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The Best Apps for Reducing Your Design-Build Firm's Costs

Firms are upping their game with killer apps, but what about your design-build firm? Is it running like a dinosaur? Like a beat up Geo? Like a Ford Pinto? Why do I keep thinking about cars? Like ... a slow thing that’s old and dusty? 

Your firm is probably using killer design software. I mean, your renderings are beautiful. But, why—why—is your company still using apps that belong at the old folks’ home to run your business?

At Fohlio, we love finding the latest software -- the good stuff that keeps business humming. In this series of blogs we focus on the business side of Architecture, Interior Design, and design-build firms. We’ll share some of our favorite apps and talk about how they can help your budding company.

Let’s talk about opportunity cost. Sure, you’re putting in a lot of work. But could your output be more effective? That’s tricky. The same hour spent one place or another can make a huge difference. How do you know the right call?

The software in Architecture and Interior Design offices have changed. A lot. I know people who’ve worked in offices that did still did some hand drafting, even. What. That amount of change is nuts.

And firms that keep up—or get ahead—of those changes just do better.

So, before diving into all our favorite software solutions, here’s some non-software advice.

Keep Your Design-Build Firm Small and Nimble

Keeping your firm small gives you that flexibility. Smaller firms can change their day-to-day operations faster. They can experiment. When new technology bubbles up, re-thinking how the entire office handles a project comes at a lower risk. Adopt a change, see it through, evaluate its effectiveness, and decide to adopt or abandon it. Rinse and repeat.

As long as you can, keep your office lean. If a change might help your firm work faster and more efficiently, jump on it. You’ll never find a client that complains about a shorter timeline.

Get the Right Information, Make the Right Call

On this front, the smallest firms just have it easier.

You even have a good sense of how much everything costs to do, in terms of both time and resources.

But, as you add more people, having that same clarity of vision is much harder. Some of it, you’ll never get back. Some of your vision might get better. Here are two apps that we think do a great job tracking time.

The Best Architecture and Interior Design Tools for Tracking Costs and Growing Your Firm

GetHarvest lets your team track their time from their laptop or on the go with their phone. GetHarvest makes it easy. You’ll have the data you need to budget and bill. Even better, no spreadsheets. GetHarvest analyses your data to help you make your next project even more efficient. And, they integrate with over 80 apps. Add GetHarvest and you won’t have to change your workflow.

Another great app is Toggl. Track hours with ease. Toggle will give you a visual report of how your team is spending its time and how profitable your projects are. You can share those reports with clients or with higher-ups and give better estimates of your timelines and progress. Just great stuff.

Each has a ton to offer. These tracking apps give you a better vision into your team’s output—for every piece of your project. In no time, making the right call will be second nature.

On top of that, both apps can handle your billing. How cool is that?

Life is just easier with the right app.

Speaking of: Cut the time you spend on the nitty gritty of ff&e specification. Mood boards. Quote requests from vendors. Product spreadsheets. Invoicing. Some very lovely companies make all this super easy. Shop around. You'll find the right one for you.

Hit like and comment below. What are some lessons from your experience? Do you have a different take on one of our ideas? Maybe a cool story?

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