Frequently Asked Questions

Data

How Do You Help With My D-Tools?


BlueDog Data Services. It is a set of services we have created so that you the integrator will never have to enter product or labor data into D-Tools again. We created this service because as former owners and operators of integration companies we found ourselves spending way too much time entering and managing data. This took our attention away from managing sales, customer relationships and day-to-day operations. If you are like us and most of our clients, you would prefer to be focused on growth, sales, and operations rather than data-entry or data-management. Read more here




How is your product/database different from the other product databases?


The short answer is that we vet and review every item to “enrich” the data. By this we mean that it is “proposal & engineering ready”. To ensure that it’s “proposal ready,” we look at over 2 dozen fields to make sure they are correctly populated and consistent relative to similar manufacturer and model (e.g. category/sub-category, install phase & time). We have developed standards for all the fields we manage, and apply these standards to every item to ensure that we meet our criteria of Accurate/Consistent/Complete on every item…down to the connector level! Read more here




I did a little scratchpad math to see where we'd end up vs. our current setup. Even if I manage to negotiate with you and D-Tools to waive up-front fees, we're still upside down $151.99 monthly. I would love to build the case where this makes sense, but I (naively) entered this adventure assuming a net cost savings over shelling out to Intuit monthly.


Not knowing the metrics, we can’t speak to the “upside down” number. What we can speak to is that the value of our current data service is predicated on whether or not a company has decided to integrate D-Tools into its business process. The integration of any business software is to presumably address some sort of business challenge – to be more efficient, reduce costs, etc. – with the intent of improving bottom line profit. D-Tools software CAN accomplish this…BUT…provided it’s loaded with a functional database. Purchasing D-Tools (or any database dependent software) without a plan for the database is the equivalent to buying a car without a plan for an engine. In this case, you can build it yourself or we can provide a high-performance (proven) version that’s immediately ready to install and start driving. If the decision has been made to purchase D-Tools, the value proposition for our service is pretty hard to miss. Cloud hosting, ongoing product additions, data maintenance, etc. aside – in a new install we typically load well over 5000 proposal and engineering ready product and labor items. Based on VAST data entry experience, to add a new item to D-Tools that meets the necessary criteria to support all the functionality of the application (over 30 fields, in our process, including dimensions, power consumption, I/O’s PLUS accessories) takes on average (conservatively) in the neighborhood of 12 minutes – and that assumes you already know what you’re doing, have established written guidelines for entry and VERY competent (expensive) personnel identified for the job. For easy math, 5000 items x 12 minutes = 1000 hours of data entry time to equal our initial load. Do the math and that’s an expensive proposition! At our current pricing, that equates to ~$1 / item that we load…and that assumes that’s ALL you got (none of the aforementioned services we also provide over the course of the year). All that said, we don’t attempt to talk ANYONE in to our data service. It’s simply not worth the effort and potential for compromising the relationships vital to our long-term success. We welcome ALL who “get it” and find the value in it…recognizing that not everyone is “ready for BlueDog”. If you are, then we are happy to welcome you to “the pack”! If not, no offense taken on our part and we look forward to providing whatever services we can that you feel add value to your business.




Do we send the request through the portal when its just a few items or do we add them on our own and only send a request when it’s a big group of items?


The link to our support portal is below which may be used to create a login. We recommend limiting local entry to the degree possible and making requests for item adds to our catalog as they arise…we get requests for single items routinely, and would rather knock those out as they come than wait for comprehensive lists that take more time to compile, process and track for replacement in proposals. Our recommendation is to add items locally in a way you can easily identify (for instance tagging w/the ~, which is rarely used otherwise), so you can find/replace w/our master item once published. If you reference the support ticket w/the proposal associated w/the request, it’s a good reminder when we close the ticket (you’ll get a notification). To reiterate/remind, with respect to items that get requested…our group philosophy is to only add items to the master catalog that have high likelihood of getting used in a project (and that aren’t “one offs”, where an allowance placeholder is more appropriate). Further, these would be items assumed to be non-proprietary…that is, not unique to JUST your operation. These can extend beyond “hard” manufacturers (e.g. a Sony TV) to Owner Supplied, allowance placeholder, labor / programming and the like…if used w/in the industry and in a D-Tools proposal, we’d want to include in the master catalog. BlueDog Support Desk




If I have a system that will be sold repeatedly, should I create a project w/the necessary equipment to use as a "template" to clone, or use packages?


