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Portal, you are making a SERIOUS mistake
This thread has 323 replies. Displaying posts 1 through 15.
Post 1 made on Monday July 9, 2018 at 18:00
3PedalMINI
Loyal Member
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July 2009
7,671
Ok, first off let me preface this by saying I certainly understand that all businesses incur costs, and your business model has always puzzled me and how you stayed free. None the less its been fantastic, but this latest move leaves a really nasty taste in my mouth.

First of all the email you sent earlier reeked of disrespect and almost desperation. I have and I know many others who have moved to your proposal systems almost exclusively. I understand you built the system on the grounds of making money on the distributor side. However there are some major vendors that do not accept your PO's (Control4 for one) is a huge drawback and why I don't use your system for POs. I also do not like the fact that there is no choice in billing options for selected vendors. It just uses the default credit card on file. Personally I rotate credit cards for maximum points but I imagine quite a few guys rotate cards due to delays in customer invoices, high credit etc. etc.

You have no other options for making money? The blatantly obvious one is sending invoice, credit card options to vendors etc (you guys would obviously make a cut on the processing) there are many ways I see you guys could make money that im sure many of us would be happy to oblige. But here is what really frustrated me about your email. You have the option of sending only 4 proposals a month without incurring a fee, meh, not great but better then none. Or then consistently order through the system....see above for reasons. what really rubbed me the wrong way is order 5k worth of product to get it free. This is where this strikes me as being painfully out of touch.

Most of us are small businesses. We have peaks and valleys year round, and in some months may not even invoice 5k a month. There are some people in markets that use your system that barely do 50-100k PER YEAR in revenue. Which means hitting that target is nearly impossible.

Now onto the pricing, again, I understand you guys have a large overhead and you need to make money, but $50 a month? COME ON! that is absurd. it does not take a rocket scientist to do the math, $600 a year? Nope. We can go to d-tools and cut a deal at Cedia that would make our break even around 1.3 years. I Know there would be some manual labor involved in keeping up with the prices but you get what im saying. (their maintenance fee is also lower if you chose to have access to their catalog) most of us have our catalogs and invested the time in getting it set up.

this is what I feel happened. You guys pushed an update that doesn't work (still doesn't work) You had cost over runs and need to recoup some of those costs. you knew a lot of dealers had exclusively moved to the system and now you feel were so deep we'll just pay. I haven't opened up d-tools in over a year but the second I have to pay for your new buggy website is the second I and many others open up our D-Tools. I would STRONGLY suggest rethinking this strategy. I don't mean to sound like an entitled prick but that email really rubbed me the wrong way.

I would love to still support you guys but I think the time spent redoing the website should have been used to develop an invoicing system or other ways to make revenue. Your new website has serious issues, it still was NOT ready to be released.
The Bitterness of Poor Quality is Remembered Long after the Sweetness of Price is Forgotten! - Benjamin Franklin
Post 2 made on Monday July 9, 2018 at 18:26
InVision Systems
Long Time Member
Joined:
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March 2010
118
The only problem I really have is the cost. $50 per user seems pretty steep for what you get. Iím sure the goal is to get dealers to 💩 or get off the pot. Meaning use Portal the way they want you to (run poís through the site, buy Select directly), or ante up. $15 per user per month seems more inline.

We have actually moved on to Simply Reliable in the last 8 months because of limitations with Portal. We still use Portal for one off retro/quick installs that do not demand a ton of design/engineering legwork.
Elevate Technologies
Nashville, TN
Post 3 made on Monday July 9, 2018 at 18:34
andrewinboulder
Senior Member
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1,306
Go any likes/dislikes you want to sound off on with regards to Simply Reliable? Price?
Post 4 made on Monday July 9, 2018 at 18:40
Brad Humphrey
Select Member
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February 2004
1,811
I didn't even know they redone the website. Honestly, I've been signed up for over a year but have never used the service once.

I found the website to be horrible to navigate and find what I'm looking for. I just looked at the new site, it is a little better but I think it is still horrible. How hard is it to put the manufacture list in alphabetical order! You have 200 manufactures listed to scroll thru.
And once I even get a list/category of what I'm looking for, there is still no way to sort the list (in order of price, name, etc...).
I also still have several vendors that I can not setup, do not support, or would take incredible effort to do.

I to have wondered how in the world they could make money?
I mean distributors are not giving them a significant cut are they? It is hard enough for distributors to make money, why would any distributor give up more margin for customers they already have! That is crazy! And to be honest, if I found out it was a significant cut, I would be mad! Why do I NOT get better pricing ordering direct with them, would be my WTF moment with that thought. I would feel the distributor is cheating me on margin "I" desperately need - instead giving it to a new middle man.
I feel to be fair and for them to make money, there needs to be a subscription fee for their service. All their service. But I believe they did that when they 1st launched and no one was interested. Now we have this mess. :(

Just my $0.02
Post 5 made on Monday July 9, 2018 at 18:48
InVision Systems
Long Time Member
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March 2010
118
ďGo any likes/dislikes you want to sound off on with regards to Simply Reliable? Price?Ē

Love the customization options, the analytics, the digital proposals. The primary reason we moved was the integration of Smart Office and DesignMachine (architectural drawings). You drop the proposal file into DesignMachine, connect the equipment virtually, and the wire schedule, wiring diagrams, and floor plan drawings pop out.

