastered Buildertrend’s financial features too, resulting in more team efficiencies and giving back time to complete more projects.
“Onsite Consulting gave my team the chance to learn from someone who knows Buildertrend inside and out. It’s all these little tricks that make a big impact,” Joe said. “To sit there and learn a new estimating system or other related modules without their help would have taken me forever.”
Now, they approximate the total time Buildertrend saves Shelter Solutions LLC is upwards of 40 hours per week.
“The key thing is Buildertrend handles what one full-time person would normally do … maybe two,” Joe said. “It’s the magic formula: Buildertrend decreases overhead and increases production.”
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