We recommend using packages. In D-Tools, when items are added to a project they are “disconnected” from the main catalog…as you would expect, since this is what has been presented and (presumably) approved by the customer. However, if using that same project over time as a “template”, the catalog data often DOES change w/price increases, obsolescence, etc., which isn’t automatically going to translate to the project. You can capture these updates using the “Update from Catalog” function, but we find it more reliable and efficient (long term) to use packages which can be dropped IN to a new project as needed, since this approach will always get the latest/greatest product information from the catalog.




Do you have a suggested method for dealing with the extra tilde: DO NOT ORDER items that you add when setting up products in the database?  Specifically, I am trying to import proposals into QuickBooks and I don’t want to add these extra items into our QB database.  We can’t delete them because the labor gets deleted as well.  We can’t filter them before we import into QB because the labor associated with the item won’t import.  Any suggestions on how to deal with this?


This is an area we don’t have much direct experience with, so we have leaned on the experience of others in this regard. We have a workflow for a 2-phase push to QuickBooks that was developed in conjunction w/industry veteran & financial consultant Steve First (Vital Management, Bravas Group) and D-Tools as a “best practice” recommendation. Years ago we began using Custom Field 5 to support Steve’s method of using a hybrid inventory / non-inventory approach for job costing. We further collaborated on the Category designations that are a foundation of our catalog today. Very simply put, you can sort your project first to push “inventory” items over as individual line items. You can then flip settings in D-Tools for an aggregated push, sort for the “non-inventory” items and push those all as a single line item in the sales order. This single item captures both the cost and labor or these items. In his workflow the sort is by category (which our data construct supports), but you can sort at a more granular level using our Custom Field 5 designation of EQUIPMENT or INSTALL PARTS it that better supports your business process. As an example, some clients push interconnects valued at $50 or less as non-inventory (aggregated, non-inventory push), but push interconnects valued at greater than $50 as inventory. While all interconnects in our catalog are, by definition, labeled INSTALL PARTS in Custom Field 5, this is a field we leave un-managed meaning it can be changed at the client level for greater customization (per our Standards & Definitions doc). In this example, all interconnects over $50 would have CF5 revised from INSTALL PARTS to EQUIPMENT. For more information, feel free to email us to request the referenced documents.




I need to learn from you guys the most efficient way to print non-proposal reports without accessories.  We use a D-Tools report for order tracking and receipt tracking, and showing all of the non-order stuff is causing a problem. Any suggestions?


I’m not 100% sure what to recommend specifically here, as it’s outside our service and day-to-day experience, but D-Tools has many of these under Management & Install reports. Pick Lists come to mind. There is a new field for Do Not Order that may be applied to all of our “in the box” (part number DO NOT ORDER) items, that may help. D-Tools can be a better resource for report customization. [Curt Hayes] Any more questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us!




If our info is correct, the Strong SR-FS-SYSTEM-DC-27U rack comes with fans built in. You have ~FK-120-2 as a part to be ordered. Can you please verify this and make the ~FK-120-2 a DO NOT ORDER item if it really shouldn't be ordered. Also, it would be nice to flag Snap's Thermostat system for that rack as an optional accessory while you're in there.


