It might not be as sexy as losing ten pounds this January, but giving up paper reporting in 2016 can literally save you hundreds of hours this year.
Our survey1 of home inspectors found that 1/3 were still using paper in some way, shape or form. Some of these inspectors stick just to paper, but almost half are using paper on-site, then going back to the office and entering the information into their reporting software.
Drawbacks of Paper Only Inspection Reports
Although we found that those who stick to using only paper (no software) have a significant time advantage vs. the overall average, the reports that they can provide are not nearly as robust. Homebuyers, realtors and lawyers must be able to read all manner of handwriting, and match pictures that are emailed, if at all, back to the report.
In this day and age of helpful, prioritized summary pages, integrated photos and videos, and online access, these reports just don’t measure up.
It Really Is Costing You Time
In addition to what turned up on the survey, we have talked to many inspectors who have locked themselves into a process of taking their notes on paper during the inspection, then entering all this information into their reporting software when they return to the office.
If you are locked into a double-entry approach based on your current software capabilities, it may be worth more closely examining your solution. Because, this approach really is costing you time.
First, there’s the wasted opportunity of feeding your software information about the inspection while it’s in progress. Every note you take on paper is essentially time lost, since you are going to have to reenter that information later on. Looking at it from the opposite direction, everything you can capture directly during the inspection is time shaved off of post-report production.
There’s also the time it takes to flip through your notes to match what you found on the property to the order in which your software requires it to be entered. It is much more efficient to record inspection details in real time, in the order in which you encounter the issues.
Assuming that you are taking pictures separately from your reporting software, there is a time cost to getting your images into the report as well. Sorting through your picture bank post inspection to match images to comments is wasted time that can be better spent on other things. You should be able to snap a photo or record a video and have it automatically attach to the applicable concern, no extra step required.
Optimizing Your Workflow
While our survey only indicated a half hour increase above average for those who use paper plus software, we think that there’s room to improve this number by a lot more. Spending three hours to complete a report, above and beyond the time spent during the inspection, is just too long.
When you make the commitment to give up paper, give yourself the additional boost of making sure that you are using the most efficient software. Your solution should adapt to the way that you work, decreasing both the time it takes to capture the information and finish off a superior report.
Cut Inches from Your Waistline
Okay, so it might not be as direct a connection to your physique as dieting, but imagine what you could do with the time you save from a new reporting approach. If you could shave 1 to 3 hours off of your report generation time by ditching the paper, why not use that time for a second productive resolution, whether it be a daily workout, earning an extra $800/week by doing more inspections, or increasing your marketing efforts?
It’s time to ditch the paper in 2016, and use your time for activities that will build your business, your body, and/or your bottom line.
If you are interested in learning more about our survey results, read our post, How Much Time is Too Much Time? Then, eat a candy bar, since the New Year is coming fast!
1. HomeHubZone Survey of Home Inspectors, December 2014.