The Best Smartphone Apps for Contractors
It’s the rare person who doesn’t carry a smartphone nowadays. We see them everywhere being used for so many different functions. They can be a way to pass the time, but they can also be a great tool for work. But when it comes to work, they’re not just good for making calls. There is a huge variety of apps available that can help with all aspects of being a contractor.
We’ll skip the best ways to take pictures of your food, win at Candy Crush, or take duck-face selfies. Instead, we’ll highlight some of the best cell phone apps that can help with your business.
There are lots of great articles that talk about construction apps. Many of them focus on CAD, taking drone images of sites, and the like. Here, though, we’ll focus on a couple that have broader uses as well as some that are more relevant to the concrete industry. Some are specific to the task at hand, while others have a wide range of uses. But phones have a limited amount of memory, which means you may have to pick and choose what you want to install. These are our suggestions for what you should always have.
As contractors, we spend more time out in the field than at the office. We have to go to our clients; after all, we can’t do “take-out” driveway installations. That means we’re constantly on the go visiting new locations. Finding those locations can be tricky at times.
Waze makes that easier. It’s a handy app that will plot a course and even take live traffic updates into account. It works by tracking the location of all Waze users, so you’ll know exactly where the slowdowns are. Waze is now owned by Google, so it draws on one of the best map databases available.
It’s not the only app for driving directions but it works great for taking traffic and alternate routes into account.
Waze is free and available on Android and iPhone platforms.
Once Wave helps you know where you’re going, you need to be sure you have the gas to get there. To find the best prices, GasBuddy draws on user data to compile the best prices. Since users can add the prices they see each day, it stays up to date. The information can be shown in a list or on a map.
You can set how far you’re willing to go to fill up and filter by amenities such as ATMs or convenience stores. It will even let you select a preferred brand.
This can be a great tool to help save money on transportation. As we all know, those costs do add up over time!
Concrete Calculator (Android only)
Now we move to more site-specific tools. And of course one of the most important steps we need to take on a job is calculating the amount of material we need.
The Concrete Calculator app doesn’t save you from having to measure. But it does do all the calculations based on the measurements you input. It even easily converts between metric and imperial units.
You choose what kind of pouring you need to do – footings, columns, and slabs are just a few of the options. Then enter the measurements, and voilá, it will figure out the details.
Using this app, you can figure out the mix of sand, cement, and aggregate. If you’re using premixed bags, set your bag size and it will tell you how many you’ll need.
You can even use this without an internet connection so you won’t have to burn through data all the time. The app is free.
While the app above will help you figure out how much concrete you need, you still need to track the measurements and layout of the area where you’ll be working. Photo Measures is a great solution.
This app is a huge improvement over sketching the site on your notepad. All you need to do is take a photo and then add the measurements where they belong. You can zoom to add more precise measurements. It even lets you make notes in addition to the numbers.
You can import photos as well as export them. They can also be sorted by category so you can keep projects separate.
This is great for keeping measurements on hand and being able to work out ideas while sitting with a client or once you head back to the office.
This is a paid app, but it’s reasonably priced.
This app is handy, but I’m including it for nostalgic reasons too. It was the app that convinced me that it was worthwhile to get a smartphone. I was having a boiler installed and the contractor who did the work pulled out his phone to check the level. It just blew me away.
Still, there are always times when we need to check that a surface is level, and this is great for small checks. It can save you the trouble of having to dig out a tool from the truck. It’s remarkably precise and uses internal sensors in your phone. Simple, effective, and free.
Punching in on an actual clock is a thing of the past in most businesses. But if you still need to track employee’s time accurately, this app might come in handy.
With Tsheets, you can track the hours the employee works at each job site. The app makes it easy to separate time spent on different projects. There’s no need for check-in at a central place; it can be done through each person’s own phone. It’s then reconciled and tabulated for you to facilitate billing and payroll.
If you use it just to track your own hours, it’s free. For more than one user, there’s a base fee plus a per-user monthly cost.
If you’re a general contractor or work with one as a subcontractor, this app may come in handy. SmartBidNet is the app that accompanies SmartBid. This software helps keep project plans, bids, and other important paperwork more accessible to all the contractors working on the project.
This can save time and trips to an office to check out plans and other information.
This is not a free app and comes as part of a bigger management package. However, it can be worthwhile to suggest it to general contractors for use with their teams.
Preparing estimates and invoicing can be a drag. Jobflex helps make it easier. It will let you add information about your project and send it automatically to your client along with relevant contracts. Once you’re done, it will also invoice them for you.
This can really help with organization and with making sure all the information gets sent along with each estimate. It’s all stored and organized through the app so you don’t have to worry about it getting misplaced. It will definitely simplify your paperwork!
We suggest that you don’t post unflattering selfies or pictures of lunch. Instead, use Instagram as the awesome marketing tool it can be. Having it handy on your phone will let you show off completed projects and works in progress.
We create great work that’s worth showing off. Instagram’s visual format lends itself to marketing for businesses like ours that have a visible, concrete product (no pun intended).
Adding the photo with a brief description and related hashtags will help it spread through the internet and create brand awareness for your business. Learn more about it in our social media marketing review.
Apps For Your Favorite Big Box Stores
Love them or hate them, the major chains do offer a lot of conveniences. Whether you purchase a lot of supplies from them or they’re just an emergency stop, it’s good to know they’re there if you need something.
The big chains have their own apps that let you order online for pickup or delivery. The apps are optimized for use on your phone. Basically, that means they’re a lot easier to use than trying to navigate a website on the phone.
Add the app for one or several of your favorites so you can quickly check prices and place orders. It’ll save you time and effort when you need something and you’re on the go.
Your phone can be a great tool for your business. Not only can it help figure out how much concrete you need, but it can track details about projects, handle invoicing and estimates, and even record hours worked. It will help you do your marketing, too! Find the apps that work best for you and load them now so that life in the field can be easier than ever.