Advice needed on Sign pricing software or similar?Posted by Peter Cassidy on July 22, 2022 at 1:29 pm
I am finding myself spending more and more time trying to price jobs for customers, apply discounts and all else. i see a few different types of software for sign and print and the one I like the look of is ShopVOX. but appears to be very expensive!! does anyone use it and is it worth it?
AdministratorJuly 22, 2022 at 7:46 pm
I looked at shopvox and liked some areas of it, but unless I wasn’t understanding their pricing properly, I found it expensive even for a relatively small sign company. that said, It was a while back now and I have been meaning to have another look.
That alone would bug me too, David!
Surely they must have settings to change things like Dollar to Pound, which would flip terminology also? 🤔
AdministratorJuly 24, 2022 at 3:57 pm
when you say you sacked off wizards, do you mean calculation wizard?
Is it not good for calulating jobs?
We have our own inhouse job process tracking etc. which works great for us but i would like add job pricing, costs etc all in one place. as well as integrate it all from quotes through to invoicing via sage etc
a complete CRM setup like these or their lite version that you can bolt-on features as you progress is the way to go. ShopVOX and Clarity appear to do this but both have areas I’m already screwing my face up at, and I’ve not started using it.
Clarity starting at £30 per month, ShopVOX £100 per month rising steeply.
Clarity appears top at least allow you to buy the software outright.
MemberJuly 24, 2022 at 7:28 pm
is the whole starting point on these types of things, not job pricing?
30 quid is reasonable, 100 quid each month is pushing it.
MemberJuly 25, 2022 at 7:53 am
I tried ShopVox, but found that I couldn’t set it up how I wanted. They weren’t interested in giving me a soultion, but kept saying that I might able to do what I wanted in the premuim version. Yeah right. They are very keen to get you on the higher tiers.
We then tried Sign-Tracker, which has similarities to Shop-Vox, but I find it better, as it’s less focused on being a CRM, and more focused on quoting. They are very responsive on queries. Still a few niggles that need ironing out, but I’ll probably stick with it. It’s £40 per month for 2 users.
AdministratorJuly 26, 2022 at 2:45 am
Just had a quick look, Jamie. the interface looks really like Trello. but that’s not a sign software nor does it price.
MemberJuly 26, 2022 at 7:29 am
Yes, it has some areas which are similar looking to Trello, but the software is completely different.
We do currently use Trello for production management, but if we can do a similar thing in SignTracker, we’ll probably drop Trello. Going to have a Zoom call with Joe from SignTracker, so I’ll hopefully get some more info then.
MemberAugust 2, 2022 at 8:19 am
How are you finding this, we use trello for production and clarity for quotes. Our issue is that the cloud version of clarity isn’t really up to scratch and that we only have one licience so can only access it in the shop. Does that have a cloud based version that you could use on sit/surveys?
MemberAugust 8, 2022 at 3:43 pm
Sorry for the late reply. We’re still setting it up, so not much real
use. I’m off this week, so hope to delve into it further. It’s
completely cloud based, so you can use any browser. There are lot of
YouTube videos so you can see how it works, and you can trial it for 2
weeks. If you need longer, let them know, and they will extend it.
Currently, it only links with Quickbooks, but I’ve been told that will
be adding Xero integration.
MemberJuly 25, 2022 at 9:03 am
We use Xero for our accounting system, about £20 a month or so.
Within the invoicing section, I have entered all the retail prices for items I use regularly; ie. Arlon polymeric, arlon polymeric contour cut, PVC banner, etc. etc.
To put a price together I simply create a quote, enter the quantities of materials, est. labour etc. at the bottom will be the price. I can manually adjust the rates if needed (you know, “nice customer price” or “Added Wanker tax”).
I can also enter my cost prices into xero for the same materials, though I don’t really bother with this.
Works for me and saves having a separate and expensive calculating software.
AdministratorJuly 26, 2022 at 2:37 am
Is this not similar to SageOne Online, Hugh?
