Conducting Construction Project Estimates Virtually — Yes, That’s Now A Thing
As Dallas-Fort Worth-based Footprints Floors watched the coronavirus pandemic shut down large swaths of the economy, the installer of wood floors, laminates and carpets feared a steep loss in business. After all, employees are unable to enter clients’ properties to conduct project estimates.
“We saw that as a major hinderance to us to doing any work. People cannot let us in their house,” Footprint Floors CEO Bryan Park said.
Without initial estimates, any type of installation or construction project simply doesn't take off in Park's world, so shelter-in-place orders and general fear from customers about letting someone into their homes put his firm and franchisees in a state of limbo.
With the help of two Footprint Floors franchisees, Alan Boden and Fabio Simoes, Park launched a remote estimating service that allows customers using FaceTime and Skype to interact with Footprint Floors estimators online.
Through this remote link-up process, the firm's estimators can analyze the project area via video feed and guide customers through the measuring process to issue project estimates.
“We have them prop up their phone, so we can watch them do it,” Park said. “If we know what they want to do and what kind of product they want to use and what square footages we are looking at, we can put together a pretty accurate proposal for them.”
The solution immediately made a difference and saved one customer from falling by the wayside because of social distancing requirements implemented nationwide over coronavirus concerns.
“It was an existing estimate and they were going to cancel it because of this, and we were able to carry on and do the estimate virtually rather than lose that opportunity,” Boden said.
The company intends to keep this new service line for its customers after the national crisis ends.
“We had never really thought about it before,” Park said of virtual estimating.
“We were starting to get feedback and nervousness from actual estimators, too, so it’s a win-win,” he said. “We are keeping our employees and franchise owners out of harm’s way and also we're able to provide an opportunity to make some money for our franchisees.”
Simoes believes virtual estimates have always been in demand, and the pandemic just made that existing demand more apparent.
“I think going forward this is going to be a game changer even after this whole craziness with the pandemic disappears,” he said.
The customers who will benefit most are those who have always considered in-person estimates inconvenient due to their distance from a franchise location or other situations that make on-site work a burden, Simoes said.
The global pandemic proved to Footprint Floors just how well customers perceive virtual measurements, particularly when the customer plays a pivotal role in developing the final result.
“We’ve had a huge response from customers,” Park said. “I have been surprised. I think there is a certain level of ‘we are all in this together’ even with customers. They see a company like us trying to keep our crews and our technicians busy and feeding their families and they respond.”