15 ways you could save time running your building firmHow well do you spend your working day? You know, in a lifetime you spend literally years sleeping, eating and queuing, months and months checking junk emails, sitting at traffic lights, brushing your teeth… So what about making the rest of your precious time really count.

Construction companies are typically fully on. And if you’re the boss you could easily be involved in estimation, delivering quotes, design, planning permission, approvals, health and safety, trips to the merchants… But if you feel like you’re consistently wasting time then take a look at what productive people do well and what undoubtedly contributes to the success of ambitious building firms!

“Time flies but the good news is you’re the pilot” as someone cleverly put it. If you could save even 30 minutes a day, think of the goals you could achieve with a bit more time? Maybe…

  • Coming up with new marketing ideas
  • Updating your website
  • Improving your IT set-up with new software
  • Health & Safety training
  • Renewing equipment
  • Recruiting new staff and appraising current ones
  • Searching out new suppliers and merchants
  • Talking to sales reps
  • Visiting trade shows
  • Going to demos
  • Watching the odd webinar
  • Looking for new land
  • Reviewing your quantity surveyor, bank, accountant…
  1. Mark Twain said “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Do the least appetizing job first. You know the one you keep shuffling to the bottom of the pile. Get it done FIRST THING. And then you can go onto the good stuff.
  1. ‘Urgent’. Nightmare word. How much time do you spend putting out fires? Do those ‘urgent’ requests actually matter that much? Enough to keep putting off important jobs? Consider ignoring, yes ignoring, those ‘urgent’ cries for help. Or find a quick way of delegating them. In fact delegating is to be recommended full stop.
  1. ‘No’ on the other hand is a very effective word. Can you afford to give your time away that freely? Say no now and again. It’s not such a bad thing. It will actually improve your mood and make you more productive. Constantly saying yes can be more destructive.
  1. Turn your attention to one task. Multi-tasking is rarely a good thing in business. Focus on one thing and complete it. You’ll do it quicker and better.
  1. Group similar tasks and do them one after the other. You know how long it takes to get into the groove, so once you’re in it, stick with it and get it all done. You might find yourself killing two birds with one stone in the process.
  1. ‘The two-minute rule’. Obvious but clever. Handle two-minute tasks straight away. If you know it will take that short a time then do it immediately. Bang. In. Out. Done. It’s a waste of time and energy to add it to a list or have it in the back of your mind.
  1. Equally, don’t look at something and abandon it a few minutes later. As soon as something has your attention make a decision. And if it’s not a two-minute job, think about what’s required, decide on the next step or quickly delegate it. There’s that delegation word again…
  1. Ask more questions. Guessing is a great big fat waste of time. Trial and error won’t get you there faster. Employees, subbies, sales reps and customers will like you for it and you’ll save time. Win-win. And on the same theme – write it down. There’s nothing big, clever or quicker about trying to remember stuff.
  1. Pick up the phone – don’t email – there are some tasks that could be sorted in a fraction of the time with one or two phone calls.
  1. Stop jumping in and out of the van. Plan better and visit the merchants less. Get a list of all the materials for all your jobs onto paper and think logically about what you need where and when. And if that’s just not going to happen – get software that will do it for you.
  1. Stop doing things manually. There could be a number of tasks that you are currently doing by hand, with a calculator, on a note pad… that could become automated/completed by software. Spend a few hours now on your software – or find an entirely new programme such as estimation software, CAD design software or health and safety software – and save days and weeks in the long term. Honest. We should know! You can even synchronise data across programmes so you only input it once – well you can with HBXL Building Software!
  1. Shut the door and go into hiding. This will help with point 11. Even if it’s just for an hour. Say no calls, no knocks on the door, no email checking. Head down, undistracted and get the job done.
  1. Just do it! Let’s face it, decision-making really doesn’t have to be a long drawn process. Don’t overthink it. Share it with someone else. Say it out loud. Can the business afford it? Is it a worthwhile investment? Would the business benefit? Yes? Go for it.
  1. Plan ahead. Take a few minutes at the end of the day to prepare for the next one. It confirms what you’ve done that day and makes sure you have a productive tomorrow. And that includes clearing your desk. How much time do you waste looking for things?
  1. And finally – whilst all of the pointers here have been office/admin orientated, there are probably another 15 again for the construction side as well. Just for starters – choose your labourers and trades people well – it will save you time all ways round.

