Must-Have Features For Contractor & Construction Mobile Apps

You’ve been in the contracting or construction business for many years now. You have an excellent track record with your clients and a good reputation in the industry.

Now, you’re looking to expand your operations by developing an app that draws from your extensive knowledge and experience. You also recognize that offering a useful, branded app to contractors, project managers and others, you’ll help set yourself apart from the competition.

A branded app for your business can even serve as a tool for recruiting new employees. This is because the most talented individuals in the labor pool will recognize when a business takes steps to use technology to run more efficiently.

An app designed to improve service for busy customers as well as help your team collaborate with less friction will definitely be attractive to potential recruits.

Must-Have Features on Mobile Apps for Contractors

You and your fellow stakeholders are ready to develop an app for your contracting or construction company.

You’re eager to begin brainstorming about what it should offer to end users. But before you begin consulting with a software company, here are some must-have features when building out your contractor or construction mobile app:

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Integration

CRM capability in your app will help members of the sales team keep track of all their leads and guide them through the process of converting them into paying customers.

Typically, the app will add API integration with a CRM system, such as Salesforce. This will improve the ability of the sales team to add new contact details on the fly through the app. Integrations like this are essential for optimizing processes.

Keep in mind: if your company cares enough to maintain a system like this, you should have greater success when it comes time to recruit new members in your sales department. They’ll want to work at a place that follows industry best practices using state-of-the-art software for nurturing leads down the sales funnel.

Quickly Generated Quotes

An app that includes various templates for the typical work that your team uses to generate quotes will be invaluable. Customers benefit from speedier quote generation and employees will be able to get more work done from the time saved.

The nature of ordering work this way also makes it easier to close sales to prospective customers who are already on-site. Compare this to the standard practice of allowing leads to actually leave the site so you can try and follow up with them later.

By taking advantage of face time with the motivated individuals checking out your site, you increase the likelihood of adding them to the ranks of happy, loyal customers.

Cloud Computing

To ensure the safety and security of all the data your users will be creating and storing with the app, you’ll need to have a disaster recover plan in place in case of a problem with servers in your data center.

You can modernize your operations by including a cloud computing feature in the app, which allows users to automatically backup their data wirelessly. The information will be stored redundantly and securely on multiple servers in different regions so your work can continue with little delay in case of any disaster.

NOTE: While “redundant” typically carries a negative connotation, it’s a positive term in cloud computing. It means there are more measures in place to ensure that your app functions properly at any given time.  

Calendar Functionality

Being able to see at a glance all current and upcoming jobs on the smartphone’s touch-sensitive screen makes the calendar one of the most-used features in contractor and construction apps.

Employee Scheduling

Many people want an app that allows them to check on the availability of various employees as well as details about their sick days or requests for vacations. Real-time employee management makes life easier for managers who need to stay on top of the workforce.

Your app can be more effective when it includes clock-in/clock-out features and the ability to tally workers’ lunch breaks. The data can all feed into your QuickBooks account or any other time tracking software.

You may also require more robust security to prevent employees from “clocking in” for a friend who happens to be late. An app that collects this level of information on a regular basis will be invaluable for managers who are tasked with generating weekly reports on employee attendance or when evaluating workers during fitness reviews.

Subcontractor Agreement Management

Working with subcontractors will go more smoothly when you include some templates for the agreements that you typically extend to them before starting on a new job.

Having these agreements accessible in your mobile app – along with other frequently used documents – will save time by decreasing the time to locate and fill out the documents. It can even save money if you configure the documents to be stored electronically – removing the need for printing.  

Dynamic To-Do Lists

You don’t want your team to waste time writing down tasks on scraps of paper (or their hands) because it’s not a very efficient (or reliable) way to organize efforts. Digital to-do lists in the app can be modified on the fly and workers can copy details from one list to another for greater timesaving.

This feature can also be set up for team collaboration – so a note made by someone on a job site can be seen immediately by someone in the office, allowing for quicker response times and improved communication.

Map Features

For most contractors, your app won’t be very useful if it lacks some maps capability. For instance, Google Maps with access to Google Street View will be an invaluable feature in your app to get a comprehensive look at a potential site, including access routes and potential obstacles.

Mapping can also help you operate more efficiently with alerts about traffic issues, share job site or meeting locations with coworkers or clients, and help you keep track of the number of job sites you have in any given area and how you can efficiently expand your territory.

