Designing your next home from scratch is a dream for many people. Being able to customize the look, layout, and materials that go into making a house truly unique and suited to the lifestyle of its inhabitants can be an incredibly rewarding experience.
But, as Donny Wyatt discovered back in 2004 when he and his wife decided to hire a custom home builder, it’s a process that can also quickly turn into a horrific ordeal.
While the Wyatts’ experience suffered because of disastrous project management, Donny was inspired. In 2005 he founded CoConstruct—a construction software provider that would simplify and streamline the entire process for custom home buyers like him.
“From the founding of CoConstruct, there has been a strong focus on making a great home building experience for the end clients,” says Kevin Fitzpatrick, Director of Revenue Operations for CoConstruct.
But that business concept quickly expanded to include custom home builders and remodelers, as well as and their team members and contractors, he says.
“As our founder got deeper into the project and got connected with more builders and spoke with them in greater detail, he realized there were also a lot of problems on their end that could be solved. The idea bloomed from there.”
Building a SaaS that solves the problem
A decade and a half later, CoConstruct has grown into a thriving SaaS business that employs 130 people and serves more than 100,000 building professionals.
As one of the highest rated custom builder and remodeler software on the market, CoConstruct solves countless industry challenges, including:
- streamlining construction estimating with single-entry spreadsheets
- fostering seamless and focused communication to keep everyone in the loop
- tracking jobsite progress from anywhere
- integrating financial details with builders’ accounting software, and
- managing and documenting client selections and project scope of work.
And that’s just the beginning.
Ultimately, CoConstruct helps create an effective and highly organized end-to-end project management solution for a better custom-build experience.
An inflexible catalog and a leaky taxation process
Fitzpatrick started working at CoConstruct back in 2013, and through his entire term with the business he and his team members had been using an ecommerce feature in their CRM software to bill the business’s subscription customers.
While this solution worked well for a while, as time went on and the business scaled, the team began running into daily limitations with the CRM software’s capabilities.
CoConstruct has variable components to its own software, and it was adding new packages and pricing options to meet the needs of its hundreds of subscribers at the time. In addition to that, its growing base of subscribers was also putting higher numbers of projects through the software, which led the business to add various tiers to each of its packages.
Ultimately, CoConstruct’s old billing process couldn’t support the business’s growing need to add multiple subscription products or to create multiple subscriptions for individual customers. The system it used lacked catalog flexibility, which caused some pain points for the business’s team members.
And in June 2018, the business was presented with a further challenge. The United States Supreme Court made a ruling in South Dakota vs. Wayfair that impacted taxation for remote-selling businesses like CoConstruct.
We suddenly had a lot more tax liabilities in terms of collecting and remitting taxes for our customer base,” says Fitzpatrick. “And that is not something our CRM was able to solve.”
While the CRM software did offer a way to apply taxes, it was incredibly complicated, required a lot of manual effort, and it always had the risk of human error. The CoConstruct team quickly realized there was no way to apply a single sales tax across an entire state because of the many tax differences at the local and county level.
It was a mess, says Fitzpatrick. The business was leaking thousands of dollars a year because it wasn’t collecting enough tax from its customers and it was having to cover the difference.
“With our previous system, we had so many manual processes built up around trying to minimize our tax leakage and make sure we were collecting the right amounts. But as a result, we were having to manually bill customers in some states. The number of customers we had made this problematic, and we were even talking about devoting a head count to it.”
In 2019, CoConstruct made the decision to implement a better recurring billing solution that would satisfy its needs as it continued to scale. And by December that year, it was migrating all its customers’ subscriptions over to Stax Bill.
Flexible, automated billing, and collections without the revenue leakage
Just one month later, CoConstruct was up and running all its subscription billing through the Stax Bill platform.
While the business had explored other billing platform providers during its initial search, it landed on Stax Bill because of its intuitive, user-friendly functionality.
“I got in and could immediately figure out what needed to go where and how to go about it,” says Fitzpatrick. “Not that we didn’t have questions, but it was a lot easier to get our feet up and running.”
Fitzpatrick also appreciated the flexibility in the implementation process, which enabled him to set up the system how he needed without a lot of manual effort or needing to write API calls to configure everything.
CoConstruct now has the catalog flexibility to create and evolve its subscription packages and pricing options to satisfy the growing demands of its customer base—even during unprecedented times.
“In the height of COVID-19 shutdowns across the world, our being able to extend overdue grace periods and offer temporary discount options has been very important in helping us stay flexible and sensitive to our customers’ needs,” says Fitzpatrick.
“In fact, one of our most popular plan options is now a “Ramp” plan that offers a heavily discounted rate for the first couple of months of onboarding. It’s a discount arrangement that was born during the pandemic and which would have been a lot harder for us to manage before Stax Bill without manual adjustments and diverting customer support resources away from more meaningful ways of helping our customers.”
CoConstruct is also able to seamlessly transition customers between packages as needed. It can do this without skipping a beat in terms of accurate invoicing and payment thanks to the adaptive catalog functionality and automated proration feature of its new billing software.
“It definitely helps with customer satisfaction and making sure we’ve got that transparency with our invoicing,” says Fitzpatrick.
A few additional benefits of transitioning to Stax Bill have been:
- the ability to offer ACH payment as an option for its U.S. customers
- the automation of customer credit card expiry reminders, collection re-attempts, and overdue payment reminder emails—a significant enhancement to its previous dunning management process
- the ability for customers to easily access historic invoices through their self-service portals without requiring special assistance from the CoConstruct team
- and finally, the taxation problem? Thanks to Stax Bill’s integration with Avalara, CoConstruct has been able to completely automate the process.
“Our team has even come across a couple of things they’ve flagged, like, ‘oh, it looks like this was taxed wrong’”, says Fitzpatrick. “But then you dig into it and it was more like, ‘oh, the customer is actually in Chicago, even though they put a different zip code’. Avalara, along with Stax Bill, was smart enough to make sure we had the right address.”
Between taxation and collections processes, the business is now saving about $2,000 a month and 10 hours a week with Stax Bill.
Hands-off recurring billing for more hand-on customer-focused innovation
CoConstruct continues to build upon its industry-leading home builder and remodeler software that’s now used by more than 5,000 residential construction firms in more than 25 countries around the world. And while the business continues to expand, its culture remains firmly rooted in the original vision set by founder Donny Wyatt long ago—a better building experience for home builders and remodelers, as well as their clients.
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“We have big plans over the next year to expand not only what our construction management software can do to make lives easier for our builders and remodelers, ” says Fitzpatrick, “but also to use our unique position in the industry to help independent construction firms better compete with national builders.”
Now that CoConstruct has an intuitive, automated billing process that streamlines bringing new products and services to its target market, the team spends less time on billing, taxation, and collections, and more time on getting its construction software into the hands of builders and remodelers who need it.