Category: <span>Virtual</span>

How to Virtualize Your Business During A Shutdown

By Anna Anderson and Kandi Hamble

The world has been shifting beneath our feet in these past few weeks. As more and more people must transition to working from home, many business owners are wondering how to keep their business running. Kids out of school, bills, cash flow, and even worry about how our lives will change are all worthy distractions to combat – with love and clean hands.

Here are some things you can do to work from home, keep your employees and customers safe, and help you weather these current events.

1. Set Up Your Workspace

Having one area where you will always work while at home can help set expectations for everyone at home, including you. You will most likely face one of two scenarios:

  • You are able to dedicate a room in your home where it is nice and quiet
  • You will be surrounded by your family because they, too, have been sent home

Set up in a room where you can close the door if the kids get too rambunctious. Having a quiet place where you can work is ideal, but not many people have that option! If you need to share space with your family, consider creating a corner in your living room or at your kitchen table. Limit visual distractions as much as you can (I set my desk up to face a wall).

Another important part of moving operations from the office to your home is forwarding calls. WikiHow has a tutorial covering how to forward calls from a landline, android, and iPhone. If you have a phone service for your office, talk to them about forwarding calls -and voicemails- so you and your team can remain available to callers.

Your team will also need a proper setup to work from home. It should include anything they need to complete their job. For instance, your accounting and customer service teams would need a computer. Are your technicians performing roof repairs? Helping delivery essential supplies? Think about what they would need and help supply it.

No matter where you set up, organize and treat the space as if it were your office. Dress up and be professional to help keep your mindset focused on work. Take breaks from your home office throughout the day, just as you would at the office. Leave the area once your day ends. Work is done and it’s time to play!

2. Digital Connection

Face to face interaction has great value. Just because we must practice social distancing right now does not mean face-to-face interaction should go by the wayside. When you need to talk to employees or customers, use video conferencing instead of calling them.

Video conferencing apps such as Zoom and Skype can be easily used for remote meetings. Each has free and paid accounts which are easy to set up. They can also be used when you need to see a potential job site.

Consider setting up a weekly group check-in or short daily ‘coffee breaks’ where you and your team catch up on day-to-day life over video. Make some of these breaks be about life instead of business to help your team stay united.

Set up instant messaging to help replace talking in the office. We use the Google suite, so Google Hangouts is how our team gets a quick answer to something. We also have a chat thread dedicated to funny memes and non-business conversations. Although running a business requires dedicated, serious people, we still need levity in our days. Other options include Slack or groupme…even MarcoPolo could help grow a shared culture.

Using an app such as Asana or Hygger can help you and your team track daily goals as well as keep the whole team on the same pages for projects. Here are some more options you can look into for your business.

3. Have a Working Website

While this is low on our list, a working website is just as important as your team being set up to work from home. Right now, people are on the internet much more than usual. Keep your home page up to date with hours and how you are responding during our current events. Have a easy to find contact form. Your CRM should be connected to your forms, also.

4. Limit Distractions

Working from home can present many distractions – especially now. Kids, laundry, dishes, pets, that TV show you wanted to catch up on…If you wouldn’t do these things at the office, you shouldn’t do them while working from home. Set clear boundaries for your work time and home life.

  • If you live in tight quarters, everyone will have to adjust to this season. Ask your family to keep their voices down as they do their stuff (you may need to, also).
  • Being able to shut a door to the rest of the home can help. If you’re the social type or have younger kids, keep the door open so you can still hear the family buzz without being overly distracted. When you absolutely need to be left alone, put a “do not disturb” sign on the door.
  • If you are able to work while listening to music or a podcast, put on some headphones and listen. Those can help block out other distractions so you can focus on the tasks at hand.
  • If you have pets, they can really help you stay sane; however, they can be distracting as they also adjust to you being home. Help them know what to expect during this time by being consistent with what you allow. They’ll catch on that when you’re in your workspace they need to leave you alone. To get out some jitters, take your dog on a walk during break times. Our cats seem pretty chill, so give them attention as they want it, as long as they don’t take you away from work.