And if you only pick up on one point here, it’s a start. Busy isn’t always a good thing, it could be masking a few short-comings. It’s all about time management, whether you’re a house-builder, doing loft conversions, renovations or extensions.

And if we can offer any advice on using the right software tools to increase your productivity, such as HBXL’s EstimatorXpress 2017 for speedy estimating, take-offs and quoting, then give us a call on 0117 916 7898 or email sales@hbxl.co.uk - we’ve got the time if you have!

10 goals to success in 2017It’s very easy to write January off when the weather lets you down, customers too - and the odd subbie. It’s dark, wet and there’s no money around… But all is not lost, far from it – the quieter period presents a great opportunity to review your business and decide how to take it forward. So we’ve listed here 10 goals to construction success in 2017 to set you on your way.

 Construction success in 2017 Estimating Software Review your business direction - Starting with the biggie! What projects do you want and like to take on. Consider the 80/20 rule – could you concentrate on the 20 percent of the work that generates 80 percent of your revenue? And say no to the less profitable work? Do you want to diversify? What about Design & Build ? Walking is a good activity for clearing your mind and thinking afresh. Yes even builders can take an afternoon walk! Then break down your big ideas into daily, weekly or monthly actionable goals that you can measure.
Construction success in 2017 Construction Software Improve your bottom line - This usually involves 1) Raising your rates 2) Doing more work 3) Reducing your expenses. Look at the figures for last year and see how you could trim some overheads. Did your profit margins drop unnecessarily? Do you keep reducing your profit margin because of oversights? Find the leaks in your bucket.
Construction success in 2017 Building Software Stop being busy and be more productive - Busy isn’t necessarily productive. ‘What’s the point of spending your days climbing a mountain, only to realise at the end of this new year, you’ve climbed the wrong one?’ (Quote courtesy of Robin Sharma, leadership expert). Do you enter the same data into multiple documents? Put systems in place that will streamline various processes.
Construction success in 2017 Plans Software Learn to delegate - Have a good long look at your role. Do you really have to do it all? Perhaps it’s time to stop being pulled in different directions and concentrate on the bigger issues. Make a list identifying the things that someone else could do. Estimating? Speaking to suppliers? Booking subbies?
Construction success in 2017 CAD Software Review your approach to health and safety - How confident are you that you have a handle on health and safety? Are your employees and the public properly protected? Do you know what the HSE expect from you – have you properly sussed out CDM 2015? How about putting some time in the diary to gen up on it, do an online health and safety course and get others onto it as well.
Construction success in 2017 health and safety Software Review your customer service - Remember the customers pay the bills. If you want good reviews, if you want them to recommend you then make sure they stay happy. A single A4 sheet with your expectations of your employees and subbies will make sure everyone knows the policy. What about giving customers the opportunity to feedback at the end of a job – you could come up with a short questionnaire? At least make sure to ask them to give you a review.
100x-7 Research cloud computing - If you’re not already using Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive or another cloud storage application, then consider the benefits they could bring you. Saving and accessing files such as estimates in the cloud are really easy, and using cloud over physical file storage can save money as well. And of course you can be anywhere and still access your files remotely. But possibly most important of all is backing up - a must if you don’t want to lose something important following a systems failure or malfunction.
100x-8 Promote your business better - It needn’t be anything grand. What about updating your website (you have got one haven’t you?)? How out of date are the projects on there? What about a Facebook page? Perhaps it’s time for new livery for the vehicles, new polo shirts, some better signs? Sponsor a team or event. Whatever, put together a list, add some time frames and make them happen. And why not book in a bit of marketing training on this – some short courses are available to do from home or office.
100x-9 Become a tiny little bit of a geek - You don’t have to know your Bytes from your RAM but technology really will help you work more effectively, which means faster computers and clever software. Make a point of keeping up with new and changing technology that would impact you directly. Don’t just think about power drills and the latest plasterboard. What IT could you invest in to make your business run more smoothly?
100x-10 Commit to new learning - Your business has to stay safe and compliant. Put some remote online health and safety training on the calendar. And why not think about learning a new skill. Find out about software for designing your own extensions and loft conversions for instance.