According to the SnapAV website this series of racks does come w/fans. The model is not called out, but one of our clients informed us it is the model we have accessorized (the advantage of an active client group, as.we have also been informed of changes w/out notice in the past). Per our catalog structure, the item is identified as package item as it is prefixed w/tilde symbol (~), has DO NOT ORDER for part number and has *PACKAGE ITEM [DO NOT ORDER] appended in the description. Historically, this has been most effective way w/in D-Tools to highlight items that ship as a package and thus need to be included for labor, dimensions, power and i/o's. In version v.12, D-Tools added the Do Not Order checkbox under the Order tab. We do not manage this table, thus our clients can check that box and independently manage which items will show up on POs. As for the controller, there are 3 different models available on the SnapAV website and they are accessorized items in our catalog. Thus, we do not include items of this nature as accessories in our master catalog. However, our software provides the option for our clients to have us turn off accessory management, allowing the addition of the preferred controller in this example (along w/additional power cord and any other associated items) locally and our software will not overwrite. With accessory management turned off, our clients can ADD accessories locally and change the "prompt" and "recommend" settings, but can NOT delete...our software will re-add deleted items.




When migrating to the BlueDog Database, what happens to my existing packages and items in my Product and Labor catalogs?


In a migration (vs. new user) of D-Tools to the BlueDog Database service, existing packages will be lost. Packages in D-Tools are simply an association or "linking" of items from the Product and/or Labor catalogs. Because we’re replacing existing catalogs w/our managed versions, these associations will be lost. But all does NOT have to be lost! There is a "work around" to retain package structure and items from the existing catalogs. Prior to the migration, add all the packages you want to keep to a project. In D-Tools, project data is “disconnected” from the catalogs and all projects are retained intact in migration. After the migration, you can then open this project, replace the items in the packages that were from the previous catalog w/corresponding items from our newly loaded managed catalog. Once satisfied w/the new package structure, simply “update to catalog” to add back to the Package Catalog. You can do likewise w/any items that you wish to retain from your product and labor catalogs, for instance unique labor items or “house brand” equipment.





Design

Is there a percentage that we could normally charge for designs for easy math? I want to be able to use the BlueDog Design Services as our engineering team, but also I want to be able to talk to customers and be able to ask them upfront questions, with us still being able to make margin on the design work.


Obviously, the design/engineering cost varies as a % of a project just as the install cost does…lots of variables including cost of equipment (OFE TVs vs. new, Crestron vs. C4, etc.), scope (prewire only vs. full system) and level of engineering required (hang-and-bang Sonos vs. fully integrated LV system).  That said, historically we recommended 5% but we’re seeing that come down.  As we’ve improved our internal efficiencies and the scope of projects has trended towards simpler design, we believe 3.5% is a figure that when applied across all projects will cover our cost to be your design/engineering department (proposals and required drawings – change orders billed hourly and we presume passed through to client).  In round numbers, then, $35K cost for every $1M of sales…far less in our estimation than attempting to build a fully functional design team in-house.  Mark that up to the margin you wish to see…20 points to 40 points being typical.  There are a number of ways to “bake this in” to your designs when we do them in D-Tools, such that it can be seen (if you want to feature the fact you HAVE and engineering team) or less obvious if that’s preferred (we recommend including in labor cost factors, along w/administrative overhead and project management). Read more here




Is it possible for BlueDog to push budget packages to us for setting budgets at preconstruction? We have a new opportunity and would need the following:


