10 Mobile Apps Contractors Use To Boost Business

The proliferation of the Internet and mobile technology is driving the current “on-demand” economy. Customers in this type of economy expect to receive a high-quality product or service as soon as they need it.

Uber was one of the first businesses to successfully provide on-demand services, and is best known as a personal transportation services. But, Uber also allows customers to outsource basic life tasks such as buying groceries and laundry. This was accomplished in part by providing Uber drivers and customers access to the same mobile website and also providing both with unique interfaces.

Today’s on-demand economy has also changed the business operations of independent contractors, also known as freelancers in some industries. Contractors are more likely to compete for projects that are beyond their normal scope by outsourcing work to a third-party.

A customized mobile app can be a highly effective way for contractors to eliminate these middlemen, allowing contractors to connect with potential clients more directly, complete recurring tasks more efficiently and much more. This strategy generally increases the quality of service and return on investment.

How Contractors Are Starting To Use Apps

Uber’s early success in an on-demand economy also gave rise to similar businesses such as Taskrabbit, which provides household services. Heal is a similarly run company that allows healthcare providers to make house calls to patients. The success of these businesses makes it clear that on-demand services are useful for both general and specialized industries.

For example, Amazon Home Services was launched in 2015, and currently shows listings for over 900 professional services. Users simply specify the search criteria for a particular service to obtain a list of contractors offering that service.

These middlemen can be beneficial to both contractors and clients, but they also have some disadvantages. For example, home repair contractors often fail to acquire a significant portion of their business from these services, since their customers tend to choose a contractor based only on price.

This hiring behavior can reduce the quality of work and increase upsells of additional services to increase profit. These contractor “matchmaking” sites also standardize competition, making it more difficult for contractors to distinguish themselves from their competitors. For example, the contractor profiles on Angie’s List must all fit the same general parameters.

How Contractors Can Gain A Competitive Advantage With Mobile Apps

Mobile apps provide a promising option for allowing independent contractors to gain a competitive advantage while ensuring that customers receive high-quality work. These apps can save customers time and money, and increase the value of individual brands for a range of professional services.

Mobile apps can also create another channel for local contractors to contact new customers when they’re combined with a company website. This benefit is particularly useful for local contractors, who often rely on referrals and word-of-mouth.

Mobile apps provide contractors with a single platform for broadcasting their brand and integrating communications with their customers such as email, newsletters, and social media. Contractors can even use a mobile app’s push notification to immediately contact loyal customers with incentives.

Other features such as calendars can prevent missed appointments and double bookings, in addition to facilitating the coordination of team members. Mobile apps can also include a payment system to invoice customers and help ensure they pay on time. These features are particularly helpful for independent contractors, who are routinely paid late.

Apps That Contractors Are Using Today

1. SiteMax

SiteMax is a cloud-based site management system that increases a contractor’s accountability and transparency, thus establishing trust with clients. Features include custom site reports, digital timecards, digital purchase orders, progress photos and 24-hour weather reports. These capabilities allow contractors to incorporate their current paper processes into a single electronic process.

2. Snappii Mobile Apps

Snappii offers a collection of mobile construction apps. These apps can optimize the workflow between the office and field, which reduces paperwork and increases operational efficiency. The most popular of these apps include Change Management, Daily Logs, Equipment and Inventory, Project Management and Safety Inspection. Contractors can also convert existing paper forms into a digital format and customize them to meet specific needs.

3. FACS

FACS is a cloud-based software suite that includes several project management solutions for construction projects. It also allows users to customize their workflow for their particular needs. FACS is primarily intended for project managers, but it’s also useful for contractors, owners and employees who need to eliminate project delays caused by outdated document management systems.

4. CommittedCost

CommittedCost is an online software solution that manages project costs. It uses committed field costs and daily progress reports to estimate the project’s final costs. CommittedCost tracks all of the costs for a project, including procurement, engineering and on-site costs. Contractors can begin using CommittedCost very quickly since it doesn’t require installation or IT expertise.

