2019 Update: This post was from June 2017. CompanyCam has made changes to its app since I wrote this post. The cons you will see below are not a concern anymore. The company has updated the software to address all of the cons. This really is the best app on the market for photos and videos for a contracting company.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you had an app that managed all of your photos of your jobs in one place?
It has been a real challenge for painting companies to take pictures of projects, organize them, share them with other members of the team, collaborate and store them. In this post, I want to share a little bit about the features and benefits of a cloud program called CompanyCam and see how this could be a good solution for painting contractors.
What is CompanyCam
CompanyCam is a simple cloud-based app that basically allows you to snap photos of your work and answer these questions:
Where was the photo taken?
When was the photo taken?
Who took the photo?
What is the photo(s) about?
Where Was the Photo Taken Feature
This is perhaps the coolest feature of CompanyCam and a major reason it is good for the construction industry. When using CompanyCam, all a user has to do is open up the app at a job site and start taking photos. The program will use GPS to determine where the user is located.
Let’s say an estimator arrives at a prospect’s home for the first time. He can open up the app and click on “Create New Project.” It will then provide a suggested address. If the houses in the area are close together, it might give him a range. He can then easily edit the location and create a job name. That is really all the typing that is required at this stage of using CompanyCam. It is super simple! Once this is done, which takes seconds, the field crew does not have to worry about organizing, sharing or typing details about photos. I’ll explain that step below.
2. When & Who Feature
Once a job name is created, an estimator can begin snapping photos of the job he is estimating. When photos are taken, the app records the location, the photographer, and when (timestamp) it was taken. See the screenshot below. I took these photos and instantly, they were saved and uploaded for the entire company to see. You can see that it shows the details of when, where and who took the shots.
All an estimator or field employee needs to worry about is taking photos; not tagging the photos with the where and when and who!
A painter in the field who wants to take further photos of his work during a project does not have to do much to get started. When he arrives at his job site, the app will automatically recognize his location. If a job name was already created by the estimator, the field guy just needs to start taking pictures. It will automatically organize the photos into the correct job. The only time this might be a problem is when you are painting a neighbor’s house. Then a painter would have to make sure he is using the right job name. Other than that, the painters just take pictures throughout the job and CompanyCam takes care of organizing the photos by who took them, when and where. It also makes it super easy to take “after photos.” At the end of a project, a crew leader can walk around the job site and take after photos from the same location/angle as the before pictures. All he needs to do is look through his before photos, click on the ones he wants to take an after shot for and tap the words “Take After Photo” from a dropdown menu.
If you wanted to write comments about a photo or “mark it up” you can do so using their built-in editing tools. Again, you do not need to leave the app. You snap a photo, click edit and begin marking it up with text, arrows, or circles. You can also write on the picture if you want. You can even type in measurements right on the photo. This might be helpful for a new estimator who needs help coming up with pricing.
This is a great way to have estimators and field employees communicate about a job. A field crew can review the job photos before starting a project and can see all the job notes just by viewing pictures. You can go a few steps further and comment on photos (like you would on Facebook) or do a little more organizing using a feature called “Tags.” Tags can be beneficial if you want to organize things like: Front of House, Back of House, Left Side of House, Before, Repairs Needed, Finished Shots etc. You can have tags preset so your field staff just has to tap on the tag(s) that best describe the photos being taken. The CompanyCam app is created in such a way that field employees do not need to be techies. It really only takes about 15 minutes to train an employee on how to use the basic features. In no time at all, your entire company will become pros!
Once photos are taken by anyone on the team, photos are accessible in many ways. Anyone in the company using the app on a desktop, iPhone or Android device can see (in real time) the photos being taken. If you wanted to share a link with a customer so he/she can see the progress of a job, you can do that by sending a unique link to your customer. Again, this feature is easy to use and requires very little training. Once you do it one time, it is simple to repeat the process. A customer can save the link you send them and always see the photos of their job.
Once the project is finished, your marketing team can download the best before, during and after photos and begin showcasing your team’s work.
A Few Cons of CompanyCam So Far
The CompanyCam app really is the easiest photo app on the market for contractors. There are only a few very minor “cons” associated with the app that I’ve seen. These cons do not, in my opinion, merit a company not using CompanyCam. I would look at them more as room for improvement. I am sure CompanyCam will make improvements to the program and make it that much better.
Here is where I see room for improvement.
- It is not an internal communications tool. In other words, this will not replace email, Basecamp, Yammer or whatever internal communication tool(s) your company already uses. I found that CompanyCam does not do a great job of back and forth commenting about pictures. When I tested out commenting on photos, I never heard back from the guys who took the picture(s). I really have no idea what happens to my comments. So at the time of writing this blog, I don’t see a reason to use the commenting features. It is more of an app to take pictures and have them auto-organized and stored.
- Lacks integration with other apps: This is not really a terrible thing. It is nice to keep everything in once place. Yet it would be nice to be able to archive the best pictures easily into a long term file app like Dropbox or Google Drive. Currently, it is very clunky to make this happen. It is a slow and manual process.
- Marking up Photos: It is easy to mark up photos. Yet the tools used are not as slick as some of the bigger apps out there like Skitch or other photo editing tools.
- No Videos: Your team can only upload and shoot pictures – not videos. CompanyCam told me it is on their roadmap for the fall 2017 to add videos.
Is CompanyCam Right For Your Painting Business?
I am hearing some great feedback so far from painters using CompanyCam. One of the things I like is knowing that the non-techie paint guys in the field are using it with very little effort. It just works! The price is $15 a month per user. I think the price is well worth the cost if you commit to using it. You cannot just suggest that your team use CompanyCam. You have to implement it as part of your system moving forward. I think this app serves a need for the painting industry, and I really believe it should be strongly considered for your organization.