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How Force Civil Uses Assignar to Boost Margins


Force Civil Solutions has had a whirlwind trajectory since they started in 2017. 

Serving the Edmonton area in Alberta, Canada, they handle basement excavations, connect homes to utilities, and any other civil aspects of residential home building.

Scott Hayes, partner and general manager at Force Civil, said their business took off immediately.

“Within 40 days, we had 60 people and 65 pieces of equipment,” he said.

With such rapid growth, Force Civil needed a way to continue to scale while quickly solving problems and inefficiencies in their operations. Their two main challenges were: 

  1. Paper driven data collection that was taking too long and left room for human error.
  2. An increasing amount of back charges that Force Civil could not fight due to lack of documentation.

Back charges and No Documentation 

Back charges were a big problem Hayes and Force Civil faced before using Assignar. When residents and contractors came to them saying they left damages on the property—even if they knew for a fact it was not their fault—they had no way to prove their team didn’t do it. Hayes estimates they spent well over $100,000 a year on these back charges.

“One of the biggest roadblocks that we were having was the home builders sending back charges for damages, or deficiencies to the site, whether it was the neighbor’s fence or there was a cracked sidewalk, stuff like that,” Hayes said.  “We really had no proof that we did or didn’t do it. So we would just take the back charge. But that’s hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.”

When Force Civil first started, they were managing operations with paper and spreadsheets—and you can guess just how massive that pile of paper was. Every day, their administrative team put together job packets with everything each crew member needed to do the job. Packets included:

  • Permit numbers
  • Locate tickets
  • Timesheets (one per phase)

Workers would bring timesheets and other packet information into the office, dump them in a large bin, and then the operations manager (typically one person) manually entered them into spreadsheets.

Software to Support Their NEEDS 

Force Civil urgently needed a way to track their sites in real-time to protect themselves from these back charges and eliminate the time-consuming paper bins. 

This led Hayes to do some research—i.e. Googling “construction software”—and Assignar popped up.

Hayes knew what they were looking for: a platform that their contractors could easily use without too much complication, and the ability to tailor the platform to Force Civil’s operations.

Since Force Civil does around 1,500 jobs a year and most of their crew works solo or with one other worker, they needed something flexible enough to work their way.

Assignar met exactly what they were looking for.

Granted, as with any major change, implementing the new platform took some time—but not that much time. An Assignar representative trained Hayes and the Force Civil leadership team on the platform in November. A month later, he had 40 of his contractors trained in the platform and actively using Assignar on iPads.

“We implemented it in late November 2018 and by Christmas that year in December, I had 40 guys trained,” Hayes said. “I was able to single-handedly train anyone from 20 years old to 60 years old to be able to use a smart device and kind of get the basics of it.”

The Results

  • $100K saved by not paying false damage claims
  • Over $100k saved with more accurate billing and reporting
  • Hundreds of hours saved by not sifting through bins of paper
  • 9,000 pieces of paper saved a year by going digital

“Assignar was the easiest platform to use. Now there's nobody in town that can give the data that we have.” Scott Hayes | Partner and General Manager

Diving deeper: Turning data into an asset instead of a nuisance

Now, instead of collecting, inputting and double-checking the numbers—which took the team countless hours to complete—Force Civil can rely on the data collected directly in their shared platform. 

“Instead of going through the bin, we’re looking at the data,” Hayes said.

They’re also able to use the data to defend themselves when back charges come, showing that the claims of damages were not caused by their work. As part of their pre-work checklist, they have workers take pictures of the site—and it’s all logged in Assignar. Now they have the visual proof they need, and it’s organized for easy reference later.

This is saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars, Hayes said.

Here’s how.

  • Eliminate the paper problem: No more paper job packets. The team isn’t spending time printing, assembling, and sifting through bins of paper to collect information for each job. All the information they need is accessible in the app.
  • Maximize equipment usage: Force Civil tracks equipment maintenance using Assignar. They’ve set notifications for 100 days before maintenance is due so they can fit repairs in when equipment is scheduled for downtime.
  • Save time on the job: Instead of having supervisors sitting on the computer all day, they’re in the field providing safety training, teaching new skills and helping the crew complete jobs.
  • Provide accurate data for confident decision-making: Without having to manually enter data off of handwritten sheets, it’s more accurate across the board. Hayes doesn’t have to worry about the data and can focus his efforts on digging into it.
  • Perfect record-keeping: Assignar keeps tabs on invoices, ensuring no one gets double-charged or overpaid. Hayes estimates $100,000 in lost revenue a year because someone misplaced paperwork or double-submitted invoices. With the Assignar platform accurately tracking this data, that’s 100K back to the business.
  • Improve estimations and improve margins: Correct data means Hayes can bid more accurately on projects to protect his margins. He can also see when overages are happening instantly and make quick changes to fix them.
  • Win more bids with professionalism: Keeping immaculate records and being on top of the data builds trust and adds value for builders. Hayes has seen it.

“We have builders that still come to us and say, ‘We’re gonna use you because you guys provide value,’” Hayes said.

Force Civil isn’t competing based on price. They’re competing based on the value they bring their clients with the help of Assignar.

Keeping up with compliance chaos

Managing locate tickets was a challenge for Force Civil without the help of Assignar. For the uninitiated, Alberta requires locate tickets that map out utilities needed on hand and updated every 14 days for any dig project. Without Assignar, crew members would have to carry between four and seven tickets every day to remain compliant. 

Hayes emphasizes how easy that process is now with Assignar.

“Instead of [a worker] having them in their breast pocket or wallet, they’re loaded through our safety orientation,” he said. “He can pull it up on his documents within the field worker app.”

Assignar keeps workers compliant since they always have the ticket on hand.

Switching to iPads saved thousands

A fringe benefit of using Assignar has been the technological shift in the business. In order to make it easy for every crew member to access and use Assignar, Force Civil invested in iPads. As a result, they eliminated their two-way radios and use two-way radio apps instead. 

Now their costs are down from $60,000 a year to $20,000—a huge gain during a time when margins are razor-thin.

Forging a future with Assignar

The Force Civil team has worked closely with Assignar over the last few years—and Hayes says this is just the beginning.

“I personally think that we haven’t even touched the surface of what Assignar is capable of,” he said.

With accurate data available at the touch of a button, Force Civil has been able to streamline their operations, keep the data organized, and rise above competition with their level of professionalism. It’s helped them maintain 1500 jobs a year and keep employee retention rates high, despite the tough market. Hayes credits their ability to evolve and embrace technology.

After all, Hayes says, “If you’re not evolving, you’re gonna get run over.” 

“[With Assignar,] I can be confident that all the right data is in there, and then I can analyze why we lost the money or not," said Hayes.

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