Here we are. March of 2020 and the Coronavirus outbreak is in full effect. Restaurants have been forced to close along with other non-essential businesses and the term “social distancing” has become a common term amongst peers. With this epic pandemic amongst us, I can not help but to see the need for new forms of communication amongst builders, their teams, and their customers.
I’m sure we have all used, or at least familiar with, web conference services like FaceTime and Skype, but a newer service is taking the world by storm, Zoom. Zoom allows video and/or audio collaboration on an extremely easy to use platform, and it’s free!
Benefits of Zoom Web Video Conferencing:
- Use technology you already own (smartphone, tablet, or computer with a webcam)
- Easy to set-up and configure
- Dial-in by telephone option (obviously no video feature, audio only)
- Collaboration with one, or multiple other users on one screen
- Screen sharing
- It’s Free, nothing, zero $$$
Technology you already own
Zoom can work using a computer with a webcam or a smartphone or tablet (Apple or Android-based). I prefer getting any of my online accounts set up using a computer over a smartphone. Whether it’s a Zoom account or anything else like Netflix or Spotify, an internet connected computer is my go-to.
Easy to set-up and configure
- On your computer go to www.zoom.us and create a free account.
- From there, click on your icon in the top right corner of the screen and select your name
From here you can edit all of your personal information, making it easier for others to know who they are communicating with during a conference
- If you are going to use the computer to host and join meetings, I would recommend clicking on “Host A Meeting” on the top right and select an option. From here it will download the Zoom program onto your computer which you will use during meetings.
- Download “Zoom” app on your smartphone and/or tablet and enter your credentials.
After you get your team signed up with zoom, there are a lot of awesome features to help you collaborate with others. One of my favorites is “Channels” which you will find under the contacts tab. Channels is an organized way to keep in contact with all of the sub-contractors and employees working on a particular project. You can select an individual to conference with or get everyone on the same page with a group video meeting.
Another great feature is the ability to schedule a virtual meeting. Say you want to review some plans with a client on March 30th at 9:00. Go to the “Meetings” tab, select the + sign and create a meeting.
Once done, you can email the invitation to your customers which will give them a link to follow with very simple instructions on how to join your meeting. There is little to no experience needed for your customer to join the meeting, just a computer with a webcam, a smartphone, or a tablet.
Dial-in by Telephone Option
We all know at least one. You know, the guy who still has a flip phone and a home landline. He might even have an AOL email address and could be connecting to the internet via a telephone line. Anyway, Zoom has “that guy” covered too. The dinosaur can just dial a phone number during the conference and still be a part of the meeting.
Collaboration with one, or multiple other users on one screen
When you create a zoom meeting, you can meet with an individual or the whole team. This personal touch allows everyone involved in the project to participate in the meeting.
Real life scenarios:
- You want to go over a change order with your clients, the Davis’. Mr. Davis is a news reporter on a big story out of town and Mrs. Davis is at work in her office. With Zoom, your change order can be reviewed while you are at the construction site and the Davis’ are in two different locations.
- The plumber doesn’t know which wall to install the tankless water heater on and you are across town at another job site. To save time, frustration, and potentially an error, have a Zoom video meeting where you can show him exactly where it needs to be installed.
- There has been a Coronavirus outbreak and you are doing your best not to have contractors interacting close to one another. You have ordered everyone to work in different rooms of the house to make sure there everyone stays healthy. From your truck, you need to talk to the electrician in the attic as well as the electrician in the utility room. Zoom will connect up the three parties and get everyone on the same page.
Usually, you review plans with your clients at the office, but the Coronavirus is ordering people to stay home. With Zoom, you can host a meeting and let your clients see exactly what is on your computer screen. Your customer will be impressed that you have figured out a way to deliver a personal meeting without being in the same room together.
You and your clients will also have the ability to highlight or write on the screen to get your point across and make sure everyone agrees. You will never have to say “do you see that wall above the ‘om’ in ‘bedroom?”.
That’s right, it’s free to get this awesome service up and running. There are a few small catches, but very minimal. The free version allows group calls (more than two collaborators) up to 40 minutes each and (only) 100 participants. From there the plans start at $15/month for the meeting host only but continues to be free for your contacts. Here is a link to all of the plans if you feel you need more than free!
All work no play?
So by now, you should know that Zoom offers a ton of great features to keep communication strong within your business without having to spend a lot of money. Coronavirus or not, Zoom is the technology for anyone to incorporate into their daily business routines. But where else can Zoom be of service to me?
Just because you are stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t call mom and check in. At my house, I connected a small computer to my television with a webcam and installed Zoom on the computer. Now, I can video conference with Grandma in New England, Uncle Adam’s family in California, and cousin Will in Texas with my family sitting on the couch and watching on a 65″ TV screen. Below is a list of items you can order online if you want to have a similar experience:
- Computer: Asus Chromebox ($279) or Apple Mac Mini ($799)
- Webcam: Logitech HD Webcam ($199) – This is also a great option for a computer monitor without a camera built-in
- Bluetooth Keyboard/Mouse Combo: Logitech K600 ($69)
- Don’t forget an HDMI cable to connect the computer to the webcam.
The world is changing and we don’t know how long “social distancing” will be required. In these times I feel as though builders and subs alike have to adopt technologies like Zoom to continue growing their business. One of my favorite books is “Everything is Figureoutable” by Marie Forleo (audible version or book version). In it, she explains many situations where life threw her curveballs but she was able to figure out how to push through and get the job done! I believe that everything is figureoutable if you put your mind to it and strive to find the solution to your problem.
In closing, I would like to offer my personal services to any builder or subcontractor looking for assistance getting set up with Zoom, free of charge. Call us at (866) 777-2007, option 1 or fill out the form below and I will personally call you back within 24 hours to get you set up. No gimmicks, no sales talk, no contracts. Just a way for me to help you in these troubling, opportunity heavy, figureoutable times.
Send some free help!
We are offering free assistance to any builder or subcontractor who needs assistance setting up Zoom in their workplace. Fill out the form below and we will contact you within 24 hours to get you up and running!