If your business involves renting or leasing property—be it vehicles, dwellings, or equipment—a lot can happen between the time the item in question passes to a customer and the time it's returned. Not surprisingly, when something comes back damaged, it often leads to a dispute over exactly when the damage occurred and which party is responsible for it.
You can forestall these kinds of disputes by using photos or video to document the condition of the property each time it changes hands. Taking snapshots or recording clips is easy enough to do, but it's a bit more complicated to store, organize, and annotate that information so that it's understandable, accessible, and authoritative in the event a problem arises.
Record360, an app available for iOS and Andriod aims to streamline the collection, processing, and retrieval of such documentary photos and video. We put it through its paces and found that it does what it promises, although a few rough edges and a high price tag may limit its appeal.
Record360 makes it easy to take snapshots and videos of an item's physical condition.
Property Inspection and Asset Reporting: Features and Use
Upon installing the Record360 app and entering our account credentials, we were ready to document the condition of an item. In lieu of typing in a name for a new item record, the app can scan a VIN bar code, UPC, or QR codes. You have to manually switch between two scanning modes for VIN or UPC/QC scanning, which is a bit irritating.
Record360's exceedingly straightforward interface makes it easy to take snapshots and video, and if you're not sure what to do, tapping a help button overlays labels on all the on-screen controls. The app gives you two ways to take stills—one is via a camera button, while the other is by tapping on specific area of interest in screen.
In the latter case, the app highlights the area of interest with a red circle, making it easy to refer to later. While shooting video, Record360 records your verbal commentary, and you can tap anywhere on the screen—at any time—to create a red-circle still-shot of the area you're filming.
Tapping an area on Record 360's screen creates a snapshot that highlights the selected area.
Once you've taken all your photos and videos, the app lets you review each item and annotate each as necessary. Record360 provided us with a test account set up for a hypothetical vehicle rental company, so it provided buttons for relevant categories such as dent, scratch, chip, missing, broken, etc.
One of the nine available categories is "other," which lets you add free-form text. For some reason, the parentheses and slash keys were inoperable when using this category. One thing we wish Record360 could do is transcribe verbal comments from a video into text; the company tells us this is on the product roadmap, along with a method to automatically compare before and after photos and video.
Upon completing photo and video annotation, the app presents whatever checklist forms have been incorporated into the workflow, displays disclaimers and legal boilerplate, and allows the record to be signed on-screen with a fingertip or stylus. Finally, you can email a transaction record to one or more recipients before uploading it, and all accompanying media, to Record360's servers for storage.
After gathering your snapshots and video, Record360 allows you to annotate them.
Logging into Record360's website provides access to a relatively simple dashboard where you can review the details of past transactions. All photos and videos include time and date stamp and geotagging (including Google Maps links for each item); you can stream videos right from the site, and download individual photos or videos.
We like the fact that Record360 overlays the time and date stamps onto images by default, and you can choose to do the same for text notations (it's an option in the app), giving them some context if viewed outside of Record360's dashboard. You can also add additional comments into a transaction record or email the record from the dashboard.
Back at the app, you can view past transactions as well, though you can't browse or search for them as you can from the dashboard—you need to enter the transaction's record number in order to find it.
We're mildly annoyed by the way Record360 handles scenarios where the device running the app loses its Internet connection. Rather than simply letting you create a record and caching it locally until the Internet connection returns, you must switch the software to an "offline mode," and then switch it back again after connectivity returns. This should happen automatically.
Record 360 captures the customer signature to include with the transaction record.
Be forewarned: you won’t find any pricing information provided on the company's website. A Record360 business account costs $195 per month per location (i.e. the physical location where you use the app). This price includes up to three user accounts—it's $25 per user per month for additional accounts. If your business has a mobile workforce that doesn't operate in a fixed location, it will cost $50 per user per month. Also, although Record360 bills monthly, its subscription term is annual.
At this price, you might want to try before you buy. If so, you can contact Record360 to request a free trial account.
Record360's pricing structure (which puts the total annual outlay well north of $2,000 year) is a bit high. The monthly subscription price does include an account with the user-interface, forms, and workflow options customized to your company's needs (Record360 has team to do this, rather than having customers do it themselves, but the company tells us that DIY capability is coming).
An important thing to note about Record360's back-end hosting services: there are no limits on the number of transactions you can create or on how much storage your uploaded media can consume. Record360 keeps uploaded transactions on file for six months and then archives them for 18 months.
Record360 also offers a consumer-level account for free. Like the business account, it doesn't constrain the number of transactions you can create or the data you can upload and store. On the other hand, it doesn't permit customization, offers only four note types rather than nine, and it lacks the option to email a transaction record before uploading it.
An extremely useful app, Record360 can protect the interests of both parties in a rental/leasing transaction. The handful of minor niggles don't bother us as much as the relatively high cost of the business version, which places the product out of reach some small businesses.
Still, time is money. If you want to greatly reduce the time it takes to document the condition of property, Record360 is definitely worth considering.
Joseph Moran is a technology writer and IT consultant specializing in services for consumers and small businesses. He's written extensively for numerous print and online publications, and is the author of File Management Made Simple, Windows Edition from Apress.
|Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!|