1. Audio Zones 26 2. Video Zones 17 3. Keypads 27 4. Lighting Loads on Crestron 55 5. Cameras 11 6. Motorized Window Treatments 16 We would like to be able to provide budgets same day for the architects we regularly work with. It is provided we first get some guidance on what constitutes each of the "Zones". We’ll build packages accordingly which may be used in Mobile Quote (if you wish) to throw together a budget for something like this – or our design team can produce the quotes for you in D-Tools SI. For instance, what makes up the Audio Zones in this example? Speakers, obviously…can be “good, better, best” based on $ values, or based on actual make/model. Amplification…could be Crestron based (a package for SWAMP and sources w/additional packages for expanders) or Sonos based (AMP, basically, in same quantity as speakers). Prewire…ideally prewire packages (quantity for total project, including “prewire only” locations) or built-in to speaker packages. Packages can be large and very inclusive (e.g. an 8-zone SWAMP based package that includes everything), or more granular like I describe here. They can also be as simple as a dollar amount…a $1000 or $2000 or $3000 Audio Zone for instance. The most important factor is what makes the most sense to the person selling, such that they understand and can effectively (& confidently) work w/their prospects. We do likewise w/the remaining disciplines…so in MQ it’s pretty straight forward…just select the appropriate packages & quantities for each “Zone” (or system). We simply need guidance on the equipment desired to drive the pricing and we can build the packages to support it…like building blocks. For Mobile Quote it’s important that you understand the naming convention of the packages and what’s in them, as all you’ll see in the app is the package name. Alternatively, our design team can build the budgets for you w/little more than what you provide here if you wish (which may be coupled w/a Concept Drawing for a very compelling visual presentation). Again, we’ll need guidance on the equipment you want to derive the pricing…then we’ll build the packages…and then we can put budget quotes together quickly and deliver a pre-defined report set. In this scenario, you could leverage the Client Portal for client review and electronic approval. The advantage over MQ is that there is reporting capability by building the budget in D-Tools (MQ doesn’t have this) and significantly more flexibility for “custom” stipulations. Contact Us to find out what we can do specifically for your business!





Documentation

How can your Documentation Service profit my business?


If a picture is worth a thousand words, System Documentation can be worth thousands of dollars as it helps ensure that there are no misconceptions regarding equipment and locations, as well as signal type and path. We work with you to create all of the documentation you need to ensure that the right equipment is installed in the right location and properly connected to the other parts of the system. This helps installations go smoothly and makes service calls less of a headache. At the same time, Documentation Services can be another source of profit for your growing integration business. Read more here





All

Do you have a suggested method for dealing with the extra tilde: DO NOT ORDER items that you add when setting up products in the database?  Specifically, I am trying to import proposals into QuickBooks and I don’t want to add these extra items into our QB database.  We can’t delete them because the labor gets deleted as well.  We can’t filter them before we import into QB because the labor associated with the item won’t import.  Any suggestions on how to deal with this?


This is an area we don’t have much direct experience with, so we have leaned on the experience of others in this regard. We have a workflow for a 2-phase push to QuickBooks that was developed in conjunction w/industry veteran & financial consultant Steve First (Vital Management, Bravas Group) and D-Tools as a “best practice” recommendation. Years ago we began using Custom Field 5 to support Steve’s method of using a hybrid inventory / non-inventory approach for job costing. We further collaborated on the Category designations that are a foundation of our catalog today. Very simply put, you can sort your project first to push “inventory” items over as individual line items. You can then flip settings in D-Tools for an aggregated push, sort for the “non-inventory” items and push those all as a single line item in the sales order. This single item captures both the cost and labor or these items. In his workflow the sort is by category (which our data construct supports), but you can sort at a more granular level using our Custom Field 5 designation of EQUIPMENT or INSTALL PARTS it that better supports your business process. As an example, some clients push interconnects valued at $50 or less as non-inventory (aggregated, non-inventory push), but push interconnects valued at greater than $50 as inventory. While all interconnects in our catalog are, by definition, labeled INSTALL PARTS in Custom Field 5, this is a field we leave un-managed meaning it can be changed at the client level for greater customization (per our Standards & Definitions doc). In this example, all interconnects over $50 would have CF5 revised from INSTALL PARTS to EQUIPMENT. For more information, feel free to email us to request the referenced documents.




I did a little scratchpad math to see where we'd end up vs. our current setup. Even if I manage to negotiate with you and D-Tools to waive up-front fees, we're still upside down $151.99 monthly. I would love to build the case where this makes sense, but I (naively) entered this adventure assuming a net cost savings over shelling out to Intuit monthly.


