Spud Building Recognized in New Building Award
After founding the company in 1997, Derek Sommer continued to outgrow facilities. From his basement, to "the barn" and finally to it's current 9500 square feet facility in Grand Blanc, designed by THA Architects Engineers. This sleek, modern, yet beautifully designed building was recognized as THA received the Best New Building Award in the AIA Flint Chapter Design Awards Program. Madonna Bennett, pictured below with Derek, dropped by to deliver the award.
The event took place at in the Capitol Theater Lobby, celebrating local design and architecture. Pictured below is Mindy Raymond accepting the award for Best New Building.
The new Spud building was built in 2015 and we moved in shortly after leaving the building just next door that we called "the barn". The old building was 4000 square feet and was outgrown with over 200 local clients and over 50 employees. Derek Sommer and his team have worked hard to make Spud what it is today. Spud Software is honored and ecstatic to be recognized in the New Building Award and shares the commitment to locality and community. Here is a closer look at the award.
Our story of growth to a state-of-the-art facility has been one that includes 20+ years of bonding with our core values of being resourceful, honest, dedicated and passionate. We love our new building!
Spud's New Swag
Signs Now Waterford came through for us by installing sleek swag on Spud's top windows! The Spud building is proudly sporting vinyl lettering that was installed by Signs Now. We love our community and supporting local businesses such as Signs Now. We cannot say enough about how fast, amazing, and personal their service is. Spud's new addition to the building looks better than we had ever imagined. The surrounding community typically know our building, but have often asked what we do at Spud Software. Our new sign shows what we do, but we want to explain what that really means.
Some ideas just do not fit into a box. As a custom software company, we design specific solutions to fit your company's needs. Custom is just what it sounds like: designed to your specifications. Spud's custom solutions are especially for growing businesses, where operations can no longer run smoothly with SaaS and products sold as licences. Spud offers custom software solutions that includes automation, database design and development, and apps and integrations.
The strategic goal of many organizations is to automate as many workflows and processes so its' people can work smarter, not harder - and that's where the team at Spud Software comes in. We understand the importance of business automation, and there's a good chance your business needs a custom software that can be used company-wide. Whatever process or workflow you are trying to automate, our team provides full-range development and integration services that transform hours of work into just a few clicks.
Your database is the core of almost every business application, constantly circulating information and keeping all components running efficiently. Whether it provides support to customer service, sales or marketing, a well-performing and secure database is essential for any successful business operation.
Our application development and integration capabilities allow us to seamlessly work with any device’s functionality – allowing us to easily integrate new features and deliver the absolute best user experience.
Another reason that our custom software works to help businesses is by getting your people involved and vested in the solution. With them, taking ownership and feeling part of the solution, the software will be more successful when it is launched and will be better designed to help the team and entire company.
Spud Software follows a Define, Design, Develop, and Deliver process and model unlike anyone else in custom software. We have developed this efficient system from over twenty years in business. Our team works hard, personalizes the service, and uses many years of experience to create custom software solutions that fit large corporations or growing businesses who can utilize a custom solution to improve their company.
Drop in for a visit or give us a call and speak to an expert team member to see how we can help you and your business!
Local Community Event
The PGA Tour Champions are coming to Grand Blanc, Michigan! The Ally Challenge Presented by McLaren, is a charity event in our own backyard, featuring seventy-eight professionals competing for a purse of $2 million dollars. All proceeds from this event will benefit charities from the local community of greater Flint. The Ally Challenge is held at Warwick Golf & Country Club, a beautiful and historic location in which Spud Software’s IT team will be helping to facilitate network hosting support.
The Challenge presents champion players such as Tom Watson, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Kenny Perry, John Daly, Steve Stricker, and Bernard Langer. This is not Warwick's first Rodeo, so to speak. Since their date of establishment in 1957, Warwick has hosted the Buick Open, with networking support from Spud, throughout their years in business. Warwick's amazing reputation speaks for itself; PGA Tour players have consistently ranked Warwick's course as a player favorite. Warwick has a signature hole that has, from time-to-time, claimed it's victims. In a 54-hole stroke play golf tournament, players are sure to be challenged with the infamous trouble-making hole - number 17.
