There's no question estimating software has made life immeasurably easier, more efficient and more profitable for wide-format print professionals everywhere.
But when it comes to choosing estimating software, every shop is different. Some want estimating functions and not a whole lot more, while others seek software solutions that can provide total shop management capabilities, from estimating to accounting, inventory control, sales tracking, production management, and marketing.
Cyrious Control software is the choice of Digitech Graphics Group, a Lakeland, FL shop specializing in wide-format products from trade show displays and graphics to vehicle wraps, wall murals, environmental graphics, and standard wide-format posters.
General manager Jay Boatright selected the software for its total shop management program. "We were looking to consolidate three software tools into one," he recalls of the decision reached 15 months ago. "The three were estimating and quoting, accounts payable and production management."
In addition to providing those capabilities, the software also aids Digitech in sales tracking and marketing. Boatright reports that until they began using the software, he and his colleagues didn't realize exactly how they would be able to use the data the software gathered. "Now we have a great wealth of data on our clients and potential clients, which we can use for more efficient marketing," he says.
Cyrious Control has helped Digitech in other ways as well. Before the shop began using the software, it took three months to get new salespeople up to speed on handling their own quotes. Today, that process has been compressed to about 30 days, because the software makes it easier to teach new sales staff how to quote.
Another key benefit has been greatly enhanced operational reporting, which has helped cut effort and money. "I can stay at my desk all day and still know what's going on in terms of sales, production and design and accounts receivable," Boatright says. "It has allowed us to keep track of our costs and cut down on waste drastically. It made us really examine our pricing, based on material usage and waste.
"[Cyrious Control was] hands down the best product we found for the money."
Also benefiting from Cyrious Control is SignTex Imaging, a shop that produces billboards, banners, and stadium graphics in the Houston suburb of Tombal, TX. General manager Terri Kline used Cyrious Control at FastSigns, her previous employer, and brought it over to SignTex in April 2008, two months before the shop began using it.
Currently, Cyrious Control is being used at SignTex Imaging only for estimating. But the shop is "now getting into the production terminals of the software," Kline says, and likely will begin using the product for bookkeeping and billing functions as well.
"I liked the ease of it," Kline notes of her decision to recommend Cyrious to her new employer at SignTex Imaging. "It covers everything. It asks all the right questions, so you don't forget to ask customers the questions you need to ask, and don't forget to enter the right information."
The previous software SignTex Imaging used was "terrible," Kline recalls. It lacked security features to prevent unauthorized users from tapping into the program and entering changes that no one could track. By contrast, Cyrious Control requires all users to have passwords to enter the software program. "It will log the activity if you withdraw or deposit money in its activity log, so activities can be checked later," Kline says.
The estimating function supplies a number of conveniences, she adds. Each of SignTex Imaging's customers is what she calls "price unique." The program will list the wholesale price of a product, then provide the unique markups for each customer.