10 Reasons Why You Need a Real Estate App

It’s no secret that we’re living in a mobile-obsessed world. As a real estate agent, you need to understand these trends and go beyond your website to serve customers.

The best real estate apps on the market empower realtors, brokers, landlords, and other players in the real estate industry to make more money and stay relevant in such a tech-forward society. 

If you’re thinking about creating a real estate app but you’re not quite ready to take the plunge, this guide is for you. We’ll dive deep into the top reasons why a real estate app is necessary to succeed in our modern environment. 

1. Real Estate Apps Enhance the User Experience

When you look at popular real estate apps like Zillow or Redfin, you’ll quickly see that the user interface is far superior compared to the web versions. 

Every action is just a click, swipe, or tap away. It’s easy to filter listings based on different search criteria, and users can quickly scroll through photos and learn more information about a property that’s for sale or for rent. 

There’s obviously nothing wrong with having a real estate website, and that’s something you’ll need as well. But the website doesn’t quite serve customers as well as an app when users are navigating from smartphones and tablets. 

Mobile sites just aren’t as responsive and don’t connect with the phone’s internal components the same way as an app. 

The UX from mobile devices has a direct impact on usage. Just take a look at this research comparing app usage vs. web usage.

Users spend more than four times the amount of time using an app compared to a website when browsing from their smartphones. Session times are nearly triple the amount on apps vs. websites from tablets. 

You can learn more about UX design principles here as you’re putting together the layout of your real estate app. 

2. Real Estate Mobile Apps Drive Engagement

In addition to an improved user experience, apps are significantly better for engagement compared to any other digital touchpoint. 

Once downloaded, your real estate app is just a click away from being used. People can navigate to your app in seconds with a single click, which is much easier than opening a web browser and manually typing in a website—only to have an inferior experience. 

From the very beginning, studies show that real estate app users are highly engaged during the first week of downloading the app. 

Furthermore, real estate apps are twice as likely to retain users compared to mobile websites. So if you can get someone to download your app, there’s a great chance of keeping them close to your brand. 

Of the 70% of people who actively use real estate apps, those people use the app at least three times per week.

Even if people aren’t using your app regularly, it’s much easier to drive engagement with an app compared to other digital touchpoints. You can send targeted push notifications about new listings that will encourage inactive users to open the app.

This is much more effective than email marketing, and it’s not something that can be replicated with a website alone. 

3. Real Estate Agents Can Build Their Personal Brands

The best real estate app for you and your business can really help take your personal brand to the next level. You can have a premier agent app even if you’re operating a small brokerage or working on your own. 

These apps don’t need to compete with Zillow or the other players dominating the real estate app industry. 

Instead, you can focus these apps on your local market and give them to prospects when you’re first starting the communication process. 

Put yourself in the shoes of a prospective home buyer. You’re likely not the only agent they’re speaking with. But if you can live in their pockets through a smartphone app, it gives you a significant advantage over the competition. 

The same concept can be applied to sellers. Sellers are more inclined to give you their listing if you have a mobile app. They’ll see this as a way to sell their homes faster to qualified buyers. 

4. Real Estate Apps Are Versatile

There are so many different ways that you can use a real estate app to promote your business and get more sales. Here are some examples to showcase this versatility:

  • Promote residential property listings for sale
  • Showcase commercial properties for sale or for rent
  • Rental listings for landlords and renters
  • Home value estimates for prospective sellers
  • Commercial property listings for property managers
  • Open house information and in-person visit scheduling
  • All the tools needed to calculate mortgage payments
  • Property records and MLS listings for home buyers
  • Property tax records and sales history
  • Detailed floor plans for house hunters and prospective tenants
  • Virtual tools and professional photography
  • Local school ratings and other helpful information
  • Give users the ability to save their favorite properties

This list just barely scratches the surface of what you can do with a real estate mobile app. But it definitely shows that the potential is there if you want to do something more than just list available properties.

Downloads of real estate mobile apps are up 15% in the United States. The UK experienced a 7.6% growth in real estate app downloads.  

We’re hitting a point where you need to have a real estate mobile app to stay relevant and keep up with the latest trends. 

Buyers and sellers are already using popular real estate apps like Zillow and Redfin. This has set a precedent for how they expect a buying, selling, or renting experience to be.

If you force them to use other tools and multiple listing services beyond mobile apps, they may get frustrated. So it’s in your best interest to give them tools that they’re already comfortable using and mirror similar features compared to the ones that might already be installed on their phones.

It may sound like a stretch, but think of it like trying to run a real estate business without an email address. But 20 years ago, real estate transactions were definitely happening without any email exchanges. 

Now we’re living in the app-driven era. People are going to look back 20 years from now and say, can you believe we used to buy and sell houses without a mobile app?

