Apple has always had the power and the brains to dive into the Tablet “PC” market. I am not sure why they have not released their own touch-screen Mac in the last few years. Their iPhones and iTouch devices are incredible, so the technology is definitely there! Tablet computers, for those of you who don’t know, are basically a laptop with “touch” capabilities. However, most Tablet computers can only be touched using a stylus (pen). Only a very small handful of Tablet PCs on the market allow for finger touching, such as HP.
Tablet computers are an incredible invention for service companies, especially painting contractors. I first started using a Tablet for estimating over 5 years ago. I would say that my time was cut in half by being able to produce an estimate in the field with a client vs. taking notes and measurements and doing the proposal back at the office. I have definitely closed more deals with the help of the Tablet. Why? Because I have more face-time with the owner. I can provide them ballparks and/or fixed numbers on the spot. If I have to leave the jobsite/home, my chances of selling just went down.
The problem I have found with Tablet PCs mainly is the cost and the reliability of the machines. A good Tablet PC with MS Office can cost as much as $3,000. The other expense is one they break. I have rebuilt my Toshiba Tablet 2 times and a Motion Computing Tablet at least two times.
Thanks to Steve Jobs, it appears Apple will finally jump into the Tablet market and be producing their very own machine to the public later this year. I hope it is as easy to use as the iPhone. Netbooks have really taken off the past year, which is probably the main reason Apple began tinkering with the idea of producing something better. Believe me…whatever Apple decides to release will be incredible.
To read more about the Apple Tablet and see some possible ideas of what it will look like: View this site.
Blackberry and Palm devices always did a great job including a good and easy to use task manager application. On the old PALM, you actually had a button for “To-Do’s” right on the front of your device. Making list were easy and checking them off was even more fun! Now that the technology age is so much more advanced since the early Palm Pilot models of the late 1990s, we think we need better programs to manage our crazy schedules. Books have been written about how to manage your time more efficiently, including the popular “Getting Things Done” book by David Allen.
The iPhone, being the latest and greatest mobile device on the market does not come with a standard task manager program. Apple left that particular App to the App creators! If you do a search for a good “to do” list for you iPhone, it will be hard finding one that is easy to use and even reminds you when things are do. I’m still in the testing stages of finding a quality task management App for my iPhone, but so far, I like the App called “Things.” This App cost $9.99 from the Apps Store on your device. However, if you are familiar with the Getting Things Done method or have your own creative way to organize your list, Things is probably a great little program for you to try. I know it is $9.99 but if it really does help you organize your busy schedule better, I’m sure it is worth it. Things allows you to quickly jot down thoughts and to-dos. It then saves them into a folder called “Inbox.” The next step, when you have the time, is to go into your Inbox and categorize and priorities your recent to-do items. Things then will organize your items into separate folders such as: Today, Next, Scheduled and Someday. All items can also be tagged. I use the “tag” function as the categories for the companies I am working for on an ongoing basis.
Two final “cool” features are the Projects section and the ability to email your items to yourself or someone else. The projects area gives you the capability of naming projects and the items that need to be done to accomplish the overall goal.
To learn more, visit Things and watch their short video on how it can save you time and money!
Below are a list of a few of the websites Pioneer Design (my web design partner) and myself have been involved with in the past few years. One of the sites, A. Allbright Painting, is a more recent client. Pioneer Design did most of the work on this site, and I was involved as a design consultant, offering feedback during the stages of his redesign several years ago. I was recently hired as their website, marketing manager. So we just did a few major home page changes too. All other sites mentioned below involved my complete involvement as a project manager and Pioneer Design as the designer and programmer.
- Chism Brothers Painting: High-End Professional Painters in San Diego & La Jolla CA: View SiteChism Brothers Painting: High-End Professional Painters in San Diego & La Jolla CA: View Site
- A. Allbright Painting: Painting Contractor in Los Angeles and Santa Clarita CA specializing in residential and light commerial: View Site
- Professional Painters: One of Chicago’s premier residential house painting and restoration experts. They specialize in very high-end custom home painting project, especially complete restorations: View Site
- PDCA Residential Forum: Painting and Decorating Contractors of America Residential Website: View Site
Starter Sites (basic websites with 3-4 pages. As company grows and more money is available, these sites will grow)
- Hallco Enterprises: Professional house painter & commercial painting in Maryland: Especially Frederick, Gaithersburg, Montgomery County etc. View Site
- Marc Poulos Painting & Decorating: A small yet very high-end custom house painting and decorating paint company in select areas of Chicago: View Site
One of the areas that is almost always overlooked the most for small business owners is their personal greeting message on their business cell phones. Here is the typical message you hear on a mobile phone, for example, “This is Brandon. I’m not available at the moment. So leave me a message after the beep and I’ll get back with you shortly…” (Remember that the tone of voice usually sounds boring too). Think of your voicemail message as a way to separate yourself from your competition. This is the perfect opportunity to leave a good impression on a potential client or leave a greeting that is just different than the norm. Your callers are not stupid. You don’t need to remind them that they have reached your voicemail or about the “beep” sound. They know how to leave a message. Besides, voicemail and the “beep” have been around for over 30 years.
