Custom Cabinet Estimator is complete and ready to launch. Anyone that has pre-purchased it will be receiving their installer and registration code in the next couple days.
For those of you upgrading from an older version of Business Partner Estimating Software, here are a list of the the things that were added to Business Partner version 6 (I’ll cover what has been added into Custom Cabinet Estimator next):
- Version 6 takes advantage of the new wide format screens, thus a lot less crowded screens.
- The new tabbed interface makes navigation faster and easier (you will now be working left to right and top to bottom).
- A new “Add On The Fly” feature has been added to Accessories, Trim and Moldings.
- Additional finish process selection fields have been added to the Material Selection pages (you can choose the finish for every item now, not just Interior, Exterior and Trim). This is most beneficial when you have something like a Decorative Laminate Veneer Doors and Drawer Fronts, but finished end panels, toe kick, etc.
- Password User Levels (you can allow a sales person to create Estimates and Proposals without exposing your secret sauce to the salesperson). They can’t see or change Labor Rates, Markups or any of the Detailed Reports (applies to Multi-User versions only).
- Type Ahead Search Feature added to all List Views.
- Material Entry of Cabinets now includes door model and drawer model (no jumping back and forth between pages to see that info).
- Item Cost Detail page displays a list view that allows you to see the cost of many items without the need to return to the Material Entry page to select another item.
- The Math on the Item Cost Detail page is reformatted to correctly show the difference in an Outsourced item as opposed to an In-house item (depending on your states sales tax structure, the cost may change from In-house to Outsource).
- Face Frame Cabinetmaker’s can now turn off Leg Levelers, Suspension Blocks and Suspension Rail (no more pesky error messages).
- You can now edit the Delivery Cost Description on your Estimates and Proposals.
- All Date fields now use a calendar to pick dates rather than having to type the date (you can still type the date if you want to).
- There is now a sort toggle that allows you to select your cabinet type, and you only see the type cabinets you manufacture when selecting cabinets to add to a project (i.e., Face Frame verses Full Access).
- No Key or Dongle needed, and you can edit all the Company Setup fields with one exception. We hard code your company name into your version.
- A new Dashboard that only shows jobs that you have worked on in the number of days you choose to display. So if it is set to 120, you will only see jobs that you have opened in the past 120 days. Makes it quick and easy to find a job.
- True Multi-User versions available. All users can work in the program at the same time.
For those that are upgrading from Business Partner 6, these are the things that have been fixed in Custom Cabinet Estimator (things that were not working correctly in Business Partner version 6):
- Default Cabinet Widths were missing, and have been added.
- Default Simple Finish percentage was missing, and has been added.
- Pull Down Value Lists (i.e., door model selection, material selection, etc.) were really small, hard to read text. This has been fixed.
- Light Rail Finish Selection was not working, and has been fixed (it was using the Crown Finish Selection field previously).
For those that are upgrading from Business Partner 6, or purchasing Custom Cabinet Estimator as first time users, these are the things that have been added to Custom Cabinet Estimator:
- New Finish Options cost calculations added to Finish layout (this one is pretty awesome).
- New Molding cost Calculator allows you to enter cost per piece or per linear foot, and also calculates square footage for finishing.
- All primary List views have had the cost fields added, and made editable (similar to Batch Edit).
- Back and Forward navigation added to all primary Item layouts to quickly move from one item to the next, or back.
- New Report option for an additional Items Listing page that includes images for Hardware, Accessories, Trim and Molding (super awesome). Here is a sample Report: Estimate with Images
- Backup Options added to Preferences.
- Box count fields added to each cabinet type tab.
To high-lite the first of these new features, here is a screenshot of that interface (it also shows the new Back and Forward Navigation future).
When the price of any of these Finish Options changes, you now can just go to each of the Finish Options that has changed, change the Finish Option cost, and all Finish Processes that utilize one of the Finish Options that were changed will automagically update (no more spending hours punching your calculator to add up all the pieces and parts of the total Finish Process cost).
I also need to make all new users aware of the changes made to Interior Parts. In older versions of Business Partner, you had the ability to utilize in-house and out-sourced pricing for Interior Parts, but in reality, it could not work properly since the labor for cabinet components was calculated per cabinet rather than per square foot, so you just had to enter you material cost, and hope your labor per cabinet costs covered your out-sourced cost. In version 6 of Business Partner, we removed that ability all together (since it did not really work as designed).
In Custom Cabinet Estimator, we have added that feature back, and reworked it so it can work properly. The first thing you will notice is your project cost will go up some (for some of you, substantially). I am going to say the same thing about this that I said about pre-finished doors, drawer fronts, applied ends, molding, trim, etc., when they were introduced years ago, the companies that provide these parts have a lot more resources than small cabinet companies do, and have the ability to track their material and labor costs (especially labor) much better than you, so it makes sense to utilize their costs, and if you choose to out-source your parts, your covered, and if not, you should be able to manufacture them for less, putting the extra money in your pocket, and if you can’t manufacture them for less, why would you manufacture them in-house?
What has changed is approximately 1/3 of the per Cabinet Shop Labor has been removed from the Labor Rates database, and all the sheetgoods prices have been increased to be adequate to cover out-sourcing those parts (the machining labor is now included in the per square foot cost). What you will see when you enter your actual in-house sheet-goods cost is that the difference in your material cost and the out-sourced material cost will be automagically entered as your in-house labor cost. This number will undoubtedly look high to you, as it did to me, but it now includes all the machining for cabinet parts, and you can actually outsource your cabinet parts and know your costs are covered.
If you have absolutely no intention of ever out-sourcing cabinet parts, you might be tempted to add the 1/3 per Cabinet Shop Labor cost that was removed, and put the out-sourced material cost per square foot back like you used to have it, but I would encourage you not to do that (all future upgrades and updates will have this new structure, so every update and/or upgrade will become painful. Please look at other areas you may have buffered on the high side, especially markups to make adjustments to your overall cost to reduce project cost if you must. Another thought might be, let’s just see what happens if we use this new higher cost model (there has never been a better market to test this theory on).
If you are reading this, and have not ordered your copy of Custom Cabinet Estimator, you can order it here. For anyone familiar with Business Partner, but has not been following the development process of Custom Cabinet Estimator, you will be pleasantly surprised at the new cost structure, I guarantee it.
If you are not already subscribed to this blog, please take a minute to subscribe so you get a notification anytime a new post is added (you should see a Subscribe form in the right sidebar of this page). If you are a member of the Cabinet Makers Association, please share this news there for me. If you are a frequent poster, or even just a frequent viewer on the WoodWEB, please take a couple minutes and share this news there. The more users we get, the more resources I will have to invest in even more cool features for Custom Cabinet Estimator (we have a list, and if you purchase Custom Cabinet Estimator, you will be invited into the Custom Cabinet Estimator Asana board, and can make your own feature suggestions as well as vote for other users suggestions).