Customer Case Study

How a Boutique Design-Build Firm Transformed Its Client Experience with Gather

“NEDC was seeking to increase our efficiency in the design process. Much of this had to do with organizing and coordinating on the FF&E/material selections and finishes schedules. In researching FF&E software, Gather stood out as the most feature-rich and flexible way to manage this workflow at NEDC.”

Daniel Tassinari, Operations Manager

Snapshot

One glance at the portfolio of New England Design & Construction (NEDC) reveals the firm’s rigorous attention to detail. While NEDC specializes in custom whole-home remodels, their portfolio includes everything from master bedroom additions to kitchen and bath updates.

As part of its commitment to quality, the NEDC staff is constantly seeking new ways to elevate the client experience. After years of relying on spreadsheets to manage the design development process, Dan Tassinari, the firm’s Operations Manager, discovered Gather. Since then, the NEDC team has saved innumerable hours and considerable productivity time for their clients.

Key Results


Countless hours saved on spreadsheet updates alone


Faster time to approval for residential projects


Improved client experience collaboration, and communication

Challenges

Ready to Bring Client Collaboration Out Of Excel Spreadsheet Abyss

The NEDC team was ready to move beyond its reliance on spreadsheets for the design development process. “Before Gather, we were reusing an Excel spreadsheet that we’d developed over the years,” says Grady Ragsdale, R.A. “We’d duplicate and customize our master template for each new project, which required manual entry for windows, doors, etc., as well as cost and corresponding vendors.”

Not only did Ragsdale’s team spend too many hours on manual data entry, but the process was prone to error and double work. These challenges only multiplied on bigger jobs. “Every time we received a new quote, or change request, we had to go back and update the spreadsheet again,” continues Ragsdale.

Because Ragsdale’s team relied on spreadsheets, they needed a separate process for converting those spreadsheets into something shareable with clients. “We’d create client-facing design boards in InDesign, including images and 3D modeling.” This design board was the client's first opportunity to see what all of their selections for fixtures, colors, and materials would look like.

This was also the step in which clients would note any omissions, or change their minds completely. That’s when the calls, emails, and texts would start flying back and forth. With multiple projects going at once, the volume of emails made it difficult to make sure the latest information made its way into the project spreadsheet.

Solution

A Simple Formula: Put the Client Experience First

Today, all members of the NEDC design staff regularly use Gather for design development. “We’re running about nine concurrent projects in Gather,” says Ragsdale, “with a couple of more coming online shortly.” Most of these projects are single-family residential renovations.

The primary reason that NEDC adopted Gather was to make it easier for clients and designers to collaborate. That is, one place to handle item selection, comments, to-dos, change requests—everything that comes up during the design development phase.

One Place to Organize, Discuss, and Update Selections

In other words, a single source of truth. “We’ve evolved our existing spreadsheet system,” says Ragsdale. “We love that everything is a hyperlink. It’s easy to drop items right into the software, make updates, leave and respond to comments.” Clients much prefer images over Excel-based text. And the ability to create schematic, design-level budgets of finishes saves the team ample time.

Today, NEDC designers and customers can:

  • Access a visual, feature-rich interface from any device
  • Discuss vision boards, specific selections, etc. without switching windows
  • Store all product selections in a searchable digital resource library
  • Source products directly from websites with an integrated browser add-on
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Notifications So Nobody Misses a Thing

“The interface reduces the amount of emails we send back and forth,” says Ragsdale. “We just send the client the live document in Gather, they make their selections, like or dislike items, and we get notifications on all of that activity. Nothing slips through the cracks.”

  • Notifications that NEDC can respond to right then and there
  • Centrally organized selections that are visible for clients and designers
  • Alerts for important dates, deadlines, and follow-ups
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Decisions and Design Board in the Same Place

Before Gather, the NEDC team used a separate process (InDesign) to create its design board. Now both parts of the design development process can be integrated into a single source of truth. In a couple of clicks, NEDC designers can output a clean, organized, and branded design board based on the latest project information in Gather, including:

  • Customized scale, corners, margins, titles and descriptions for multiple boards
  • Images and video from stored items or directly from web image search
  • Ability to comment and like different items on the vision board
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Shortened Time to Approval, Fewer Headaches = Big Wins for Clients

The NEDC team will always get the job done right. Gather helps Ragsdale and his design team get the job done smarter for their clients. “We’re connecting with clients better and getting to approval easier and faster,” says Ragsdale. “That’s what I’m hearing from my designers.” Internally, Ragsdale’s design team is saving countless hours on manual spreadsheet updates alone.

As a boutique shop, NEDC needs the ability to scale project load according to their in-house capacity. In the past, one of the main obstacles to agility and scalability was repetitious manual input. Now, the NEDC team can easily replicate the design development processes that work best for clients.

“I feel like my team is freed up to focus on the two things we’re known for: superior client experience and outstanding finished products.”

“Our primary metrics are quality of the final product and client happiness. We’ve taken a big step in the right direction with Gather.”

Grady Ragsdale, R.A., Design Director

Ready to go from spreadsheet-reliant to streamlined approvals?