Must Have Apps for Landscape Contractors
There’s an App For That
Like many of you my smart phone (iPhone 4S) has become an indispensable part of my business and my life. One needs only to experience a dead battery with no power supply to begin to feel the withdrawal symptoms usually associated with drug addiction. Like any other addict, you start “jonesing” as you feverishly look for a car charger or USB cable to get yourself powered up and functioning again.
You feel completely disconnected from the world as you wonder how you will occupy your free time if you can’t send and receive emails, text your friends and family that your stuck in traffic, tweet something that only you think is interesting, update your four square account, letting the world know that you just had an ice cream cone at Dairy Queen or update Facebook with a “selfie” (picture of yourself) sitting in the traffic that you just tweeted about.
Needless to say, like everything else in life, our smart phones can be used for good or evil. One of the most exciting things about smart phone technology is the development of applications or “app” for short. I have no idea how many 10’s of thousands of apps are available these days but one thing is for sure, that number is growing every day.
I think it is fair to say that the most frequently used categories of applications by everybody on our phone is email, calendar, messaging, camera, music and internet, all of which usually comes with the phones themselves.
After that, there is a world of options that can be, to say the least, overwhelming.
In addition to my built in camera, I also like to use an app called “Panorama 360”. It allows you to stand in one place, spin around (slowly) and take a 360-degree picture of whatever you see. It is relatively flawless and a lot of fun. I also use my “Compass” app religiously on site visits when I need assistance to find north.
Like many of you, I spend a lot of time on the road and not behind my desk at the office. To help me remember my thoughts and ideas while I am traveling, there are two apps that I find to be very helpful. One is the “Notes” app that is a virtual “Post-It” pad that automatically downloads to my email account. The other is called “Voice Assist” which allows me to verbally record notes and then automatically changes it into written text. So you can respond to your emails verbally while voice assistant types them out for you.
Zillow is a great app that let’s you look up important information about a client’s home just by entering their address. I primarily use Zillow to find out the size of a clients property so that I can determine their design fee. As some of you already know I charge for my designs solely based on property size. In addition, Zillow provides you with the current value of the home, how many rooms it has and will provide a photo of it. It’s really a realtor website but it serves our purposes just as well.
“Landscapers Companion” is a must have. I think it is the only one that I paid more than .99 cents but it is well worth the $4.99 price tag. It is a photo library of plant material that is incredibly organized and unbelievably functional. You can search plants by category, name, zone, color, exposure, size and watering requirements. It will even tell you what to use it for, when it blooms and potential issues or problems with the plant. You can even narrow your search and select “deer tolerant” plant material.
For hardscape ideas and solutions I like to use the Techo-bloc app. They created a wonderful solution for the landscape or hardscape contractor that needs to estimate and sell a project right at the client’s house and includes complete product specifications along with some great photos of built projects and paver selections.
I also use Go Payment by Intuit to collect credit card payments from clients that want to use a credit card or don’t have a check available. Go Payment or another payment app called Square lets you swipe your client’s credit card on the spot by attaching a simple piece of hardware to your phone and using your merchant account. Your clients will love the convenience and so will you. Both the app and hardware are free.
3 more apps that I like and use, but less frequently are: Dropbox to send, receive and store documents; Splashtop to remotely access and use my desktop; and iHandy Level to check patio slopes.
Since all work and no play makes Jody a dull boy I have to admit that there is one gaming app that I am totally addicted to. It’s called Scramble With Friends. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what some of your favorite apps are.
Jody Shilan is a former landscape contractor and award winning designer. He has sold tens of millions of dollars of installation work throughout his career and now uses his 30+ years of experience to teach other landscape design/build contractors how to dramatically increase their sales and standardize their landscape design/build/sales process. He does this through private consulting, public speaking, group workshops and his “exclusive” members only website www.FromDesign2Build.com.
Jody Shilan appears as a guest blogger for LMN Blog, Landscape Management Network’s resource hub for all things related to building a better landscape business. For more on the Landscape Management Network, check out the website at www.landscapemanagementnetwork.com.