Could tablet computers make you and your team more productive—and your business more profitable? According to the 2013 AT&T Small Business Technology Poll, nearly seven in 10 business owners use tablets; in the CDW Tablets@Work poll, 84 percent of employees who use tablets for work say the devices help them get more done. Try these tips for using tablets in your business.
1. Do Your Homework. Think about how you plan to use tablets and what types of applications (apps) you’ll want to run on them. Research options and talk to other business owners. Keep in mind that tablets aren’t appropriate for all businesses, so be mindful of your brand image and whether a tablet will truly provide utility.
2. Integrate with Existing Technology. To create a seamless work experience and lessen the learning curve, you’ll want apps that work with the tools you already use on your desktops, laptops and smartphones. This may also affect the brand of tablet you choose.
3. Shop Around. To save money, consider buying an older tablet right before the new model comes out. If you’re buying multiple tablets, see if you can negotiate a bulk discount. Take data plans into account—they can get costly. You may get better rates by using the carrier for your existing cell phone plan.
4. Get Creative. Think about ways you could use a tablet to shorten wait times, provide better service, get instant feedback or eliminate paper. For instance, use them to take customer surveys on-site after providing a service; to sign restaurant customers in for a table or take orders; to set appointments for services or fill out intake forms, such as in an automotive repair shop; to check out retail shoppers from anywhere in the store or to provide product details and information so shoppers can browse.
5. Show off Samples. If visuals are important in your business—for instance, you own a graphic design, interior decorating or event planning firm—the high-resolution display tablets make them ideal for showing prospects photos or videos of your work. Buy a tablet with enough storage and speed so that videos and photos load quickly.
6. Make Sales Presentations. No need to lug a laptop when you can just whip out your tablet to do a presentation on the fly. Use apps such as Keynote, SlideShark or Haiku Deck to share existing presentations or create new ones.
7. Accept Payments. A mobile payment solution such as Intuit GoPayment, Pay Anywhere or Square makes it simple to accept payment anywhere and get funds into your accounts immediately.
8. Manage Your Finances. Whether you just want to create estimates and generate invoices on the go, or whether you need to delve deep into your bookkeeping, apps such as FreshBooks, QuickBooks Mobile and Xero make it simple by integrating with your existing accounting data.
9. Seal the Deal. Landing that big client is tough enough—don’t give him a chance to change his mind before he signs on the dotted line. Apps like EasySign, EchoSign and SignEasy let you pull up the contract right on your tablet and get a signature instantly.
10. Hold Meetings. Confer with salespeople, customer service reps or other employees in the field anytime. With a headset or earbuds, plus apps such as Skype, Google Voice, GoT.