Arbor Age

Green Media Technology and Software Special Edition - Aug'14

For more than 30 years, Arbor Age magazine has been covering new and innovative products, services, technology and research vital to tree care companies, municipal arborists and utility right-of-way maintenance companies

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Page 20 of 25 Green Media / August 2014 21 The vision Envision a system that costs $10 to $30 per month, which: • Offers a phone/tablet-based CRM system where each contact with each customer can be recorded by each person in your company. • Offers you a tablet estimating tool, which incorporates pictures and project itemization that easily prepares estimates on the spot during a prospect site visit where you can e-mail your customer a professionally produced estimate on the spot, incorporating photos (a portable printer in your truck solves anyone's need for paper). • Provides up-to-the-minute, real-time reports of outstand- ing estimates. • Provides tools for e-mailing prospects confi rmations of appointments, follow-ups, and even post job before-and-after photos for their records with your invoice. • Plots your pending estimates and pending jobs on maps to improve the scheduling and ease of site visits. An example of perfect execution Many contracting support fi rms are commissioning app de- velopers to create custom apps to make the vision above a reality. The customization simply implants arithmetic tools and fi elds where the service experts provide in the app design a capabil- ity for the app to calculate price by dimension of a job. For example, an installer identifi es the parts and work required for replacement, and takes a picture with his/her tablet. Each con- tractor has preloaded his/her individual pricing, determined by market and circumstance. The app produces the estimate for e-mail/mail to the customer and populates all the supporting systems for record keeping and continuous contact with the prospect. A click of a button gives a contractor a map spot- ting all pending estimates and jobs. An ideal execution of this program is HMI (, a concrete lift- ing and leveling contractor that commissioned Logical Engine (, a business app software developer, to create a system to maximize the effi ciency of their customers. A tour of that system, and the potential, can be viewed at http:// It's all about money and growth Some years ago, I began a consulting assignment with a small concrete contractor by asking him about his estimat- ing process. He told me: 1) It would take six years to train an estimator; and 2) He could not trust anyone else to do the estimates. I told him I was leaving because, if that were true, he is destined to be the same size company forever. That company is now deploying technology in estimating, has a full-time estimator doing 20 estimates a day, is four times larger, and that entrepreneur plays golf on the weekends instead of running around giving estimates. If you are happy spending hundreds of dollars per estimate, and limiting your growth, that is okay, and is one of the great values of being an entrepreneur — doing it your way. But what will your competition be doing next week, and what will your customers think? ■ Paul DelFino is a principal of the consulting fi rm Opportunity Inc. For nearly tow decades, he has assisted entrepreneurs in growing their businesses, responding to economic downturns and merger and acquisition activity. His publications include, "Skewed Entrepreneurial Strategies," available from all online booksellers. To learn more, visit Screen shots provided by Estimate Rocket and HMI

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