Not knowing the metrics, we can’t speak to the “upside down” number. What we can speak to is that the value of our current data service is predicated on whether or not a company has decided to integrate D-Tools into its business process. The integration of any business software is to presumably address some sort of business challenge – to be more efficient, reduce costs, etc. – with the intent of improving bottom line profit. D-Tools software CAN accomplish this…BUT…provided it’s loaded with a functional database. Purchasing D-Tools (or any database dependent software) without a plan for the database is the equivalent to buying a car without a plan for an engine. In this case, you can build it yourself or we can provide a high-performance (proven) version that’s immediately ready to install and start driving. If the decision has been made to purchase D-Tools, the value proposition for our service is pretty hard to miss. Cloud hosting, ongoing product additions, data maintenance, etc. aside – in a new install we typically load well over 5000 proposal and engineering ready product and labor items. Based on VAST data entry experience, to add a new item to D-Tools that meets the necessary criteria to support all the functionality of the application (over 30 fields, in our process, including dimensions, power consumption, I/O’s PLUS accessories) takes on average (conservatively) in the neighborhood of 12 minutes – and that assumes you already know what you’re doing, have established written guidelines for entry and VERY competent (expensive) personnel identified for the job. For easy math, 5000 items x 12 minutes = 1000 hours of data entry time to equal our initial load. Do the math and that’s an expensive proposition! At our current pricing, that equates to ~$1 / item that we load…and that assumes that’s ALL you got (none of the aforementioned services we also provide over the course of the year). All that said, we don’t attempt to talk ANYONE in to our data service. It’s simply not worth the effort and potential for compromising the relationships vital to our long-term success. We welcome ALL who “get it” and find the value in it…recognizing that not everyone is “ready for BlueDog”. If you are, then we are happy to welcome you to “the pack”! If not, no offense taken on our part and we look forward to providing whatever services we can that you feel add value to your business.




If our info is correct, the Strong SR-FS-SYSTEM-DC-27U rack comes with fans built in. You have ~FK-120-2 as a part to be ordered. Can you please verify this and make the ~FK-120-2 a DO NOT ORDER item if it really shouldn't be ordered. Also, it would be nice to flag Snap's Thermostat system for that rack as an optional accessory while you're in there.


According to the SnapAV website this series of racks does come w/fans. The model is not called out, but one of our clients informed us it is the model we have accessorized (the advantage of an active client group, as.we have also been informed of changes w/out notice in the past). Per our catalog structure, the item is identified as package item as it is prefixed w/tilde symbol (~), has DO NOT ORDER for part number and has *PACKAGE ITEM [DO NOT ORDER] appended in the description. Historically, this has been most effective way w/in D-Tools to highlight items that ship as a package and thus need to be included for labor, dimensions, power and i/o's. In version v.12, D-Tools added the Do Not Order checkbox under the Order tab. We do not manage this table, thus our clients can check that box and independently manage which items will show up on POs. As for the controller, there are 3 different models available on the SnapAV website and they are accessorized items in our catalog. Thus, we do not include items of this nature as accessories in our master catalog. However, our software provides the option for our clients to have us turn off accessory management, allowing the addition of the preferred controller in this example (along w/additional power cord and any other associated items) locally and our software will not overwrite. With accessory management turned off, our clients can ADD accessories locally and change the "prompt" and "recommend" settings, but can NOT delete...our software will re-add deleted items.




Do we send the request through the portal when its just a few items or do we add them on our own and only send a request when it’s a big group of items?