Here at Spud, we are a local community based and operated business, so you can imagine how ecstatic we are to have The Ally Challenge here in Grand Blanc, supporting the community. Not only are we happy to have it, but we are proud to be a sponsor of The Ally Challenge and to assist in network support at Warwick Hills.
Spud’s IT team worked tirelessly to prepare for this grand event to ensure that communication are directed correctly and running efficiently with Comcast and all technology systems and services at the Ally event; such as, weather, scoring, etc. With thirty modems, Spud is managing the technological relationship between the tournament and Comcast. Like Warwick, we also have many, many years of experience managing projects such as these. It is what our IT team does best!
We hope to see you there!
Spud Highlights: Summer Team Additions
Spud Software welcomes three new awesome team members to our Spud family; Meg Allen, Tyler Sasek, and David Marchbanks. The summer of 2018 has brought new growth and change for our company. With that, we are expanding our Spud team while multiplying our reach in the neighboring communities of Grand Blanc. Making a positive impact in our community is one goal that is particularly important to us here at Spud Software. We hire local and serve the local community. Derek Sommer, CEO and Owner says, “Spud has the team and the years of experience to get it done right.” Let’s get to know the new team members.
Meg Allen, our new Sales Consultant, who has joined forces with our sales team last week. Meg explains that she is excited to join the team because “The moment I met Derek, I knew he had the vision and the personality to be the visionary in driving the success of Spud.” She recently returned to Michigan from Dallas, Texas after years with Sun Microsystem and Oracle as Director of Global Sales and Channels in the United Kingdom, Portugal and Dallas Texas. She recently has worked with several start up organizations building their Go-To Market strategies for sales and key partnerships.
Meg grew up in Bloomfield Hills, but currently lives locally to Spud Software. She brought her beautiful teenage daughter back with her from Texas. Meg is a proud graduate of Western Michigan University and she says, “Knowing Derek is also a graduate makes working here a plus.”
When Meg Allen is not driving success at Spud, she loves to be on-the-go in all seasons as an avid golfer, skier, and sailor, but also enjoys the excitement of cooking. She is active supporter of Make-A-Wish Foundation, Wounded Warriors Project and Alpha Phi Alumni. We look forward enjoying Meg’s vibrant personality and perhaps a little of her cooking here at Spud.
We also welcome, Tyler Sasek, a skilled Project Manager that fits perfectly with the team at Spud Software; joining us just a week ago. He is a Michigan native; born and raised. Tyler says, “I would drive by the Spud building every day before working here; I grew up driving this road.” Tyler is a University of Michigan Graduate who started his career at Hewlett Packard, years ago, where he moved into project management.
From there, he worked for Diplomat Pharmacy where he spent four years in enterprise wide project management. He specializes in facilitating great communication between all parties involved in a project. After working for Diplomat Pharmacy where Tyler explains, “Their main system was built by Spud Software and that’s why it appealed to me.” Tyler knew that Spud was the place for him, as he simply says, “Their great reputation is why I chose Spud.”
Tyler is also a family man who loves to play with his two-year old daughter. He and his wife also live near the Spud building in Holly where he walks with his spirited and loveable chocolate lab. When Tyler has time to himself, which you can imagine is not often with a two-year old, he like to play video games.
Tyler says,”I am happy to be here and hope to take Spud to the next level.” It turns out, we are happy to have you here as well! Welcome to the Spud family, Tyler.
David Marchbanks, one of our newest seasoned developers, jumped right into the Spud Development team in late May with his expertise in Server-Side tooling. David is a self-made developer with years of experience in his respective field. He worked his way up from Computer Repair to a Software Developer in various software companies. Starting his education in Davidson Community College, David has used his ability to self-teach and gained years of experience that we, at Spud, find to be the most important of qualities in our team members
David shares Spud values by giving back to the community, Grand Blanc, where he lives and works. He uses his love for gaming to donate to a great cause. David is creating a gaming fundraiser for Beaumont Children’s Hospital to incorporate his love for gaming and his selfless generosity for children in need. David explains himself as “A simple man.” He loves his wife and video games.
