How the contracting tech space has changed in the last 15 years
The specific tech stack that Piers would recommend if he were starting a contracting company from scratch
The difference in mindset between ‘early’ adopters and ‘late’ adopters and where each path leads
The process you should be using to both select and integrate new software into your business
How Covid has permanently altered the way contractors use technology
Where Piers sees technology evolving in the contracting space in the next 10 years
Watch Episode 34 of the Contractor Evolution ShoW
Listen to Episode 34
Read a Summary of Episode 34
Technology is changing the construction game, and fast!
Whether it’s lead gen or estimating, bookkeeping or time tracking, there’s software out there to help you with virtually all aspects of your business.
But, randomly buying software isn’t going to fix everything in your business. In fact, if you don’t know how to navigate this world, you can do yourself more harm than good.
For the evolved contractor, the methodical development and implementation of your tech stack is essential to your growth, no matter what size your business. That’s why in this episode we welcome Piers Dormeyer. Piers is president of construction and utilities at EagleView Technologies, Inc., which uses geospatial software that takes estimating and project planning to a whole other level.
EagleView owns more than 100 aircraft that are constantly flying over towns and cities in North America taking high-resolution aerial photos of buildings and properties that then get turned into hyper-precise diagrams accurate to 1/10th of a foot – a game-changer in construction estimating. No wonder more than 54,000 contractors ordered an EagleView report last year.
Piers’ background gives him a unique perspective on technology’s influence in the contracting industry. He joins us to share some of his insights into technology and its future in contracting (and allay those tech fears).
Q: How has the incorporation and adoption of technology changed the construction space over the past 10 years?
While tech existed in this space a decade ago, Piers says the biggest change has been that technology has gone from being “neat to necessary.” Piers adds that while contractors may come under the gun for not embracing technology, the truth is, the usability has sucked up until recently.
One tech that really stands out to Piers is the CRM: “CRM platforms have really proliferated, and the technology has gotten to the point where they’re easier to use, they’re easier to implement, you don’t need a master’s degree or to be a CIO to make them work for your business,” he says.
Another standout tech he says has been financing tools: “[Today] it’s easier to get to ‘yes’ with a homeowner.”
Q: Tech is an investment – and often a costly one. What do contractors risk losing if they don’t get with the times?
Simply put: Time.
At their heart, Piers says, “tech developers are selling an automated process that gives you more time to do other things.”
Also, given that everyone is so tech dependent, you’re going to find it more difficult engaging the workforce if you insist on remaining an old school player. “You’ve got salespeople now that use tools like SumoQuote, and if you’re looking to hire somebody, they’re going to be a whole lot more difficult to bring onboard if you don’t have a tech stack that they can do the job with,” Piers says.
Q: If you were starting a contracting company today, what types of tech would you choose and implement?
Piers says there are 4 Key Areas he would concentrate on:
1.Nail down the front end of your business. “This is absolutely vital, and the CRMs are really critical to that mission,” he says. Questions to ask that facilitate choosing the right platform include: What is your main function? What areas do you want to expand into?
2.Get your estimates right. “Estimating will affect your soft costs, selling costs, and operational costs,” Piers explains, adding that EagleView is one of several tools that “will really help you get measurements correct at the beginning.”
3.Recruit content specialists to target your market appropriately. “If I’m going into business, I have a real sharp eye on the marketing side of things. I would be hiring content strategists, who are easy to come by. They’re not particularly inexpensive, but they’re important,” he says.
4.Build your social media presence. “This is not a choice anymore,” Piers says, pointing out it’s necessary for brand development as well as for generating leads. He also recommends investing in tools like Hootsuite to manage your posts across different social media outlets.
Q: How can you ensure you’re implementing tech effectively?
Developing a tech stack that addresses all your needs is one thing (it can easily take a year for large companies to make the proper selections), but ensuring the components ‘speak’ to each other (no incompatibility issues) is another.
Piers’ solution is relatively simple: reach out to the experts. “We [at EagleView] have an entire team dedicated to implementation: they are there to understand what you are having hang-ups with and how to get our tool to speak to another tool,” he says.
Q: How does successful implementation make it easier to attract new talent?
It helps increase your talent pool because it eliminates the need to seek out experienced, qualified personnel, Piers says. Instead of spending weeks and months training newcomers, in many cases the newbies can learn from the software. “You can hire somebody right out of high school who’s really engaging and will be super effective in front of a homeowner, and they’ll gain experience as they go,” he says.
“I know someone who runs a successful national remodeling firm: he won’t even hire people with experience in the trades, because they come with too many bad habits that are hard to break.”
And a final thought . . . ensure that you’re ‘easy’
Piers has a parting thought for Contractor Evolution listeners: “You should be asking yourself, ‘Am I easy to use?’” he says. “Because the usability of a company is absolutely key. “So ask yourself: what parts of our process are painful for my target market and customer? What are the areas I suspect might be painful? How do I work out the friction points and become more usable? That’s the key to breaking through.”
At the end of the day, don’t miss out to the competition by ignoring tech.
Piers’ insights about tech in the contracting space make for compelling listening. He offers some great examples of contractors who implemented tech early and the impact it had on their business, plus he delves into the impact COVID has had on tech. We guarantee it’ll make you think about how to augment your own trajectory.