The concept is fascinating: you just type in the address of a residential or commercial building and receive an aerial photo and line drawings of the roof with length, pitch and area noted for easy and accurate estimates and professional presentations. That’s the concept behind EagleView Technologies, which supplies contractors with detailed reports of roof measurements based on its patented software.
Dave Carlson founded the company as a result of the frustrations he experienced in the field as a roofing salesman, where he often found himself measuring roofs in the dark at the end of a long day. “I thought, ‘There’s got to be a better way to do this,’” he recalled. “Our company was looking to hire a couple of new salesmen, and it was difficult to find people who could sell who were also comfortable on a roof - and who could properly measure it.”
Carlson also realized that oftentimes even experienced salesmen were basically just making educated guesses as to the area of the roof. “I remember thinking, ‘We have to take the guesstimating out of estimating,’” he said. He called his brother-in-law, Chris Pershing, a software engineer in Seattle, and pitched his idea of an aerial measurement service. A couple of weeks later, the roofer and the software engineer had a prototype that Carlson put to the test on the job.
Carlson’s company saw some immediate benefits. First of all, since his salesmen no longer had to climb on the roof, it lowered the company’s workers’ compensation costs. The firm found they could retain and hire gifted salesmen who weren’t comfortable going up on roofs. Sales began to pick up. “Our closing rate went from 40 percent to 70 percent overnight,” Carlson said.
After a year and a half of beta testing and with a half-dozen patents pending, EagleView Technologies officially took flight in February of 2007. Carlson and Pershing brought in Chris Barrow to run the startup. “I knew they had something special here,” said Barrow, the president and CEO of Eagle View. “It’s one of those ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ ideas you fall in love with, and I came on board to help build up an experienced board and find investors. We developed a very experienced management-executive team, were very well funded, and grew by leaps and bounds.”
“Business is great,” said Barrow. “We’ve grown as fast as we can and handle requests from all over the country.”
Benefits for ContractorsTo use the service, a roofing contractor simply sends EagleView the address by e-mail, and roofing technicians, with the aid of sophisticated software, prepare a detailed report, which is e-mailed to the contractor as a PDF file or one of several proprietary formats. The report is usually ready in a couple of days, and expedited service is available. Since the company can access multiple sources of images, the reports can be generated day or night, regardless of the weather. There are two pricing plans for EagleView reports: a “pay as you go” plan that offers reports for a flat fee with no commitments and a tier-based subscription plan with volume discounts. EagleView reports provide the contractor with several benefits, noted Barrow, including minimizing safety risks, increasing efficiency, and improving the accuracy of estimates. “We reduce the number of times you climb up on a roof, which can be dangerous if it has a very steep slope, or the roof is old or damaged - if shingles are cracked, for example,” he said. “To send a salesperson up on a roof is a very big safety risk. OSHA reports state the number one injury factor involves falls from ladders.”
“This changes the dynamic for roofing contractors,” he continued. “It changes the type of person who can sell roofs. We had a call from a company that hired an experienced salesman who had two knee replacements and couldn’t climb up on roofs. They couldn’t have hired him in the past, but now they can.”
It also makes salespeople more efficient, noted Carlson. “Salesmen can do more estimates in one day, make fewer trips, and even close in one visit,” he said. “Now you can walk in with the report, and you get more time to spend with the customer explaining what you’ll be doing for them.”
The accuracy of the report makes the estimating process easier and more accurate, according to Barrow. “Rectangles are easy, but calculating the area of odd shapes with multiple angles involves complicated trigonometry that’s almost impossible to do in your head or even on paper,” he said. “But our software calculates it exactly.”
Armed with this data, companies can better control costs, noted Carlson. “This minimizes waste if too much material is ordered and some has to be returned, and it prevents problems that come from running short of material before the job is done, resulting in people waiting at the jobsite,” he said. “Now you can calculate exactly what your material costs are going to be, and determine the percentage of profit on each job.” “It also helps contractors prepare professional presentations that outshine a crude hand drawing on a piece of paper,” said Barrow. “It’s a polished, state-of-the-art presentation that helps close the sale.”
A True BelieverL.C. Nussbeck is the owner of Aspen Contracting in Kansas City, Mo., which does residential storm repair work in Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, Georgia and Ohio. He heard about EagleView from a friend in Texas and wondered what it was all about. “I went online and ordered a report,” he said. “I thought the concept was neat, but the company was brand new, and I needed to make sure it was stable.”
