By now, you’ve heard the expression, “There’s an app for that.” But you may not be aware that when it when it comes to some of the most difficult aspects of contracting — time tracking, presentations and estimating — there’s an app for that, too.
Here’s a look at some of the apps top contractors are using and why they recommend them:
1. Penultimate. This is an app that works with the popular Evernote app. With Penultimate a picture in your Evernote file can be written on and then used as a presentation tool in client meetings, said Eugneia Marshall, customer experience manager at Contract Exteriors. Just as with Evernote, Penultimate photos and the accompanying notes can be accessed from anywhere whether on computer or mobile device. That way customers can see photos anytime they want as well as progress being made, ideal for busy or out of town customers. “We deal with a lot of people with second homes and rentals,” Marshall said. “This really makes it easy to work with them.”
2. Skitch. Another option for electronically annotating and drawing on photos is Skitch. The app can be particularly useful to help clients better understand project parameters, said Dan Dragomir, president of D Remodeling. We do a lot of repairs,” Dragomir said. “Sometimes it’s difficult to detail exact locations of the repairs. Ultimately this provides better customer satisfaction because they can see exactly what we’re repairing.”
3. TimeSheets. One of many different time tracking app solutions, TimeSheets is a cloud-based time sheet, tracker and expense-tracking app. It also tracks mileage and time off accruals. Dragomir said he loves the app because he can immediately check on workers’ hours. “It’s especially useful for when we do deliveries,” Dragomir said. “I would suggest it to any contractor.”
4. ExakTime. Another time tracking app, ExakTime is a suite of services that includes a mobile app. The mobile app uses photo verification to eliminate so-called “buddy punching,” in which employees check each other in even if they’re not on the job site. Like other apps, it uses GPS to track employees so you know which workers at which jobs. Brian Hogan, owner of Hogan Design and Construction, says the app has given his company a new accuracy — and a new way to incentivize workers. “If someone’s ExakTime is perfect in a week they get an extra hour on their paycheck,” Hogan said.
5. HoverPro. This app is designed to easily create an interactive 3D model of a property. Using photos snapped from a smart phone the app promises to generate measurements for a variety of materials such as siding and roofing. The app can also show users what different materials would look like on the home. “It really helps expedite the proposal process,” said Meghan Ritchie, marketing director for Superior Pro Exteriors.
6. RenoWorks. This app is somewhat similar to HoverPro. It also allows users to see what different design features would look like on a home based on an uploaded photo. But this app shows customers what specific products would look like rather than just general colors or styles. Ritchie says her team is still trying it out, but it looks promising.
While there are plenty of off-the-shelf app solutions, some contractors are taking another route — developing their own. For example, PCS Residential is developing an app to streamline the sales, ordering and installation process, said Eric Kollauf, the company’s marketing manager.
Working with a company out of Australia, PCS Residential has been developing the app for about 2 ½ years. When it’s completed, Kollauf said the app will have the ability to provide measurements and pricing for different products right from a smart phone.
Kollauf said that will reduce lead times from as long as nine months to as little as a few days. If it’s successful Kollauf said the company plans to license it to other contractors.
What are your favorite apps? Share in the comment section below.