My family’s home exteriors company (White Castle Roofing) took over 100,000 photos last year. That probably seems like a lot to you, but we’re planning to take twice as many this year. Why? It’s just good business.
It Starts with Your Salespeople
The first thing our estimators do when they arrive at a new project is take pictures. They take photos from every side of the property and roof. Usually about 15–20 pics total. We need these photos for several reasons.
We want to have several sets of eyes on every estimate before it goes out to the customer. But it’s hard to check over an estimate if you haven’t seen the project, which is why we use a special app (which I’ll mention later) to share photos throughout the company so we can simultaneously look at the photos our estimator took while we’re checking over the estimate. This has drastically cut down on our mis-bidding.
2. CYA (Cover Your Butt)
Nothing is more frustrating that when a customer is refusing to pay their bill because they think you damaged some of their property.
Did your guys dent their gutters?
Was that mark already on their garage door?
Was the driveway already cracked?
Who knows?!? You might, but if you don’t have evidence then it really doesn’t matter.
Our “before” photos have saved us a lot of money and headaches in situations like these. If a customer claims that we damaged their property we just pull out the before photos from their project and see what they look like. Often, the damage was already there but they hadn’t noticed it (or were pretending it wasn’t…)
3. Planning and Preparedness
No one wants to get a call from your foreman on the job site telling you that you don’t have the right materials.
You’ll end up wasting an hour driving around and trying to get things straitened out. Better planning and photos could have saved you here!
We have a quick meeting with every crew before we head out to a job site. We run through the “before” photos our sales guys took and we make sure everyone is on the same page.
Does the materials list look correct?
Do you have any questions about anything?
Do you have what you need?
This five minute exercise will add years to your life. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress and hours of driving.
Doing (and Documenting) the Job
Most sales guys are already taking photos with their phones, but many companies still don’t have their install crews documenting their work.
That’s a problem.
We have our installers periodically take photos throughout the day — especially when something isn’t going according to plan. A great example of this is when we find rotten wood.
We charge extra for replacing rotten wood, so we want to make sure we document every piece of rotten wood we replace with before and after photos. That way there won’t be any arguing with the customer over whether the work was actually done and whether it actually needed to be done.
A picture is worth 1000 words and can be worth $1000 if it helps justify what you’re charging.
Time to Show Off
Taking good photos after you finish the job is hugely important for marketing and selling more jobs. Your potential customers probably don’t know the difference between Vinyl, steel, or fiber cement — but they do know what looks good.
You need to show them beautifully transformed home exteriors and help them see what their home could look like if they decide to hire you. Obviously, photos of your work are the best way to do this.
But We’re Contractors, Not Photographers!
Yeah, yeah, I know. You don’t want to waste your whole day taking photos and trying to keep them organized. Neither did I, which is why we built an app to handle that for us. It’s called CompanyCam.
CompanyCam runs on iPhone, Android and the web. When you take photos with CompanyCam we use your GPS location to connect those photos to the right project and then we sync the from the field to the office. No more texting, emailing, or uploading photos. CompanyCam handles everything automatically so your guys can focus on the work.
CompanyCam has tons of cool features (like drawing and writing on photos!) but I’ll stop here, because I’m starting to blush from all this self promotion.
The point is that you need to be taking lots of photos — before, during, and after. It’s good for every part of your business.
Luke Hansen is the Founder and CEO of CompanyCam, and camera app and photo management system for Contractors. Previously he was the Marketing Director at White Castle Roofing in Lincoln, NE.