Saturday, June 22, 2024
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Doing More with Technology


I have always been into technology and gadgets since I was a young kid.

I loved remote controlled cars and trucks, and I still do. It only made sense that I enjoyed doing my daily technologyroutines more efficient and effectively. This meant doing my work paperless. In construction there is so much paper that it is ridiculous. Tired of losing papers and sifting through files I sought out to find ways to take care of business more efficiently.  These have helped me to grow Painting Oregon Inc. from a one man (I gave “Painting Oregon one house at a time”  true meaning) show, to now 20-25 painters, 2 sales, and one office person in less than six years. We schedule all of our estimates through Apple iCal on the pads, computers, and iPhones, of course we link this up with google calendar as well for the one Android phone in the office.

This way we are all in the know.

Here is a quick rundown of some of the systems that I have used

  •  Pipedrive to move our prospects and clients down the sales pipeline.
  •  Tsheets for employee time tracking.
  •  Schedulebase to create the employee schedules.

Schedulebase emails and text messages schedule updates to employees, as well as allowing employees to request time off.

I created an excel spreadsheet that my estimator and myself use in the field on our iPads equipped with Life Proof cases using Quickoffice. This way we simply measure square feet and use our standards to have a number before we even leave the clients property.

We then use quotientapp to create and track our estimates for residential customers and large repeating accounts where a template makes sense. With Quotient app we can create templates of “notes” and “line items” to easily create estimates. The customer then can check on the accept box at the bottom of an estimate. When this happens a draft invoice is automatically created in Xero.

Xero is how we do our accounting. Cloud accounting that is sleek and very user friendly. I can easily create invoices for jobs on my phone, pad, or computer and email them off.

Again, templates save a lot of time.

Using Technology to manage the job sites and customers

technologyFor paint ordering, work orders, customer finish schedule, customer paint information, and change order documentation we use SwatchDeck. With one input I’m able to organize and share (email) the entire project to the paint store and my lead painter. When the project is complete we snap the photos of the paint can label stickers on the corresponding swatches and email the customer their paint schedule. This way all of our project information is stored in one easy to find place. Lead painters in the crew have SwatchDeck on their phones linked to our account and user name to give us real time updates.

This has worked great on a hotel project we are currently working on. The GC wants photo and room number documentation. With wallpaper, paint, and 20+ change orders daily its been very helpful to be able to take a photo of the area and add a note to it. I can then just email off the change orders instantly.

We are looking at a couple project management programs now and will update.

Have a question on any of these apps? Leave it below and I’ll be happy to share more!

19 thoughts on “Doing More with Technology

  1. Wow! I thought I had it together with the tech stuff being a 30 year old. But, as always I have a lot to learn! Great post and awesome tools! Thank you so much!

  2. Hey Brad, thanks for sharing how you use Quotient in your business – awesome!

    You may be interested to know, that although we’re down under on the other side of the world, the core of our hosting infrastructure resides in Oregon 🙂

  3. Hi Brad, Thanks for sharing the apps with us. Companies are missing the boat if they feel its not necessary to modernize their programs. You need every competitive edge you can find. It does not matter how large or small you are you still need technology to compete.

    1. Hi Mark,
      Thanks for reading and I’m glad you liked it. I completely agree on the modernizing of programs. Without the thoughts of folks always saying “theres gotta be a better way” we would just be left repeating our mistakes. SwatchDeck arose from the problem that I always encountered with customers calling me years after projects were complete asking me what paint we used on their home. I would then look through email or files for a color, then call the paint store, then call or email the customer back. Now its all right there for me. Change is difficult and takes time to happen. Which is fine as long as you don’t revert back to “the old way I used to do it”. Keep with the mind set of “theres gotta be a better way,” and there will be.

  4. I love tech and business too. There are a couple things I will definitely be trying! I’m wondering what other company’s painters, especially the good ones, the ones that are trusted to keep their own hours will think about the GPS tracking features of keeping time?