GPS Navigation

In addition to mapping, you can leverage turn-by-turn navigation using the smartphone’s built-in GPS services to give directions to worksites. You can even tie the day’s schedule to locations that your team must get to, plotting the most efficient routes between them.

Click-to-Call or Text

An app that makes it easy to connect with sales leads will increase the volume of promising candidates while saving you time.

You can design the app so icons will appear as shortcuts to connect with sales teams, a foreman, manager or customer service rep by phone or via text message (such as a text with standard details based on a template). Your employees can also use click-to-call to reach out to current customers as well as prospects.

Imaging Features

The ability to take photos and videos and make notes for instant sharing with all key players is a prominent feature for many contractors. Images can be made instantly available to any stakeholders through the app to save time and effort and much more.

Safety Checklist

Adapt your printed safety checklist to a digital format for use in the smartphone app. This will make it a snap for employees to document that procedures were followed according to industry best practices.

Offline Mode

Your app should be able to sync crucial data on the device so it can be used even in areas with no cellular data network or Wi-Fi. Work should not come to a halt simply because of a glitch in the communications channels.

This is especially helpful for contractors and construction workers who have frequent jobs in rural areas or near dead zones.

Android, iPhone or Both?

Depending on the nature of your business and existing computer network, you might have a reason to develop your app just for Android smartphones or just for iPhones.

But companies with a bring-your-own-device policy are better off developing an app suitable for both Android and Apple. If you are providing work phones to employees, though, you may be able to decide on just one platform.

Choosing Features for Your Mobile App

It’s clear that a customized mobile app built to your exacting specifications can help you do more with your existing resources.There’s no time like the present to get started with brainstorming and outsourcing the app’s development.

For best results, make sure to work with experts who have a proven track record in the world of construction and contracting. This ensures you will get the best return on your mobile app development project.

NS804 has worked with contractors and can help guide you through the process. To learn more, contact NS804 online or at 804-616-3546.

How Customization Would Improve The Top 10 Construction Apps

The initial popularity of the iPhone has led to a proliferation of apps being developed for all purposes, from entertainment to business (you may recall Apple’s early catchphrase, “there’s an app for that”). Now, of course, there are apps available on Android and Windows mobile phones as well.

However, in a bid to satisfy the masses, many developers create apps that are beneficial in general, but sometimes lack certain features or aspects that would make them more suited for power users.

This is true for most industries, including construction. Any construction company looking to deliver better results to customers by empowering its team with state-of-the-art software and technology will want to consider developing a customized app.

It’s useful to look at the mobile apps noted in a recent report on the top apps used in construction. Customization of each of these kinds of apps – or rolling many of these features into one custom app – could improve the ability to function optimally and deliver the most value for construction companies.

Here are the ten apps, plus suggestions for improving functionality through customization:

1. CCS Safety

The CCS Safety app for Apple and Android devices was developed by Capital Construction Solutions and costs $4.99. An optional monthly fee of $0.99 fee per user gives you access to an administrative website.

How It Could Be Improved

Your foreman can use the CSS Safety app to document incident reports, produce safety reviews and make notes on existing hazards.

But to boost employee engagement and promote safety, you could customize an app like this to include a recognition program for crews that have the best safety records.

2. Construct

Developed by Construct LATAM, this free app is available for Apple and Android devices. Use it to delegate tasks to workers, who will be alerted instantly with a notification via the app. The app helps you keep track of work quality and its security feature lets you quickly delete project details with a single click.

How It Could Be Improved

Customizing an app like Construct to include analytics would let you identify which workers are producing the highest quality results and which of them may need some retraining to get back in gear. Checklist for QA further refines the analytics piece to provide a report card to each laborer.

3. Latista for Construction Management

Latista Technologies developed its free Latista app for Apple devices. Meant for project managers and designed to foster improved collaboration, this app helps you mark up issues on the project drawings while out in the field.

How It Could Be Improved

Your construction company might benefit by customizing an app like Latista to generate notifications that would automatically transmit details about a project markup by text message or email to people who are not physically at that location.

4. Mobile Inspection

The free Mobile Inspection app, developed by Cityforce for use with Apple and Android devices, offers a way to make customized checklists as well as punch lists, so you can interact with multiple safety inspectors more efficiently. The ability to rank checklists from site to site will help you identify emerging safety trends.