When we asked him why he chose Spud in his career, David explained, “Everywhere I’ve gone there has been a cap to success; here, the ceiling is a little higher than other places.” David says “I am looking to learn and pass along any insights or knowledge I have gained over the years.” Well, we think you have a lot to offer our company, David. Spud welcomes you to the team!
Growing pains are often used to describe growth, but at Spud these new changes are exciting and our newest members are part of that excitement. We hope you have enjoyed getting to know our team as much as we have.
A Behind the Scenes Look at Spud
Have you ever wondered what it is like behind the scenes at Spud Software? As our team is expanding, today is a perfect day to take a look at our team, the culture, and active involvement in the community. First and foremost, we lead with our core values to be honest, dedicated, passionate, and resourceful. Our team operates just like our mantra states; Work Hard, Play Hard. We start the day dedicated to our clients. Our whole team works hard to make the dreams of our clients a reality by coming in, putting forth 110% for our clients' projects, then delivering. We see every day how our innovative projects change the lives of our clients and their businesses. Our team of sales consultants, business analysts, project managers and developers are all actively involved throughout the life of the project and we are always eager to make the clients’ success story a joint venture. As one of our long-time developers, Kari Bishop, describes the culture, “We are always on the cutting edge of technology, so I am constantly learning new things, constantly able to keep up with the latest and greatest.”
Spud believes in diversity of projects; meaning that our developers do not work on a project for too long. Having varying projects fluidly moving among our development team ensures constant communication within our crew – creating a stronger and happier team. Andrew Morris, a vital developer to our team explains his view of Spud by saying, “I like the fact that every day is different. We always have something new to do; there is always new work coming through the door and it’s exciting.”
As a local company that works with local clients, it is important for us to serve the community and stay in contact with our clients. By creating a culture of consistently improving ourselves and our processes, Spud Software has implemented a successful method to our processes that is tried and true for over 21 years. Derek Sommer, founder and owner of Spud Software lives by Spuds' core values and strives to consistently change with the times by staying in the know. Andrew Morris continues his view by stating, “Spud Software is different in the fact that it’s innovative, it’s always pushing boundaries, looking for new ways to do things.”
At the end of the day when the hard work is complete, we like to enjoy the camaraderie of the team, have a blast, and perhaps get a little competitive. We love to give back to our community; hosting events for the community and for our staff. Outside of work, you can find us having bowling nights, playing paintball, even participating in the Polar Plunge, but it is not always a huge team excursion. Sometimes we like to kick back at the office, have a drink, and play some Ping-Pong. Overall, we are dedicated to the team, the cause, and our clients’ success. Derek Sommer sums it up perfectly, "We want to make the world a better place by bringing defined processes and accountability to the workplace."
SendJim: Automates Marketing to Massively Grow your Small Business
Joshua Latimer, founder of SendJim, has a passion for helping small businesses recognize their potential. In the beginning of his journey, he started his own small business from nothing. He was able to grow his startup window cleaning company to over $150,000 a month, he then sold it to begin his mission for helping other small businesses prosper. Josh now works with his clients at SendJim to help them understand the importance of properly following up and engaging their biggest asset, their current customers, and showing them a clear path to more money and referrals by simply loving their clients better. By hyper-targeting with direct mail, SendJim can help to grow businesses through specified marketing and bring in new clients that the company would otherwise miss.
SendJim is a revolutionary software platform that automates marketing of small businesses. By using features that Spud has helped design for SendJim, it saves companies precious time by taking a few minutes to set everything up with the client, then shouldering the hard work for their customized campaigns. Essentially they are "converting leads into sales" with their marketing strategy. While Josh had the dream, Spud Software had the solutions.
“As an entrepreneur it is a huge relief to have a company like Spud Software to partner with. Their team feels like an extension of my team and things run so much better that way. They are invested in our project and have a genuine passion in its success.” – Joshua Latimer
What is the relationship between Spud and Send Jim?