5. Be Intentional About Time

Time is your most valuable asset. Having a proper setup and good time management will help as you and your team work from home.

Add structure to you and your team’s workday:

  • Have set ‘office hours’ so your customers and team knows when you are available
  • Keep track of what you need to finish each day – either through a checklist or an app
  • Split your day into sections, such as emails first thing in the morning
  • Make a plan of what can be done and what will wait until the Stay At Home orders have lifted
  • Set alarms for regular break times
  • Block off time throughout the day to spend time with your family
  • If you have meetings, set up independent activities for kids beforehand

Having set boundaries for your workday versus when you can run errands, do homework, walk your dog, or play with your kids is critical to working remotely. Setting your mind on work can make all the difference!

6. Be Smart About Snacking

Food. It is one more thing to stay aware of when working from home. If you planned your meals and snacks when you worked in the office, continue to do so. If you haven’t, now is a great time to start. Keep healthier snacks like nuts and fruit on hand. I notice how much easier it is to ‘boredom snack’ when working from home. This leads to fluctuating blood sugar which leads to distraction and…weight gain. Keep (or set) good habits and follow them.

7. Have Grace

Our generation has not lived through a global pandemic – while this is new to us, it isn’t new to history. This is the perfect time to practice grace and empathy for yourself, your family, your team, and your community.

  • Have grace for yourself. Expect for things to be slow going at first and to have kids show up in meetings for a while. While productivity can be a good thing, this is a time of adjustment to a new way to live.
  • Have grace for your family. This is new for them, also. Each person will have their own adjustments and fears. This time can help you grow closer to each other.
  • Have grace for your employees. Transitions will take time and things won’t always run smoothly. Don’t expect perfection right out of the gate! Work through any issues as they present themselves.

To help during this crazy time of physical distancing and closures, we still have so much to be grateful for! Let go of expectations of ‘normal’ and find something new each day to be thankful about. Find a way to get outside each day, move your body, and cultivate beauty during this dark time. We will get through this together, from six feet away and through our computer screens.

RECORDING – RT3 Special Webinar #2: This week’s buzz and tactics for running your virtual roofing business

The Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3) hosted their second webinar in its special series geared toward helping contractors successfully navigate running their businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Topics include:

Commercial Roofing Technology Expert: Michelle Boykin, Rackley Roofing

  • How Rackley Roofing made their commercial roofing company 100% virtual and an update on how the first full week went

Residential Roofing Expert: Ken Kelly, Kelly Roofing

  • Technology that allows us to work from home and handling employee pay while at home
  • Securing materials for emergencies and for when things open up again
  • Leadership tactics and keeping employees focused and calm
  • Budgeting and cash preparation
  • Where I’m getting my information to make good decisions from

Commercial Roofing Expert: Steve Little, KPost Roofing & Waterproofing

  • Business and financial perspective
  • Update on the government programs and what he’s hearing from manufacturers and the industry

Marketing Expert: Anna Anderson, Art Unlimited

  • Google changes and opportunities with new NextDoor tools, renegotiating contracts for cost savings
  • Digital compliance, remote tools and virtual portholes

Sales Expert: Ryan Groth, Sales Transformation Group

  • How the market is responding overall to their efforts, in lockdown markets and non-locked down markets.
  • Best practices for sales leaders transitioning to virtual management
  • The technology and methods being used for prospecting and conducting sales appointments

If you missed the first webinar in the series, you can watch the recording here.

Webinar Recording: Virtualizing Your Roofing Business in Light of Coronavirus

March 18, 2020 – During this worldwide pandemic, many owners of roofing companies have questions and concerns about their ability to thrive in this uncharted territory.

In this webinar recorded March 18, 2020 you’ll hear the following roofing industry experts share their insights on how a roofing company can virtualize their business to avoid the inevitable impact of the virus.

Marketing Expert: Anna Anderson, Art Unlimited
Sales Expert: Ryan Groth, Sales Transformation Group
Commercial Roofing: Steve Little, KPost Company
Residential Roofing: Ken Kelly, Kelly Roofing
Legal Ramification Expert: Trent Cotney, Cotney Construction Law

Access the Master Resource Document here


How technology is improving safety conditions for roofers

By Kate Foster, AccuLynx.

