Thursday, June 7, 2012

SoapMaker 3 Professional Software Review

I am terrible about the office work of my business.  It's not that I don't like it, it's that I don't have time so I cut corners and tend to not take it as seriously as I should.  I'm also unorganized in that aspect of my business.  My recipes, pricing, ideas, and plans were all penciled in several volumes of journals.  I didn't calculate profit and overhead into all of my products, and I certainly didn't look at the potential of my business.  As my direction has changed and my business has grown over the years, I have become more serious about the office work.  So when I saw an advertisement for the SoapMaker 3 Professional Edition software for soapmakers, I decide to make the investment and get more organized.  What I found was I was really not doing things correctly.

I did not have a good grasp on my supply or product inventory.  I was seriously undercharging for my all natural soaps (eo's are a small fortune).  My batch notes were scrawled on post-its and backs of envelopes, which I would then misplace.  And I was generally disorganized in keeping track of my business.  Not any more...

SoapMaker 3 Professional Edition software
The SoapMaker 3 keeps track of all your supplies, your recipes (soap and non soap), and your products and sales.  It is very easy to use.  When you first get started, you will spend many hours entering all of your data, but it is worth it.

The SoapMaker 3 does the following:

Supplies
  • Tracks supplies and lets you know when to order more
  • Determines pricing of supplies for recipes
  • Tracks your purchases and suppliers
  • Even stores extra info like the INCI names

Recipes
  • Allows you to enter all of your recipes for soap and non soap products
  • Auto-magically determines all of your COG for each product
  • Shows the percentages of your ingredients in each recipe
  • Even has a bar graph to show the qualities of your soap recipe, hardness, lather, moisturizing ability, etc.

Products
  • Tracks the batches you make and when they are finished curing
  • Auto-magically deducts the ingredients in the batch from your supply inventory
  • Tracks sales of products
  • Even allows you to put a photo of the product with the batch

What it doesn't do, but I wish it would:
  • Allow you to add labor costs, overhead percentages, and profit into each of the batch figures to get even more accurate pricing, instead of having a separate spreadsheet for that.
  • Provide more reports and lists  - I like to print reports and lists so I can see the big picture better in all the categories, but there isn't much to do in this arena
  • I would love for this to connect with an accounting program like Quickbooks.

All in all this is a fantastic piece of software for a steal at $89 for the professional edition.  If you are a member of the HSMG, you get 10% off.  It is worth its weight in gold as I can already see how it is saving me time and money, and I just started using it.  I was quite impressed with the ease of use, the cross referencing between products, supplies, and recipes, and the amount of thought that went into this product.  It is not just a run of the mill program that is altered to fit many industries.  It is clearly for soapmakers and whoever designed it is a genius.  That's right, a GENIUS!

I am so excited to get my office organized and take charge of the paper side of the business of soapmaking.  And it is a major relief to be able to track my batches and get my pricing right once and for all.  Is anyone else using this? 
 
Bath Alchemy by The Bonnie Bath Co.

 

 

 

12 comments:

  1. Yes, and I love it! I had been using an online lye calculator prior to purchasing the SM3 software, and was a little wary at first about the slight differences between it and the SM3 calculations. But I gritted my teeth, went ahead with it (fingers crossed), and have never had a failed batch with this software (at least, not one that was its fault)! I love having all my recipes easily accessible, and being able to track my supplies, purchase orders, and finished products. The best feature is the ability to enter my own mold dimensions (I have several, including PVC circular molds) and I can resize my recipes to fit any mold with accuracy. I got the 10% discount as an HSMG member, and it was worth every penny. Highly recommended!
    ~Shari at Blossom & Twig Artisan Soaps

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  2. Oooh! I haven't tried the mold dimension thing yet. I have several that are odd ball sizes and never remember how big the batches are supposed to be for the ones I don't use as often. That will come in handy.

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  3. I can't say enough about this software! I just started making soap within the past year, but as a former (many moons ago) programmer, I am sincerely impressed. Once I got serious about making soap, I realized that the *many* little purchases I was making were adding up, and I needed a way to keep track of what I was spending, what I was spending it on, and who had the best value for my money. And that's just scratching the surface of what this software will do! Believe me, you are going to LOVE it!

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  4. I was excited to find this amazing gem of software. However has anyone any suggestions on where to get a list for specific gravities? Also do you put in your other tools like measuring cups..and etc.? Let me know thanks. Holly

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  5. Thanks for responding, Everyone. Looks like we have a few impressed business owners. Holly, for the specific gravity, I list everything as 1 as most suppliers don't list this info, and I see no major points of how this will affect anything I put into the database. So far, I have only listed molds in the tools.

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  6. When I was reading one of the tutorials for SM, I found that you can add labor and overhead in. You create an ingredient for your labor, so $/hr and then add it in the the recipe. I put mine under packaging. You can do the same for overhead costs, but it was harder for me to calculate and then enter. So, I took an average for what I had in my other spreadsheet and went with that. Probably not as accurate, but it works. Just be sure to mark them as "not for inventory" because you don't want it reminding you that you are low on labor :)

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  7. I am also a programmer and I am very impressed with the software. I now realize how much I spend with my main "dope" dealer BB and I need some kind of intervention.

    I have a wish list as well:
    I would love to be able to add an addictive on the fly, while creating a recipe.
    I would also like to have it estimate a suggested selling price and a profit margin
    It would be nice if it could produce some labels or populate the cigar bands.

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  8. Heather,
    That's a great idea. I will do that for my labor and overhead.

    Monique,
    I'm with you. I'm gonna send an email to the company so that perhaps these can be added to a future release.

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  9. Thanks for all the info. I'm just starting out and had been leery on purchasing this program. I will definitely be purchasing this tonight!

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  10. Heather,

    Yup I just got done reading that today - adding it under packaging... Great tips here.

    The other thing - if I am confused use the HELP tab and type in your question. Most answers have step by step and pictures on where to click for next steps. Pretty handy program!

    PS Erica, after reading some older tutorials on "starting a soap company". I read a lot about COG and how they are in the .70 to .90 cents (?) could this be because the economy was different at the time they were written? Or using non-organic lower grade ingred?

    Just curious, since I am trying to use as much USDA organic ingreds. as possible or non-refinded product per say. It seems the avg. COG for me has been $1.00 - 1.35 - also depending on EO used since EO prices differ so much. Eeek - sorry if to many questions...

    PS love your blog! Thanks Holly

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  11. PS - Sorry have you already blogged about the whole USDA certification area or not?

    Well in a (long) nut shell my opinion - the reasoning behind the USDA cert. is great - I get it, I belive in it. However after spending some time on the phone with a local certifier to go over the process (not to bad like writing a research paper)..but when it came to the costs, I was shocked! For someone just starting out, using all the good ingred. the costs associated were shocking. Seriously if a soap maker makes $1.00 over $5G, and only has 1-5 products certified - avg. $1100-$1300 depending on certifier. Annually - just to get the certification. .... Just would like more conversation on this topic from those in the field. Anyones thoughts, opinions, trials...etc. I really feel the good idea for truth in labels for cosmetics is going to hurt the small shops, soapers/lotions/bodycare makers... perhaps not soapers since it near impossible to certify soaps with the lye... anyhow. Thanks Holly

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  12. Hello Erica, you can put your labour costs in under 'additives', say 25 dollars per hour, then when you write up your recipe you can simply add the amount of hours it took and it will be taken into your final costings. There is a Yahoo group, "Soapmaker" that Crawford monitors. He likes to know what to add into the program when he is putting out an update. He is VERY good and very accommodating.

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