SendJim wanted to simplify customer follow-up with a software solution that automates their client’s responses to customers. In search for a software solution, Joshua Latimer originally approached an off-shore company to save on costs and solve their software goals. With multiple undesired results with that company, he then approached Spud Software. Spud was able to assist him with the project requirements, implement, and then roll-out the completed software with both reasonable pricing and timing. Spud Software excelled by providing more than just step-by-step coding instructions that you would see from an off-shore company. SendJim needed a business automation tool for regular people and that is exactly what they received from Spud. It was hand built for small business professionals as a way to increase their customer loyalty and engagement, as well as follow up. Their belief is “You don’t have time to follow up with every single prospect or client, but 'Jim' does.”
“One of my business philosophies is to chase relationships first rather than money. The money always comes as a by-product of deep relationships. Our partnership with Spud is a perfect example of long term and profitably thinking.” – Joshua Latimer
Spud’s Addition to the Send Jim Dream
The initial features of the software enabled users to take pictures of houses from the street and automatically mail a postcard from the mobile app that includes a picture of their house, along with approximate pricing for the job. This marketing strategy has been highly successful for businesses to interact with the neighborhoods of potential clients, but Spud continually works to integrate SendJim with other software packages to provide more functionality for their current customers. SendJim has a public Application Programming Interface (API) and is integrated with multiple customer relationship management (CRM) technologies. SendJim also has app capabilities on Zapier and a Chrome Extension Tool, as well as availablity on GooglePlay and iTunes.
SendJim software was created in three phases; each ones’ capability surpassing the last. The first phase was for both web mobile apps that allowed user a simple way for users to reach out to potential customers and also follow-up with current and potential customers by sending emails and postcards.
During the second phase, Spud improved upon the software to include additional mailing types. For example, you can send brownies, gift cards, and popcorn to your customers. Or you can send them a custom letter or high quality greeting card.
Finally, phase three has been the ultimate improvement! Spud added an amazing tool which allows the business owner to circle entire areas on a map to automatically send mailings. This can be done on a large scale (an entire neighborhood) or pinpointing specific houses on the map (such as only houses with pools). This has caused a lot of excitement among small business who can now target neighborhoods with mailings without sending out salespeople on foot. Further improvements included Neighbor Mailing (Five-Around). Forget about manually walking a neighborhood to boast your latest work. Instead SendJim can automatically send postcards to the neighbors once the work is complete. Starting with this release the system can automatically send a custom mailing to the clients nearest neighbors! It can include a picture of the work done from the customer and testimonial. Lastly, the API is available to use with your favorite CRM. Within your CRM, users can now send a Send Jim Mailing once a job is complete without having to log into the SendJim application separately. Users can also import their customer list from the CRM into SendJim with the click of a button.
“The level of planning and detail that goes into each product or feature that we build is extraordinary. Spud has extensive systems and procedures for guaranteeing every aspect has been covered. I am not a detail guy myself and it is a huge advantage for me to have a team like Spud to make sure our final product is flawless." – Joshua Latimer
Spud has genuinely appreciated working with Joshua and his team at SendJim; they make working with them easy and fun. What they do for small businesses is nothing short of amazing and it is great to be part of making their vision a reality. The video posted below shows just how impressive, entertaining and enjoyable their team is to work with.
Which one is right for you?
You've probably heard the phrase "There's an app for that." Need to send a document half-way around the world for someone to sign? There's an app for that. Want to track your expenses and income? There's an app for that. Looking for a pet sitter for next weekend? There's an app for that. So in the world of ready-made software solutions, why would anyone ever be interested in a custom software build?
As software developers, we know that sometimes, out-of-the-box just makes sense. We're not going to try to convince our clients to let us build a new word processor for them because there's already a variety of solutions that work for just about any application. But, for many companies and their day-to-day processes, an off-the-shelf solution isn't a good fit. That's where custom software development comes in.
