Smart Choice Insulation and Roofing provides commercial customers with spray foam roofing and spray foam insulation services in Washington, Oregon, and Panama. To better collaborate with its global workforce and accommodate seasonal and project-based staffing shifts, the company migrated to a cloud solution based on Microsoft Office 365. Now, Smart Choice is poised to save time and money and expand both its customer and partner base in the future.
"We may be a mom-and-pop company, but with social media, a great website, and the tools in Office 365, we can put our best face forward to attract new customers and partners".
Teri England: Director and Vice President Smart Choice Insulation and Roofing
Founded in 2010 and based in Pateros, Washington, Smart Choice Insulation and Roofing (Smart Choice) provides unique roofing materials for commercial buildings such as warehouses, airports, and fruit cold storage facilities in Washington, Oregon, and Panama. The company applies a spray foam insulation and coating system over existing roofs to seal and provide a leakfree solution with minimal maintenance that saves energy and money.
Smart Choice employees include just a few year-round staff and a fluctuating number of seasonal crew sub-contractors, depending on project size and need. The number of customers or scope of the projects it will take on in a given year changes. While one roofing job may be 5,000 square feet and easy for the in-house team to complete, the next project could involve a fiveinch-thick, 40,000 square-foot roof and require additional crew and subcontractors, according to Teri England, Director and Vice President of Smart Choice.
Smart Choice relied heavily on paper documentation for daily business functions; employees saved critical files to their desktops and then printed and faxed hard copies to staff in other locations. This made collaboration between onsite project crew members and office-based employees challenging. The back-and-forth methods were not only time-consuming, but also prone to problems. With no dedicated IT staff, any issue that cropped up with the company’s hardware or software took time from the Smart Choice team’s day and slowed down the business.
In 2016, when Smart Choice expanded its business area from Washington and Oregon to include Panama, England and her business partner knew it was time to consider new technology. “When we started working overseas, I needed to be more connected with our home base in Washington. We also needed the ability to onboard contractors more quickly. So when we bring on a team from North Dakota or Maine, for example, we could immediately show them their project responsibilities and have open lines of communication,” says England. “We are in both the United States and Panama, so we needed a solution with the ability to communicate and share projects.”
Setting up a smarter solution in the cloud
Smart Choice began to consider the available cloud solutions. England says, “I looked at our options, but Office 365 stood out as the most userfriendly.” She adds, “Knowing that Microsoft continues to come up with new updates and services helped. I think they listen to their clients’ needs and adjust, as anybody in the tech field needs to do.”
Smart Choice reached out to Microsoft, who engaged cloud migration specialist Vorsite. Smart Choice chose Microsoft Office 365, and Vorsite helped the roofing company make the transition in just a few days. England found the process painless, emphasizing the power of strong business relationships. “Running a business requires a network of relationships,” she says. “We have a CPA, an attorney, and a bookkeeper, so having this kind of technology relationship is just a piece of the pie—it helps me focus on the sales and the face of the business, not the technology.”
England notes that Vorsite stepped in and gave the team specific guidelines for how the process would develop. “Making the change is scary,” she says. “You’re worried you’re going to lose all your emails and contacts. Vorsite was very good at explaining everything and holding my hand each step of the way.”
Improving collaboration capabilities
Now, Smart Choice uses Microsoft Outlook for email and calendar capabilities, Microsoft OneDrive for file sharing and storage, and Microsoft Teams to connect and chat with each other. Onboarding contractors takes less time with Office 365. “That process has been simple; I’ve done it several times. And when I no longer need that person’s information, or they are no longer part of the team, I just use a new email for the next person,” adds England.
Microsoft SharePoint also helps the Smart Choice team with organization, and Skype for Business connects crew members in the field with employees at the office—whether it’s a voice or video call. “When we have a project crew in Oregon, we might get on Skype for Business to discuss the project, and we can see the progress in real time,” says England.
Thanks to the capabilities in Teams, Smart Choice employees can access the same information across their various devices and collaborate regardless of their location. England and her assistant can work on the same document together simultaneously—one in North Central Washington and the other in Panama. “There are a lot of details in these documents, so working on them together—me on my screen and my assistant on hers—is very beneficial,” adds England.
Smart Choice expects the easier access to documentation and streamlined onboarding process will provide significant time-savings. The benefits don’t stop there either. While England and her business partner are working in Central America, they can still work in real time with their team in the United States—saving the cost of traveling back and forth to the home office and project site locations. “Now we just get together virtually and talk about it,” says England.
Enhancing opportunities for customer growth, partnerships
Thanks to stronger teamwork and streamlined processes, Smart Choice can better focus on other aspects of its business, such as meeting new customers, spending more time with current customers, and seeking out potential partnerships.
“We may be a mom-and-pop company, but with social media, a great website, and the tools in Office 365, we can put our best face forward to attract new customers and partners.”