CaterQuotes is piquing the interest of the catering equipment and supplies industry with the upcoming release of its newest technology. The company, known for its configure, price, quote (CPQ) software and online catalogue, is introducing a design product, the CQ Designer (CQD) Plug-In, powered by Autodesk.
Visitors to the recent Hotelympia trade show in London were the first to see a demo of the new design software. Using their current AutoCAD licence, CQD Plug-In users can automatically populate commercial kitchen drawings with CAD blocks directly from the CQ Catalogue. Currently, dealers, consultants and other design creators have to import CAD blocks one at a time into their AutoCAD drawings.
When a user makes changes to either the quotation they created in CQ or the related AutoCAD design, a change notice is automatically sent back to the other. Users no longer have to manually keep track of changes or worry whether their latest quotation and design versions match.
Furthermore, the CQD Plug-In also enhances a user’s AutoCAD experience with specialised 3D functionality that is said to be exclusive to the Plug-In and the catering equipment industry. This includes going from a 2D to 3D drawing with one click; aligning, rotating and auto-placing multiple 3D blocks all at one time with a snap feature; and adjusting object height with a Z-axis editor. The CQD Plug-In goes live to UK customers this spring.
“Our brand new CQ Designer Plug-In is the next step in the evolution for our company,” said Paul Shaw, operations director at CaterQuotes. “It allows users to apply design-based tools into a quoting system. We’ve been asked by CQ users for several months about the ability to design with CQ and we’ve been conducting trials of the software together with our UK partners. The feedback we’ve had so far is phenomenal – CQ is all about the efficiency and simplicity of quoting foodservice products and we’re now delighted to add this design element.”
For the 10-year-old company, 2018 has already brought promotions and new software features. Firstly, Paul Shaw was promoted to operations director, with the company feeling that his knowledge, experience and client relationships made him the logical choice for promotion.
One of Shaw’s initiatives is to ensure that customers realise the full value of the CaterQuotes software. “To the CQ team, it’s imperative that customers are using all areas of the software they subscribe to. To assist with this, we’re making a conscious effort to develop training animations and FAQ blogs to support all users,” he said.
Subsequently, Whitney Jones joined CaterQuotes’ US-based parent company, AutoQuotes, as vice president of operations. A SaaS operations and client services veteran, Jones helps support CaterQuotes and its UK users through AutoQuotes’ US-based technical and catalogue content teams.
New software features include a modern ‘card view’ design option in the CQ online catalogue. The new design displays images and highlights key product data, giving dealers and distributors what should be a more visual and intuitive option to search, filter and quote products. Manufacturers and vendors can use more high-resolution product images on the ‘cards’ to better represent their products. The CQ Catalogue now offers three product views to suit users – the card view; a text and thumbnail image view; and just text.
“We often engage with our customers to learn about functionality that means the most to them, like the viewing options,” said Shaw. “The CaterQuotes team listened to the industry prior to launching the new card view style and adapted the CQ software to match our clients’ search preferences.”
Shaw said that CQ is growing and is committed to supporting the demands of the market. The CQ Catalogue currently offers over 154,000 pieces of equipment, supplies and accessories from more than 200 manufacturers, with more being added all the time. He further believes that the reputation CQ holds within the catering equipment and supplies community is continually on the rise. For Shaw, this is in part due to the investment the company is placing in its team, infrastructure and marketing efforts, which will continue throughout the year.
“It is so important for us to reach out and support our network of clients,” said Shaw. “We endeavour to engage with our clients across multiple platforms on a daily and weekly basis to ensure we’re giving them the information they require. We’re investing our time and effort not only in product development and user experience, but in making a conscious effort to reach out and educate suppliers and dealers of the overall power of CQ. We understand how busy the schedules of our users are and it’s all about making the quoting system as pain free and efficient as possible.”
Shaw is proud of what he sees as CaterQuotes’ contributions to the catering equipment and supplies industry during its first 10 years, but understands that in this ever-changing industry no-one can rest on their laurels.
He concluded: “Our most recent testimonials suggest that we’re doing a great job in supporting businesses, but we welcome interactions with our team as we’re always keen to develop with feedback and to the requirements of our customers. We see this as a massive part of our product and software development.
“For the team in the UK, it is critical for us to support our customers and to make sure they are getting as much out of CQ as possible. Our plan for 2018 is to be available and supportive on all areas that concern CQ. We will not simply stand still in the market, but push the boundaries and evolve ahead of the curve.”