So when should you look to custom software solutions vs. out-of-the-box software?
It's undeniable that the up-front cost of out-of-the-box solutions is significantly less than a custom software build. Installation is usually pretty straight forward and you can often be up and running in a day or two. But when calculating the cost of your software, you need to look at the whole picture. Most of the time, when you buy a boxed software solution you're paying for features your company will never use. And if you're using a subscription-based service, you're likely paying monthly fees for software that may only partly fit your company's needs. With a custom build, your software is designed around your company's processes, so everything in your solution is tailored to your company's usage model.
An off-the-shelf solution is often the quickest solution, but it's also rigid. Instead of the software working for you, you have to either adapt your processes to the software, or utilize several software solutions to meet your process needs. But custom software is built around your company's specific needs. It takes into account how your team works and provides a workflow solution that is tailor fit to your specific company. Not only do you not need to use multiple programs to accomplish related tasks, but the software can guide users from one step to the next in a logical flow to improve productivity and reduce errors.
If you work with suppliers or have to tie in to a data partner, the canned solution may provide you with roadblocks. Integrating data from one source to another with an off-the-shelf solution is often difficult, if not impossible. But custom software solutions are built around your data requirements, allowing you to seamlessly connect with data partners and suppliers to share data.
Automation and Scalability
As your business grows, it makes sense that your software solution should grow as well. Out-of-the-box software is limited in its ability to adapt to your company's growth, but with a custom solution, your software can be modified to meet your company's growing needs. Custom software can also automate processes for a variety of needs, including reporting, process tracking and more.
Many companies using off-the-shelf solutions must also augment their software systems with paper processes, but with a custom software solution, you can ditch the paper and manage all of your process needs from a single program. This not only cuts down on time and employee effort, but also ensures that all of your data is stored in a single place, improving your reporting and tracking efforts.
Keeping up with the ever-increasing pace of business often requires that we adjust our processes and business practices quickly. And as we adjust, we must ensure that our new processes are adopted by all team members and that they are being utilized efficiently and correctly. Out-of-the-box software solutions limit this ability. And that's where a custom software solution makes the most sense. It adjusts to your team's workflow, rather than adjusting your team to software limitations. So while the upfront investment may be more, the return on that investment is far greater.
If you think your company may be in need of a custom solution, we are your custom software experts. Just give us a call to find out how we can craft the right solution for your business.
An Extraordinary Client Success Story: Blue Water Importers
Blue Water Importers started over 20 years ago when owner, Jack Dempsey, began purchasing vehicles in Canada for sale in the US. As time went on, Blue Water took over the transport of the vehicles, the work of conforming them to DOT requirements, and titling. Today, Blue Water specializes in the conformity and transport of vehicles for other dealers. With a team of just under twenty people, they process approximately 1,000 vehicles a month and counting. As demand has spread, Blue Water, currently located in Burton, MI, is pursuing plans to open additional locations in several other States in the Midwest and Northeast regions.
“We chose Spud because they are local and personal.” – Jarod Dempsey
Why did Blue Water contact Spud?
Blue Water Importers came to Spud needing a system that provided vehicle tracking, document generation, barcode creation and scanning, email automation, document archival, reporting, invoicing, shipping management, and business process communication.
“Spud has never said no to our ideas. They have always worked with us to make the ideas work.” -Jarod Dempsey
What was the process?
Spud were able to identify each type of entity that Blue Water interacts with, as well as their government requirements and job functions, and then detail each business process with the manager of those activities. Not only does this include identifying how daily operations are performed, but also pinpointing the desired result of each activity, employee opinion on the process, pain-points, and bottlenecks involved. All of the processes and decision points were recognized in a “vehicle life cycle” flowchart. This was modified to streamline the existing process, force adherence to preferred business processes, and incorporate the value-added business activities that Blue Water wanted to incorporate into their business process. After creating the road map of what Blue Water wanted, we began work on a web application that supported all of those activities.
“I don’t know that we could have had that much personal attention with another company.” -Jarod Dempsey
How did Spud help them?