Want more advice on construction success?

We hope our 10 goals to construction success in 2017 proves helpful. If you would like any more advice on streamlining your processes, tightening up on admin and improving your profit margins, give one of the team here at HBXL a call on 0117 916 7898. Our suite of software is aimed exclusively at the builder and developer and was founded by a builder who knows only too well about the pressures of running a successful business. Have a great 2017!

how to improve construction productivityDo you ever feel like you’re wasting time? Even if you’re meeting your targets, do you wonder whether there is a better way? Thousands of building firms have found a way to spend less time estimating, win more work, stick to deadlines and budget and all with considerably less effort. How? By embracing a software solution. Read on to discover how HBXL’s Productivity Bundle could help your building firm improve construction productivity and return a higher profit.

Building software to manage every stage of your project efficiently

All HBXL products are integrated for a complete end-to-end experience and designed with ease of use in mind. Start with plans and share the information across the range to produce everything you need to run a project from start to finish effectively. Let us take you through the steps.

One, draft an architect quality building plan effortlessly in PlansXpress using simple drag and drop tools. No CAD knowledge needed! (Or if you have been given plans from your client, simply scan and trace them to make alterations and capture essential construction information such as dimensions and specification).

Two, using these details imported directly into EstimatorXpress, the software does an almost instant take-off of the plan, producing a 100% accurate estimate of your build costs as well as many handy documents to help you run your project more efficiently and impress your customer. Including Gantt chart, schedules of works (JIT labour, plant and materials), cashflow forecasts, stage payments and a customer quote – all produced automatically off the back of your estimate. Just print!

Three, import your estimate into Health & Safety Xpert and it will use your job specifications to automatically generate all the required health and safety documents you need including Risk Assessments, Construction Phase Plans, site checklists and audits to ensure that you meet required HSE compliance including CDM 2015 and CHAS.

Four, import your estimate into ContractsXpert and it will use your estimate details to directly prepare a watertight customer building contract and ensure you meet Doorstep Selling regulations, as well as properly contracting with your subcontractors.

Five, use ProjectXpert to ensure you run the most productive construction project possible. Plus, manage multiple, simultaneous jobs and keep track of how your whole year is panning out at any point, not just at the end! If you’re thinking you don’t normally have more than one job at once, then you really need to try the software. You don’t know what you’re missing out on!

Too much to talk about!

The Productivity Bundle has so many features that will help you run a more effective, efficient and ultimately profitable business that there is no way we could fit it all in this short article so give us a call on 0117 9167898 to see what it can do for your business.

Latest construction software developments

At HBXL we are committed to regular development to make sure our users have the best and latest construction software on the market. Read on to find out what our latest construction software developments are and when you can get your hands on them…

EstimatorXpress Spring update

To most, it will only feel like the beginning of the year but at HBXL we are already working on an update for our recent EstimatorXpress 2017 launch! The new improvements come from our Business Support Manager working in tandem with a long time user and supporter of HBXL, Lee Goodwin of Oakleafe Property Services. Lee focuses mostly on renovations and insurance work (at quite a scale of operation) so is the perfect building firm to work with on enhancements to this area of EstimatorXpress .

We think that listening to our users’ suggestions and ideas is an essential part of our development process and we are sure this plays a huge part in why our software is so well received by builders, developers and judging panels alike. Below I have outlined the first wave of improvements stemming from our work with Lee and there’s more to come!

Internal property protection workbooks

These are all about calculating the costs of safeguarding the existing property whilst internal works take place. For example, zip walls and floor protection to prevent dust and dirt of the site and materials from damaging the existing property the builder is working in.

Replacement floor covering workbooks

We have all new replacement floor covering workbooks including assorted new ceramic tile, porcelain tile and stone floor systems as well as engineered wood flooring and floating floors.

