Calling All Tradesmen! The Best Online Tools and Apps to Boost Your Productivity

With the explosion in digital tools available for free on the web or at a low cost, it appears as though every profession on the planet now has the option of assistance from the digital world.  Tradesmen have always been a tight knit community with a preference for good, manual graft over keyboard tapping or fiddly apps, but now even the trade industry is having to take note of what downloadable tools can offer to businesses.  For a young tradesman looking to kick-start their own independent business there are a multitude of tools that can save them money, supply valuable services and massively improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their work.

Get rid of annoying paperwork floating around site.

No-one likes having tons of important paperwork floating around their site in danger of being lost or spoiled.  The iQuick Contract Maker allows you to quickly and easily create a legal contract on site or during meetings with customers, making the relationship between tradesman and client stress-free.  The app includes a basic contract template and the ability to send the completed e-mail to their customers on the spot and to your own e-mail address.  What’s even better is that it will only cost £1.99, saving you money on expensive Contract writing programs that wouldn’t allow you to operate on the move!

Android- An alternative suitable for Android Device is the Contract Maker Pro.  Reviews for the app have been mixed, but for every negative review there seems to be a positive one.  Regardless, at a price of £6.16 the app is a cost effective way to meet your contractual demands on the go.  The app offers seven contract templates, a touch screen signing option and the ability to email your contracts to clients or to other devices.

Desktop- The Federation of Master Builders does provide a selection of downloadable contracts, ranging from Commercial and Industrial to Minor Building Work contracts.  Obviously these are available to download to your desktop, yet their compatibility for mobile devices are limited- no option of using the contracts on the go.

Small Builders for home builders and commercial contractors is building software that can be accessed instantly on your mobile, tablet, and of course your desktop computer.

Manage all of your invoices on the move!

Debitoor is a free invoicing application that can be used on laptop, tablet or mobile interfaces.  Once again, this app allows you to get rid of the annoying paperwork, letting you produce invoices, keep track of your cash flow and manage customer information all from one handy app.  The additional features offered by Debitoor make the app even more appealing, offering you the opportunity to add your businesses logo to the template, as well as providing a reminder feature that sends you reminders whenever customer payments are due.  Debitoor comes in two formats, one paid and one unpaid.  The free option provides unlimited invoicing and expense tracking, whilst the $5 a month upgrade offers quotes, document handling and reminders.

Keep track of project time on site and keep your clients in the know!

For tradesmen, time is everything.  From managing multiple sites and projects, to meeting their customers’ expectations and requirements; time management is crucial for not only building and maintaining a reputation, but for ensuring you are working efficiently and effectively.   PAYMO lets you manage this on both desktop and mobile devices, allowing you to clock in the hours spent on the project before converting this into an online invoice at the click of a button.  The ability to export and share this data means that any customer queries about time management can be answered with well-structured data, providing clarity for both the customer and the tradesman.  The free option offers unlimited clients and projects but only one invoice a month.  However, the premium upgrade is a wallet friendly $14.85 a month and offers unlimited invoicing and 15GB of data storage.  The triumvirate of project management, time tracking and online invoicing is guaranteed to make a tradesmans projects easily manageable and centralised all into one tool, whilst still staying friendly to your budget.

Yeeehaaaww Cowboy! Let your clients know you’re no cowboy builder.

In an age of cowboy builders and trade horror stories, customer confidence in the honest tradesman is at an all-time low.  The TrustMark App looks to bridge the gap and assure customers that they will be in reliable hands, as well as protected by evidence should anything become disputed or end in disagreement.  The TrustMark app is a recording device that records your conversation with a tradesman, whilst prompting you to ask the right questions at every stage, as well as allowing you to add images and text.  Whilst originally targeted at the general public, if the tradesman promotes the use of the app then you serve to assure the customer that you are not their to swindle them but to provide an efficient and professional service, as well as offering them protection should anything untoward occur.  The fact that this app has been produced to promote government endorsed standards only serves to enhance its use and the reliability of the tradesman using it.

Get rated, get trusted, get business

Whilst this app may prove useful for finding another tradesman when you need some additional help on a project, the key benefit of Find a Tradesman is for the public.  By signing onto the Rated People site you are putting yourself and your trade onto a mobile database accessible by anyone using the app, possibly providing you with new business links and asserting yourself as a reputable tradesman in your area.  This will serve the same purpose as joining any trade directory online, yet will have the added benefit of targeting the booming mobile app audience.

