Considering the past methods contractors used to generate proposals, estimates, and quotes for clients—from pen and paper to fax machines and spreadsheets—the industry is much better equipped to delight customers from the first meeting than ever before. In many cases, even the most modern, cutting-edge contractors are missing one huge piece of the puzzle most mobile apps and cloud-based estimating systems fail to communicate.
The Internet revolutionized the amount of research and the way in which contractors communicate with clients that goes into getting to know the customer beforehand. The industry still relied heavily on travel, spreadsheets, and printouts in order to provide an accurate quote—a time-consuming, but standard requirement.
That is, until cloud computing became all the rage and with it, the evolution of software that lives in the cloud. In fact, many estimating software companies continue to build its systems on the cloud, devising software that stores, performs, and produces with a Wi-Fi connection. Log into the portal, create your estimates from your computer, and you can officially upgrade your title to “tech savvy sales specialist.”
Now, the sales force is empowered with access from mobile devices to their cloud estimating software. Contractors jumped into the mobile app game headfirst, and rightly so. There is just one small—but critical—issue with mobile apps and cloud-based software.
Accessing your files from anywhere is a dream come true. At least, until you figure out that the apps themselves can’t produce an estimate without an Internet connection. And there simply isn’t enough bandwidth in the United States to handle the “mass connectivity” demand we put on our wireless networks.
This is what it looks like when on-site with a customer: “Mind sharing your Wi-Fi password, (insert potential client name here)? I can’t deliver the quote without a connection, unfortunately.”
Best case scenario: They share it with you. Worst case: You’re in the field and data/ Wi-Fi is simply not an option. Even an air card can’t connect. Suddenly you’re left looking for the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot.
The truth these days is this: If you can’t create a quote on-site, in a flash, an estimating app is virtually worthless when it comes to streamlining the sales process and closing more sales, faster.
To prevent mobile apps burning you and cloud-based solutions that truly just aren’t mobile, start by asking these questions about functionality:

  1. Can it create quotes offline? Get right to the heart of the matter from the start. If the answer is “no,” it’s time to walk.
  2. While in offline mode, can the estimate creator pull labor and material pricing? If there’s no access to the materials needed to provide an accurate estimate, just say no.
  3. Does the app obtain needed estimates relying on some sort of connection or store the data offline?
  4. What can the app NOT do when disconnected from the Internet?

Your only certainty that your mobile app truly makes your sales force mobile is by confirming that your people have what they need, when they need it—whether they’re in the middle of a Wi-Fi-enabled city or the middle-of-nowhere. ■
About The Author
Mac McCabe is the vice president of sales at JobFLEX, the easiest-to-use quote app that saves more time and closes more sales. To learn more about JobFLEX, visit, or speak to a product expert by calling 855.354.3539.

Modern Contractor Solutions, December 2014
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