MemberJuly 25, 2022 at 3:33 pm
I made our own with an excel document for pricing signage, it has all the relative things we use down the sheet in a process that you make – ACM > ACR > CNC time > Labour > Ali angle > Glues and so on all marked up on a percentage that at the bottom I can see how much to customer and how much it costs us. If they haggle as they do, or a good customer, we know how much discount we can do and be happy with.
MemberJuly 25, 2022 at 4:28 pm
We’ve been using Clarity since 2012, were quite happy with it for quoting but I have a nagging feeling we could optimise it better to speed up the process. Telephone support is always good but I’d really like a proper full on user manual.
Big benefit of using it for 10-years is the historical detail on jobs for materials used, production notes, prices, reports etc. the downside is we’re kind of locked into it now.
As an aside when I look at some historic quotes I’m amazed by how much material prices have increased in 10 years. I like that its quick and easy to refresh whole quotes though when supplier and internal prices have gone up.
I think we discussed this before, Clarity is good when the enquiry /quote is entered and you can run reports but we introduced a very lightweight planner for a “pre-Clarity stage”. Basic – date, which member of staff took the enquiry / how the enquiry came in, customer name, very brief description. i.e. we get enquiries over the phone from multiple numbers, all the different social medias, web forms from multiple sites (these automatically populate the planner), walk ins, common sales@email enquiries, direct e-mail enquiries to each salesperson etc. etc. The lightweight planner means we can see all enquiries in one place even before its in Clarity, so things don’t get missed or get old. Not sure how this could be included in Clarity but would be good. We us Microsoft Planner.
In summary the Clarity price is reasonable for what you get and it works well.
AdministratorJuly 26, 2022 at 2:21 am
I totally agree Craig, we are the same mate.
I have a cloud-based excel Calculator with tabs for all the different products we do, all pulling info from a stock price page.
Creating a new product calculation page is simple and you can account for the smallest of things, like you say, adhesive, rivets and so on.
The end results are again as you have, Cost, Customer price, and profit margin.
we even have fixed discount rates for gold silver bronze level customers based on annual spending.
You will find that most, if not all pricing software have excel or a form of it in the back-end doing all the calculations. It is the front-end interface that makes it all look sweet for the user!
We also have our own cloud-based job tracking system that works excellent and again, we can customise it to suit our needs, as and when needed.
Our accounts are all cloud-based Sage, also.
Why fix something that isn’t broken? For me, it is more about streamlining and integrating everything and as @david-mcdonald says, pulling up historical data on past purchases etc for reference is extremely handy. Which I can do in sage based on spend reports, sales etc.
The unfortunate thing with pricing CRM software is they appear to be trying to compete with each other and have software that can do all, integrate this and that and continually add new features. when I think they should listen to their customers and focus on perfecting what I think is the simplest part of the software and that is the “job pricing calculator”.
I am considering giving Clarity a go… someone change my mind? 🤔😀
MemberJuly 26, 2022 at 7:54 am
Sorry for the late reply, I didn’t get an email notification
@robert-lambie we used the roll fed, and small format calc wizards, and whilst they do work and provide a consistent pricing they weren’t without their issues.
eg: if we were printing smaller stickers, Clarity would work out it’s price, account for cutting etc, and I’d notice that the price per Sq/M would be around £25 – Obviously too cheap. Speaking with Clarity, there’s the option to set up products that use the wizards and you can tweak it for each product – As its mainly me who does the quoting I’ve gone back to working of a cost per linear meter, making the calc wizards redundant.
Credit to the Small format calc wizard, with the reduced number of variables, we’d be able to get an accurate idea of cost and make decisions when to outsource of produce in house – Although we’ve since gotten rid of our small format set up.
Regardless, we still use Clarity and a few of the benefits we’ve seen.