Provide estimates and invoices at the click of a button- get there ahead of your competition and provide an estimate on the spot.

Why make your customers wait for a quote when you can produce one on the spot and be the first to get one in their hands?  The Contractor Estimating and Invoice Tool allows you to do just that, creating professional looking estimates, invoices, records and payments on your mobile at the click of a button.  The estimates and invoices can be built with your company’s logo and you can build a list of regular items used during your projects, saving even more time.  What’s even better is that this app is cost free, completely mobile and one of the highest ranked of its kind.  The app is also on its way for Android devices, so if you’re an Android user, then hold tight!

Do it all from one device with OnSite Mobile Apps

Developed by UDA Construction, the OnSite Mobile apps range have really got the market cornered for premier apps for tradesmen.  They have a variety of options to choose from, ranging from a free subscription to a limited data range and on to subscription services that offer you a wider selection of options.  Every single one of these apps will lead to improved rates of productivity and efficiency- the apps take everything mobile, allowing you to work on the move at any location.  All of these apps then synchronize with a Construction Online that brings all the apps together on one location on your desktop. Here is the range of apps offered by OnSite.

  •  OnSite PlanRoom
  • OnSIte Photo
  • OnSite Video
  • OnSite Files
  • OnSite Dialog
  • OnSite Calendar
  • OnSite ToDos
  • OnSite Punchlist
  • OnSite Logging

….Just for fun

Ok, so these downloads may not provide you with invoicing services, quoting templates or other professional services on the cheap but what the hey.  You never know what a tradesman might happen to need on his phone when on the job.

iHandy Level– Forgotten your spirit level? No need to worry, this handy app has a built in spirit bubble and is downloadable to your mobile.  The Level is free but can be bought as part of the bigger iHandy Carpenter toolkit for only put you back £1.49.

Plumbing Formulator–  The Formulator app contains over 120 formulas that are useful for plumbers.  The program can calculate the area of pipe walls, pipe weights and provide conversions at the click of a button.  A handy guide for the plumber on the move at a relatively low cost.

The Construction Calculator–  No tradesman wants to spend his time try to convert measurements from metric or imperial and back again.  The Construction Calculator works as a your standard industry calculator but allows you to work in yards, feet, fractional inches and millimeters, converting between all types at the click of a button.

My Measures & Dimensions PRO– A handy app for storing and sharing dimensions on the iOS platform.  With MMD Pro you can take photos and add the dimensions into grouped folders, giving you a future free of hastily sketched drawings, instead providing you with a professional and efficient approach.  The ability to share these images over iCloud, DropBox and Google Drive means that customers and fellow tradesman alike can be privy to the images you produce.

Always use protection…

Having access to all these tools and apps is great for prompting productivity, but the construction site can be a rough and dangerous place for your dainty iPad or smartphone.  Guarantee your expensive devices safety with a variety of tough cases and mobile devices designed to withstand tough conditions.  JCB have developed a range of mobile devices all designed to withstand the rigour of life on site, with their latest addition bringing smartphone technology to the JCB rugged, tough casing.

Steatite Rugged Systems is another company that offers devices built to withstand bad treatment- the primary focus is on Windows tablets, toughened and protect by big, bulky exteriors.

If you don’t want to go the whole hog and out your device in tank like armour, there are stylish alternatives built to slide onto your existing device, such as these iPad and iphone cases.  Websites like Otterbox and Seidio offer a variety of rugged cases built for various different brand devices and models- there should be no problem in finding the suitable protection for your mobile or tablet, allowing you to use your productivity enhancing apps and tools without fear of device damage.

 This article was written by Joe Boon, Marketing Executive for Zeta, an award winning digital agency with extensive knowledge and expertise in the online sector.

About the author

Aarni Heiskanen

Aarni Heiskanen, Construction Innovation Agent, is hailed as a Top 100 influencer in construction. Aarni has been a pioneer in computer-aided design, he has co-founded a business software company, and worked as a certified management consultant. At present, he runs AE Partners, a communication firm. Aarni holds a master's degree in architecture.


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