The link to our support portal is below which may be used to create a login. We recommend limiting local entry to the degree possible and making requests for item adds to our catalog as they arise…we get requests for single items routinely, and would rather knock those out as they come than wait for comprehensive lists that take more time to compile, process and track for replacement in proposals. Our recommendation is to add items locally in a way you can easily identify (for instance tagging w/the ~, which is rarely used otherwise), so you can find/replace w/our master item once published. If you reference the support ticket w/the proposal associated w/the request, it’s a good reminder when we close the ticket (you’ll get a notification). To reiterate/remind, with respect to items that get requested…our group philosophy is to only add items to the master catalog that have high likelihood of getting used in a project (and that aren’t “one offs”, where an allowance placeholder is more appropriate). Further, these would be items assumed to be non-proprietary…that is, not unique to JUST your operation. These can extend beyond “hard” manufacturers (e.g. a Sony TV) to Owner Supplied, allowance placeholder, labor / programming and the like…if used w/in the industry and in a D-Tools proposal, we’d want to include in the master catalog. BlueDog Support Desk




If I have a system that will be sold repeatedly, should I create a project w/the necessary equipment to use as a "template" to clone, or use packages?


We recommend using packages. In D-Tools, when items are added to a project they are “disconnected” from the main catalog…as you would expect, since this is what has been presented and (presumably) approved by the customer. However, if using that same project over time as a “template”, the catalog data often DOES change w/price increases, obsolescence, etc., which isn’t automatically going to translate to the project. You can capture these updates using the “Update from Catalog” function, but we find it more reliable and efficient (long term) to use packages which can be dropped IN to a new project as needed, since this approach will always get the latest/greatest product information from the catalog.




I need to learn from you guys the most efficient way to print non-proposal reports without accessories.  We use a D-Tools report for order tracking and receipt tracking, and showing all of the non-order stuff is causing a problem. Any suggestions?


I’m not 100% sure what to recommend specifically here, as it’s outside our service and day-to-day experience, but D-Tools has many of these under Management & Install reports. Pick Lists come to mind. There is a new field for Do Not Order that may be applied to all of our “in the box” (part number DO NOT ORDER) items, that may help. D-Tools can be a better resource for report customization. [Curt Hayes] Any more questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us!




Is it possible for BlueDog to push budget packages to us for setting budgets at preconstruction? We have a new opportunity and would need the following:


1. Audio Zones 26 2. Video Zones 17 3. Keypads 27 4. Lighting Loads on Crestron 55 5. Cameras 11 6. Motorized Window Treatments 16 We would like to be able to provide budgets same day for the architects we regularly work with. It is provided we first get some guidance on what constitutes each of the "Zones". We’ll build packages accordingly which may be used in Mobile Quote (if you wish) to throw together a budget for something like this – or our design team can produce the quotes for you in D-Tools SI. For instance, what makes up the Audio Zones in this example? Speakers, obviously…can be “good, better, best” based on $ values, or based on actual make/model. Amplification…could be Crestron based (a package for SWAMP and sources w/additional packages for expanders) or Sonos based (AMP, basically, in same quantity as speakers). Prewire…ideally prewire packages (quantity for total project, including “prewire only” locations) or built-in to speaker packages. Packages can be large and very inclusive (e.g. an 8-zone SWAMP based package that includes everything), or more granular like I describe here. They can also be as simple as a dollar amount…a $1000 or $2000 or $3000 Audio Zone for instance. The most important factor is what makes the most sense to the person selling, such that they understand and can effectively (& confidently) work w/their prospects. We do likewise w/the remaining disciplines…so in MQ it’s pretty straight forward…just select the appropriate packages & quantities for each “Zone” (or system). We simply need guidance on the equipment desired to drive the pricing and we can build the packages to support it…like building blocks. For Mobile Quote it’s important that you understand the naming convention of the packages and what’s in them, as all you’ll see in the app is the package name. Alternatively, our design team can build the budgets for you w/little more than what you provide here if you wish (which may be coupled w/a Concept Drawing for a very compelling visual presentation). Again, we’ll need guidance on the equipment you want to derive the pricing…then we’ll build the packages…and then we can put budget quotes together quickly and deliver a pre-defined report set. In this scenario, you could leverage the Client Portal for client review and electronic approval. The advantage over MQ is that there is reporting capability by building the budget in D-Tools (MQ doesn’t have this) and significantly more flexibility for “custom” stipulations. Contact Us to find out what we can do specifically for your business!