5. Knowify

Knowify is a suite of tools for dispatch management and contract jobs that are specifically designed for residential remodelers. It helps users to operate in a paperless environment and improves their insights into job performance. Knowify’s many capabilities include contract management, project management, project estimates, invoicing, scheduling and time tracking. It also synchronizes with QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online.

6. Lessons Learned Database

Lessons Learned Database helps contractors learn and apply the lessons learned from an after action review or similar event. It provides a repository for information captured during a review and maintains it for future use. This capability is valuable because such information is often lost after a review or never used for future projects.

7. ControlBoard

ControlBoard is designed to solve problems in commercial construction such as the scheduling, dispatching and tracking of resources. It directly addresses resource allocation for a specific project and time period, rather than simply planning project activities. Contractors can begin using ControlBoard within 30 minutes to improve their resource scheduling.

8. dapulse

dapulse is a project management solution that helps team members collaborate more effectively. It increases productivity by helping users to focus on a project’s most critical tasks. dapulse also shows users the status of each task at a glance. Additional benefits of dapulse include improving operational efficiency by reducing meetings and emails.

9. Bridgit Closeout

Bridgit Closeout provides construction contractors with a punch list, allowing them to complete projects on time and on budget. It’s typically used by general contractors on commercial, multi-family, education and hospitality projects. Bridgit Closeout includes a mobile app that lets contractors use photos to quickly log tasks, which can greatly reduce the time spent tracking critical issues. This mobile app also automates the communication between contractors and subcontractors, keeping team members accountable and in sync with each other.

10. CoConstruct

CoConstruct is intended for builders and remodelers who need to design custom projects. It’s an all-in-one tool that allows them to estimate the project’s cost by entering data only once. This data can then move through the various phases of a project’s workflow, including specifications, proposals, bids, change orders and budgeting. CoConstruct can also move project data to and from QuickBooks.

Finding The Right Mobile App For Your Business

Many contractors will be able to find a helpful mobile app in the list above. Just remember that just like every business is unique, so is every app. If you want to optimize the way your business operates and find the perfect app for your business, contact NS804 to learn about customized mobile apps for contractors.

Why Logistics Companies Need Mobile Apps

Most people think of Uber when they hear about custom mobile apps for the transportation industry. But this industry involves much more than just providing people with taxi services.

Transportation services account for a significant portion of the mobile app market, especially in the area of logistics. Many businesses in this sector are currently investing heavily in the development of mobile apps and related services.

Mobile apps that perform logistics and track cargo hold great attraction for logistics companies since they can reduce costs, increase productivity and improve client satisfaction. These benefits facilitate the retention of existing customers and increase the probability of acquiring new ones.

The reasons for logistics companies to use mobile apps are primarily dependent upon the functions they need to perform. These functions may be grouped into the following categories:

  • Asset tracking
  • Location tracking
  • Traffic information
  • Fleet management

Asset Tracking

Asset tracking, also known as property management, is especially important to logistics companies due to the great need for controlling stock. In the case of transportation, stock includes cargo, freight and load-carrying units. Businesses frequently need to track these types of assets separately, even if they’re part of the same vehicle.

For example, tracking a tractor-trailer on a journey requires information on both the trailer and its cargo. The combination of inventory management and vehicle location in this case can be used to determine which items are on which vehicles. Mobile app software can then use this information to determine the physical location of a particular item.

Logistics companies use a variety of technologies to track assets, which may generally be classified into barcodes and electronic communication.

Tracking Assets Using Bar Codes

The Quick Response (QR) code is the most common method of tracking items and is a type of barcode that provides certain information about the associated item. A QR code consists of a white, square background with black squares arranged on a grid. It may use any of four encoding modes, including alphanumeric, binary, kanji and numeric. QR codes may also use extensions on these modes to increase their storage efficiency.

