When tablets first hit the market, few managers and company owners could have predicted how thoroughly the new technology would impact small business. Today, tablets are everywhere—on the bus, on the train, in interior-design offices, and even next to heating ducts in crawl spaces.
If tablets seem like another extraneous cost you’d rather not take on, you might want to consider the benefits of this technology, and take a cue from the countless companies that have integrated this small-business trend into everyday practices. Here are five ways a small business can use tablets to improve business practices.
1. Present Materials on the Go. Have you ever had to rush back to the office after a meeting to send a client images or links to products? With a tablet, that’s history. A designer can carry a lightweight tablet anywhere, from meetings to home and everywhere in between.
When getting together with a client, an interior designer can instantly show off high-quality photos of furniture, pieces of art, or color palettes, without having to go home or back to the office to search through files. With tablets, everything is at your fingertips, so next time you’re talking to a customer, take out your tablet to show them work-in-progress design plans.
An example of a couple of Autodesk apps that allow you to access and present your work to clients, right on your tablet:
- AutoCAD 360 (cross industry—for architects, engineers, HVAC, solar, etc.)
- Homestyler (for interior designers)
2. Issue Estimates and Invoices. Tablets have most of the same capabilities as traditional desktop or laptop computers, which means you can conduct nearly every business operation right from the palm of your hand.
If architects or construction-project designers are onsite and receive new requests, they can issue estimates for the project right on the spot. You can download accounting and invoicing programs onto your tablet, which you can use anywhere. The option to get invoices instantly is a huge added convenience for customers, and of course, getting invoices out quickly means you’ll be paid sooner.
3. Create and Edit. For many small-business owners, document management is as boring as it is time-consuming. With a tablet, though, you can manage and edit contracts right from your tablet while on the bus to work, or when you’re right in front of a client, cutting down on misunderstandings and quickly moving through the process.
You can also handle client-relationship management from a tablet—being able to answer an email at any time shows customers you’re both invested and efficient. You’ll be able to type out emails and edit documents quickly, too—tablets are large enough to offer a full keyboard, so you can use both hands to type out important messages.
4. Finalize Sales. Using a tablet as a mobile sales platform is a great way to modernize a business while reducing business costs. While traditional point-of-sale systems usually charge an up-front fee of approximately $3,000, tablet POS systems often cost around $1,000 or less to get off the ground.
It’s also extremely convenient for customers—you can bring a tablet directly to a client to confirm a payment, whether it’s in your office or at a meeting in a coffee shop.
5. Conduct Training. If you ever have to hold staff training sessions, tablets can be extremely useful. You can create presentations and display them on your tablet, or subscribe to a service like Lynda.com, where you can set up training sessions for an entire staff to stream on their own mobile devices and tablets.
Considering making the switch to tablets? Look through PCMag‘s guide to ten of the most popular tablets on the market today.