When it comes to a custom building or remodeling project schedule, six months should mean six months. However, the schedule has become the running punchline in many custom projects, falling out of sync due to a number of factors, leading to a six-month project schedule very seldom, if ever, staying on track.
The owners at Build with Prospect, www.buildwithprospect.com, Brooklyn, N.Y., are adamant about changing that stigma in their market. As a sustainable design-build firm, Build with Prospect is committed to designing and constructing homes that emphasize sustainability and ecologically sound principles.
Company President Carla Shannon, along with her husband Jeremy (who is the principle architect), put the company together with an emphasis on building on the idea of the “Passive House” which is a very well-insulated, virtually air-tight home heated primarily by passive solar gain and by internal gains from residents and electric equipment, among other things. The time and manpower that goes into retrofitting such a project requires very large crews often working tight schedules in order to complete the job. Therein lies the rub; how to stay true to the construction schedule while working on such dynamic and sophisticated retrofit projects.
Part of the solution comes with ensuring money is moving in a timely and efficient manner. “We want to honor the commitment of getting the job done in, say, six months,” says Shannon. “That means we run large crews, often of 20 or more people in the home at one time. That takes a lot of coordination, and also means (large sums) of money each month.”
As with most large retrofit jobs, clients would pay Build with Prospect either via check, which could often takes days to clear, or electronically using things like PayPal. While the latter method is most ideal of the two, what isn’t as ideal is the 3% charge that Build with Prospect would incur with every payment.
This all changed one day when Carla came across an offer from QuickBooks, www.quickbooks.com, Mountain View, Calif., for its IPN (Intuit PaymentNetwork) service. Offered as a secure, online service that allows small business owners to send invoices using a payment link, IPN was viewed by Shannon as a highly attractive alternative to the aforementioned methods.
“It syncs with QuickBooks (the company’s accounting system), and I create an invoice and it gets emailed to the client and then they click a button to pay,” says Shannon, noting that with the service they end up getting paid within two business days.
Businesses can sign up for an account via the IPN Website; then begin to request a payment for work or services by entering in a customer’s email and sending a pay link. Syncing with QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online allows the business to include a payment link on invoices, and the reconciliation with these systems saves time throughout the entire process.
Thus far Build with Prospect has used the service on two jobs and is starting up a third. Best of all, what was once a 3% charge to them using a service like PayPal is now down to a mere 50 cents per transaction. Shannon says she even offers customers a discount on invoices to customers that use this method rather than paying by check.
While a service like this alone won’t ensure the job gets done in six months, it certainly helps. The rest is up to the work crews. But that is the easy part.