Seattle's Jorve Roofing uses digital photography to record the company's progress and problems while working on a jobsite.
Seattle's Jorve Roofing uses digital photography to record the company's progress and problems while working on a jobsite.

Every picture tells a story. The ones that employees of Jorve Roofing, in Seattle, shoot with their company-issued digital cameras document stories of work that needs to be done, work underway, and work completed. The photos make what's going on every day at every jobsite megapixel-clear.

“People's homes are familiar to them, so it's hard for them to look at the house with different eyes,” vice president Dale Burlingame says. “We bring parts of the home not generally visited onto the dining room table.”

Camera-Equipped Salespeople bring their cameras along for the initial inspection and take as many pictures as necessary to document problems and create a record of the jobsite.

“The cameras eliminate a lot of the time spent trying to build trust,” Burlingame says. “We can show that, say, the chimney cap really is rusted.” In addition, salespeople come armed with an arsenal of Jorve Roofing photos of past projects to show the quality of the company's work. These are stored in an online library for easy access.

Jorve's foremen and superintendents also use digital cameras to track progress on a daily basis and to record problems, downloading the photos onto the company's server each day.

Photos can be e-mailed to clients who aren't home. “It keeps them in the loop during the project,” Burlingame says, and speeds up solutions if problems develop.

At the end of each project, Jorve takes a photo from the street. Not only is that good for showing other customers, but manufacturers sometimes request photos for rebates — and may even use them in brochures. The photos also stop arguments about damage that employees might have done: It's easy to show, for example, that the driveway was already cracked.

Costs Minimal Jorve Roofing started handing the cameras out to salespeople five years ago — eventually distributing them to production and management staff as well as to reps — at a cost of about $150 each. That buys a resolution capability of two mega-pixels and a 256-megabyte memory card. Burlingame says digital is cheaper than using Polaroids at $1 per photo. One camera, though, is the limit, he says. “If you drop it down a chimney, you buy the next one.”