Each year we create a new folder on our file server, each customer has their own folder, and a job folder for each quote we produce. Inside which we have Artwork, Print Files, Proofs, and Documents folders. Clarity automatically produces these. It does make finding histroical files a doddle -> However, it does make us reliant on Clarity as a load of REFXXXX folders isnt’ much help outside of it. There are work arounds IF we choose to move away from Clarity.
Inside Clarity, I can see the notes, the makeup of the price, how I priced it, and with the regular increases can increase them accordingly. I can see what materials and colours we used too. So accident repairs, repeat orders are a doddle too.
It’s just generally easier to have everything in one place. Sage isn’t cluttered with quotes, and prospective customers, just invoices and the accounts.
@David McDonald – We have spoken about this in the past, and I think the issue is present with every CRM. We’re still working with pen and paper, and have a printed enquiry form, with relevant questions, but then it’s still a case of organising enquiries before they make it into the CRM. With the ever increasing number of channels customers can contact you, it’s a task in itself.
Rubbish in = rubbish out – To get the best of any CRM/MiS you need to be disciplined, and that’s whether you’re using clarity, shopvox, excel, or a pen and paper.
No knocking Clarity, it works well for us, if we were a larger company, and had multiple people quoting the calc wizards would possibly help, whilst they’re consistent they’re not always 100% reliable.
MemberJuly 27, 2022 at 10:17 am
guys this is amazing, thank you so much for the replies.
i will start going over the sites and come back with questions. 😀
David Hammond & David McDonald
if you had to start fresh again. would you go for clarity software or something else?
MemberJuly 27, 2022 at 12:22 pm
Yes, think we’d still go for it. I can remember back to moving from spreadsheets and manual methods and it was a huge improvement, as we’ve grown it’s now a necessity now to have such a system. We’ve had an odd glitch over 10-years but we’ve never really been down, and they’ve just gone in and sorted it via TeamViewer almost instantly. Since we’ve started it looks and works in an almost identical fashion to day 1, its not the most modern looking user interface – but I guess it doesn’t need to be. They do an online/app version ‘Go’ which looks as you’d expect from an online version. We don’t need to use that as we always quote from a desk, and we’ll RemotePC into our office PC’s to access it when away from the office. Remember that the longer you use a system then the more value to the business of the data it holds increases – as Clarity has been around for a long time then that gives peace of mind for us.
MemberJuly 27, 2022 at 12:32 pm
I can’t add much more to what David has said.
My only advice is to commit to it fully. If you use it half arsed you may as well not bother.
Our whole process generally revolves around clarity, down to what required fields are needed like first and last name.
The more accurate data the better. Eg we get enquiries now, a name rings a bell, 2 minutes later I can see we’ve done 10 quotes, 5 years ago, and never got one, so helps decide how much effort to put into the sale.
AdministratorJuly 28, 2022 at 2:10 am
David and David, thanks a million for your updates on the software guys. your unbiased views are good to read. 👍
AdministratorJuly 31, 2022 at 8:34 pm
I have decided to give Clarity a go.
I have a demo call being done tomorrow. So I will keep you posted on my thoughts etc.
AdministratorAugust 1, 2022 at 2:01 pm
OK had a chat with them today…
If you went for the Clarity Pro desktop version.
Did someone at clarity have to come to your premises and install it?
Did that person then have to train you on it, or return to give onsite training?
If so, what sort of additional costs were incurred?
MemberAugust 1, 2022 at 2:08 pm
Did someone at clarity have to come to your premises and install it?
No, they can do it remotely, they’ve done it in the past for us when upgrading hardware
Did that person then have to train you on it, or return to give onsite training?
Yes, they did initially come and give us some training, although again, I don’t think it necessitates face-to-face and could be done remotely.
However, unless you’re opting for the calc wizards that require a more thorough understanding (and additional monthly cost) it’s pretty self explanatory.
If so, what sort of additional costs were incurred?
I can’t recall exactly, but make sure you’re sat down!
Unfortunately, this is a bugbear with Clarity, which we pay for rental/support, and it excludes things like installation if we upgrade hardware.
