Written by: Holly Welles, The Estate Update
Published: January 23, 2020
If you're getting started as a contractor in the construction sector, technology will likely play a significant role in how you do business. However, it's often difficult to know where to begin. Here are five ideas to kickstart your plans.
How to Use Tech at Your Construction Business
1. Invest in project management software.
Think of project management software as a comprehensive solution that facilitates the running of your business. In addition to helping you keep track of the data associated with a client's requirements and the progress of each project, this specialized software can contain all the necessary specifics about budgets, contractor payments, time estimates, and more.
As you begin to see what's available, learn about the features of several software titles offer, and decide which of them are crucial for your business. When you figure out how much you can afford to spend on project management software, determine whether it's more economical to pay for it per month, with a flat yearly rate, or some other arrangement.
2. Explore high-tech site surveying options.
The site surveying aspect comes early in the construction process, but it's a phase requiring careful attention. One method you might use to enhance site surveying is to let drones do the job. They can take pictures of any part of a site you need, then instantly send the data to a mapping software interface or a cloud storage service.
Augmented reality (AR) also shows promise for improving site surveying efforts. It works by combining elements of the real world with virtual content. Applying AR to site surveys could mean a surveying professional might aim their smartphone at a segment of a site or don a pair of AR-enabled glasses to see real-time supplementary data about elevation, soil quality, and more.
3. Let technology assist with equipment monitoring.
The Internet of Things (IoT) encompasses a wide range of connected devices, from coffeemakers to security systems. However, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is a subset of the IoT, and it's particularly applicable to construction contractors.
That’s because modern machinery is equipped with connected sensors that can track how often a team uses a piece of equipment, plus give alerts about when to schedule maintenance appointments. This allows contractors to know what's happening with their equipment from anywhere.
4. Use social media for brand awareness and networking.
Although many people primarily use social media to stay in touch with friends, you can develop a robust social media presence to help your business grow. Having a social media presence could help you increase brand recognition among your target audience, position your contracting company as a trustworthy choice, let customers know about special offers, and more. Using social media to increase the likelihood that peers view you as a thought leader could also lead to chances to expand your professional network.
A study from SCORE, a business mentor network, found that most small companies make social media an integral part of their operations. More specifically, 77 percent of U.S. businesses polled use social media to facilitate necessities like sales, marketing, and customer service. It's usually best to start small with your social media activities then gradually scale up. Otherwise, you could find it takes too much time to keep all the content updated and ensure that your followers get the latest relevant information.
5. Rely on apps to streamline job site necessities.
You can use apps for general business needs, such as to assist with accounting, hold meetings, or handle your contracting company's email needs. However, there are plenty of construction-centered ways to use apps, too.
A 2020 outlook study published by the Associated General Contractors of America and Sage found that the use of mobile-friendly, cloud-based technologies is on the rise. The data showed that 68 percent of respondents use such solutions for their daily field reports, while 61 percent depend on them for time tracking and related approvals.
Additionally, most people in the study said they got project or customer information with apps while at a site or used apps to share documents, drawings, and similar content. All the percentages mentioned here are higher than they were the year before.
Before you decide which apps to use, narrow your search by thinking about which business activities cause the most hassle for your contractors or administrative team members. Then, look for applications made to solve—or at least reduce—those problems.
Technology Can Help Contractors Thrive
This list should give you an idea of how technology could take your construction company to greater heights, putting you closer to your goals. Whether adopting one of the options here or another one, keep in mind that it may take time to see a payoff. But learning how each piece of technology works is an excellent start.