    1. A couple of months ago I committed to the new time tracking tsheets app FINALLY! I love this particular new (to me) technology for keeping track of hours. When you are working with one or two guys its one thing, but with the ability to accurately do that with a half dozen guys or more it really makes a difference it makes. Without the guys innocently ’rounding up’ and to have that information in real time is worth every penny it costs.

  5. Thanks for reading the article and I’m glad you will be able to give some of the apps a try.
    GPS tracking is just one of the features that makes Tsheets a time saving program. It doesn’t have to be used. I leave it up to my painters to turn on the GPS function or not. Tsheets is downloaded on each of their own phones so it is up to them at whether or not they hit the “OK” button to allow the app to use their GPS. Company phones do have GPS enabled. I also have some employees that have “dumb” phones and one that doesn’t have a phone at all. They simply go home or to the library to input their hours on the computer. Yea, I dont get the GPS tracking abilities but I honestly almost never check the GPS mapping. Although, it is interesting to see an employees day when we are in a hotel or apartment complex (it looks like they are doing circles all day). If you are suspect of an employee stealing time you can probably use some other means of time auditing (i.e. other employees, or a “pop-in”). What is so great about the time tracking applications is the fact that all hours are input into the system so that when payroll is being done, you run your report and each employees hours are there. No adding hours, trying to read an employees handwriting, or waiting for time sheets, and payroll can be done anywhere in the world. Not to mention the fact that you can see if your job is on budget or not by the day. You can also use the information to create better estimates for future projects. This helped us a lot on the bidding “lead” jobs.
    All in all the benefits far out weigh the scary factor of “GPS Tracking”. Pair your Tsheets up with direct deposit, and an online payroll service and you just eliminated over four hours of office work every two weeks or however often you run your payroll.
    We have used Tsheets for the last two years and its been great. Before Tsheets we used Chronotek for the previous two years which is somewhat the same concept with no GPS, the big difference was that the guys/gals would have to call in to clockin and call to clock out. The pricing was much more expensive in the summer or busy time of the year, as it is a per call fee. That is why I made the switch to Tsheets.
    When you check out some of the other apps let me know if you have any questions. Anything that is new takes some time to learn and understand. When we made the switch from Chronotek to Tsheets the crew was really upset. It took about two weeks and then I started getting positive feedback. As with anything give it some time and really dedicate some time to becoming an expert at it so that when the questions do arise you can have answers or at least know where you can find the answers.
    All the Best.

    1. I have chosen Insightly as our CRM program. Its simple and easy to use, and they are adding features pretty consistently. The best new feature is being able to schedule and send emails from inside the application. Create templates of your follow ups, appointment confirmations, and other emails you always send out once and then you just select the contact and send away. Really cool, now I’m just waiting for quotientapp to create an integration so we don’t have to double input contact information (come’on Nathan).

      For field management we have been using Slack for the last six months. Its a great app that allows me to receive pictures, instant messages, and other items from the crews in the field. We are also able to post any project specifics inside that single project. We have cut out a ton of email and text messages because of it. Now all communications are centralized dependent on the project and searchable. This makes it very easy to grab pictures, and see the story of a project for your blog posts. Super Sweet! Hope your having an ultra busy summer.

      1. Awesome! Thanks for reply. We will have to look into those for sure. I have been messing around with CorkCRM and it has a lot of great features. It is scary to take the plunge when you consider all the time involved in converting data and training a large staff. But it must be done.

        1. Thanks M. Implementing new technology is hard work. I typically, like to try out a new app or software for a minimum of a month with my operations manager only to figure out how to use it, and to understand his questions. If you have tech savvy challenged staff expect to spend more time with them=you need to know the ends and outs. Set an implementation date and stick to it. Introduce the new software to those that will use it two to three weeks prior to your implementation so they can play with it in their free time. It is a lot of work to make a switch, but when you finally recognize that your switch is now saving you time and money you will be happy camper or better yet off to the beach 🙂
          All the best.

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