There are a ton of different ways to setup products and services but because of that, it took me a moment to change my thought process during the proposal phase. That took a listless time. Setting up your catalog of products can take some time. To get the most of the product, setting up the different types of projects (retro, new resi, commercial, exc.) and their individual scopes exc. can take some time. Thatís why we used Portal through the transition and had intended to use Portal for the easy retro repeatable projects.

Pricing varies on what you need but we pay $1200 a year for Design Machine and Business edition of Smart Office, another $60 a month for a 2nd core edition user (project manager) and 3rd technician edition which is free (app based work orders).
Elevate Technologies
Nashville, TN
Post 6 made on Monday July 9, 2018 at 18:53
InVision Systems
Long Time Member
Joined:
Posts:
March 2010
118
On July 9, 2018 at 18:40, Brad Humphrey said...
I didn't even know they redone the website. Honestly, I've been signed up for over a year but have never used the service once.

I found the website to be horrible to navigate and find what I'm looking for. I just looked at the new site, it is a little better but I think it is still horrible. How hard is it to put the manufacture list in alphabetical order! You have 200 manufactures listed to scroll thru.
And once I even get a list/category of what I'm looking for, there is still no way to sort the list (in order of price, name, etc...).
I also still have several vendors that I can not setup, do not support, or would take incredible effort to do.

I to have wondered how in the world they could make money?
I mean distributors are not giving them a significant cut are they? It is hard enough for distributors to make money, why would any distributor give up more margin for customers they already have! That is crazy! And to be honest, if I found out it was a significant cut, I would be mad! Why do I NOT get better pricing ordering direct with them, would be my WTF moment with that thought. I would feel the distributor is cheating me on margin "I" desperately need - instead giving it to a new middle man.
I feel to be fair and for them to make money, there needs to be a subscription fee for their service. All their service. But I believe they did that when they 1st launched and no one was interested. Now we have this mess. :(

Just my $0.02

I had a lunch with a distributor who immediately began to pitch me their exclusive speaker brand that has limited distribution. Showed him the brand available right now on Portal select. He was 😠.
Elevate Technologies
Nashville, TN
Post 7 made on Monday July 9, 2018 at 18:57
TAAVS
Long Time Member
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September 2003
170
Jesus, talk about a Pennie pincher. You do realize you can expense the cost of software dues on your taxes right?

Theres no way you can get D-Tools for $50 per month, and for that matter, no one is giving us a cash rebate on a debit card for ordering product.

The only exception is large companies (Crestron, Sony, Lutron) after a certain amount of product ordered and then in various methods of credit but not cash you can use for whatever you want.

Portal is perfect for the small integrator. And it was created because the disty's and manufacturers have terrible electronic ordering platforms.

I wish Portal would stock and ship all the product.... at least then all would be consistent in the chain of events.
Post 8 made on Monday July 9, 2018 at 19:51
Ranger Home
Super Member
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June 2007
3,292
I always heard good things about the proposal system. I never used it. Beyond that, i really dont see the value in using it to order anything. i have a few times, but it was never easier than going directly to the source so why bother?

But you can always bet that when something is free, it wont be always free.
Post 9 made on Monday July 9, 2018 at 19:56
Mario
Loyal Member
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November 2006
5,654
On July 9, 2018 at 18:57, TAAVS said...
Jesus, talk about a Pennie pincher. You do realize you can expense the cost of software dues on your taxes right?

You obviously don't know how tax deductions work, it's not a dollar for dollar.
For a company that does 60k a year with 10% margin, this simple $600 proposal software just cut into 10% of leftover yearly profit.
At 33% tax bracket, this software is still costing me $400 a year
Post 10 made on Monday July 9, 2018 at 20:32
Oz AVI
Senior Member
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1,141
On July 9, 2018 at 19:56, Mario said...
You obviously don't know how tax deductions work, it's not a dollar for dollar.

I'll second what Mario says, it astounds me that people talk about claiming expenses on their tax as if it doesn't actually come out of their pocket.
All that 'claiming expenses on your tax' means is that it comes off your taxable income.
We still have to actually pay it!
And I'll add Teamviewer to the list, for a commercial licence, they charge $50 ($67 Aus) per month, I only use Teamviewer half a dozen times a year, wtf!
Post 11 made on Monday July 9, 2018 at 21:50
MNTommyBoy
Advanced Member
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Posts:
November 2010
895
I would echo the sentiment of Brendon here. I know I've spent $50 a month in worse ways in the past (home advisor, AL, etc), but that's quite a jump from $0.

