CrewTracks: Three and a Half Years in the MCAA
A Member Story
CrewTracks joined the MCAA in September 2017. The three and half years that have followed can only be summarized with one number: 25.
Before I tell you what that number represents, I have a message for any of our competitors who might be reading this. If you make software that focuses on eliminating paperwork from job sites, don't join the MCAA. People here are resistant to change and will not be willing to adopt your solution. There is no need to continue reading. You may put down the magazine or close the website and go about your day. Thanks for stopping by.
Now that they're gone, I'll be honest about the number 25 and the MCAA. Our revenue last month was 25 times our revenue in September 2017. In the software world, we often hear influencers tout their ideas that will supposedly help you "10x your business." No offense to them, but I think 25x is better than 10x. And while we serve many industries, our membership in the MCAA has been a huge contributor to our growth.
MCAA Members Drive Innovation
MCAA members constantly try new strategies, share ideas, and help each other stay on the cutting edge. One of my favorite aspects of MCAA events is the contractor roundtables. In these sessions, we discuss issues and ideas related to the masonry industry. I have been genuinely impressed with both the frankness and the optimism expressed in these discussions. At CrewTracks, we have eight core values, and one of them is "We face challenges with optimism." I can list specific examples of MCAA members demonstrating this sentiment during contractor roundtables. We face very real challenges, and we don’t avoid that reality, but the future of masonry looks bright when we put our heads together.
Admittedly, I also love contractor roundtables because CrewTracks almost always comes up. We are honored to be part of many MCAA member companies’ daily operations. Our customers often recommend our product to others in need of improving communication between the field and the office. Brazos & Legacy Masonry were even kind enough to appear in a case study we often use for marketing purposes. You can see the interviews and the full 10-minute case study by googling "CrewTracks Brazos." (online readers click here)
In working with MCAA member companies, we have developed dozens of new features to serve the masonry industry. Our first MCAA member customer was B&D Associates, and a feature they championed is still referred to internally as "The B&D Feature."
Our #1 core value is "we innovate by combining vision with feedback," and we are proud of our track record in practicing that core value so far. Here are just a few of the features we’ve released in response to MCAA members’ needs.
The Optional Time Clock – Production is King
We learned immediately from B&D Associates that in masonry, production always trumps the time clock. Suppose a guy shows up early; good for him. But if he shows up early and works slowly, he might be in the wrong industry. For B&D and many others, the exact start and stop time for each employee are less important than their daily production. At CrewTracks, we often compete with mobile timekeeping apps, so this insight into the masonry industry was invaluable. We became the only mobile timekeeping app with an optional timeclock.
Production Tracking – Today’s Total Isn’t Enough
Our production tracking has been influenced by literally every masonry company we’ve worked with, but Restore Masonry in Chicago was particularly influential. Restore Masonry is a thought leader in the masonry industry, especially in collecting data from the job site. We find ourselves trying to keep up with them, and we have been thrilled with their work (along with WBF Construction) on foreman training that emphasizes data collection as a primary duty of a crew leader.
Restore Masonry presented us with a unique challenge in production tracking. Specifically, some jobs in Chicago require production tracking that includes demographic information about each employee. At the end of a job, they need to be able to report how much of the work was completed by females, city residents, minorities, or any combination of these demographics. When we first heard of this need, CrewTracks only had whole-crew production tracking. Now we can track production by individual employee, and we have added custom fields to each employee that can be used to indicate demographic information, accounting codes, pay rates, or any number of other data points.
We heard a more common need from masonry companies was a “temperature check” for the foreman to know if the job is ahead of schedule or running behind. We now provide a target vs. actual visualization in addition to the ability to track by individual employee.
Payroll is One by One; Production is a Team Job
Finally, three and a half years in the MCAA have taught us the importance of teamwork on a masonry crew. It might sound a bit ironic for a product called “CrewTracks” to emphasize reporting by job and by individual rather than by crew, but the truth is that’s exactly what most of our non-masonry customers need. They need to know job totals for billing, and they need to know individual totals for payroll.
In addition to these needs, masonry companies often want to see efficiency reports per crew. We’ve seen how some masonry companies empower foremen to run a crew like an autonomous subsection of the company. As a result, company owners and leaders often find it useful to compare crews against each other, regardless of the job or even the crew’s members. Joe Foreman might hire a few guys and let a few guys go, but it’s still Joe’s crew at the end of the day. We want to know how Joe’s crew performs compared to other crews in the company.
For these reasons, we added the Crew Efficiency export, and we will soon release additional reporting features related to the evaluation of crew performance.
MCAA: Not for Software Companies
By now, it’s clear that we have not gained any insight from working with MCAA member companies, our product is no better for it, and we have largely stagnated as a company since joining the MCAA.
Just had to throw in another deterrent for any of our competitors who might read this.
The truth, of course, is the opposite. The MCAA is a great place for a software company to learn from customers and potential customers. I have mentioned a few in this article. I could list dozens of others, some our customers and some not, who have provided invaluable insight as we work to become the world’s best field management software in the masonry industry.
MCAA Midyear Meetings
I also want to mention the MCAA itself and the midyear meetings in particular. The MCAA puts on a great event. Frankly, the event would be worth the cost for either the fun or the work alone, but every year the event contains ample portions of both.
We have participated in speed dating at the midyear meetings for the past three years, and there is simply no better way to meet a large number of innovative masonry contractors in a single day. The event consists of several 20-minute sessions with 3-5 contractors at a time. It’s just enough time to provide a mini demonstration and answer questions before moving on to the next group. It has served as a springboard and a touchpoint for some of the best relationships we’ve developed in the masonry industry.
We have also participated in the golf events, and MCAA members have been extremely charitable in their treatment of some pretty atrocious golfers from CrewTracks. I would like to give Rick and Cesar a personal shout-out from Biancofiori Masonry for absolutely carrying Dallas Merrill and me to a half-decent 18-hole scramble. Also an apology to Dick Dentinger — he got stuck in a foursome with three CrewTracks guys, and we did him zero favors.
The past three and a half years in the MCAA have provided CrewTracks with valuable insights, tremendous growth, fun memories, and some great friendships. While we don’t expect another 25x leap by 2025, we do expect that the MCAA will continue to be an important partner in fulfilling our vision. You can read our entire vision, including our purpose, core values, and mission, at crewtracks.com/vision.
About the Author
Brett Fairbourn is the Vice President of Marketing at CrewTracks. He has helped dozens of construction companies implement field management software to streamline operations and mitigate liability.