Over the next few months he ordered a few jobs and listened to the feedback from the employees in the field. Nussbeck was impressed. “Once I was sold on how it could help my business, I flew out to Washington to meet Dave and Chris,” he recalled.
Nussbeck talked to them about his plans for the future. “I’m set up to expand and contract quickly and work all over the country,” he said. “I expand in markets where it’s busy and have a traveling workforce and sales force. I had to know if they were going to be around if I was going to sell our sales force on using EagleView and how it could help grow our business.”
After Hurricane Ike hit, Nussbeck pre-ordered 5,000 reports from Eagle View. He soon found that insurance adjusters appreciated the service as much as his salesmen.
“In the storm business, we are dealing with insurance adjusters every day,” he said. “Adjusters are assured the measurements are correct - not over or under. Third-party measurement has taken the arguments out of the insurance adjuster-contractor relationship. The insurance people love EagleView, and they love us.” It also makes training new salesmen easier, noted Nussbeck. “I’ve trained 2,000 salespeople in the industry, and I’ve always had to teach them how to measure a roof - and that’s what takes the longest,” he said. “ What EagleView did was take the learning curve and just kill it.”
“We went to EagleView with 65 salespeople, and now we have 210. Now we don’t have to teach them how to measure a roof. We just have to teach them about the various roofing systems, Aspen Contracting, and what sets us apart,” he said.
“Our closing ratio is extraordinary, to say the least,” he concluded. “In 2007, we did $26 million. In 2008, we did $49 million, and we’re on track to do $75 million his year.”
Satisfied ContractorsJason Alexander is general manager of Sutherlands Exteriors in Concord, N.C., a residential repair company owned by Andrew Sutherland. “Our business has grown tremendously, and it’s the use of innovative developments like EagleView that’s helped us grow,” said Alexander. “Andrew Sutherland is a great friend and a great owner, and he’s willing to take a risk and innovate to take the business to the next level.”
Alexander credits EagleView’s Matt Guillory with helping his company implement the service and increase profitability. “EagleView totally bent over backwards to help us out,” he said. “They consistently under-promise and over-deliver. After I used them once, it was a no-brainer. I believe they have revolutionized the industry.”
Alexander points to increased safety as the most important benefit of the service, but he notes that’s just the start. “Now we can see a property without even being there,” he said. “The report shows any dangers, such as a pond in the back, or any access problems. It’s accurate. We can use the report to plan deliveries and drop-off points. We develop more uses for it as we go. It’s not just measurements; it helps with estimating and delivery.” “It’s allowed us to do more volume of business at an efficient level,” he said. “We’re a real efficient operation, and a real profitable one at that. EagleView helps us out at every level.”
Troy Mock, president of BRM Roofing & Construction Services in South Lake, Texas, is another satisfied customer. “I’ve been with them since the beginning, and things really picked up since February of last year,” Mock said. “We did a lot of business when a big hailstorm went through McKinney. We had them shoot 100 roofs in Houston after that storm.”
He tested EagleView’s initial reports to ensure their accuracy. “I ordered a couple sky shots of some roofs, and I went out and measured them myself, and I found the reports were within 1 percent to 2 percent accuracy,” he said. “After I was sure they knew what they were doing, I was right there.”
“The bottom line is that this would help every roofing contractor,” said Mock. “The number one reason is liability - you don’t have to have salesmen climbing the roof, hurting themselves or damaging the roof. Number two is time. It’s simple economics. For the fee, to get the report in a couple of days saves one to three hours of the salesman’s time per roof - and that’s time he can be out there selling.”
Mock also loves the report, which he has found to be a great selling tool. “The report is very detailed and professional,” he said. “It adds to our company and sales credibility. It’s definitely increased sales.”
Looking for an Edge?EagleView’s Carlson acknowledged that the downturn in the economy has posed hardships for everyone, including contractors, but he argues that his company is perfectly positioned to help them make the most of their time and effort. “When times are tough, you have to look for every edge,” he said. “We help people run leaner, meaner businesses with better presentations for customers. We realize that in a tough economy, every job counts, so we help businesses become better, faster and more efficient.”
For more information about EagleView Technologies, visit www.eagleview.com.