Austex Fence & Deck

Overview

Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Industry: Installation of fences, decks, and pergolas for businesses, residential homeowners, and 40 high-volume home builders in Central Texas.
Support Team:
17 staffers handle scheduling and support
Field Installers:
35 subcontractors

Services

  • Project design
  • Building wood, vinyl, and ornamental iron fences
  • Building decks and pergolas with top-grade wood or composite
  • Financing
  • Warranty

About Austex Fence & Deck

Austex Fence & Deck is a family-owned business serving Austin and vast areas of Central Texas around the capital city. The company has been a dominant provider of fencing and decks in Central Texas for more than 30 years and has completed over 100,000 jobs for home builders, homeowners, and businesses.

Austex Fence & Deck enjoys a sterling reputation for workmanship and customer service. The company uses top-grade materials, has a loyal group of capable subcontractors, and advises its residential and commercial customers on how to best meet their requirements for attractive, long-lasting outdoor projects.

These factors, along with the Austin area’s explosive population growth, keep the company’s business growing year after year. Projects for 40 home builders in Central Texas make up the bulk of more than 900 new jobs Austex Fence & Deck completes every month.

However, the company’s management saw that its decision-making abilities were being hampered by old, siloed systems. In 2019, the company selected Oracle’s NetSuite and NextService to centralize all data on one modern, cloud-based platform. The new systems went “live” in October 2020.

 

Business Challenges

For more than 20 years, Austex Fence & Deck had been using legacy systems for accounting, CRM, scheduling, inventory, and financial reporting functions. According to Lauren Lockett, the company’s marketing director, sales and office personnel distrusted the ability of legacy systems to give them timely, accurate, and complete information. To compensate, they improvised with their own ad hoc spreadsheets.

Slow access to fragmented information caused several problems:

  • Manual scheduling of the right skills. Austex Fence & Deck relied on time-consuming manual processes to separately schedule two teams for each job. One team sets posts for a fence, deck, or pergola. Later, another team is dispatched to nail pickets to the posts.
  • Manual processes for matching inventory to each crew’s job sites. Schedulers had no efficient way to match inventory needed by each team for their work-in-progress and next-day jobs.
  • Limited availability of job status. Salespeople are rarely in the office, so they had to make frequent calls to the Production office to learn the status of their customers’ jobs.
  • Inadequate reporting. The legacy systems had sparse reporting capabilities. Data resided in disparate places, crimping management’s ability to get meaningful reports in a timely manner. “It’s difficult to run a business without access to data that tells the real story,” Lauren Lockett said.
  • Slow resolution of customer service issues. Addressing customer problems meant piecing together information from multiple sources, but often that was impractical.

“We were running the company on software we had been using for decades. The systems were archaic, super slow, and cumbersome to maintain. It was time for us to move into the real world!” – Lauren Lockett, Austex Fence & Deck, Marketing Director

Why Austex Chose NetSuite + NextService

To replace its obsolete legacy systems, Austex Fence & Deck selected NetSuite, the world’s leading cloud platform for automating core business functions. Management learned that a NetSuite partner, NextService, could add much-needed field service management capabilities. “NextService’s rich features and native integration with NetSuite made it an easy choice,” Lockett said.

“Data means everything to a business,” she noted. “With easy access to the right data, you can make faster decisions and better decisions. That’s what led us to NetSuite and NextService. They are designed to work together, with all data in one place, so they give us a single source of truth. We can get the detailed reports we want to make decisions, and we can trust the information in those reports.”

Business Impact for Austex Fence & Deck

Scheduling

The NextService support team customized the scheduling feature to handle unique requirements for Austex Fence & Deck. For each job, the company separately schedules a post-setting crew and a picket-nailing crew. Vinyl and iron projects also require dispatching subcontractors with specialized skills.

Schedulers use the customized feature to easily specify when each skill is needed. This improves efficiency in selecting the right subcontractors for the job.

Inventory

NextService and NetSuite easily accommodate a just-in-time inventory process Austex Fence & Deck uses to create two competitive advantages: rapid completion of new jobs, and immediate use of inventory. Every business day, two truckloads of pre-sold materials are delivered to the company’s yard.

The company only orders materials that crews will use within one day. By tracking linear feet each nailing crew can install per day, the Production office can allocate the right amount of materials to each crew for their scheduled jobs.

“We don’t sit on inventory,” Lockett added. “We don’t want to overbuy and have unsold materials in the yard. NextService and NetSuite give us inventory accuracy we’ve never had before. Knowing the exact numbers really helps us predict what we need to buy for jobs coming up in the next few days.”

“With NextService and NetSuite, we absolutely have a better handle on inventory, which is crucial when we’re seeing such volatility in lumber and metal prices.” – Lauren Lockett, Marketing Director

Information Access

NextService gives sales representatives instant access to scheduling and calendaring information, filtered for each rep. From their cars or any location, sales reps can see when crews are scheduled and what jobs are delayed without calling the Production office for verbal updates. This capability enables them to be more responsive to their customers.

Reporting

NetSuite + NextService provides a central place for all data, eliminating the data inaccuracy, inconsistency, and fragmentation problems Austex Fence & Deck experienced with its legacy systems.

“Now we trust our data, and we can get much more granular reporting of the information we need. No one needs to update their spreadsheets anymore—and that adds hours of productivity to our days!” – Lauren Lockett, Marketing Director

Future Plans for NextService

Lockett expects benefits from NextService to accelerate when the company implements the system’s field mobility app. “Once we implement the mobile app with our subcontractors, we will see a lot of advancements that will make our lives easier,” she said.

In particular, she is looking forward to the ability to close jobs in the app at the time of completion, triggering job invoices. Also, the mobile app will capture signatures and photos at the job site and make them automatically available with other information about the same job. This eliminates searching for signatures or photos residing in a separate place, such as someone’s cell phone.

Key Business Outcomes for Austex Fence & Deck

Since implementing NetSuite and NextService in 2020, Austex Fence & Deck has the modern, integrated technology it needs to support a thriving business that completes 1,000 jobs every month. This table summarizes the challenges Austex Fence & Deck faced with its antiquated legacy systems and the results the company has achieved so far—with more benefits anticipated when the NextService mobile app is implemented.

Challenge Outcome with NextService
Legacy systems could not adequately support the company’s reporting needs. NetSuite + NextService improved decision-making by providing a central, cloud-based platform for all data—thereby enabling faster, more granular reporting and greater accuracy.
Staffers created their own spreadsheets and resorted to other piecemeal measures to circumvent the poor reporting of the legacy systems. Staffers no longer waste time creating and updating spreadsheets as “workarounds” to the legacy systems’ reporting deficiencies.
Inefficient manual processes were being used to meet the company’s unique scheduling needs. NextService consultants customized the system to streamline how Austex Fence & Deck schedules different skills separately for each job.
The company needed modern software to support its practice of buying only the materials needed for current jobs. NetSuite + NextService tracks inventory accurately and allocates inventory from yard deliveries to job sites.
The old, on-premises legacy systems inhibited easy access to information, sometimes causing customer service problems. Sales reps and office staff can now readily access the information they need from anywhere, including their cars.

“Our operations are somewhat unique. But the NextService team was great with the installation and the customized features. There really wasn’t anything that we needed to do that they weren’t able to do for us.” – Lauren Lockett, Marketing Director