"With today's technology you can get a cell phone card that pops into your laptop and allows you to access the internet anywhere you could use a cell phone," Shah explains. "You get speeds up to four times faster than that of traditional dialup. Dialup connections also work with the program, but it is better to disable the color palette feature in order to reduce the time needed for loading pages.
Countertop Pro has provisions for creating both retail and wholesale quotes. Dealer customers may also utilize the system at their own locations to produce quotes for their retail customers using the fabricator's numbers. When the dealer logs on to the system he would only see the pricing structure set up for his company.
The program also includes the functions of project management and scheduling. Rate of sales reports based on product groups are also available. Shah says that the company is also currently working on an inventory management module.
Countertop Pro is intuitive and easy to understand, even for a new user. Not so with the company name. "What does NoWag stand for?," we finally asked company president Tim Hmelar.
"No Wild Ass Guessing," came the reply.
For fabricator Mark Wemett the major challenge was how to get specific reports on the efficiency of his sales force, information on which quotes were still open, whether or not the company was holding profit margins and how to spot emerging trends in his market. Unable to find satisfaction with his then current estimating and management program, Wemett turned to software developer Bill Moffitt for help.
"We were approached last year by Mark, who apparently was not real happy with some of the offerings available," says Moffitt, whose company, Fab-Trak, Inc. develops management tools directed to fabricators. "At that time we had not done anything with the countertop industry, but as we started to develop this program we saw there was tremendous opportunity."
SurfaceSoft is a completely portable estimating and management software program that is available in three versions:
• The Standard Edition offers colorful retail quotes, including color swatches, and edge and sink images; multi-material wholesale quotes; a drawing module; management reports, including an open-quotes report for follow-up; and a set-up procedure that does not require fabricators to reveal their pricing information to third parties.
• The Deluxe Edition includes all of the above, plus order entry and scheduling modules.