Off The Shelf Software vs. Custom Software Development
I recently sat down with Cameron Brown, co-founder of Einstein Moving Company
, to learn more about their software journey and what led them to Eureka Software. Einstein faced a question that many businesses face when their company starts to grow, ‘do I change my way of business to make an off the shelf software program work or do I build a custom software solution that will fit my business and allow us to scale efficiently?’
Einstein Moving decided it was well worth the investment in their business to have a solution that not only worked for their current process but would allow them to scale as well. Einstein partnered with Eureka
to build a scalable, cloud-based scheduling and CRM software system that would automate their business processes and allow the company to grow.
Tell me about starting your business.
We started Einstein Moving in January of 2012 with just Paul Morin and myself, and have now grown to nearly 50 employees.
It took us about a year and a half to grow from 1 truck to 3 trucks. Over the last 2½ years we’ve added an additional 10 trucks. In the last year alone, we have grown over 50%. We’re planning to continue this growth, if not exceed it, once we expand into other targeted cities.
What software system(s) did you have in place when starting your company?
Initially, we pieced together different solutions. There weren’t a lot of options out there for us in terms of off the shelf software- the available out of the box options were not a fit with the way we wanted to do business.
We had canned emails set up in Gmail and booked everything through Google calendar. When a customer would call to book, we would have to take the quote form, populate the email with the information from the quote form and then call them. We would give them the quote and then would have to copy and paste the customer information into each individual calendar event that was created on the Google calendar. Each client booking took an average of 10 minutes or more.
How did your software needs change as your business grew?
We got to a point where we’d grown so much, across multiple locations, that our manual and time intensive methods were not sustainable. The more trucks that we added, the more time each booking took.
We knew that we would HAVE to find an alternative solution. Plus, there was a lot of information that we wanted to gather; things that we wanted to do that WEREN’T possible with our manual system.
What was your big “Aha” moment that lead you to search for a new solution?
Before we started setting up each calendar event separately, which took a lot of man-hours to manually create, we had to learn a hard lesson. One day, when editing 1 single move, I accidentally selected “change all events” which deleted ALL of our bookings and we had no way to look up to see what was deleted. We ended up finding the deleted information and I had to manually (re)enter each booking into the main calendar by hand.
How did you decide to invest in a custom software system?
We were initially scared of the idea of building a custom software system as well as the cost. We wanted to find a pre-made system that would fit our business model, but we were not willing to change the way we did business to fit the pre-made software that followed the traditional form of movers. The way we did business
was different than a traditional moving company and we wanted to keep it that way.
What was your criteria when selecting a custom software development company?
We wanted a custom solution made by a company that had both creative and technology / software development expertise. We had already worked with a branding team, marketing groups, and SEO companies, and found it very beneficial to work with companies that were local to Austin.
- We wanted to work with a company in Austin so we could meet them face-to-face. We didn’t want to offshore any work.
- We wanted a software development company that had created a similar scheduling and CRM software system and/or who had worked in a similar industry that solved an issue much like ours.
- We didn’t just want individual coders. We also didn’t want to work with a huge company and get lost in the mix. We wanted to work with a team of people that were dedicated to working on our project – with their specific roles and specialties.
Why did you choose Eureka Software to develop your custom software solution?
Eureka was better at explaining how the process would work and how we would be involved, than the other companies we met with. Before we signed on with Eureka, they included team members in our meeting who suggested immediate improvements and provided recommendations for different pages and functions. That kind of enthusiasm and spark was not present during meetings with other companies.
Eureka also helped educate us on what it meant to create custom software. They helped to remove the uncertainty in the process.
Describe your experience getting started with the Eureka Team
It was relatively seamless. It was nice to have face -to-face time and the opportunity to fully explain how we ran our business. Making sure that Eureka understood our rationale behind the business decisions that we made was a top priority and Eureka’s goal was not only to make sure they recreated what we did in an automated format without human error, but also to make it an improved process. They helped to eliminate redundancies to make sure it was as streamlined as possible. The best part was being able to see the results of the work in every sprint meeting.
I found that it was really nice to work with the Eureka team. I don’t know how else to describe it – it was simple and easy.
How did the custom software that Eureka built help you overcome your business challenges?
We are so excited that the software was built directly around our business which allows for increased efficiency and flexibility for our business growth. When we open new locations, such as Houston and Dallas – the training time to get ramped up on the software is minimal.
All the busy work is gone. The time it takes to book a job is 1/20th of the time it took before. Instead of having to manually enter the information in 3 different places, the quote information now comes in from our quote form automatically and populates the prospect’s information. It’s a process that, at a minimum, used to take 10 minutes, now can be done in 30 seconds without human error.
We can make business decisions a lot more easily because of the quick access to information we have now.
How specifically has this custom software helped you achieve your business goals?
Obviously, the number of hours of busy work that was eliminated has saved us tons of money in terms of the time the management team can spend elsewhere. Our response times have dramatically decreased — we can make sure that we can get a response out quickly when a quote request comes in. In terms of the competitive advantage, we believe that our software is better than anything that is on the market right now.
The main thing is, giving us the opportunity to build functionality on top of what we already have, and continue to widen the gap between Einstein and our competitors. With the On-demand culture that we are in right now, it is important to give someone what he or she wants quickly, without having to mess around with lots of extra details…that’s what we’re able to offer now.
Impact of custom software on your business
We are dramatically more efficient, we have far less human error and customer satisfaction is great! The previous amount of work required to have great customer satisfaction was far more than it is now to provide even better service and keep our customers satisfied.
I can tell you that we had NO way of keeping metrics with our old system. We had no way of knowing what our conversion rates were, because we couldn’t report on any metrics with the way we previously did things.
What is your favorite feature of your software?
I’m amazed at how easy it is to book a job. Previously, it was 15 different steps across multiple systems and tabs that we would have to do manually in our old systems. Now we are 5 clicks away from booking a job, and that’s IF we decided to quote out the whole thing. If it’s just someone calling in, than we are 3 clicks away from booking a job and having the system do everything for us. That’s so quick and so easy.
In terms of overall reduction of stress for the back office, there are far fewer things to worry about and that allows my employees to spend their time focusing on the customer and making their experience better.
What is the biggest reason you would recommend other businesses work with Eureka Software?
Eureka’s enthusiasm for the work is what brought me in and is what has kept me here. Eureka seems genuinely interested in my business. Eureka digs down into your business process to see and understand why you do certain things and the rationale behind it. That’s important because it has allowed them to create software that’s perfectly sustainable for us. They truly care about what they are doing and they are consistently engaged and committed to success.
Any Final thoughts on your experience with Eureka Software?
I have been consistently impressed by how they have been able to leverage their past experiences to come up with solutions to our problems. Even though our problems are unique they are able to say, ‘here is what we have done in the past and the situation was a bit different but, maybe, if we structured it this way…’.
For me, our old system caused me stress because I knew it could not scale. The satisfaction for me now is to know that it is no longer a problem. It can scale easily and quickly and I don’t have to worry about that part of my business anymore.