Construction sites can be dangerous. The hot sun, large machines and high surfaces all combine to create a potentially hazardous environment. Luckily, advancing technology is providing roofing companies with numerous tools to improve safety conditions for their crews. Everything from virtual reality to slip and fall sensors, technology is changing the way roofers conduct business.

Here are some of the types of technology that is helping keep roofers safe.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

While augmented and virtual reality are not new inventions, their use in the roofing industry is more recent. Augmented reality allows roofing contractors to create detailed safety plans and impose them directly over the layout of the construction site so that they are accurate and easily understood. Augmented reality is also useful for training. Employees can be trained on real sites with augmented hazards, so that real life experience can be gained without the danger element.

Another application of augmented reality is to help with gathering aerial measurements. No need to get up on the roof and risk a slip or fall when you can take measurements from the ground. This ability to take measurements without being up on the roof improves safety greatly, as the risk of falling is cut down to zero.

Virtual reality also improves safety conditions for roofers. Virtual reality has been used for training across all fields, from the military to the medical field, and can be used for roofing as well. Employees can be safely trained to perform skills such as operating heavy machinery without the risk of potentially dangerous mistakes.

Wearable Technology

Another way technology is improving safety conditions for roofers is through wearable technology, or wearables. Wearables can be built into PPE safety equipment that is already used on the jobsite, such as construction helmets or vests, making it an easy element to add to your safety protocol. Wearables can include useful technology including biometric devices, GPS or location trackers, voltage detectors, and slip and fall sensors.

Biometric devices can monitor respiratory rate, skin temperature, and heart rate, helping to identify fatigue and heat illness early. Biometrics can also be used to tell if someone is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or other substances that could stand as a risk on the jobsite.

GPS and location trackers can be used to provide a workers location if they have fallen and hurt themselves or passed out from heat illness. GPS and location trackers can also be used to designate certain areas as hazardous or restricted and sound alarms or notifications when a worker comes too close to the area. Voltage detectors can provide warning if an area is charged and unsafe to approach, helping workers avoid potential electric harm.

Slip and fall sensors are a particularly important component of wearables. The leading cause of death in construction is falling, so a sensor that can provide immediate notification that a worker has fallen is invaluable in the field. This rapid notification of the event combined with biometric information and GPS location can help make sure the injured worker can get quality help as quickly as possible. When used all together, the many applications of wearables combine to ensure roofers do not have to over-worry about safety while on the job.

Site Sensors

Site sensors are another way technology is improving safety conditions for roofers. Site sensors can be placed all around your construction site and provide you with valuable information about the environment. They can measure heat, noise levels, particulates in the air, and the presence of volatile or hazardous compounds. This information allows your crews to limit their exposure to harmful environments and remove themselves from a site that suddenly becomes unsafe.

Another benefit of site sensors is that they can ensure your worksite complies with OSHA regulations. This way you can be sure that your worksite is up to code and have the numbers to prove it.

Worksite safety should always be a priority. Technology has helped make it easier to keep your workers safe from harm, allowing them to be trained more easily, monitored, and notified of hazards. By implementing these technologies, you can provide precautions against injury and create a safe workplace for yourself and your crew.

Get more industry news and insight delivered right to your inbox when you sign up for the RT3 SmartBrief e-newsletter. 

Source: AccuLynx

3 Virtual Reality applications for roofing contractors

By Michelle Mittelman, AccuLynx.

Virtual and augmented reality games may have originally been developed as entertainment, but are finding new applications across different industries every day. Innovative uses for these emerging technologies are starting to carve out quite the spot within the construction and roofing sectors as a way to help homeowners visualize their projects, and for contractors to provide more accurate estimates and safety measures for their crews.

Roofing Virtual Reality Applications for Homeowners:

The most accessible application of virtual reality in the roofing industry for homeowners is the ability to see products and visualize projects ahead of time without having to visit the store or job site.

