This is Part 2 of our ongoing series Why Your Company Needs An App.
Depending on your personality it may seem natural or daunting to find an app idea for your business. We know from experience that finding the right idea can be a challenge. At Beloved Robot we have created a systematic approach to uncovering the ideas that will generate more business or improve efficiency within your company. We say uncover because most of the time the answer is right in front of you, but because you are so close to your business these ideas are often overlooked. This information will assist you as you begin to generate and validate your app ideas. It’s a good idea to keep a pen and paper (or a text editor) handy to jot down ideas specific to your business as they come.
Construction Superintendents are famously busy. They work tirelessly to remove roadblocks, stay on time and on budget. Superintendents often manage multi-million dollar projects that have hundreds of moving parts. One thing that a Super does every single day is record a daily project report or note. These reports keep track of everything that’s going on with the project on a very granular level, and often can be a huge burden for the Super. It is usually a task that gets done late in the afternoon or after they’ve already gone home.
We recently worked with a general contractor on an app that saves their Superintendents anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour of their day, simply by streamlining their daily reporting. Now they have a dedicated app on their phone where they can quickly and easily take notes throughout the day and they no longer need to sit down and recall every single detail once it’s over. Those Supers can now focus on what’s most important, executing their project. This simple app idea has increased the Superintendents effectiveness at their job, removed a burden, and also saved the company money in the form of time saved.
In your day to day work what are the things that you and your employees do over and over again? What is the biggest waste of time in your week that you can’t delegate? Are paper processes drowning your employees in busy work?
Now go to your employees and ask them the same questions. What is the paperwork that they are always behind on? What do they wish they could accomplish on their iPad or iPhone instead of “later” when their back at their desks?
Take some time to reflect company-wide and determine the areas where an app could improve efficiency and save your company money. After making a list then you need to determine the priority and simplicity to finding a solution to each problem. Does one idea jump out at you as something you could automate simply? If so that is the idea you should tackle. We recommend that first-time app builders focus on the low hanging fruit. Meaning that you should find the smallest piece of your business process that you could improve upon with an app. This ensures that you will stay focused on improving your business, and not creating a swiss army knife solution that falls apart (great knives, poor software approach). If you are able to identify something that would reduce inefficiency quickly and easily you’ll be successful and moving your business towards scalability.
Unlock your Data
While I was in college I worked for a sporting good store that had been in business for over 50 years. In a back room there was a row of filing cabinets that held every order they had ever written. I remember rifling through orders looking for something specific and thinking about all of the data that these files contained.
Now imagine if all of that data were in a spreadsheet or better yet a database where you could do real analysis on it. What if you could look at the lifetime value of your customers? What if you could quickly see every order that a customer has placed with you? What if you could be alerted when a customer stops buying after a certain period of time?
When thinking about an idea for an app to help your business grow think about all of the data that you currently have about your business that is locked away somewhere. An app could be perfectly suited to gather the most critical data about your business. Take time to write down some ideas to gather information about your business with an app.
Could an app-based form for orders or work replace a paper-process? Could tracking employee time, materials, and expenses with an app uncover waste? Could you use geo-location to have a better understanding of travel time? If that’s the case then building an app will make your business much smarter and will inform the way you run your business over the next decade.
About two years ago we were approached by an industrial service company that was looking to create more consistent and recurring revenue. The company wanted to be proactive with their customers rather than reactive to emergency calls. So they created an inspection program where their highly trained technicians would inspect their customer’s equipment on a regular basis. This inspection program enabled the technicians to gauge the condition of their customer’s equipment which they were tasked to service. The inspections gave the technicians the chance to sell recommended maintenance and in return the customer was given the analytics to prove that the program was saving them from more serious problems.
At first the inspection program was done on paper, but it wasn’t long before they realized the benefits of using an app for both the technicians and customers. Now the techs have a custom-built app that walks them through inspecting every piece of equipment step-by-step. The app ensures they complete every inspection and also gives them a platform to make recomendations. The data from the inspections goes directly to the customer’s app, which shows them efficiency scores for each piece of equipment as well as maintenance recommendations and history. The inspection program and app have been a huge success.
Are there potential revenue channels that you haven’t tapped into yet? Is there an obvious growth opportunity that you haven’t capitalized on? Are your competitors offering services or products that you are not? How could you be more proactive with your business than reactive.
These are the questions that you need to ask yourself when you are searching for that next killer idea to grow your business.
The idea is really just the beginning. But once you have the right idea it will inspire you to move forward with growing your company. Over the next few weeks we are going to cover the next steps to take once you have a killer idea. Next week we will dive into how you research and refine your idea to ensure that it’s the absolute best fit.