I'm sure Kirk and his team are paying attention. I'm also sure they will get More than an earful at CEDIA. (what a bad time to raise prices)

What is also strange is the flow of the business plan behind this increase. When I first signed on a few years back it was $30 a month... no problem. Later, Free Free Free, everyone gets something for free...awesome. Now, it's $50 little man, put that sh** in my hand. if that money doesn't show, then you owe me, owe me, owe.

Overall, free was too much of a good thing, I get that. If that email said you're going back to $29.99/month (like the Supply Stream days), I would have ok, cool, whatever. Instead, it's a bit of a slap in the face.

Can you imagine if Spotify or Pandora or Netflix did something like that? Or if I used answer customer texts and emails for free, and then started billing them?
"Every word you just said was wrong." ~ Luke Skywalker
Post 12 made on Monday July 9, 2018 at 22:00
Stryker
Long Time Member
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Posts:
November 2010
380
Increase your margin. Up your rates. Sell more. Sell Less at higher profit. Itís not that itís a tax Write off. Itís a business expense. So figure your business out accordingly. Teamviewer costs $1200 a year. Dtools $5000, new computer hard ware $10000. Tools $5000. Office space $14,000 Build your business to cover expenses and make a profit.

The problem with these things is that they change. So maybeeyou had no money budgeted for proposal software because Portal was free. Well stupid you. Budget for the unforeeen. Adjust move on. If you like portal service then pay for it and get to work
"If they give you ruled paper, write the other way"
Post 13 made on Monday July 9, 2018 at 22:23
edizzle
Loyal Member
Joined:
Posts:
March 2005
5,802
On July 9, 2018 at 22:00, Stryker said...
Increase your margin. Up your rates. Sell more. Sell Less at higher profit. Itís not that itís a tax Write off. Itís a business expense. So figure your business out accordingly. Teamviewer costs $1200 a year. Dtools $5000, new computer hard ware $10000. Tools $5000. Office space $14,000 Build your business to cover expenses and make a profit.

The problem with these things is that they change. So maybeeyou had no money budgeted for proposal software because Portal was free. Well stupid you. Budget for the unforeeen. Adjust move on. If you like portal service then pay for it and get to work

yep
I love supporting product that supports me!
Post 14 made on Tuesday July 10, 2018 at 01:39
Ernie Gilman
Yes, That Ernie!
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December 2001
29,300
Stryker's got it.
Oz AVI expanded some on Mario's thoughts, and I've got a few more...
On July 9, 2018 at 20:32, Oz AVI said...
I'll second what Mario says, it astounds me that people talk about claiming expenses on their tax as if it doesn't actually come out of their pocket.

Before I started a business, I thought a business deduction was the cost of items, and the total amount of those costs came off the tax you pay. Anyone who still thinks that has, as I had, no idea what business and expenses are about.

Then I learned the simple fact that instead, business deduction means you don't have to pay taxes on the income you generated that made it possible for you to buy that item. You don't have a direct reduction of tax. Instead you have a reduction of taxable income. And how is that not a fair way to apply things?

All that 'claiming expenses on your tax' means is that it comes off your taxable income.

Yes, as I said.
We still have to actually pay it!

You ignore that every deductible thing you buy results in you having something, and you don't have to pay tax on the income that you had to have to buy it! Of course you pay it, but there's no difference between deducting the cost of, say, software from your bottom income line and deducting the cost of all the gear you sell from your bottom income line. Do you want to lower your expenses? Stop buying gear for clients! Fire your installers! (This last method was applied to salespeople by Circuit City. They had a temporary jump in income.) You can, you know!

And I'll add Teamviewer to the list, for a commercial licence, they charge $50 ($67 Aus) per month, I only use Teamviewer half a dozen times a year, wtf!

You are completely in control of that money flow. Stop it right now if that's really how you feel about it.

You have chosen (remember, it was your choice!) to INVEST $600 per year so that you can use Teamviewer any time you want to. See -- you GET SOMETHING for these expenditures. And while you complain about price, you don't tell us whether Teamviewer saved you a thousand bucks every time you used it, while it cost you only $600 per year. Frankly, your argument makes it seem like you think you made a poor choice in having Teamviewer. If it was not a poor choice, well, then, that's how much it costs.

Don't like paying $600 a year for Teamviewer? Stop it! Cancel!
A good answer is easier with a clear question giving the make and model of everything.
"The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." -- G. ďBernieĒ Shaw
Post 15 made on Tuesday July 10, 2018 at 07:56
Dawn Gordon Luks
Founding Member
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Posts:
September 2001
1,137
Dear Portal,

Let me get this straight.

You now want to charge us for the new buggy version of Portal that generates substantially subpar proposals to the prior version?

And on top of that, the cost went up from the original $29 to $49.

Makes a lot of sense. Count me in. [Sarcastic tone]
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