Hundreds of construction professionals throughout North America have experienced a unique form of customer support from a construction software vendor: free help sessions in or near the customers' cities. Instead of the customer traveling to the software vendor's city, the vendor in effect comes to the customer-at no charge to the construction company.

Since launching the program in late 2007, hundreds of executives, estimators, project managers and office personnel have attended more than 25 Helpinars throughout the United States and Canada. By year-end, more than 25 Helpinars-devoted to HCSS's field management, resource management, estimating and other products-will have taken place in 2009 alone.

HCSS implementation and support specialists-typically five to seven per Helpinar-have traveled from Houston to conduct the sessions in cities from Vancouver BC to Miami and San Diego to Boston. HCSS believes that the free, travel-to-your-customer sessions are unique not only among construction software vendors, but also in the entire software industry. Given the expense and time that HCSS devotes to the Helpinars, the company is often asked: Why?

"Admittedly, it does sound unusual for a software company to travel at its own expense to your city for the sole purpose of helping you," said Mike Rydin, HCSS president. "But there's a reason behind it: Helpinars help us illustrate our commitment to customer service and contribute to the HCSS goal to develop high-quality software products that make construction companies more efficient and knowledgeable. The sessions help customers use those products as effectively as possible, and also educate our employees about how our customers use our products.

"HCSS employee travel and preparation for the Helpinars is not inexpensive," Rydin continued, "but being available to our customers in their local areas-where it's convenient for them-is priceless."

Average attendance at an HCSS Helpinar-typically held in a hotel conference room-is 30 people; the largest event has drawn 65. Attendees represent almost all construction-company job titles, including executives, project managers, estimators, office and financial staff and IT personnel.