I have always looked at the newest products whether it was materials or technology. Most will always tell you how you are wasting your time and money on these “new” things. This is true if you get it because it is the new thing or upgrade.
I had my Blackberry Torch till the very end. It worked and did what I needed it to do. Everyone else had the newest and fastest. I was doing the same work they were. There were games I could not play. LOL
I was the first to commit to using the conveyor truck at my supply house. Everyone laughed. I figured it would save our backs and save a lot of time. I was right. It did not take long for everyone to follow.
My truck has always been my main office. I saw how a pager would keep me out meeting customers and on the jobsite longer. The pager came in ’91. It quickly became clear that running to find a phone booth when the pager alerted me to a call that needed immediate attention was a waste of productive time. The cell phone came in ’96. Pairing the 2 technologies saved time and money.
My Dad had a computer before I did. In ’98 I bought the computer and started to streamline my business. I recruited my oldest son Jesse in his senior year in college. The year was 2000. I did it just like any company would recruit a college graduate. I put together a package to offer him. A new pick-up truck, Nextel cell phone, laptop, and what my son Adam and I expected from him. His job description was salesman and office manager. He was the only one that worked in the office.
He had no sales experience and I never took him with me on a sales call. I did not want him selling like I did. I sold products. I wanted him to sell the company. He was scared. I told him that is what the Nextel is for. When you run into something you are unsure of beep me. I have seen just about everything there is to see. You describe what you see, and I will tell you what to charge and what to say to the customer. The Nextel phone is probably the most important technology that I introduced into the company. It produced enough money to purchase all the rest.
QuickBooks was big too. I built our website in 2000 with Front Page and a laptop. GPS for every truck came around 2002. This saves us so much time. We did not have to print out directions with every work order. Yet we still were wasting time giving the supply house directions for deliveries. I purchased a GPS and walked into the owner of the supply house and told him we would not be supplying him directions anymore. Gave him the GPS. That was the most cost-effective way to get him on board. How much time would I have had to spend convincing him this would be a good investment?
We have used estimating software since 2002. We now use DataForma. Our trucks have GPS tracking in them. It keeps my trucks within the speed limits. The driver and Jesse get a text if the truck is speeding telling the driver to slow down. If you are billing time and materials, this tracking will show the exact time spent traveling to their job and time spent doing their work.
A big revenue producer is the cell phone. Once you find a conscientious employee who is proud of his work, the time to get him in a truck by himself doing small jobs and repairs is down to almost nothing. What used to take years to teach him how to troubleshoot all the different possibilities, now can be done in real time with our phones. If he cannot figure it out, he texts me a picture. I use my Galaxy Note 5 to draw an arrow to the problem area. I also write on the picture what he needs to do to do the repair.
I do not buy technology because it is new and shiny. I buy it because it will give the customer a better experience with Holencik Exteriors. Whether the customer is the person who owns the house or our employees. Employees are our customers too.
Mark Holencik is the owner of Holencik Exteriors, Holencik Gutters and Holencik Insulation. See his full bio here.