It’s not until the project is finished that you know what it’s actually like to stand in the space. By that point, of course, it’s too late to make any meaningful changes. [source]

Technology has already significantly evolved the shopping process for homeowners looking to repaint or re-shingle their homes. Online applications like the GAF Virtual Remodeler are giving homeowners the ability to visualize the changes using actual photos of their home to help them make decisions alongside their contractors, giving them greater control over the process.

Using Technology to Help Educate Customers and Sell Your Services

Roofers who can provide virtual reality tools during their sales process can help homeowners make educated decisions regarding their homes, and ensure that they feel comfortable working with a professional contractor.

Virtual reality can be used to help educate homeowners. GAF’s virtual reality feature includes interactive teaching points that can help explain different roof structures and products to customers. It allows you to point out exactly what is wrong with a roof and actually show homeowners why it is a problem. This feature is helpful in ensuring that homeowners understand what is going on with their home and makes interactions with your client more informative and professional.

After discussing why a roof needs replacing, your sales team can use augmented, or computer generated virtual reality technology to digitally overlay recommended products onto a house at the job site as part of a sales pitch. As part of your customer service model, helping homeowners make informed decisions for their home with the help of virtual reality can give your company an edge when compared to basic paper estimates.

“By engaging clients early on it prevents costly fixes later and keeps clients interested in the project. They can see their vision, they know they’re heard, and they know work is being done. It makes augmented reality in construction a major investment in reducing costs for re-work” [source].

This augmented reality can also be used to the advantage of your estimators and sales team.

“3D modeling acts as a crystal ball, allowing contractors to look into the future and spot errors before they’re made. Simply by exploring the 3D model with virtual reality glasses, [roofing] professionals can spot errors and tweak designs before the work crew starts”. [source]

Offer Virtual Estimates

Another aspect of virtual reality that makes your job easier is removing the problem of scheduling conflicts. Homeowners cannot always be around to meet with someone from your team and vice versa, so it can be difficult to schedule a time when both parties can meet. Some companies are using virtual reality to resolve this problem by offering virtual estimates.

“3D modeling and BIM programs, which made huge advancements in the field of project modeling, can now be adapted to VR tools, to visualize a fully virtual representation of an idea in a new dimension at a relatively low cost point. Put simply, the user sees a 3D display through a headset and can get an ‘all-round’ view by turning their head to the side, up and down”. [source]

A drone operator take images of the house that the contractor uses to create an estimate and leaves behind virtual reality goggles. The homeowner can then use the goggles when they have time to view a virtual tour that explains the estimate. Both your company and the homeowner can do their part when it is convenient for them, resulting in a more efficient process that skips over any messy scheduling

Providing these 3D models to your foreman and crews can also help your team visualize the project before it begins, so they see and understand what the homeowner does –

“Many of the problems found in the construction industry are directly correlated with the inability of field personnel, designers, architects and engineers to truly experience a project before it is built.” [source]

The uses for virtual reality are growing everyday, especially in the roofing industry. Virtual reality allows your company to show what a project will look when its done, educate homeowners with ease, and prevent schedule conflicts, proving its usefulness. Ensure you stay up to date on the newest technology by employing virtual reality at your company today.

Stay up-to-date with the latest roofing and technology news when you sign up for the RT3 Smart Brief newsletter. 

Source: AccuLynx

Roofing Technology Think Tank Goes to Microsoft HQ

By Jill Bloom, RT3 Member and Publisher, Roofing Contractor.


The Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3) met Monday at the headquarters of Microsoft Corp. to talk tech and how roofing contractors can embrace the exciting opportunities it offers today and in the future.
The day consisted, in part, of a series of “Tech Talks” starting with Ken Kelly, president of Naples, Fla.-based Kelly Roofing, RT3 board member and winner of the Microsoft Modern Small or Medium Business category of the 2015 Visionary Award.

Kelly presented an overview of Microsoft’s Dynamics platform — how it’s changed his business by streamlining operations while growing, and has the potential to do even more. Microsoft Dynamics is a line of enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management software applications.

