When talents collide
You don’t get a reputation as one of the most trusted, accomplished, and inspired interior design firms in Canada for no reason. Based on their track record and commitment to the craft, Ada Bonini and Cheryl Broadhead of BYU Design have earned it, and deservedly so. Now using WorkflowMax, increased accuracy and insights have meant a dramatic increase in revenue. It’s safe to say business is booming.
It was a fateful day almost 24 years ago when the seed for Bob’s Your Uncle Design (BYU Design) was first planted. Just finding their way (and their purpose) in the big wide world, Ada and Cheryl found a kindred spirit in each other as they studied interior design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
After both graduating with honours in 1998, the pair’s joint journey saw a brief intermission as they gained experience and honed their skills in the industry, eventually leading to roles at the same design firm. Working together, they quickly discovered a shared approach to design, work and creativity (along with a love of dogs), so it was only natural that they embark on a venture together.
“We were not long out of university and had been working together for a while as designers for another company,” says Ada. “An opportunity presented itself and enabled us to really think about going out on our own. So we took the plunge. The property development boom was kicking off and it seemed like perfect timing to set up a business partnership together. We haven’t looked back.”
It was humble beginnings for the pair. They opened BYU Design with just two cell phones, a borrowed fax machine and a tiny office space. Now with over 20 full-time employees and a brand new office space, BYU Design has built a reputation as one of the finest interior design firms in Canada.
Passionately dedicated to intelligent and inspiring design, Ada and Cheryl have realised their dream to form an interior design collective of creative and passionate individuals, and in the process created a firm of people who love what they do.
I would recommend WorkflowMax to anyone - try it out, try those tutorials. You’ll see the level of customisation and ease of use right away."- Steve Bonini (BYU Design)
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the pair. Like most businesses, much-needed support and tools were required to help BYU Design continue shaping the way people live, work and play in Vancouver and abroad.
“As we grew quickly I realised that we were becoming quite siloed in the way we were working,” says Ada. “All of our designers had their own clients and were doing great work but as owners, we didn’t have full oversight over what was happening in the business on a daily basis nor any real understanding of how much profit we were making on each project.”
It was at this point the pair decided they needed to bring a professional organised studio director into the business to help them build better systems, and they didn’t have to look far. Serendipitously, Ada's husband Steve Bonini was looking for a change. With a wealth of experience in operations and administrative management, and a greater understanding of BYU than most (being a partner of a partner will do that), he was the perfect person for the job.
Steve had even worked for BYU in its early years, standardising and implementing processes while running the office and marketing. So despite a nearly 10-year hiatus, he was able to quickly jump onto the problem at hand.
“When I first took on the role of Studio Director, one of our major stumbling blocks was the amount of Excel spreadsheets in play,” says Steve. “We were using multiple spreadsheets to track projects and employee time and then passing that on to the finance manager who would take at least 3-4 days a month to distil that information down and then create invoices. With the volume of staff and projects we have, it was simply too hard to control the data.”
WorkflowMax was our number one pick and we haven’t looked back."– Steve Bonini (BYU Design)
“After a number of months, we saw a dramatic increase in our revenue. It’s because we had this level of accuracy that we didn’t have before.”
“We also quote based on fixed price estimates so keeping track of every minute is super important,” says Steve. “The way we were managing our time and projects meant we missed a lot of revenue due to human error in our billing. I knew technology was the answer, so I set to work finding a solution.”
After a period of research and testing, Steve found WorkflowMax. Taking advantage of the free 14-day trial, he quickly determined that WorkflowMax was the answer to their problems. The key seller? Customisation. “The others didn’t have the customisation features that we needed,” says Steve.
Initially, Steve took it upon himself to implement the system.
“With WorkflowMax I found that it was super straightforward and user-friendly. We could jump in and make changes on the fly,” says Steve.
Making the most of the WorkflowMax Support Centre, Steve used the tutorials and guides to get comfortable with the software setup but there was one thing holding him back. Time.
Running a busy studio like BYU Design doesn’t leave you with a lot of it. “I had set up WorkflowMax to a point that gave us transparency on all our projects and phases,” says Steve. “But we soon found out that I didn't have the time or the expertise to really implement it correctly to make sure we were using all the benefits. I didn’t know anything about reporting or getting deeper into the software.”
Steve discovered Denny Thompson from Trenchant Business Evolution through WorkflowMax’s setup partner directory. Denny specialises in helping businesses just like BYU Design implement tech to grow their businesses. As a WorkflowMax setup partner with over 20 years' experience in the IT industry, Denny was more than qualified for the job.
“We reviewed how the information was set up, some of the things that they wanted to accomplish and how they actually operated as a business,” says Denny. “So we looked at how we could report across all the phases as an entire project.”
“Working with Denny to implement and improve WorkflowMax at our interior design firm was critical,” says Steve. “His systematic and logical approach to problems really helped us customise this software to our exact needs. He helped us create custom reports which gave us a true idea of how our projects were going.”
After Denny’s golden touch, WorkflowMax was running seamlessly for the BYU Design team – and they are certainly reaping the rewards.
“Using WorkflowMax in our business has given us heightened transparency over all our projects,” says Steve. “WorkflowMax has removed human error and greatly improved accuracy. Money and revenue never get missed. Even after a matter of months our net income shot up dramatically.”
“With job costing and profitability reports, our quotes and estimates are now based on facts,” says Steve. “We now know what profit is going to be made on each project before we even get the dollars in the door. Better yet, with time tracking and task management, we never miss billing a single moment of time.”
“One thing we weren’t expecting when we signed up to WorkflowMax was critical insights we could get. We now have crucial reporting and insights into job costing, tracking and profitability that we’ve never had before,” says Steve.
So where to from here for BYU Design? The industry is changing. No longer merely about aesthetics, interior design is essential to addressing the health and mental wellbeing of occupants. There is a movement towards spaces with even more meaning – and BYU Design is ready. With WorkflowMax fully integrated into their process, a new project manager to grease the wheels and talented staff that love their jobs, there’s not much they can’t do.
If you’re in the construction or creative industries (or any service industry that tracks time ) and you're finding that you're facing the same challenges that BYU Design did, why not trial WorkflowMax? With a free 14 day trial, you’ve got nothing to lose.
If you, like BYU Design, are looking to improve efficiency and profitability within your own business, we have some helpful advice to get you on your way.
Download BYU's case study for yourself or send it to a colleague!
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