How can your Documentation Service profit my business?


If a picture is worth a thousand words, System Documentation can be worth thousands of dollars as it helps ensure that there are no misconceptions regarding equipment and locations, as well as signal type and path. We work with you to create all of the documentation you need to ensure that the right equipment is installed in the right location and properly connected to the other parts of the system. This helps installations go smoothly and makes service calls less of a headache. At the same time, Documentation Services can be another source of profit for your growing integration business. Read more here




How Do You Help With My D-Tools?


BlueDog Data Services. It is a set of services we have created so that you the integrator will never have to enter product or labor data into D-Tools again. We created this service because as former owners and operators of integration companies we found ourselves spending way too much time entering and managing data. This took our attention away from managing sales, customer relationships and day-to-day operations. If you are like us and most of our clients, you would prefer to be focused on growth, sales, and operations rather than data-entry or data-management. Read more here




When migrating to the BlueDog Database, what happens to my existing packages and items in my Product and Labor catalogs?


In a migration (vs. new user) of D-Tools to the BlueDog Database service, existing packages will be lost. Packages in D-Tools are simply an association or "linking" of items from the Product and/or Labor catalogs. Because we’re replacing existing catalogs w/our managed versions, these associations will be lost. But all does NOT have to be lost! There is a "work around" to retain package structure and items from the existing catalogs. Prior to the migration, add all the packages you want to keep to a project. In D-Tools, project data is “disconnected” from the catalogs and all projects are retained intact in migration. After the migration, you can then open this project, replace the items in the packages that were from the previous catalog w/corresponding items from our newly loaded managed catalog. Once satisfied w/the new package structure, simply “update to catalog” to add back to the Package Catalog. You can do likewise w/any items that you wish to retain from your product and labor catalogs, for instance unique labor items or “house brand” equipment.




Is there a percentage that we could normally charge for designs for easy math? I want to be able to use the BlueDog Design Services as our engineering team, but also I want to be able to talk to customers and be able to ask them upfront questions, with us still being able to make margin on the design work.


Obviously, the design/engineering cost varies as a % of a project just as the install cost does…lots of variables including cost of equipment (OFE TVs vs. new, Crestron vs. C4, etc.), scope (prewire only vs. full system) and level of engineering required (hang-and-bang Sonos vs. fully integrated LV system).  That said, historically we recommended 5% but we’re seeing that come down.  As we’ve improved our internal efficiencies and the scope of projects has trended towards simpler design, we believe 3.5% is a figure that when applied across all projects will cover our cost to be your design/engineering department (proposals and required drawings – change orders billed hourly and we presume passed through to client).  In round numbers, then, $35K cost for every $1M of sales…far less in our estimation than attempting to build a fully functional design team in-house.  Mark that up to the margin you wish to see…20 points to 40 points being typical.  There are a number of ways to “bake this in” to your designs when we do them in D-Tools, such that it can be seen (if you want to feature the fact you HAVE and engineering team) or less obvious if that’s preferred (we recommend including in labor cost factors, along w/administrative overhead and project management). Read more here




How is your product/database different from the other product databases?


The short answer is that we vet and review every item to “enrich” the data. By this we mean that it is “proposal & engineering ready”. To ensure that it’s “proposal ready,” we look at over 2 dozen fields to make sure they are correctly populated and consistent relative to similar manufacturer and model (e.g. category/sub-category, install phase & time). We have developed standards for all the fields we manage, and apply these standards to every item to ensure that we meet our criteria of Accurate/Consistent/Complete on every item…down to the connector level! Read more here





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