Luke Hansen of Lincoln, Nebraska, yesterday afternoon explained to me how he came up with the companycam.com concept and we discussed the marketing challenges of his new online contractors’ photo management service.
The concept: Images taken on job sites around a business service area can be instantly updated to a centralized (private) registry — and then catalogued, managed and retrieved without problem.
Hansen developed this system while working with a roofing business. Site documentation images required hours of effort to manage and co-ordinate. The system saved him thousands of dollars in work-time, so he figured: Why not make it available for a modest monthly fee to other contractors?
Others such as Michael Stone have argued about the advantages of solid image documentation of your work projects. On the ICI side, progress images are considered a vital part of the project management process — you want to be able to prove that each stage of the construction process was constructed according to specs and validate that there are no hidden defects (and liabilities) to haunt you in the future. More immediately, the on-site documentation can help prevent conflicts and inconsistencies or at least help manage and control problems.
Hansen said the image documentation saved the roofing company where he worked thousands of dollars in refuting false claims. In one case, a homeowner said the contractor caused damage to the gutters while doing the work. With a few minutes of research, Hansen could find the relevant “before” files to show that the gutters were in exactly the same condition before the work started.
He says the system uses “GPS to automatically organize the images by address, and that you can draw on the images and write text that will stay attached to the images.”
(I learned the value of documentation from the consumer perspective about a year ago. In this case, a roofing contractor did shoddy work, failing to follow manufacturers’ specifications. We took a few photos of the work, and then cross-checked the manufacturers’ website for the installation instructions. Then we contracted with a qualified independent inspector to research and confirm our finding. After offering the contractor the choice of a 100 per cent refund or a complete re-do of the work, the contractor refunded our money. I’m sure we would have won easily in small claims court if it had come to that.)
A final aspect of the documentation process relates to marketing. Hansen says he is working on an extension to the system that will allow the contractor to select suitable images and include these with follow-up communications, inviting testimonial comments and social media postings. As well, of course, the photo documentation can be great proof of work for websites and presentation packages. You can select relevant similar jobs and demonstrate your workmanship.
Obviously, Hansen’s service won’t do much for you if you aren’t currently taking images in the first place. Virtually everyone has cellphone cameras, so it wouldn’t be hard to start collecting images once you have a cataloging and image management tool, which companycam.com provides. If you are already gathering images, you’ll most likely find an immediate pay-back in cost and effort savings — and will elect to continue with the service once the free trial expires.