ProjectXpert Spring update

Following on from the success of the ribbon feature addition into EstimatorXpress and PlansXpress, we have added a new ribbon feature to ProjectXpert! This new feature allows for easier and faster navigation as well as the improved benefit of a similar user experience across the software range.

Health & Safety Xpert update

Coming soon to Health & Safety Xpert is a new record for Hand Arm Vibration exposure (HAVS). This addition is to work in collaboration with our recent Hand Arm Vibration Risk Assessment that was part of our latest health and safety software update. The new form helps builders and developers keep track of the time spent using hand held power tools to help them ensure that no staff exceed the daily limit as noted in the RA.

As usual all Health & Safety Xpert updates come with a general review of all the regulations to make sure all our builders are following the most recent requirements.

Keep up to date or get left behind!

At HBXL we firmly believe that if you aren’t up to date then you’re behind. Whether this is in relation to software developments or staying on top of latest regulation changes, the costs of falling behind can be severe. Give us a call on 0117 9167892 to make sure you’re software is up to date.

Run a more productive construction site by combining software

You may already be benefiting from EstimatorXpress so you probably already know the time, money and effort saving possibilities of embracing a software solution. BUT, the real clever stuff begins when you combine HBXL software products. Read on to find out why and give us a call to discuss our December deals

Beyond award winning estimating software

EstimatorXpress as a standalone product is still something to be valued as suggested by the number of estimating software awards it has picked up this year alone. This being said, the benefit of using software to prepare and manage your construction projects extends beyond estimating.

Our building software helps with every stage of the building process, enabling efficiency savings which in turn improves your profitability. It’s an essential toolkit for anyone wanting to run a more productive construction site. As Aristotle said “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” and the same can be said for our software range. So extend your suite and start seeing the bigger benefits.

Integrated software from end-to-end

All HBXL products are fully integrated for a complete end-to-end experience to reduce the amount of time and effort required by you. If you are already using more than one of our products, you’ll know how easy it is to share information between the programs so that you don’t have to enter details more than once. If you have been using EstimatorXpress on its own, you’ll be amazed what the software range can do with almost no extra effort! PLUS, because all the information is shared across the package, you can be sure that everything matches up to reduce errors and omissions.

run a more productive construction site by combining softwareStarting with PlansXpress, simple drag and drop tools will help you draft architect quality plans, 2D elevations and 3D models. (Or if you have been given plans from your client, simply scan and trace them to make alterations and capture essential construction information such as dimensions and specification).

Then, for an almost instant quote, import your building plan into EstimatorXpress to get a
complete cost break down of the project. Now that’s efficiency savings – save on architect and QS fees and your time.

Next, import your estimate into Health & Safety Xpert and it will use your job specifications to automatically generate all hethe required health and safety documents you need including Risk Assessments, Construction Phase Plans, site checklists and audits to ensure that you meet required HSE compliance including CDM 2015 and CHAS. There are whole host of site management documents integrated construction software for productive building siteautomatically produced – all the quicker still for using Health & Safety Xpert in conjunction with EstimatorXpress.

Afterward, import your EstimatorXpress estimate into ContractsXpert and it will use your estimate details to directly prepare a watertight customer building contract and ensure you meet Doorstep Selling regulations, as well as properly contracting with your subcontractors. So much better than clients defaulting on payment and causing you cashflow issues, and subcontractors walking off site when a better offer comes along.

Five, use ProjectXpert to ensure you run the most productive construction project possible. Simply import one or multiple jobs from EstimatorXpress to manage single or multiple, simultaneous jobs and keep track of how your whole week, month or year is panning out at any point, not just at the end! If you’re thinking you don’t normally have more than one job at once, then you really need to try the software to see how it improves the management of the individual projects you have on the go. You don’t know what you’re missing out on! (The import is worth focusing on as not only does it bring across your build program, but also your resources and costings…this means you can manage planned build program versus actual, resource allocation and costs versus actual too…

To sum it up…

    • Win more business by offering a ‘design & build’ service that makes you stand out (only 14% of UK building firms currently offer this service).
    • Encourage customer confidence and repeat business with professional contracts and health and safety documents.
    • Return a higher profit on every job and manage your time more efficiently
    • And save yourself a huge amount of time and stress…

Add to your software with existing user discounts!