The training and support never really seemed to offer value for us.
AdministratorAugust 8, 2022 at 2:11 am
Just an update on where I ended with Clarity.
Having looked around I decided I would go with Clarity Pro Lite, and once familiar with the software, I would look to add more users and if functionality dictates, then upgrade with the view to buying the software outright.
I had a look around the trial software, which is Clarity Go, NOT “Pro-Lite”, which was what I wanted!
However, I found that Clarity Go looked very promising!
I decided to get my demo before messing around further with the software blind.
However, the demo felt just like I was being rushed through a “look what I can do” session.
I get a demonstration means just that, but having looked online at videos and stuff, I already had a good understanding of what it can do. I wanted to now see “how does this work?” “what do we do here and there to make this happen?” basically I have an hour of questions and answers with visual explanations, or so I thought!
I instantly got the feeling that this was a hard push on “Clarity Go” and every time I asked a question about “Clarity Pro”, I was steered away and told how expensive it would be!
The guy started to annoy me very quickly…
So to try and change the direction of questions I asked to see the “job boards” for production progress. To be honest, I wasn’t impressed by the job boards. granted I never got into any sort of depth with them, but it looked like Trello but didn’t “look” as good as Trello or as fluid as Trello. attachments had to be downloaded to be viewed and the whole general visual “at a glance” experience, wasn’t as I had hoped.
I asked about how Clarity Go integrates with SageOne.
He tells me “it does not integrate with that version of sage”.
I said, “that I was sure it did?”
He says “Clarity Pro does, but Clarity Go doesn’t.”
I said, “well I would need to go with Clarity Pro then, which was what I wanted from the start.”
Again, he tells me GO is the one to use and PRO isn’t and needs all sorts of add-ons blah blah blah.
He then says “can you not switch to a new Sage software?”
I was starting to lose it with him at this point. 🤨
Again, i changed the subject and ask about pricing?
After watching him go on about this and that, i got the feeling he wasn’t “a sign maker” 🤓
So I said, forget what your showing me, i get the jist of it. can you show me how to price printed vinyl?
He starts with something like…
The vinyl costs you ex-amount, its a 50 metre roll, so costs you this per metre and your going to charge that! your customer wants 5 metres printed and laminated, so it will cost them, this amount based on the markup you want!
I said, “what if he wants 3 metres of print by 1000mm? how is the waste calculated or accounted for?”
“you can’t do that in “Clarity Go” but there is functionality to do that in “Clarity Pro”
by this time I am like “for f**s sake!” it’s clarity Pro I would like to see and that is what my interest was in.
but he pushes on about how expensive it is, how difficult to use and how staff would need continual training and support blah blah!
anyway, I then say I only need 2-3 people using this software but as I would like to integrate the whole system with job tracking, is there a stand-alone fee for the job board user?
He tells me yes, “the same price as the accounts/salespeople cost per user.”
Keep in mind, that we already have a job tracking system that I am happy with and costs me zero, as does Trello and others like it.
He tells me that many others complain about this and he will let his boss know, but for now, and at least in the coming months, it’s paid per user!
I tell him, that all the things that I asked him, are NOT part of Clarity Go, only Clarity Pro!
* I cannot purchase Clarity Go outright, but you can with Clarity Pro.
* It does not integrate with SageOne, but Clarity Pro does.
* Does not allow for material waste in pricing, but Clarity Pro does.
* I wasn’t a fan of the job board
* You must pay the full user price per user for staff only using the job board. (maybe clarity pro does)
I said, at a glance Clarity Pro Lite is only £30 per month per user with the option of an outright purchase.
But he pushes on about how “after the software is bought” a technician must come out onsite to install the software and there is a fee. That there are ongoing monthly training costs on how to use the software per user and additional support costs.
I told him that I feel that I have wasted my time and that the pricing is not as transparent as it shows on the website and has many hidden costs.
Oh and one last gripe.
