March 2005

Digital Cameras
"Show Me The Money!"

Change only happens when someone, yes, a real person, chooses to be the advocate and to bring it into your company. When technology is new and untested, it is usually the hobbyist or the closet “techie” within your company that spends the many long hours and diligent effort to get your company to use a new technology. You know the dispatcher who works weekends programming so he can print out the schedule, or the office manager with the latest PDA or cell phone so that he/she can look up budgets and phone numbers while in the vehicle.

They do this for personal satisfaction, even if it takes longer and costs more. Digital cameras, until recently, fell into this category. You buy a digital camera and take thousands, it not millions, of pictures and then carefully resize, remove red eye and color-correct each photo. Then you create elaborate naming conventions for computer data folders so you can find these works of art later.

Several things have changed to move this technology into the mainstream of your business. (1) Digital cameras that are smart now cost about $100, and come in disposable models for less than $25. (2) You can print this picture for about $.25 with little effort (wireless or plug-and-print). (3) New FREE, yes I said “FREE”, software from Google called Picasa Photo Organizer allows you to put your pictures in a folder, and you can manage all this by simply rolling your mouse. And last, but not least, you can easily email a photo with a short note using your cell phone. All this technology works out-of-the-box and requires no special skills, just like the phone.

So how do we turn this into increased revenue and lower costs? Let’s discuss costs. Take a picture of your truck inside and out, and put it in the cab of every vehicle to remind the drivers that you care about the condition of the vehicles, and to remind them what a clean cab looks like. If your drivers dispense material as part of their job, take a photo of the items along with how much they cost, so the drivers know that the paper rolls are not free.

Use the camera to document how you want your business to look and, by putting pictures up, your employees get a picture and a clear understanding of what you want.

What is good for the employees is also good for the customer. Give your drivers and technicians a camera, and use this to easily document opportunities to pass extra costs to the customer. Over-used portable toilets, over-filled roll offs, blocked access, use of extra hose, problem areas in grease collection, or contaminated vegetable oil collection can be turned into a $25 charge to a customer and $1 to $5 bonus for the employee who took the picture. This helps three ways: (1) Keeps the employee sensitive that wait time for blocked access costs MONEY; (2) Your customer will stop abusing your service, since a picture goes a long way in explaining an over-used item and (3) You can actually receive additional revenue for work you have done but was not worth the time or effort required to document the problem and deal with the customer’s denial. (Tough to do with a photo.)


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