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Smartphone, tablet, camera. Three almost-essential tools for today's renovation contractor.
By Karen Hamilton
1. Get a smartphone (and take advantage of what makes it “smart”)
According to a 2010 Nielsen survey, roughly a quarter of the smartphones out there are “more powerful than the computers initially used to send men to the moon”. So why is it then that the same survey found that most of us are primarily using them to play games and check the weather? While there’s nothing wrong with Angry Birds, there are plenty of useful smartphone apps designed specifically for the construction industry.
Examples include DEWALT Mobile Pro, a calculator and reference tool for estimating studs, drywall and concrete slabs; Carpentry Formulator, with over 80 formulas that let you calculate, among other things, loads on walls or coverage from concrete; Builders Helper, that takes the known parameters that you fill in and finishes the calculations on construction projects ranging from stairs to drywall to fencing; and iHandy Level.
Google “construction smartphone apps”, visit the iTunes store or search websites like Constructech.com for ideas on what’s out there to help you in your business.
2. Get a tablet (and show off your work)
The iPad is fast becoming the go-to tool for people in the construction and design business and it’s easy to see why. As a minimum, it’s an easy way to show off examples of your work or client testimonials posted on your website.
Things get a lot more interesting though when you combine your iPad with social media sites like Pinterest or Houzz. Sign up for an account so you can create private and personalized “Ideabooks” for each customer. Load these Ideabooks up with images and examples of kitchens, bathrooms, gardens, or whatever relates to the project you’re working on. Because everything is stored “in the cloud”, you’ll have access to these no matter where you are. You can even grant your customer access to their Ideabook so they can go in to view and comment on what you’ve put in there.
3. Get a camera (and use it)
If a picture is worth a thousand words then the finished product you get with some of the camera apps available these days lets you create something that’s one in a million.
SPOKEnPHOTO, for example, is an iPad and iPhone app that lets you organize photos, share them with customers and allows both of you to add voice comments. PhotoCircle is a free app that lets you create groups, or circles, that you can share your pictures with. This could be a great way to share pictures amongst the various trades working on a job.
Karen Hamilton is part of the team at Hammerati. Hammerati is a professional network exclusively for the construction industry.
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