A small team managing significant project volume achieved an 80% reduction in administrative work and a 150% decrease in time spent booking jobs — thanks to Accelo’s client portal, time tracking and project management.
AREI Designs is a drafting, design and construction firm in Queensland founded in 2016. The business serves all of Australia, offering an extensive home plans database subscription to builders and helping aspiring homeowners finalize pre-designed and custom plans and connect with the right builder.
Director and Designer Natasha Wiltshire leads the team in its aim to create practical yet beautiful design solutions to suit a variety of lifestyles.
Logan Wiltshire, General Manager, remembers the few years leading up to 2020 as quite stressful.
Administrative tasks, like new project intake and saving documents in client files, were time-consuming and took time away from essential design work. The AREI team was also struggling to manage and correctly bill for the many revisions each home plan would go through.
“Before we had Accelo, we were losing a lot of dollars because we couldn’t track revisions and how many iterations a plan had gone through,” Logan says. “We didn’t always know whether we were going through those iterations because of mistakes that we had made or mistakes the builders had made.”
By early 2020, the business was stretched thin. The small team of 15 was serving about 50 builders, each with numerous projects. While leadership knew they needed a software solution to help manage it all, they were delayed in their search as the world responded to a pandemic and their team shrank further.
In October 2020, Logan dove into intense research, looking for a solution that could handle the sheer number of projects AREI had open at any given time. He and Natasha were looking for something that could help them move away from email, both internally and for client communication.
When he found Accelo, it was the Activity Stream and the client portal that jumped out as a perfect fit.
I put in 300 to 400 hours of trialing every single work program and project management software on the market. This one was a lot more intuitive, a lot more streamlined.
Logan Wiltshire, General Manager
Once AREI had decided to go with the platform, Logan knew he wanted to opt for the full implementation program. He describes the experience of working with Accelo’s team as easy and informative.
“I’m a big believer in paying the experts to do it right the first time so you don’t have to keep paying for it later on,” he points out. “I could be spending my time improving the business or increasing income in some other way.”
Logan was most looking forward to setting up the client portal, and he says builders appreciated the efficiency right away — and still do.
“They love the fact that everything’s tied up in a neat little bow, with all the attachments and correspondence in one place.”
Builders use the portal to send documents, communicate about changes and see project progress. Most critically, they can submit requests, which the AREI team then reviews in the request inbox and converts into new projects in one click.
AREI’s team likes using Accelo to:
- Break down preliminary drawings into versions using Projects
- Account for all time and attach it to a client or project
- Adjust pricing when plan changes go beyond the standard inclusions
They also use the schedule dashboard to manage their small team’s resources and the QuickBooks integration to handle client billing.
In just two years, AREI has seen an 80% reduction in administrative work. Setting up new projects has gone from a two-to-three-person job to a one-person job: approximately a 150% decrease in effort.
“Booking in jobs has become a one-click solution rather than the stressful process of pulling all the information from emails, then duplicating the details in more than one program and opening up Dropbox folders, etcetera,” Logan says.
Because documentation is all stored against projects, it’s a lot easier to track down details. This visibility and accuracy is especially important in supporting Natasha and the leadership team in making key financial decisions.
“We’re finding that we can make changes in advance before things get dire now, being that we have everything documented, rather than waiting until the problem is right in front of us.”
With a platform as flexible as Accelo, this team of inventive home designers is free to evolve processes. As they look to the future, AREI will lean on the platform to help with the transition from hourly rates to project rates and start managing builder subscriptions in the Retainers product.
Accelo can automatically document what matters most for your design or construction firm.