When we asked our expert panel about their favorite new technologies, we expected to hear about industry- specific implements and tools, but our experts surprised us. We were inundated with responses hailing the advent of new communication technologies. Smartphones, web applications, social media outlets and digital cameras were listed as favorites across the home improvement industry.
These new tools are making it easier for professionals to connect and collaborate with their clients.
While the iPhone is the most versatile and common smartphone on the market, it’s smartphones in general are getting a big thumbs-up from home improvement professionals. Even without the use of third party apps, mobiles are streamlining business in the field. Cameras, internet connectivity, e-mail, text messaging, video chatting, document editing and more give workers the power of an entire office in the palm of their hand.
Designers can search the internet for new products and design ideas and then show homeowners those images in real time. Plumbers can take pictures of their progress and e-mail the photos to clients for approval. GPS-enabled phones can help contractors find new work sites and electricians can stay connected while on big jobs. No matter the profession, smartphones are becoming necessary tools for maintaining an efficient business.
Phone apps take the functionality of your smartphone to a new level. With apps, professionals can customize their phone to their specific industry. Electricians use apps like iBend to calculate conduit angles, contractors trust HandyMan Sidekick to estimate supply needs and realtors look to Open Home Pro to attract new client contact info. Apps usually only cost a few dollars and, in some cases, are capable of replacing several tools at once.
Online tools were praised, especially by designers who found that they could communicate with their clients much more effectively through sharing on the web. Tracy Metro heralded Pinterest.comas a new favorite among designers. The website encourages clients and professionals to post themed vision boards that help inspire design ideas.
Expert Tracy Metro points out,
“As a designer this is an invaluable tool when designing a space because not only can I reference my own ideas, but I’m able to view my client’s boards to see what they really and truly like.”
Other sites, like Houzz.com, offer similar advantages. By linking ideas online, designers and homeowners can realize their design goals faster and more accurately.
Social media has helped scores of home improvement professionals connect with new clients.
Architect Kraig Kalashian mentions,
“Social media is truly changing the landscape for how business is done and how we find work. It used to take years to develop the kind of contacts and networks that can now be done in a matter of days.”
Just as social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter help professionals connect to clients, sites like LinkedIn help professionals connect to each other. Through LinkedIn, home improvement experts can find new work, get advice from fellow experts in the field and discover new marketing opportunities.
Cameras are obviously not new, but advancements in image-capturing software and hardware have made cameras indispensible across the home improvement industry. Features like high-definition video, wide angle lenses, increased portability and ease of use and infrared technology make cameras a must have tool. Realtors can use cameras to create in-depth, high quality video walkthroughs for clients that want to get a good look at a prospective home, but don’t live nearby. Other experts, like Jason Todd from GreenHomes America, use a different sort of camera.
“Infrared cameras help us identify missed insulation or building issues by showing us heat patterns. One of the latest cameras allows us to transmit images to a tablet or computer. Good stuff when the adviser is in the attic and the customer is (justifiably so) not interested in following!”
Cameras help bring a project’s progress and potential to life, yet another example of how new technologies are aimed at connectivity. By staying connected, professionals and their clients can develop longer-lasting relationships and foster better business across the industry.