Imagine you’re in Las Vegas and you have a customer in Florida who has a question involving your product on one of his jobs. Yes, you can ask him to take a picture and send it to you, but then you have to download it, scrutinize it and think about it. Then you have to call him back, while the photo is on your phone, and it’s a hassle to look at it at the same time you’re talking!
There are alternatives. Some concrete professionals have found a better way to consult in situations like this by embracing technology — in particular Skype, Facetime and Facebook video messenger.
Skype it to me
Randy Payette, regional manager and technical director of Super Stone of Las Vegas, has embraced Skype. “Everybody has my Skype number so they can Skype me to ask questions and I can walk them through things,” he says.
Skype is a software that allows users to make voice and video phone calls over the internet. It is free to use and can be downloaded so you can chat on desktop and mobile devices, too.
Originally, all four Super Stone locations got Skype to be able to talk branch to branch, says Super Stone CEO Janine Lutz. “We have weekly meetings where all the employees Skype with each other and go over anything good that happened that week that they want to share and any problems so we can give the best customer service we can.”
Lutz also says their Pompano Beach, Florida, store is a one-person operation that’s run by a man who only speaks English. He frequently has customers who only speak Spanish, so he Skypes in a Spanish-speaking employee from another location to help him out.
Payette says Super Stone’s employees have embraced the technology and frequently connect with him through Skype when they have questions. “I can pretty much help them get through any kind of issues and answer their questions,” he says, “because I can see what’s going on with the video call and we can talk it out right there, even if we’re on opposite sides of the country.”
On the job
Super Stone marketing director Kyle Black remarks that a lot of contractors, particularly younger ones, are embracing digital and video on the jobsite.
“Digital and video have evolved in the contractor space. That’s how a lot of guys are learning these days,” he says. “With Skype and a couple mobile apps you can do live teleconferencing from your phone, which gives more tech-savvy contractors the ability to get on-the-spot info because a lot of this type of work can get pretty tricky to communicate over the phone. Video really helps out with that.”
In addition to Skype, Facebook Messenger is a popular choice because most people know what Facebook is and feel comfortable using it. The free Messenger app allows for group messaging and can share photos and videos in the moment. Messenger works with either Android or iPhone devices, while another popular app, FaceTime, works between iPhones and other Mac devices such as iPad, iPod touch or an Apple computer with a built-in camera.
Payette says the Super Stone crew is so comfortable with Skype that they are redoing their website, which will feature an option labeled something like “Skype with a technician” or “Skype your questions.”
“The people I work with like it,” he says. “Mike, one of the crew over in Texas, is basically a fixture of our office here in Vegas because we’re on Skype a good portion of the day just talking about business. We definitely go over a lot of ideas over Skype.”