Get the Most from Your iPad for Your Small Business

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Do you use your iPad primarily to check email or surf the web? Or perhaps you use it mostly to entertain yourself with books and movies while traveling for business?

The iPad is indeed a great tool for keeping in touch with people and entertaining yourself. But you can also use it to attract new clients, provide excellent customer service, and even increase your productivity at work.

Here are five tasks you can do on your iPad to help grow your small business:

1. Download catalogs and product information. Do you carry catalogs to client meetings or look up product information once you get back to your desk? Kevin Baker, managing partner of tech services firm CMIT Solutions of Pleasanton, Calif., says the iPad can make these tasks far more efficient. For example, he recommended that one client upload three bookshelves of industrial-equipment catalogs and other materials onto the sales representatives’ tablet computers. “Instead of having to go back to the office to look up part numbers, sales representatives can now work with the customer to get the right equipment and parts without having to go back to the office,” Baker says.

2. Collect client feedback. Surveys are a great way to solicit customer input on your products and services; however, it can be a challenge to get people to actually complete your questionnaires. One solution is to upload surveys to your iPad and then personally hand the device to customers. (Tip: To make taking the survey even more enticing, consider entering anyone who completes it into a drawing for a prize.)

3. Prepare and deliver invoices. Visiting clients? Instead of hand-writing bills or waiting until you’re back at the office to generate invoices, use your iPad. You can go over the details with customers on the spot and then email them the invoice. This allows you to save time and paper and gives the customer an opportunity to discuss any issues that they have then and there. (Tip: Many small-business owners find that an external keyboard for their tablet can be very helpful when doing invoices or other tasks that require typing.)

4. Taking and sharing photos. The next time an employee calls with a question about a client site, ask her to take a picture with her iPad and email it to you. One of Baker’s clients has its technicians take photos of any issues they have while installing home-security systems, so that the home office can help troubleshoot. This results in increased productivity and customer satisfaction, Baker says. Although you can take photos on a smartphone, the larger screen size of the iPad makes it easier for both the technician and the customer to see details during the troubleshooting process.

5. Show off your portfolio or idea book. Instead of keeping samples of your past projects in a binder or only carrying a few photos with you, upload images of your work to your iPad to show potential clients. Professionals such as landscapers, remodelers, and interior designers can even offer before and after shots that can be compared with a simple swipe. References are helpful, of course, but letting a potential client actually see your work — especially projects similar to the one under consideration — can make the difference between getting the job or losing out to another vendor.


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