Apps Help Businesses Tap Into Their Profits




Boosting business potential may be just a few taps away.

Mobile applications are a growing high-tech trend, and some businesses are taking the digital phenomenon into new territory. They are using apps to improve customer service, increase profits and get an edge on competitors.

At the Bakery of France in Boca Raton, Fla., lines are becoming a thing of the past thanks to the specialized programs for smart phones and tablets.

When owner Marie-Jose Brau purchased the cafe more than four months ago, she realized the cash register had to go. The lone machine at the back of the bakery handled all customers — whether eating in or taking out — and could only conduct one transaction at a time.

“It was a mess,” she said.”It was too old-fashioned.”

Brau’s solution was to go high tech. She purchased an iPad and two iPad minis and equipped them with Square, a mobile payment app that works on both Apple and Android devices. The app allows businesses to conduct transactions through the mobile devices and swipe credit cards using a plug-in accessory. Purchasers pay either a monthly fee or a per-swipe fee.

Now the iPad has replaced the cash register used by take-out customers. The iPad minis are brought directly to eat-in diners’ tables when they are ready to pay.

When a company is deciding on whether to use an existing app or create one, digital strategist and business consultant Justin Dennis recommends potential users look at the cost.

“They need to be very concerned with how much they invest versus the return on investment,” said Dennis, who has been a consultant for than six years.

He defines return on investment as technology that “makes your employees’ lives easier and increases revenue.”

Accelerated Waste Solutions, a trash removal and recycling company, has met both criteria with the company’s patented Junk Shot app. The free app allows customers to snap a picture of their trash, send it to the company, and obtain a price quote via a phone call before booking the removal service.

The Tampa, Fla.-based company is currently opening an office in Palm Springs as part of its expansion. Fred Tomlin Jr., co-founder and director of business development, said the app is a crucial part of the expansion. It has allowed the company to compete against such established companies as 1-800-Got-Junk? and College Hunks Hauling Junk.

“What our app does is next-generation,” he said.