The key to a good voicemail greetings is to be different and get right to the point. Here are a few better examples for Brandon, “This is Brandon from Brandon’s Paintworks. When leaving your message, let me know the best time to call you back, and I will do so promply. Thanks for calling” or “This is Brandon. Your call is important to me and I promise to get back with you in less than xyz mins…”
One final tip about your voicemail message: Smile when recording your greeting and speak clearly! You’d be surprised at how many people will comment about your positive attitude when leaving a message. When I learned this concept a few years ago from another marketing professional and switched my voicemail greeting to sound more positive (and that I “welcomed” their call), I had many people say things like, “Wow! That was a positive greeting.” or “Whoo…what a great message…you sound chipper.” It is this simple: never leave the impression that a customer’s phone call is not important!
LinkedIn, as I have explained in an earlier post, is a fantastic networking tool for business owners and business executives. It really is a “must” if you are trying to grow your business and seek to build connections and relationships locally or nationwide. LinkedIn‘s recommendation tool is also very helpful. You can ask friends, co-workers, former employers, etc. to write a brief recommendation and use that as a selling point when you are meeting with prospective clients.
LinkedIn has been accessible for the smartphone industry for quite awhile at m.linkedin.com. They have not released a Blackberry Application as of yet but have a good App for the iPhone. I still cannot understand why so many companies build applications for business people using the iPhone first and not the Blackberry. The iPhone is an incredible device, but there are still thousands, if not hundreds of thousands more Blackberry business users than there are iPhone users. The iPhone has around 50,000 and counting Applications (Apps) while the Blackberry has 5,000+ apps available. Whatever the reason behind why LinkedIn created an iPhone App first, I do not know! I will say that the App is easy to use and very nice looking! My only thumbs down opinion of the iPhone LinkedIn App is that it does not have an “inbox” installed. In other words, you cannot send and receive messages within this program. You still have to get on the mobile website or check your inbox from a regular PC or Mac. Hey…we can’t have everything at our fingertips…Yet! I’m sure this feature will be installed on a later version.
In the mean time, I hope a Blackberry App for LinkedIn will come out soon! It has been over a year since the iPhone App was released.
Although it is much faster, easier and more accurate to use a personal computer and a regular size keyboard to write blogs, it is still nice to have the mobile flexibility to write a blog on a mobile phone if you are trying to kill some time. Maybe you are sitting at an airport and your flight got delayed or you are in between estimates/ appointments. Whatever your excuse might be, getting the WordPress App for iPhone or Blackberry isn’t a necessity of life. It is just A very cool and easy to use application to have on your device.
I have played with the Blackberry and the iPhone App and they both are fantastic. It still takes 3-4 times as long to write a blog using a mobile phone compared to the “proper” way!
Anyways, if you really feel like being really high-tech, download the app(s) and try it out!
IPhone Users: http://iPhone.wordpress.org
Bkackberry Users: http://blackberry.wordpress.org
P.S. I typed this blog using the iPhone WordPress App.
When writing a blog, an article, a customer letter or any marketing piece that has multiple sentences, you don’t need to double tap your Spacebar anymore! Most Generation X folks will not even know what I am talking about (though I am one myself). However, even I, when I first learned to type was told to hit the Spacebar twice after each period. I never really knew why until I took my first Desktop Publishing course back in 1996. My instructor set the class straight! The reason most of us (especially my parent’s generation) double tapped our Spacebars after a sentence ended was rather quite simple: It was the standard rule for typing with a typewriter. Ahhh…but this was the rule before computers become the standard way to write and communicate. On the old typewriters, the reason we had to double space was so we could easily distinguish between the end and beginning of two sentences. If you did not double tap your Spacebar, it would look like a run-on sentence
(Typewriter Example (without a space): i.e. The days of a typewriter are ended.The days of the computer…)
(Double Tap Example: i.e. The days of a typewriter are ended. The days of the computer…)
(The “new” Way Example: i.e. The days of a typewriter are ended. The days of the computer…)
The computers and word processors today know when a period is placed and how much space to place the end and beginning of a new sentence.
So, it might take some time, but go ahead and try to break the habit of double tapping your Spacebar! It is now considered “Old-fashion.”
Since my background is in the painting industry, I typically look at and critique a lot of painter’s websites. I just had to post the #1 worst clipart photo for painting contractors. Paint companies have got to become more creative when designing their websites or print materials instead of “falling back” to this clipart! There are more overly used cliparts I have not posted in this blog strictly because I do not want to waste money buying the artwork just to show you! If you are interested in other forms of clipart that is outdated, send me an email.
And the winner is…
I recently read an interesting blog that gave 10 great tips for start-up companies. I don’t think these tips are just for start-ups but helpful for any successful business. One of the best tips is quite simple: stay out of debt!
View the Top Ten Tips and let me know what you think.