Why use Microsoft Teams for a demo that requires an account and set up, when all they have to do is send a link to click and screen share? 🤨
The above is just my views and opinion, but I have never felt so misled or confused about trying to buy something.
I have no doubt the software is very good and as I said, I really liked some aspects, but I will put this down to the Salesperson trying to push one product over another for whatever reason, and I will just have to rethink it. But one thing the Software does lack is “CLARITY” 🤔😀
MemberAugust 8, 2022 at 9:01 am
Well in some ways that doesn’t suprise me.
I think Clarity is loosing ground to the likes of ShopVox etc.
RE: the integration with Sage One? enquire further, as we used to have it integrate with Sage 50, and it worked a treat. However, since moving to SageOne/Sage Cloud, it was a CSV import, and far from as slick as the sage 50 set up. In the end we ditched that option, and either manually copy invoices over into sage, or use Dext, which will submit the invoices into Sage, amongst other things – Dext is the better option.
As you’re experiencing there always seems to be some hidden costs, training, installation, etc, etc.
AdministratorAugust 8, 2022 at 9:39 am
I don’t mind the fact you pay more for the full deal. It is the same with everything…
but when the hidden extras appear to be mandatory and not an upgrade as such, then they should be included in the price or indicate they are required. But when those extras are monthly support costs that exceed the product cost even if you buy the software outright?
Clarity Go “does” integrate with sage 50 and one other sage, but not SageOne online. only Clarity Pro does that. But would be good if the guy had that wrong, but I did make it clear it was a deal breaker.
I already have a very good system that I have used for years, but it is not seamless from one software to the next and that is what I want. But if I have to export and import things to make their software work, I am as well sticking with what I have.
I am fully aware of the commitment this type of software requires to enable it to work to its full potential.
And I had already made up my mind “before” my demo that I would give it a go. But my experience there has done nothing but reconsider ShopVox. Which is crazy that “they had a customer” and their approach may have shoved me in the opposite direction. 🤨
MemberAugust 8, 2022 at 10:58 am
Yes check their integration, I think exporting a CSV and manually importing it into SageOne isn’t really an “integration” it’s still manual, and a far cry from the integration we had with Sage 50… and they expected me to pay the same addon each month for the priveledge.
I don’t think Pro has a job board per se, unless it’s a part of the production or other modules.
In someways ShopVOX is far ahead of Clarity, it seems to offer more out of the box, without the hidden ‘extras’, training, installation, support etc.
MemberAugust 12, 2022 at 10:01 pm
My two cents:
Pricing jobs is a really tough one, what do you include what don’t you include.
Here’s a story for ya all.
My ex-accountant in his infinite wisdom (being a number cruncher after all) decided to buy an expensive phone system to re-appraise his billing while at the same time streamline the process. So he bought an expensive phone system and billing software which would now start billing for every minute of support to its clients.
So my accountant became my ex. accountant quite quickly, poor fella decided to retire a couple of year after that.
The most valuable commodity is your time. How do you bill for your time, if your project takes longer than you anticipated you are losing money by the hour, Software reliance will often lead you array, best rely on your mental computational skills and leave the rest to mother nature to nourish you!
Cost of Materials multiply by a minimum of 3 or 4, you wont go wrong.
Cost of materials £100
£100 for you
£100 to running costs
£100 for tax etc and savings
I learn that one from a builder doing my sunroom 🙂
The funny thing is if you check the above the £100 for tax etc is about right as a percentage if you divide the amount for the tax and NI into the sell price (£100/400=25%) which is not too far off 20% plus 7.5% N.I.
You don’t pay tax on your gross profit, its paid on your net profit. The above will leave money left over for savings, or re-investing (happy days)
MemberAugust 12, 2022 at 10:46 pm
Alternatively work out your hourly rate, based on your overheads, wage etc, and roughly how many hours you can bill a customer on an average day. Or at least determine what your day rate is.
