By Brandon Gallagher Watson
Whenever I see tree pros with iPads, I inquire what apps they have been using and what they like or don’t like about them. All three of the apps up for review in this issue come to you from the recommendations of other arborists, so these are field tested and approved. All of these are apps you can use on the job site — from working with the client and the technical crew to creating estimates and proposals to collecting payment, all these can be done before you ever head back to the office.
Skitch for iPad
Available on: iPad only
Skitch for iPad has been one of my favorite apps since I first learned of it from Sam Kezar of Arboricultural Solutions, Inc. Skitch simply allows you to draw, add arrows, and insert text directly on a photo. What makes Skitch so useful in the field is the way you can get photos into the app. If you have a second- or third-generation iPad, you can simply open the app, press the “Camera” button and take photos right on the spot that you can then draw on. If you took the photo previously or if you imported the photos from your desktop, no worries, just press the “Photos” button to browse your photos stored on your iPad.
Say, for example, you are talking with a client about performing some pruning work on a tree whose branches were going over the client’s garage. With Skitch, you could quickly snap a picture of the limb in question and, while drawing right on the photo, you can show the client exactly what branches you recommend removing. Once you and the client are satisfied with the recommendation you can save the photo and even send it to the crew that will actually perform the work. No more vague work orders with directions from the sales arborist such as “prune branch over the garage” only for the crews to realize there are a dozen branches over the garage. With Skitch, you can show the technical arborists exactly what branch the sales arborist and client were talking about, and the work can get done right the first time.
Available on: iPad, iPhone, Android
Cost: FREE for Lite Version, $14.99 for iPad, $9.99 for iPhone and Android versions
Invoice2go has been the most popular invoicing software on iOS devices since they debuted two years ago; and when you see what it can do for the money, it’s easy to see why. An app like this may not make sense for some larger companies that use an invoicing system linked to their accounting software, but for many smaller organizations it may be just the tool you need. You can customize the look of your invoice by choosing from dozens of templates, and even add your logo to the invoice. This can be done within the app on your phone or tablet, or you can download their free desktop version (Windows only) and do much of the setup on your computer.
This app allows users to make new, fully customized, professional looking invoices on the spot, and has a very intuitive user interface. You can also use it for creating estimates for clients and e-mailing them direct to the client. This can save significant office time for those who visit clients all day then sit down at night to get all the invoices and estimates out. You can add services (such as pruning, EAB treatment, etc.) and set pricing so you can quickly select them as the job requires, or you can add line items on the fly. Invoice2go also connects to your Contacts on your phone or tablet; so if you have those synced to your customer data, this app will auto-fill all their info contact info, including e-mail, so you can just send when you are done. I know several tree care companies using this app, and all have said they would recommend this app to other arborists.
Available on: iPad, iPhone, Android
Cost: App is free, 2.75 percent per swipe
Being able to write up estimates and invoices on the job site is a major time saver for many arborists, but that doesn’t get you paid. That’s where Square comes in. Square uses a little, well, square device that plugs into you phone/tablet’s headphone jack (the device is $9.99 at most places, and often free if you sign up at www.squareup.com). When combined with the free app, it turns your device into an easy-to-use credit card reader. They take 2.75 percent of each swipe, so it compares to most credit card machines you would have in the office, and there are no other contracts or fees associated with the service. The funds are deposited into the account of your choosing the very next day and all major cards are accepted.
Square is great for getting paid on the spot when you or your crews perform the work, or for those times when the client wants add something to a work order. If slow-bill-paying clients have been an issue for you, Square can be a great tool to get paid before you even leave the client’s house.
If your normal business process is to visit the site with the client, develop and send a proposal, await approval, perform the service, invoice the client, and await payment, these three apps could be just the time-saving tools you need.
Brandon Gallagher Watson is director of communications at Rainbow Treecare Scientific Advancements, and is an ISA Certified Arborist (#MN-4086A).