I am not what you would call a “tech guy.” But, I have ridden the wave and consistently been ahead of my competitors when it comes to implementing new ideas and technologies. I was finishing college in 1981 and, little did I know it, but it was the dawn of the “technology age”. l would watch my girlfriend punch computer cards like a computer major and I never understood it. Meanwhile, the personal computer was being invented and the world was about to change. Right after college, I started a painting business. I had no idea how computers would soon affect me. The technology I needed was a power washer and a sprayer. That’s what made me faster and better than other painters. So that’s what I invested in and my business grew.
In 1985, it all became clear. I bought an IBM clone from Epson and quickly saw how this new technology could help my business. On my new computer, I installed a crude contact management program called “Packrat” and put together a contract in MS Word(TM). I immediately had the ability to organize customer information and produce a professional, typed proposal quickly. I became faster and better than other painters, and my business grew.
In 1986, I got a laptop and a cell phone. At that time only doctors and lawyers had cell phones. My cell phone bills were outrageous! I still didn’t understand how it all worked. With a floppy disk, I was now able to synchronize information that my part-time secretary entered on the desktop computer mentioned earlier with my new mobile office (aka-laptop). I returned customer calls faster and managed my time and my crews more efficiently than ever before – and was way better than other painters. And my business grew.
By now, you get the point. Beepers, two-way radios, networks, more cell phones, servers, BlackBerries, tablet PC’s, websites and GPS continued the revolution. We embraced it all. That’s because these were tools we used over the years to get better, just like better sprayers. The trick is not to understand the technology, but to figure out how to capitalize on it.
Technology is the tool to make the processes you already have more efficient. Some of yesterday’s technologies are gone, but they all helped us become smarter, faster and more efficient than the competition. Recently we’ve implemented a whole new technology scheme: Google Apps for Business, Apple iPads(r), mobile devices, and Dropbox.com. Leveraging the “cloud” is our new vehicle for change.
We have now ditched our in-house server completely. This means we have all of our company’s information on the internet where it can be easily shared. We just purchased Apple IPad’s for our Crew Leaders. Actually, they earned them by selling Additional Work Orders. They now have the ability to access information from anywhere and everywhere. We can share contracts and scopes, training materials, time tracking, pictures of jobs, and lots of other information. Every day we come up with new uses for these devices.
Certainly, technology will march onward and I don’t have a clue as to what’s next. I still don’t understand much about how this stuff works. But I will take advantage of the opportunity to constantly be smarter, faster and better than our competition, whenever I get the chance.
All the Best,