Lower margin on materials + hourly rate for the time to manufacture or install.
You’re correct software does throw a spanner in the works at times, but we use that method, worked out manually within the software.
Usually I’m fairly accurate on time, and by knowing what our hourly cost really is, I know we can over run without immediately making a loss.
MemberAugust 22, 2022 at 12:07 am
I think an hourly rate is more specific and tailored to your own business and its overheads, hence more accurate.
If anyone needs a great free tool to manage staff clock in and clock out and time for specific tasks and projects take a look at Time Clock Wizard. Great functionality 🤓
Employees clock in and out at their pc in the office, manager gets pings and can view remotely, can also calculate how much to pay for hours worked.
AdministratorAugust 26, 2022 at 7:26 am
I thought I would add an update to this post.
I had my second demo with Clarity, this time based on Clarity Pro.
This time it was with a female rep, based on the Pro version of the software.
I have to say that I much preferred this demo because there was not as much of a sales push behind it.
This time, the software was Clarity Pro “the one I was interested in” and not “Clarity Go”.
Without going too deep into it all…
* Clarity Go has a nicer user interface than Clarity Pro. But I want functionality over looking pretty, so this did not bother me at all.
* Clarity Pro appears to be able to do “much more” than Clarity Go with regards to the actual pricing of jobs and allows for waste etc. when calculating. Clarity Go cannot.
* Clarity Pro does NOT have a Job Board, which is a big loss in my opinion. Clarity Go does, but I didn’t like it.
* Clarity Pro and Clarity Go do NOT integrate with SageOne online. You are basically creating a file at the end of the pricing process that can then be imported into SageOne.
* Clarity Pro is NOT cloud-based, Clarity Go is Cloud-based.
* Clarity Pro allows you to buy the software outright, but the simple realistic purchase price is overshadowed by an unrealistic support price that is heavily pushed as “a necessity”. My view on that is if it is so complex and laborious to set up and train each member of staff to use it, then it is not for my company. I do not believe this is the case, but it is how “both” reps push the reasons behind the costs.
* SageOne is great. does all I need it to and it is cloud-based, on any computer at no extra cost. Very little training required.
* We used Google Sheets/Excel for our job pricing, which is cloud-based, on any computer at no extra cost. No training is required.
* We have our own job board, which does exactly what we need it to do. It is Cloud-based, on any computer at no extra cost. No training is required.
The reason I want to move to a cloud based pricing CRM type setup is to streamline the business process. Integrate the lot into one… My current software setup is all cloud-based but in three parts, so its disjointed.
In either Clarity package, the job board doesn’t work for me. I much prefer what i have now.
In either Clarity package, the accounts software does not properly integrate with SageOne, so is no different to what i have now.
I accept the pricing will be much better and user friendly once staff are trained. Even with the high price tag with support costs, i can accept that too “IF” at the end of the day the software does all that i want it to. But it is limited in some ways, costly, and cannot do some things at all. so for me, i need to look elsewhere. Maybe i should take a deeper look into ShopVox and see how that goes.
MemberAugust 26, 2022 at 7:33 am
Thanks for the update @robert-lambie
It echo’s very much what I’ve experienced. We’ve been using Clarity for 8+ years now, and for that reason we’ve stuck with it, although on a scaled down version.
Clarity Pro does lack some features that would be great additions – But I suspect they will be add on’s with additional costs, when compared with other options where it’s standard features.
The work around we use for Sage One, is to email the invoices from Clarity, but use Dext as the bridge to Sage, it works well, and offers more features than clarity’s integration.
All that said, if I was in your shoes, I too would be looking at ShopVox, we did a few months back, but is’ a big change for us, and I couldn’t tolerate the american terms they use that we were unable to amend.
MemberSeptember 3, 2022 at 4:42 pm
i think this is a great topic. i have always wanted pricing software to cut back my quoting work but reading this and seeing your different views and limitations of the software has really made me reconsider. so for now i will stick with my spreadsheets.
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