Updated: Jan 26, 2021
Aside from falling through someone’s ceiling, it’s hard for a surveyor to feel more embarrassed than when they have to re-survey someone’s home. It’s time out of their day. If their bonus structure depends on new-surveys, it’s also a lot of money out of their wallet. For the company, it’s a delay to a project, lost revenue, and an inconvenienced customer who may be less-likely to recommend your company.
Sometimes, a re-survey is out of your hands. It may be raining or snowing, the homeowner may have stood you up, or there’s an environmental concern discovered like asbestos or a hornet’s nest in the attic. Other times, that re-survey is absolutely your fault. You forgot to take a photograph of the utility meter number or the attic shots of your tape are blurry and illegible. These are the worst since it’s definitely your fault that you, your company, and the homeowner are a little peeved.
Getting to #OnceAndDone
This is probably stating the obvious that the fewer times staff visits a site, the higher the margin will be on the job. You want your team to be in a Once-And-Done mentality. Each person on the staff touches the project once and moves it along just like on an assembly line. This is a way to keep your customers happy, your staff happy, and your bottom line happy.
A surveyor who doesn’t know what to measure and what to photograph is not ready to survey. This is one of the easiest things to eradicate. It’s also really important to limit your liability. Train your surveyors to recognize every bit of information your designer and crew lead needs before install. Having to update a permit the day before install is a terrible feeling especially if your AHJs (like the ones in my area) take weeks to months to review a permit application.
Surveyors should be able to recognize and document:
Roof types including membranes
Membranes are really important if you use U-Anchors to set your racking
What needs to be measured, sketched, and photographed
What to do if they encounter wildlife in an enclosed space
Overhead service drops
Many of these could lead to a day-of-install DQ. A lot of money has been spent on this project up until now. Not a good look for the company.
Not every site is the same and, depending on the time of day and the weather, sometimes you may want to perform the survey in a different order. Having a process for each part of the survey is critical. It helps a surveyor remember to do everything and they get faster at it. There are only a couple ways that I can think of to effectively set and follow a process while surveying a site: pencil and paper or software.
Pencil and paper is a basic way to set a procedure for performing a survey. It probably takes multiple pieces of paper and some surveys will take way more pieces of paper than others.
Pros: Cheap, basic, easy, anyone can do it
Cons: handwriting not always readable, no reminders if someone skipped something, paper records can be lost or destroyed or blown away (I’ve had each of these things happen to me), retrieving paper to revisit old surveys is not always managed well. All stopped if there’s no writing instrument.
Software is the more expensive option and does require some smartphone/tablet capability; however, it also simplifies much of the subsequent processes.
Pros: handwriting no longer relevant, reminders for required fields possible depending on the tool, data cached or saved automatically to the cloud, reviewing old surveys is as easy as reviewing any other survey
Cons: gets expensive with more users, blurry photographs are still a thing, sometimes more complicated depending on the software, requires a certain level of capability with a tablet or smartphone, cell reception can stop use, all stops if device loses power or jumps off the roof
Implement a software solution
Software solutions are intimidating. How do you know if you’re getting the right one? What will happen to your data if they go out of business? What if I don’t have any staff qualified to run a software tool like that? These are legitimate questions but should be answered quickly because it will save your company money and improve your employee morale.
Having surveyed both with pencil and paper and with survey apps, I can personally vouch for how much better it is with an app. Being unable to submit a survey without certain data is worth it by itself. What other bonuses do you get with software?
Designers and crew leads have fewer fits of annoyance from bad or missing photographs.
Designers’ numbers don’t get damaged because the surveyor missed something (designers sometimes have bonus structures as well).
Less chance for nonsensical numbers like 22,000V service panels or 15A main service breakers.
Can merge these types of apps with field management solutions and reduce dependence on yet another app.
Software does require training and picking the right one for your needs is important.
Go one step further with Coperniq
Making sure your software solution meets your needs is important but how about a software tool that was designed for your industry as well? Coperniq’s design incorporated the feedback of dozens of solar industry leaders and has solar professionals on staff. There are several ways in which Coperniq excels past the competition:
Designed for solar professionals by solar professionals.
Never another blurry photograph
Simultaneous contribution to forms
Use of tagging to track projects, issues, or incidents on any task
Project and portfolio-level visibility
Mapping feature for Service Calls
If you’d like to learn more about Coperniq’s solution, schedule a demo and we’ll show you what it’s capable of.
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