He used elevators made by Thyssenkrupp by example. Kelly said some of the elevators made by the company are equipped with technology that can run a test, create a service ticket, find a tech with the best credentials for fixing the problem and automatically schedules a service call – all without a human involved until the problem is actually being fixed.

Kelly said, “we can let our minds run wild on how we could use this technology in the roofing world.”
Kelly wasn’t the only one presenting at the RT3 meeting. Others included Scott Dwyer, business development director at Microsoft Power Objects, and Bill Kramer director of product marketing for Microsoft Business Center. They, too, addressed the potential of technology on various industries. At one point, a video demonstrated how a service technician could guide another person on how to perform a repair (in this case on a four-wheeler ATV) with both parties wearing virtual reality goggles.

The day also included a tour of Microsoft’s Internet of Things lab, where attendees of the RT3 event were able to see some of the amazing technology in the works — many aimed at addressing health and health care needs.

In the second part of the day, participants broke off into groups to develop a task list of how to promote RT3 and what members are learning about, along with ways to inform others in the industry about new technology for the industry.

RT3 was formed to act as a conduit for curating knowledge on technologies that can help contractors and the roofing industry overall. Formed in July of 2017, the group has grown from 20 founding members to more than 60 and incorporated as a 501c6 in 2018.

Source: Roofing Contractor

COINS Grand Challenge fosters innovation

Every day, three workers die on US construction sites. There are simply far more job sites than safety inspectors, and many sites don’t receive nearly enough inspections to ensure the safety of workers. That is a problem Ardalan Khosrowpour is tackling with his company OnSiteIQ. A startup venture that began in 2017, OnSiteIQ provides users with weekly virtual tours of job sites based on high-resolution photographic scans. This allows inspectors to see more job sites, thereby increasing the number of safe sites around the country.

“It’s pretty much like Google Street View for the construction site,” Khosrowpour said. “We enable our clients to document the site remotely, inspect the site, and do progress updates.”

While this is a great idea that can certainly benefit the entire built industry, sometimes it can be hard for a startup like OnSiteIQ to find footing or traction. Hoping to spread the word in the industry and receiving some feedback—Khosrowpour entered OnSiteIQ into the COINS Grand Challenge, an open competition put on by COINS, a leading built industry software company based out of the United Kingdom.
“We are trying to uncover the next generation of innovators and entrepreneur in the built environment,” said Robert Brown, the CEO of COINS. “We are really just looking for people who have genuinely innovative ideas that will potentially make a difference in the industry.”

Brown stressed that the competition has two main objectives, which is why COINS has hosted it for the past four years. Not only does the company want to make the construction industry a more appealing and attractive industry, but COINS also sees this as an opportunity to give back to the industry.

“We genuinely believe that with success comes a responsibility to give back to society as a whole,” Brown said. “That’s part of our core DNA as a business.”
The competition is divided into two categories – the open competition that is open to anyone over the age of 18, and the undergraduate portion, which is exclusively for university students. In each of those categories, entrants compete in two different challenges: New & Emerging Technology, and Leadership. Eight finalists are chosen and receive an inclusive trip to present their projects to a group of 12 judges with extensive industry experience (this year, BuiltWorlds’ own Bryant Donnowitz was a judge).

Companies and ideas like OnSiteIQ go before the panel of judges to receive feedback on their products.

“What better way to validate your idea, your business model, your team, and your technology than being judged by 12 different judges who are experts in their industry?” said Khosrowpour.

Much to Khosrowpour’s surprise, OnSiteIQ cleaned house at the Grand Challenge. Not only did the company win the open competition’s New & Emerging Technology category, but OnSiteIQ took home the Investment Award—and more importantly, $150,000. With those winnings, Khosrowpour plans to further develop OnSiteIQ’s technology, add new features, and expand the company to catch up with the application’s growing demand. He is thrilled by his success at the COINS Grand Challenge and thinks the event is having a significant influence on the built environment.

This will have a very positive impact on the industry,” said Khosrowpour.

Note: This article first published on BuiltWorld’s blog and can be viewed here.