Spruce LBM Software Provides Big Business Software at a Small Business Price
Ask Jack Monroe what he got when he started using Spruce lumber and building materials software to run his business and the answer might surprise you.
Monroe, president of JM Building Supply in Hobe Sound, Florida, doesn’t talk much about all the hi-tech features that come with the LBM business management software program. Instead, his answer focuses primarily on just two things that Spruce has given him and his team: more information and more time.
More on all that in a minute but first, a little background: Monroe is a building materials guy from tip to toe. He represents the third generation of his family to work in the business and has been involved in the industry in one way or another for more than 45 years.
He proudly identifies himself as “a traditional kind of guy” and he runs his business very much on old-time values: hard work, superior customer service, and an inclusive management style. He views his employees as members of an extended family who share in the company’s success through a regular stream of profit-based year-end bonuses.
But don’t go thinking for one minute that this traditional guy doesn’t also recognize the importance of using the very best technology in his business.
Software designed for the LBM industry empowers workers to serve customers
“Technology today is critical for any small business, but for the building supply industry it’s particularly important,” he contends. “The labor market—especially if you’re looking for people with any experience— is about as tight as it’s ever been and you’ve got to have the right technology if you want to be able to take care of your customers properly and still make a profit.”
Fortunately for Monroe and his team, they’ve got all the lumber and building material software technology they need and then some, after switching to Spruce back in November 2016.
As the company grew, the prior software gradually became an impediment to efficiency
“When I started JM Building Supply in 2010, we were using a proprietary system from a local software house in Florida that had done work with some of the contractor yards in town,” he recalls. “That program was very basic. It generated vast amounts of paper, none of the various modules integrated in any way, and any time you wanted to make changes to the program, it was a real struggle.”
That kind of bare-bones approach to technology may have worked for a raw startup, but as the company grew, Monroe increasingly found himself managing in spite of his software when it should have been supporting him and his team.
“Our first system was fine when we didn’t have a lot of volume, but the larger we got, the less effective it became,” he recalls. “Finally, it got to the point where we were either going to bring in better technology or start adding more employees.” Monroe went looking for a new system to run the business and it soon became clear there was really only one logical choice.
Instant access to business information and insights fuel profitability
“We went with Spruce because we knew it would make us much more efficient and allow us to bring more value to our end customers,” he explains. “While moving to the Spruce cloud made sense because of the cost to operate, lower cost was not the most important reason why we went with Spruce. What really made the difference was the wealth of data on the business and on our customers we were able to access with Spruce.”
Instead of having to hunt through reams of paper to track down a problem, Spruce gave the JM team instant access to just about any information they might need.
Complete end-to-end integrated business systems streamline operations
“If there’s a question with an order or an invoice, Spruce allows us to pull up any part of the transaction,” he explains. “Everything is integrated—from the customer’s order to our PO with the vendor, through to receipt of the product, delivery, invoicing, and statements. It’s all right at our fingertips whenever we need it!”
Monroe happily reports that valuable time once taken up by workarounds to compensate for inadequate software or on lengthy searches for paper invoices or POs is now spent where it does the most good: with customers and prospects.
Spruce is helping Monroe manage key areas of the business so much more efficiently. “With Spruce, I have so many more reports that I didn’t have before. Keeping track of inventory is far easier and the program does a great job of managing our custom millwork shop. This enables us to capture our cost of labor and cost of goods sold in the shop in a way that we weren’t able to do before switching to Spruce.”
Monroe also gives kudos to the dashboards that are an important component of the Spruce value proposition. “With the dashboards, I can look at each customer and see at a glance what they are or not buying. I can look at sales and margin trends in core product categories and see where the business overall is performing well and where there are opportunities for improvement.”
The numbers speak for themselves. In just two years after making the switch to Spruce, JM Building Supply added some 250 basis points to its bottom line, an impressive gain by any measure.
“Spruce is a great system that is helping to make all of us work smarter and not harder,” Monroe says. “It delivers big business software at a small business price and you can’t ask for much more than that!”