Many of our Planswift plugin customers are lumber yards. Increasingly, lumber suppliers are being tasked with performing the material takeoff for the projects that they are supplying. There are some common considerations when setting up Planswift for lumber yards that apply to most of them that I'll cover in this article.
First, most building supply companies that are looking to be able to perform accurate takeoffs for their customer's projects mostly provide material for the same trade groups, and need their system within Planswift to be able to accommodate all of them. These are typically misc. foundation materials, framing lumber, drywall, insulation, siding, roofing & millworks. The Planswift assemblies for these trade groups also need to be designed to work together to avoid requiring duplicate takeoffs in order to capture all required materials. Our Lumber Yard plugin assemblies are designed so that you can do takeoff with one assembly and then drag-and-drop another trade group to that takeoff. For example, you could do a wall takeoff with the wall framing assembly and then drag-and-drop insulation & drywall to it. Learn more about our Lumber Yard Plugin here.
Lumber Yards also need to generate reports that are not only accurate but also organized to fit their needs. For example, our plugin includes a report that organizes materials by groups that are determined by the user. The groups can be set up by location, i.e. basement walls, 1st level floor, 1st level walls, etc. They could also be set up by how the job site deliveries will be made. This report also includes a description column that tells the use for each material item, i.e. wall studs, bottom plates, top plates, headers, etc. It also works well for the customer when used in the field to determine material usage. The plugin also includes a consolidated report that combines all like material items into 1 list for the entire project which is ideal to use for pricing or inputting into a point of sale system.
Another commonality that we have found is that the system needs to be fast and easy to use. Many lumber yards that we talk to are overwhelmed with the number of projects that they have waiting for takeoffs to be done. It's essential that their Planswift system is as efficient and easy to learn and use as possible. A system with virtually no learning curve ensures that it can be implemented successfully across multiple users within a company. Some building supply companies have dedicated estimators on staff that can focus their full attention on learning and using estimating software, while others require sales personnel to also handle the task of providing takeoffs for their projects. Either way, keeping the system as simple and consistent as possible is the key to successful implementation.
Once the Planswift system is implemented and the user's are up to speed and have made some customizations to fit their companies needs, the next question is usually "is it possible to integrate the output from Planswift with our point of sale system to eliminate manual entry?" For most the goal is to be able to perform the takeoff in Planswift and print it to a spreadsheet or file, then import directly into the POS software. The answer is, it most definitely can be done. It's usually a matter of figuring out the specific requirements of the point of sale software and some custom development work on the Planswift side to configure the integration. This could include re-working assemblies to allow connection to a database and/or the development of a custom report layout that will print as a spreadsheet that is configured to fit the requirements for importing into the POS system. We've made this integration process much easier with the release of our DBLive plugin for Planswift which creates a live connection between an Excel, Access or virtually any other database file and the takeoff items properties in Planswift.
There's no question that in order for most lumber yards to keep up with the volume of takeoffs that they are tasked with, they need to be using fast and efficient estimating software. Although it's an initial investment of time & money, the payoff will come quickly! If you have any questions, we are always happy to talk about your specific Planswift needs. Learn more about our approach to developing Planswift plugins at our About page.