How It Could Be Improved

A construction company could benefit by customizing an app like Mobile Inspection to include instant links to appropriate safety videos for your crew to review on the spot whenever major violations are discovered.

5. My Shiftster

My Shiftster is a free time management app developed by Newmetrics for use on Apple and Android mobile devices. Recognizing that managers need an easy way to keep tabs on the availability of each employee, Newmetrics created this app to help them handle late and sick notifications as well as review requests for vacations.

How It Could Be Improved

For this app, it would be useful to include a way for your employees to identify opportunities to trade shifts. The app could sort out which employees would be the most ideal for schedule adjustments, which will be a relief to workers who want to balance work-life while causing as little inconvenience as possible for the company.

6. Procore Construction Management Software

This free app for Apple and Android devices was developed by Procore Technologies to facilitate better productivity and collaboration among construction workers. When you have to manage details about a project from remote, a handy app to help you organize it all makes a big difference in workflow.

Procore’s app helps individuals compare details between projects. When dealing with multiple locations, it’s important to keep things properly updated, of course. This app helps you integrate different notes made about a particular project.

How It Could Be Improved

A great way to customize it would add reminders to update projects if no one has accessed its information within a set period of time, which you would determine on a case-by-case basis. Doing so would ensure that project information is updated in a timely manner.

7. Quick Service Estimates and Invoices

Created by Logical Engine as a free app for use on Apple devices, Quick Service Estimates and Invoices is valuable for helping you cut down on paperwork. Use it to produce estimates and then instantly email them.

How It Could Be Improved

When work is done, you use the app to generate invoices and make receipts for customers. This app requires you to enter company information on the fly. If customized, developers could include a feature that lets you import customer information directly from your organization’s customer relationship management (CRM) database.

8. ShareMyToolBox

Offered for free for use in Apple devices and developed by Viewpoint Construction Software, the ShareMyToolBox app is an interesting tool to help construction sites boost productivity. It accomplishes this by helping workers share what tools they have brought with them, so everyone can see what’s available to use.

You will see a range of information, including links to the user manual and as many as 6 images of the tool in question. However, just because an app exists, it doesn’t mean everyone will use it all the time. That is, unless you provide an incentive.

How It Could Be Improved

You could customize an app like this to include a rewards program that recognizes the employees who share the most and who are the most conscientious about the depth of information they do share about available tools.

9. Sightspace 3D

A $39.99 app for Apple and Android mobile devices, Sightspace 3D is a design app from Limitless Computing that supports construction teams that happen to use 3D computer aided designs and Trimble SketchUp.

How It Could Be Improved

You would use this app to determine the look and placement of fixtures, materials and entire buildings as you examine the situation for errors made by the construction team. You would want to customize this app to take advantage of other 3D formats, to integrate better with design tools and protocols already in place at your company.

10. SKYSITE

The SKYSITE app is available for Apple, Android and Windows devices. Developed by ARC Document Solutions, its cost is determined by the number of end users in your organization. It’s a cloud computing-based document management platform designed to let your team manage data for construction sites in real time. You can use it to examine and manage documents as well as search for or distribute them from any location.

How It Could Be Improved

Here, customization to improve the app for your organization could be in the form of special templates that are unique to your company and the types of projects you typically bid on. These templates would be based in the cloud for uniform access and usage by all concerned parties.

Get All Of These Features In One App With A Customized Mobile App

Whether you’re using one of these apps or all of them, there’s no doubt that some level of customization could help improve the way these programs help your operations. But the ultimate way to take advantage of mobile app customization is to have all of the features – from each of these apps – rolled into one single application.

Instead of having to bounce back-and-forth between apps and instead of being forced to deal with apps that almost do what you need them to, you can have one ultimate application that does exactly what you need – nothing more and nothing less.

If you’re currently using one or more of the mobile apps listed above and it’s not quite meeting your needs then it’s time to consider a customized mobile app. If you’re just shopping around to see what apps might help your company, that’s also a great time to get more information about customized mobile apps.

Get started now by taking this quiz to see if you could use a mobile app for your construction company:

To learn more about how NS804 can help you build the perfect custom construction mobile app, contact us at 804-616-3546.  

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.