Why Smart Contractors Take Tons of Photos
Photos are becoming more and more important to every roofing project — and it doesn’t matter if it’s residential or commercial, steep slope, or flat. To do the best work, make the fewest mistakes, and cover your butt, you need to have photos. In fact, you need to have almost everyone at your company taking shots.
In my family roofing company, we take photos and they definitely help our business.
Here are three key situations where you should take photos:
Sales and Estimating
The moment your salesmen get out of their trucks, he should probably start taking photos. It’s important to document the pre-existing conditions of the roof so nothing can come back to you after the job is done. We have our salesmen take at least 15 – 20 photos of every property we bid (and sometimes many more on big commercial projects).
They take photos of every side of the property, so at least four, and then one or two of the driveway. Your distributor will LOVE you if you save them a few thousand dollars by producing a photo that shows the driveway was already cracked before their truck was on it. After that, they hop up on the roof and take another 10 – 15 photos.
We want them to take enough photos so if they get hit by a bus, (God forbid!), someone else at our company could put together the bid without having to go back out to the property. So, they take photos of the layers, vents, skylights, gutter apron, valleys, boots, etc.
The salesman will use these photos to estimate the project. Having images also allows them to get opinions from other salesmen or management. They don’t have to try to explain anything, they just show us a photo and we figure out how we want to bid it.
The photos you took during the sales process are going to come in handy when you’re getting ready to do the job. At our company, we review all the estimating photos with the crew in the morning before they go out. This gives them a chance to ask questions and clarify things before they’re out on site. This has gone a long way toward minimizing installation mistakes and miscommunication.
After the crew gets to the job site, they immediately snap a photo. We use this photo for time tracking, because all the photos we use are time and date stamped. They also take another photo when they’re finished with the job.
The crew leader knows that he also needs to document anything unexpected that pops up. This usually comes in the form of rotted decking. We charge extra for replacing rotted wood because it’s extra work and material. We don’t often have a chance to show the customer the rotted area in person, but now that we have photos we can just email them over. We get almost zero complaints about the extra charges because they can see how bad it looked before and how good it looks now that we replaced it.
Most importantly, we have a visual record of everything we did at each job. You never know when it’s going to come in handy, but it definitely does.
Finally, we get to take pretty pictures. Only a roofer can truly appreciate the view of a freshly completed roof — and it’s even better if it’s still got a few chalk lines on it.
Our crew leaders take a few pictures of the completed project, and then our inspector goes out in the following weeks to check over the work and take more photos. These are the photos we use in our marketing. We share some on Facebook, show them to customers, and even wrote a blog series titled “Roofs of the Week.”
We use our photos to sell more jobs. Our clients typically don’t know roofing jargon — they couldn’t tell a gutter apron from a ridge vent — but they can appreciate how a new roof makes their house look so much better.
Keeping Track of Photos
If you take as many photos as we do, it will get hard to keep track of them. We solved this problem by building an app called CompanyCam that allows our employees in the field to take photos that are automatically organized by the address where they are taken. The photo files are compressed and then instantly sent to the Cloud so they’re available across our whole company in real time. It works great for us, but there are other solutions out there.
Most good project management software programs like Dataforma and Acculynx have a mobile app that will allow you to take photos and connect them to a project. Contractor’s Cloud, another Cloud-based project management software program, is integrated with CompanyCam, so any photo you take with the CompanyCam app will be connected to the project in Contractor’s Cloud.
Lastly, you can use services like Dropbox or Google Drive, but then you have to rely on your employees to manually upload the photos to the correct folder on a regular basis. This can work, but it takes time and you must be extremely diligent.
If you’re disciplined in taking photos throughout the entire process, you’re going to save yourself money, headaches, and most importantly time. Selling more jobs is just a bonus.