The new system used security to allow both clients and employees’ access to their respective site functions. In order to give employees more time in the field, Spud built the system to automatically assign bonds to vehicles and alert the importation manager if any special attention was needed to the bond or shipment of the vehicle, generate and send documentation emails to the custom brokers, and send manifests to the drivers. Using Optical Character Recognition (OCR), a local application was created to scan specific email accounts as well as network folders. This application pulls any new documents, scans them with OCR, and presents them to the appropriate team for verification. The team at Spud Software also created a way to build invoices automatically as vehicles undergo various activities. This process gave employees the capability to select a group of vehicles that are complete, send the invoice data to Quick Books through an API, and do so in such a way that invoices are automatically generated for each customer containing all vehicles and associated itemized charges. Another API was implemented to automatically print FedEx labels for title shipment.
Another concern Blue Water had was keeping their employees on the move, so Spud built a mobile app that gave them the ability to work in the field. Personnel now have the ability to photograph vehicles, enter additional vehicle data, and print barcode labels from a mobile printer. Furthermore, the mobile app has the ability to take photos for DOT Conformity and automatically uploads them to the web server and stores them with the appropriate VIN. These photos are later printed along with all other DOT Conformity documentation that has been collected or generated for each vehicle.
“We have been using the new system for 10 months and have noticed a more efficient system.” – Jarod Dempsey
Here at Spud, we stick to the philosophy that our client’s success is our success. We have enjoyed working with Blue Water Importers and look forward to their continued success.
Client Spotlight: Spartan Properties
Custom software has many advantages, including saving time and money. We were able to help a local client, Spartan Properties, with a web-based custom inventory control system in a single repository that could potentially save them several man-hours per month.
In the mobile home industry, Spartan Properties purchases, refurbishes and sells mobile homes. Selling over 349 homes in 2017 and shipping to 17 states, including Canada, the company also has storage facilities in most states. Due to the high volume, Spartan was in need of refining its processes, so that’s where Spud came in.
Why did Spartan contact Spud?
As a well-established and growing company, Spartan Properties required a system to maintain their Inventory. Spartan came to Spud with an existing process for managing their mobile home inventory that was entirely Excel based. All details were added into an Excel spreadsheet that was shared across the network. The sheet was slow, difficult to use and did not contain all of the information that administrators needed, which often forced office staff to search through paper records for details.
The system also did not provide an accurate indication of what state each home was located in and what might need to be done on a specific home.
“We are in the mobile home industry and with that we purchase mobile homes, we refurbish those home, and sell them. We are involved in transporting the mobile homes.” – Kim Richardson
What was the issue?
Spartan's existing system was impacting the growth of the business. The overhead time and costs of trying to work with the Excel based system was keeping the administrative staff extremely busy. This prevented Spartan from pursuing growth opportunities to expand the business into new areas and increase how many homes they can process simultaneously.
“We find that Spud is most helpful when we have any issues and to allow us to efficiently run our business and to keep track of our large inventory.” – Kim Richardson
What was the process?
Spud Software produced a web based administrative solution for Spartan that allowed them to maintain all of their home details in a single repository. The system captured all of the details about each aspect of the home, allowing administrative staff to avoid searching through paper records for common questions. The system also features an event-driven system that accurately represents how homes are processed and can handle things happening out of the normal expected order. The system is available off site and on mobile devices allowing users to access information without reaching out to administrative staff.
“We have been using Spud for over 10 years for website design and management and application development.” -Sarah Blachura
How did Spud help them?
This solution has increased the total workload the existing staff is able to handle. This will allow Spartan Properties to increase the number of homes they process and expand the areas they operate in. Additionally, the solution has increased their data integrity and level of knowledge transfer. With all information in a single repository, they are no longer constrained to looking through paper records for details about homes.
“Our applications that we have now allow us to keep track very efficiently, with all of those different aspects.” – Kim Richardson
Here at Spud, we stick to the philosophy that our client’s success is our success. We have enjoyed working with Spartan Properties for the past ten years and look forward to their continued success.