5 Ways Mobile Apps Can Save Your Company Hundreds of Hours (and Headaches)

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Running a business, especially a small shop, isn't easy. If you're a sole proprietor or have two to five employees, you may find yourself doing a lot of the work. Your job includes managing receipts, order forms, daily logs, or other tedious pieces of paperwork. Luckily, there's a new technology in town. One that can save you hundreds of hours, and let you grow: mobile apps. Here are a few ways mobile apps can help you streamline your business.

1. Create More Billable Hours
Almost every business fills out forms before or after a job from time cards to inspections. The time you spend filling out these forms are hours you can't bill.

Switching to a mobile app will make your forms faster with streamlined features such as auto-populated fields and check boxes. Your employees will be able to add even more information quickly with photos, calculations, or GPS capture. One of our customers at Canvas reported their inspections going from 30 to five minutes. That means more jobs they can get to and bill each and every day.

2. Fewer Hours Behind the Computer
How many hours a week do you spend on data entry? Do you have an employee devoted to this? Either way, you're losing time and money to redundant data entry.

Mobile apps remove this need. Every time a submission is filed out, it goes straight to the cloud. There, you can access it instantly, or export it to your own systems. Going mobile will save you the cost of another employee or late nights in front of your computer.

3. Clearer Communication With Field Workers
Connecting with field workers can be difficult. You call your field workers to tell them the next site, only to find out they didn't hear the address. You've tried email and texts, but those get lost in the frenzy of the day. The most accurate method means coming back to the office – wasting time and gas.

A mobile app with dispatch will clearly convey the information needed. For instance, if your worker needs to visit a customer's site, you can give them the name, address, and time they'll need to arrive, all in the form. They will get a notification on their phone, as well as the information. Back at the office, you can see when your worker received the notification, and when they finished the job. A light dispatch will mean less time struggling to communicate, and more time getting your work done.

4. Better Customer Service
Whether you're in landscaping or daycare, your customers matter. In 2014, most people prefer email and documents they can save on their computers. This preference can give your company an advantage.

Mobile apps make it easy to send professional receipts via email. Every submission creates a PDF. At the end of your form, enter their email, and the complete information goes to the client immediately. If your customer ever loses a form, it takes just seconds to search for the document in the cloud.

The ease of email has given one of our customer's a huge advantage. He runs a pool cleaning service in northern California. Yet, he's the only one of his competitors with a mobile app. His clients love that an email shows up in their inbox, complete with photos, date, and time of service.

The emails also make his customer service easier. Previously, when a customer had a problem, he had to spend time on the phone or visit the customer's house to go over the issue. Now, he simply adds it to his routine emails. He adds a photo of the problem, and a few notes about the problem. Email has saved his company countless hours explaining issues to customers, and made fixing problems routine.

5. You Can Make Better Decisions
How much are you actually spending on materials per job? While you may have an understanding of what you are using over the long run, being able to break down the information can be time consuming and tedious.

Mobile apps make it easier to not only collect data, but also analyze it too. If you're a delivery company, for instance, you can analyze your routes with GPS locations. Maybe some of your routes overlap and can be streamlined. If you're a contractor, mobile apps make it easy to understand how much material you use on each site. From there, you can create more accurate estimates. The better decisions you can make, the stronger your business will be.

I'm not going to lie: any change will cost you some learning time and money. Mobile apps are no exception. But the long term benefits to small businesses are huge. You'll end up saving more time and money. More importantly: you can focus on the work you love and not on dreaded paperwork.

Katie is a content strategist with Canvas, a SaaS company helping organizations of all shapes and sizes become more efficient with mobile apps. When not on her mobile device you can find her in DC, enjoying the local coffee and music scene.