A leaky roof can damage not just a building but also the contents. That’s whether the building is an ancient Oxford college, a shopping centre or a portfolio of commercial properties. Fixing and maintaining these roofs and drainage systems is the job of TGM (Total Gutter Maintenance Ltd), a small- to medium-sized company that is breaking new ground with iPad and iPhone.
“iPad and iPhone have completely revolutionised TGM — they have changed our image and everything associated with the way we work,” says Clark Williams, TGM’s Joint Managing Director.
In fact, TGM has become more competitive because of iPad, iPhone and third-party apps. TGM’s administrative work is now digitised, which allows the company to take on more work than ever before.
Clark Williams, Joint Managing Director, TGM
Based in North Yorkshire, TGM is a cutting-edge family firm with clients that range from small businesses to national retail chains. All of TGM’s sales staff, engineers, technical work managers, health-and-safety personnel, and directors have an iPad or iPhone. And because of that, the company’s workflow has become far more streamlined.
Before TGM adopted iPad and iPhone, not much of its work could be undertaken remotely. Surveyors had to visit each site to gauge what was needed and to assess the risk.
Once the client approved the estimate, engineers would arrive at the site with three or four thick files of documents, recalls Tony Spencer, Team Leader; progress on the job had to be tracked laboriously on paper.
Then every week on a Friday, each team of two engineers submitted their paperwork — via fax or post — to TGM’s head office. The next working day, the information was input into computers and the final reports were processed.
But with iPad and iPhone, most estimates, surveys and risk assessments are completed remotely using aerial imagery from Google Maps. Especially useful is the ability of iPad and iPhone to zoom in on an image.
If a surveyor has to visit the site because the job is especially complex, he or she will use iPhone’s built-in camera to photograph the building. Engineers can use TouchDraw to add information, such as marking locations on roofs.
Estimates are filled in on iPad using ProntoForms and shared with clients using DropBox.
Once a job is under way, TGM’s on-site engineers keep their management and head-office staff up to date. Since TGM’s engineers toil at height, either with a cherry picker and boom or on the rooftops, precise communication with customers below is vital. With iPhone, engineers use the built-in camera to capture an image of the work needed so they can relay it to the client.
“If we are 20 metres in the air and we need to clean a pipe and repair the skylight, our clients can now see what we see because of iPad and iPhone,” says Williams.
Clients can use an app to log in to their account to review progress remotely, including seeing who is on the roof at any one time — an advantage for health and safety. “The benefit of iPad is the instant reporting from a site — what’s happening now, not yesterday or last week,” Williams adds.
After the work is completed, documentation — with photos or other images and including signatures — is immediately submitted to the head office from iPad. “With iPad, response time for client reports has been reduced from three or four weeks to three or four minutes,” notes Brett Ellis, Joint Managing Director and son of TGM’s founders.
Brett Ellis, Joint Managing Director, TGM
For managers, overseeing the teams from the central office has become easier. Navman OnlineAVL2, a free navigation app, is linked to TGM’s system for tracking its 15 specialised vehicles, which are based at one of several regional hubs.
“Navman allows us to see where they are on an iPad or iPhone at all times,” Ellis explains. “We are able to manage our fleet without being in the office, and we can make better decisions on who we dispatch to each job.”
The simplicity of iPad and iPhone has captivated TGM’s staff. “I think there was a lot of scepticism, and an assumption that iPad and iPhone were designed for more creative things like art and music,” says Ellis. “Our people didn’t see them as devices for the commercial workplace. But as soon as everyone got iPad and iPhone in their hands, they were converted.” Only one training session was required, he says, because iPad and iPhone are so intuitive.
Maintenance is cheaper too. “The cost per device is about 75 per cent to 85 per cent lower than for any other mobile device on the market,” Williams notes. “You don’t need any extra memory, you don’t have anti-virus costs, you don’t require routine maintenance.”
iPad and iPhone have indeed transformed TGM’s business, allowing the company to protect clients’ investments more effectively than ever before. “With iPhone and iPad, everything is better,” he concludes. “They have put us at the forefront of the marketplace.”