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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.