It’s hard to overstate the impact phones have had on our lives. Once it was impressive being able to call someone while on the move - now, we can do everything on our phones, even if you’re rushing around running your own business - from keeping in touch with customers, to shopping for supplies. If you’re like most people, you’re probably glued to it whenever you can be - but are you getting the most out of it?
Your phone has plenty of inbult uses, but there are plenty of apps you can download as well that can help give you an edge and make your life easier. Tool manufacturer Makita has a free app which has a host of useful functions, including a decibel monitor to check how loud your site is, and a distance measure that lets you measure up sites with a few clicks.
Screwfix also produces an app which makes life simpler for its regular customers. You can order online to click and collect, make lists and check stock, and get sent promotions and notifications.
Another useful app for tradespeople is one like CamScanner, which turns your phone into a simple scanner. It’s handy for taking pictures of any notes, estimates or quotes you draw up, and converting them into PDFs which you can share with customers and store securely.
If you’re an iPhone user, we also have to mention the MyBuilder app, which lets you recieve leads and express interest in jobs, message customers and edit your profile. We think it’s pretty useful, but we would say that…
While a phone will never rival the box of toys you’ve got in the back of the van, if you’ve popped round somewhere to quote, or get caught unawares, your phone can be a very useful gadget in a pinch. Need to check out the consumer unit hidden in a dark understairs cupboard? Use the inbuilt torch. Want to check if the last guy’s work was wonky? iPhones have a built-in spirit level hidden in the Compass app.
Even the more commonly used functions can be surprisingly useful for tradespeople. Need to show a customer problems that are out of sight like a leaking pipe behind some plasterboard? Whip out your phone camera and take some pictures. Customer giving you instructions and you’re worried that there’s no record of what’s being requested? Use the Notes app to jot down what’s being said, or the Voice Memo app to record a chat to playback later.
Maps and calendars
Knowing where you have to be and when you have to be there is vital for a tradesperson, especially if you’ve moving between irregular jobs or trying to squeeze in a few quotes after a day on site. Homeowners often tell us how much they value tradespeople being prompt and turning up at the time they said they will, and you only get one chance to make a good first impression.
Google Maps doesn’t just show you where a place is, it can give you directions, turn-by-turn instructions, and will even give live updates on traffic so you you’ll know for sure whether you’ll be there on time or not. Maps app Waze also crowdsources life traffic data from thousands of users to give you a better picture of journey times. Likewise, a good calendar app like Google’s own Calendar will help you keep on top of your appointments - for example, if a homeowner emails saying “Can you come at 4pm today?” one click can add it straight to your day’s schedule and give you a notification when it’s time to head off.
How do you use yours?
Have any phone hacks you think fellow tradespeople should know about? Or any ideas for tips you'd like to see in this space? Let us know in the comments below.