HBXL reward our existing customers too… we offer exclusive user discounts for anyone who already owns any of our software range. Give us a call on 0117 9167898 to discuss your own deal today!

The latest construction software guaranteed by regular developmentHBXL have had a great 2016 filled with regular construction software updates and a whole heap of awards for our estimating software – EstimatorXpress, our company as a whole and our fantastic support team. Read on to be reminded of all the improvements we’ve made to our range of market leading construction software products for builders and developers so you can check if you are bang up to date with the latest features and regulations.

EstimatorXpress– The best estimating software 2016.

construction softwareWinner of three awards in 2016, EstimatorXpress has just undergone a major transformation to EstimatorXpress 2017 as well as two previous, updates to the 2015 version. You certainly get your money’s worth with a year’s Support & Updates!

EstimatorXpress 2017 comes with new estimating ribbon navigation and a new ‘quick start’ estimating wizard , which remembers your preferences on how you work. This dramatically speeds up the time it takes to get an estimate and also furthers the benefits of the Spring and Summer updates including a whole host of new features such as new drainage and sewage workbooks, improved integration with Health & Safety Xpert, new mini specs for guttering and “no decoration”, updated PlansXpress integration of the Notes Wizard in partnership with Assure Building Control, new build phases for internal renovation and improvements to existing Workbooks.

For existing users of EstimatorXpress 2015, all these updates plus access to our very helpful support team 9-5, Monday to Friday is just £179+VAT. Absolute bargain, I’m sure you’ll agree! Make sure your Support & Updates are in place here. Head’s up…there are LOADS of new EstimatorXpress features and Workbooks planned for launch in 2017. Watch this space.

PlansXpress – Straightforward CAD software for builders and developers.

CAD construction softwareOur fully integrated construction software range starts with PlansXpress, the easy building plans software which has again had some major improvements this year with the release of a PlansXpress spring update.

This huge development took four people around 300 hours or eight man weeks to produce. Included in this major development was an update building regs as part of our partnership with Assure Building Control and improved connectivity with the EstimatorXpress Notes Wizard to intelligently analyse the drawing and identify the relevant Building Regulation clauses required to pass building regulation plans inspection, often reducing the process to a single mouse click! Find out more here

Health & Safety Xperthealth and safety construction software – Ensure CDM 2015 compliance painlessly.

Our construction health and safety software has had two significant developments this year seeing the release of Health & Safety Xpert 2016 and our autumn update just recently. These both included a health and safety regulations review to ensure the software is up to date with all the latest changes in legislation. As part of this we developed 91 additional COSHH Assessments, 15 new or updated Risk Assessments and a new Simple Construction Phase Plan to address the requirement for a CPP for jobs of any size. This helps gets boots on the ground quicker, helps your company avoid unwanted attention from the HSE and work towards a safer construction industry. To find out more about the latest additions to Health & Safety Xpertread the full article.

ContractsXpert – Protect your business and assure your client.building contracts construction software

Back in January we released ContractsXpert 2016 which has been completely revamped and was written (and updated) in conjunction with a leading construction lawyer to ensure all our contracts are watertight yet straightforward so that both customer and builder are on the same page. Payment is made simple and it is easy to make alterations to match changes in the work. All documentation required for Door Step Selling compliance is produced within minutes requiring minimal effort. For more information please read the full article.

Ongoing commitment to research and development ensures best construction software.

We think you’ll agree that we’ve had a busy year and in our eyes it’s all made worth it when you hear back from happy, successful users and receive such great awards. At HBXL we attribute this success to our ongoing commitment to research and development of all our construction software. We reinvest 25% of our turnover back into product development to make sure our users get the most out of their Support & Updates. In order to benefit from all the investment and work we do, AND to be able to use our award winning Support Team, make sure you keep your Support & Updates in place here.