Seven Ways to Use Big Data in Roofing

By Ken Kelly, Kelly Roofing.

The biggest buzz word in technology today is “Big Data.”  You may not realize it, but you already have big data on your business.  It’s nothing more than a collection of records.  It can be a collection list, list of past customers, accounting numbers, time sheets or any list with similar fields.

The key to big data is how it is used.  Most people who have access to it are too far removed from business operations to utilize it constructively and use the results to improve their processes, grow sales, increase customer satisfaction and expand the bottom line.  Since you are on the front line, learning insights through validation will provide immediate ideas and help with implementation.

Here are seven ways you can use it immediately.

1 – Hiring Sales People

Entering the busy season your sales team starts running into issues keeping up with all the leads the company is receiving.  Your immediate reaction would be to hire another salesperson.  But, that’s a $100,000.00 investment and burned leads during the new salesperson’s training period.  There has to be another option.  Look to Bid Data for help to quantify options.  Calculate how many leads come from each zip code and balance them out among the sales team.  By quantitatively keeping salespeople in relative areas with balanced demand you will gain efficiency, cut costs, put off hiring another salesperson and keep response times down.

2 – Ad Spend

Is your advertising money really being used in the best way possible?  Are you sure?  How do you know?  Bid Data takes the guess work out of the equation.  Start by tracking all leads that come into the company by asking customers how they heard about you.  Next, take the breakdown and compare it two ways.  One, cost of advertising by sales volume.  Two, cost of advertising by margin.  You now have the information you need to start saving costs immediately by pulling money from programs that only deliver “Blue Sky,” general brand sentiment, and put it in vehicles that deliver real jobs with higher margins.

3 – Picking the Best Supplier

Strong relationships and good pricing are not the only criteria for picking a good supplier.  Consider letting big data help.  How much is your supplier costing you?  It’s an interesting question for sure.  Look to the data and answer these questions: How many times does the supplier not deliver on time leaving your crew stuck on the job without materials to work with?  How much have you overpaid for because deliveries were short?  Are you getting the payment term discounts they touted, or is the 2% back only on a few items?  These are all questions bid data can answer.  My suggestion is to arm yourself with the numbers and facts, then shop the market with the knowledge.

4 – Happy Customers

Are your customers happy with your service?  How do you know?  Is your team really delivering a great customer experience?  My suggestion is to start gathering data, so you have data to support it.  Add points to each answer and use the score to gauge the customer’s true impression of your company.  This valuable information will help steer your business in the right direction using facts, not feelings.

5 – Gamification

This is an up and coming concept and is starting to gain real traction.  Gamification is the art of assigning points to activities to quantify performance.  A few examples are:

  • When entering a lead into your CRM system, give points for the number of fields filled in and weigh the more important fields, like the customer’s email address, more heavily to encourage good phone skills.
  • Grant points, based on job size, for completing early or coming in under budget. Tie this to a bonus structure give to the operations team responsible for the project.

6 – Controlling Costs

We already discussed your supplier’s, sales lead’s and advertising’s effect on the bottom line.  Let’s look at a few more examples.

  • Fuel: Replacing vehicles with a more fuel-efficient variant may offset the vehicle payment and lower maintenance costs.
  • Insurance: Comparing loss ratios and marketing your company to carriers may help gain entry into an aggressive dividend return program.
  • Labor: By analyzing hours worked to dollars produced you can apply Prado’s 80/20 rule and eliminate the bottom 20% of your non-productive employees, non-profitable systems and non-performing crews.

7 – BI (Business Intelligence)

BI is the method of turning raw data into actionable strategy.  Remember, “You cannot manage what you cannot measure.”  There are many software programs that can help automate and chart BI.  Or, it could be done by hand via looking through the data manually.  These are the two most important parts of BI:

  • KPI (Key Performance Indicators: These are a set of goals that are set and then used to gauge accomplishments.
  • Predictive Analytics: This is the use of past historical performance to plan for the future.

Note: This article was first published in Roofing Contractor magazine and the full version can be viewed here.

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