For my company, 37% of leads arrive via Internet, and 17% of our website traffic originates from mobile devices, 85% of them from Apple products.

A recent Walker Sands Communications report shows that website traffic from mobile devices jumped from 17.5% in the third quarter of 2012 to 23.1% in the first quarter of 2013.

The Great Mobile Wave

So how to tap into mobile? What we came up with at Certified Contractors Network was the idea of a custom mobile app for members. My company, Maggio Roofing, is the guinea pig.

Homeowners will receive a log-in and will then be able to download our mobile app from iTunes. Once we connect with them, we can push out an appointment time, set up the job schedule, document and invoice change orders, and track job progress. The client can even pay his bill there.

We can include different tabs across the bottom of the app. The Home tab would have our logo and links for contacting our office. A Notes tab would allow homeowners to include praise or complaints, and there would be a Share button so that they can post to Facebook or Twitter. We’re also thinking about a video tab that would take clients to our YouTube channel.

By continuing to provide information on different products and services, we sustain the relationship.

From Websites to Apps

In the ’90s, we at CCN said: Every home improvement business is going to need a website. Not everyone agreed. Now you wouldn’t dream of not having a site. It’s similar with mobile apps today. Everybody is going to have to have one at some point because so many people live on their mobile — whether notebook, tablet, or smartphone.

I think about my own habits. I constantly search Google from my phone. I don’t even do it from my desk anymore. It’s more convenient. Also, many companies now discourage employees from using the Internet for personal use, so smartphones have become the tool for searching the Web.

Lots of advantages accrue. A mobile app makes it easy for someone to buy from you. It’s a sales tool that you take into the appointment, where you explain that this is one way the company communicates with customers. A home improvement company with a mobile app will be perceived as different and cutting-edge. But the biggest advantage is that a lot of your prospects are already used to dialing in.

Scott Siegal is the owner of Maggio Roofing, in the Washington, D.C., area, and president of Certified Contractors Network, a peer consulting group.