6. Expand Your Reach to a Wider Audience

An app makes it much easier to target new customers.

For example, maybe the majority of your career has been spent selling houses. But with an app, you can easily expand and highlight commercial property listings. 

Or maybe you’ll use the app to connect landlords and owners with property managers. You could even have specific parts of your app that target real estate investors. 

Your app has the capability to do things that go above and beyond your website, email, or social media management platform. The capabilities and customization options are virtually limitless when you go mobile—empowering you to target anyone who you desire.

Anyone can download your app once it hits the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

So you’ll be exposed to even more people who would otherwise only be able to find you through search engines and social sites. 

7. Improve Customer Relationship Management

Your real estate mobile app can double as a CRM platform. When customers sign up for the app, they can enter personal details about themselves, including:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Address
  • Email email address
  • What they’re looking for
  • Location
  • Preferences

While this should be required to create an account, you can give users the option to provide as much information as possible to improve your CRM database. 

Even without their email address and phone number, you can add a direct messaging feature in the app for two-way communication. This isn’t something you’d be able to do if you simply ran into a prospect and gave them your business card. But an app gives you the ability to communicate with any user whenever you want. 

8. Simple Document Delivery

Gone are the days of in-person meetings and long fax exchanges for real estate transactions. You can send forms and collect signatures directly through the mobile app. 

This makes life easier for buyers, sellers, and brokers alike. 

It also encourages self-service for users during off hours. For example, if a buyer needs to complete a form on a Sunday night when the office is closed, they won’t have to wait until Monday morning for directions.

They can simply go through a document checklist within the app to find forms they need to complete. Then they’ll see the status of those forms in real time, and can fill out the information in the form of a mobile questionnaire directly through the app. 

9. Organize and Showcase Your Team of Realtors

Real estate apps are great for agent directories. You can easily use this to connect new clients with an agent in their area who fits within the criteria you’re looking for.

Let’s say an app user has questions about the property details of a new listing. When they reach out for help, the app can automatically connect them with an agent. 

Buyers and sellers alike can use the app to learn more about a listing agent. 

Here’s an example from Zillow that you can use as inspiration for your app:

This feature also helps add a level of personalization to the user’s experience. They feel like they can get to know your agents better, even before the communication begins. 

10. High ROI on Property Listings

Like anything else, investing in a real estate mobile app only makes sense if you’re going to get a return on your investment. 

Agents love apps because it helps them sell more and deliver a better experience to customers, ultimately providing a higher ROI.

For example, with the help of virtual tours, you can offer instant access to any prospective buyer. This will save you a ton of time and eliminate the situations when you show a property in person, only for the buyer to realize it’s not what they’re looking for. 

You can spend your time focusing on selling as opposed to dealing with minor details that can be accomplished through the app without your direct involvement. 

Final Thoughts

Real estate mobile apps have become a must-have tool for modern agents, realtors, and brokers. 

Mobile apps are so versatile that you can use them in a wide range of ways to better serve your customers and business. 

Whether you want to offer a simple mortgage calculator or provide a full-service app to manage properties, the opportunities are endless. 

So why wait? Start your 14-day free trial and create a real estate app with BuildFire today. 

How to Make a Food Delivery App

Food delivery apps are skyrocketing in popularity.

Recent studies suggest that 86% of Americans have used a food delivery app. An additional 53% of people say that food delivery and takeout are essential to their lifestyles. That number jumps to 64% when you look strictly at Millennials in the survey.

Research from Statista suggests that revenue generated from online food delivery will hit $96.5 billion by 2027, with a CAGR of 8.9% in the next five years. 

In short, there’s plenty of money to be made in the food delivery app market. Whether you want to create a food delivery app for your restaurant, set up a food delivery app for a grocery store, or build a food delivery app like Uber Eats or Grubhub, you’ve come to the right place.

Continue reading to learn more about our methodology, including the benefits of food delivery apps, costs, and key features for success.

How to Make a Food Delivery App in 6 Simple Steps

Want to make your own food delivery app? Just follow the simple step-by-step process outlined below.

Step #1 — Validate Your Food Delivery App Idea

The first thing you need to do is conduct market research. While the numbers show that there are billions of dollars to be made in this industry, you need to understand that just a handful of players control the vast majority of the food delivery market share.

As of Q1 2022, 97% of the food delivery market is controlled by three companies—DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub.

Less than 1% of deliveries go to brands that aren’t household names. 

I’m not saying this to discourage you. But you need to set some realistic expectations for yourself. If you want your food delivery app to rival big names like DoorDash and Uber Eats, you definitely have your work cut out for you.

Fortunately, there’s still plenty of money to be made on a smaller scale in this space. 

