Headquartered in Centennial, Colorado, ADVEnt is a national service and installation company addressing commercial and residential homebuilders, property developers, and consumers.
While the company offers many of the same products and services that are provided by traditional systems contractors and custom installation firms – such as structured wiring packages; fire, security, and CCTV systems; entertainment systems, including audio, video, and gaming; wired and wireless home networking; environment control; and various other systems such as central vac and Web-enabled appliances – ADVEnt is not based upon a conventional business model. In an effort to supply consistent labor, materials, and quality control, the company employs a national network of large integration firms that carry out contracts on site.
“[The members of this network] do things exactly the way we tell them to across the board,” elaborates Michael Pecot, ADVEnt’s vice president of sales and marketing. “At ADVEnt, we take care of all of the consulting work, billing, and planning – we have all of the engineers.”
To ensure that work is performed to ADVEnt’s standards, all members of the network – dubbed ADVEnt Network Service Providers (NSPs) – must abide by a strict set of regulations pertaining to insurance, training, qualifications, customer service philosophies, resource availability, and ongoing service support. “We actually have our own training process worked out, which includes our own training material and certification,” Pecot explains. “We have this in place because we do things in a very specific way. Our 13 ADVEnt NSP’s give us access to approximately 3,000 W-2 technicians that work underneath us, and we distribute all of the work orders from this one major location in Colorado, and distribute them around the country.” Under this arrangement, ADVEnt NSPs must abide by national rate schedules and product packages that are created at the company’s headquarters.
In order to qualify for ADVEnt certification, companies must first meet certain criteria. “For someone to become part of the network, they have to have a minimum number of employees, they have to be doing a certain amount of annual sales, and they must be profitable,” says Pecot. “They must meet those kinds of criteria, because with structured wiring and entertainment systems, so many people come and go, and the main reason is because they don’t have a process.”
Led by a strong management team that boasts expertise in a wide variety of fields, including technical installation, network management, call center management, customer care, software and hardware management, general business operations, business process outsourcing, and sales and marketing, ADVEnt is well positioned to address any challenge. Like most companies that are interested in keeping their clients happy, ADVEnt is focused on operating at optimum efficiency to ensure that all jobs are executed smoothly. This is no small task, considering the number of relationships the firm must manage on a daily basis.
“The biggest challenge is establishing consistent processes that are needed in order to handle the workload, so that when a work order is processed here – like if when we get an order for a floor plan – we are able to generate that floor plan, create a work order and a bill of materials, including step-by-step instructions that go into the field,” says Pecot. “In the past, you would type everything up and just hope that you were doing things right.”
To address this issue, ADVEnt’s management team initially considered developing its own software system. “We had already lined up all of the people in order to do it; we had started to build our own portal anyway, and we were just going to add a tremendous amount [of features] to that package,” Pecot recalls. “When we met with the folks at D-Tools and went through the system and where it was headed in the future, we saw that it was heavily integrated with Microsoft and tied in with other packages.” In creating its own proprietary system, ADVEnt would be reinventing the wheel. “Rather than having to tie into CAD and everything else, D-Tools had already solved some big problems – the template was already there, and the relationships that they already had with some of the manufacturers were nice to have. We knew that we could make this work in the short run, and D-Tools was going to be there in the long run.”
With D-Tools, the team at ADVEnt’s headquarters is able to clearly organize each project for those working in the field. “We end up putting everything that we do here into D-Tools,” Pecot says. Individual “work packages” are developed using D-Tools software, and then posted to ADVEnt’s own portal, which is made accessible to ADVEnt NSPs. “That way, they are able to retrieve those D-Tools files and work orders and open them up using D-Tools on their end.”
On the field, ADVEnt’s executives use D-Tools as a sales tool. “I can put together and display a work package for an installation, and it’s a really strong selling tool because it shows that I am somebody who has paper-based plans, not someone who uses markers and sticky notes,” says Pecot. “When we are out there on the job, the crew chiefs have their laptops with them with a PDF file that has been exported out of D-Tools, and they can go through what they are doing, step by step.”
Pecot notes that with D-Tools, what used to take days now takes minutes, opening up the opportunity to focus on developing more business and nurturing existing relationships. “It gives me an advantage because I can make changes dynamically, and then send those changes to my customers and reps,” he says. “I can put together a bid for a home theater in a matter of minutes, or a builder may call me from Alabama, California, Nevada , or Florida and say, ‘I want these three floor plans,’ and I already have the templates in D-Tools that allow me to execute them and immediately turn the bid around. I can generate a number of things and bill on them immediately. Rather than it taking me five days to put a bid together, I can now do it in a matter of an hour.”