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, then you should also look at the MyBuilder app, which lets you recieve leads and express interest in jobs, message customers and edit your profile on the go. It has great feedback from the tradespeople who use it everyday, and we're hoping to have an Android app available as well.
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. You'll no doubt have used your phone as a torch, or even have used the iPhone's built-in spirit level, hidden in the compass app.
Even the more commonly used functions can come in handy, whether it's using the camera to take pictures of a hard-to-see spot, or using the Notes app to jot down some details. The Voice Memo app can also be a lifesafer, letting you record a chat to playback later wihtout missing any details.
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. Calendars with shared events can also solve a lot of headaches when it comes to organising subcontractors and keeping people up to date with delays.
Maps and calendars can also work together, feeding info back and forth to give you alerts when you need them. In Google calendars you can set it to email you a daily schedule each morning, and click straight from the event through to a map with directions.
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.