An imaging device such as a smartphone or a specialized reader may then read the QR image. Software performs error correction on the scanned image until it can interpret it appropriately. The software then extracts information from the horizontal and vertical components of the image.

Tracking Assets With Electronic Communication

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is the most popular method of Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) in logistics. This technology uses electromagnetic fields to identify and track a tag that’s attached to an object. This tag includes an antenna to receive signals from an RFID reader and memory to store information electronically.

An RFID tag may be an active or passive type. An active tag uses a power source such as a battery and may be readable at a maximum range of 100 meters. Passive tags rely only on the energy of the radio waves transmitted by an RFID reader, and their maximum range is about 25 meters. The primary advantage of RFID over a barcode is that the tag doesn’t have to be within the reader’s line of sight, so it can be embedded within the tracked object

Near-field communication (NFC) is a set of communication protocols that’s also used in logistics. It allows two electronic devices to communicate at a range of about four centimeters. A user holds a reading device such as a smartphone next to a tag, which allows the tag to execute an app on the reading device. The tag can then transmit information on the tracked item to the reader.

Location Tracking

The methods for tracking vehicles may generally be classified into cellular and satellite techniques. In addition to physical location, these methods may also provide other information on the vehicle such as remaining fuel, engine temperature and oil pressure.

Cellular methods rely on the same networks that cell phones use, so they’re most useful in populated areas. A transmitter on the vehicle sends its geographical coordinates to a server through a cellular network, which can track the vehicle’s location in real time. The transmitter can also store data in memory when the network isn’t available and transmit it once the network is available.

Satellite-tracking techniques require the tracked vehicle to have a Global Positioning System (GPS) device. This may be a specialized device installed on the vehicle or a mobile device with GPS capability. The GPS tracker receives it geographical location from a satellite and sends it to a server through a transmitter such as a satellite modem, mobile network or radio. Additional equipment may be needed, depending on the transmission method. For example, a satellite modem may also require an antenna and frequency converter.

Traffic Information

A mobile app may be able to combine the information from a GPS and other sources to derive information on traffic conditions and driving behavior. For example, the app could access services such as Google Maps to obtain historical traffic data to predict the traffic at the vehicle’s location. Google Traffic can increase the accuracy of this estimate by considering factors that affect road accessibility such as accidents and construction.

Logistics companies can obtain traffic information by using generalized driving apps or an app that’s customized for their particular needs. This approach is particularly useful for companies that want to create a live traffic ribbon for their drivers or embed this capability within the app.

Using Mobile Apps For Fleet Management

Mobile apps can also include fleet management tools, which can automate fleet management and increase the efficiency of fleet operations. These apps can greatly improve a company’s overall fleet performance.

Platforms such as KeepTruckin allow drivers to track their time with a mobile device. They also generate driver logs, which fleet managers can use to analyze driving trends. For example, KeepTruckin can track a driver’s driving time and automatically warn them when they’re at risk of committing an hours-of-service offense.

Furthermore, apps like this can track vehicle inspections and notify managers when an inspection is due. Additional capabilities may include tracking repairs so that managers can determine when a problem has been fixed. Fleet management needs often vary depending on the size of the fleet, the industry, and other factors.

In many cases, a customized fleet management application is the best option for complete fleet management that covers all the areas you deal with on a regular basis.

How Much Do Logistics Mobile Apps Cost?

The development cost of a logistics mobile app is determined by many factors, some of which are under the client’s control. The feature set is one of the factors that have the greatest effect on the cost of developing a logistics mobile app.

For example, an Uber-like app for taxi services will generally be more expensive because it requires two interfaces – one for the drivers and one for the passengers. The size of the development company also affects development costs, since larger firms will often charge more to cover their greater operating expenses. The physical location of the developers will also have a significant effect on an app’s development cost.

Is your logistics or transportation company ready for its own mobile app? Contact NS804 at 804-292-2637.