For example, it’s a great idea to set up a food delivery app for your existing restaurant, grocery store, or convenience store. Even smaller businesses, like ice cream shops, can benefit from food delivery apps. 

This is an excellent way to expand your business and meet customer expectations. 

Creating a food delivery app for your restaurant also cuts out the middleman and helps you eliminate the third-party fees associated with other food delivery apps fulfilling your orders. 

Step #2 — Choose Your Food Delivery App Development Method

Once you’ve determined that there’s a real market need for your food delivery mobile app, it’s time for you to start the development process. 

Generally speaking, these are your options:

  • Hire an app developer
  • Build it yourself using a DIY app builder
  • Use internal resources for development
  • Outsource to an app development agency

Most restaurants and grocery stores likely don’t have an internal IT team. So you can quickly rule out the third option. Hiring a developer and outsourcing your project to an agency are both expensive. So if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, neither of those will work well for you.

That leaves us with the second bullet on the list above—creating it yourself using an app maker. An app builder will be the best option for the vast majority of you reading this guide right now.

It’s a simple and affordable way to create food delivery apps without writing a single line of code. Platforms like BuildFire make it easy for anyone to make a restaurant app by installing simple plug-and-play functionality. 

For additional resources to help you find the best app development method for your food delivery app, use the following links:

Step #3 — Identify Your Food Delivery Business Model

Food delivery apps work in different ways, and there are several models that you can monetize your app idea. 

  • Delivery services — You create an app and business that handles all deliveries between restaurants and customers. These models charge restaurants fees for using the platform and take a cut of each order.
  • Third-party facilitator — Similar to the first model, the app connects restaurants and consumers. But all of the deliveries are handled by a third party. You’re just running an app as a service, but you don’t actually touch the food. 
  • Direct food delivery apps — This is when a restaurant or grocery store has its own app for food delivery. They run the software internally and handle the order fulfillment internally as well. 

The first two models typically make money by charging restaurants to be featured. They also can make money through delivery fees or charging a percentage of every order. Some even charge premium subscriptions to consumers for loyalty perks. 

The third model works simply by charging customers for the food provided in each order. In some cases, you may upcharge items for delivery or include a fixed delivery fee for each order. 

Alternatively, you can charge a monthly subscription to eliminate delivery fees. This is a great way to encourage customer loyalty and increase order frequencies.

Step #4 — Select Your Features

Every food ordering app will have similar features. Some of you may want to go create a custom food delivery app with unique features for your business model.

We’re going to cover the key features of a successful food delivery app later on in this guide. 

But it’s important for you to have a firm grasp on the features you want before you dive into the development process. Here’s why.

Your features will drive the entire app development lifecycle. It’s easy to get carried away while you’re developing an app and add features that sound cool—even if they don’t have anything to do with the primary purpose and goal of your food delivery app.

So stick to your primary purpose and business model. What features must be developed to make this goal possible?

For example, let’s say you want to create a food delivery app for your restaurant. With BuildFire, you can add the Menu Order System plugin to create different menu categories:

Then you can add specific food items to each menu.

Here’s an example of some items that might be on your breakfast delivery list:

Having a menu is definitely on the must-have list of features for food delivery services. Things like social media integration and message boards probably don’t need to be a top priority right now. 

Create your must-have feature list first, and stick to those during the development process.

Step #5 — Design and Development

This step will be the bulk of your work for a food delivery app. It will look a bit different for everyone, depending on the development model you selected back in step #2.

If you decide to go with a DIY app maker, the design process will be super easy. 

For example, if you start your project with BuildFire, you can begin with a ready-made restaurant template. 

This takes care of 90% of the design work for you. Then it’s just a matter of customizing the text and buttons to fit your branding.

You easily add plugins for things like reservations and other key features to go along with your food delivery services. 

Step #6 — Marketing and Launch

The final step is launching your food delivery app. You’ll want to get it live on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store to maximize your reach with potential users.

Then it’s just a matter of marketing your app and getting people to download it.

For local restaurants and grocery stores, you may want to provide an incentive for users to try the app early on. Offering something like a 20% discount on a first order could convince someone to try it out. Even if you’re not making a huge profit on that order, it’s a small price to pay for user acquisition. 

Push your food delivery app on your website. Print flyers and put them in your restaurant or storefront. Send out email blasts to your subscriber list. Promote the app on social media. 

Do whatever you can to drive downloads. Even before your app launches, you can start to create a buzz around the app, so people are ready to download it once it goes live.

If you’re using BuildFire to create your app, you won’t have to worry about the publishing process. Just let us know when your app is done, and we’ll get it live on the app stores for you. 

Benefits of Food Delivery Apps

Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of making a food delivery app for your business. If you’re on the fence about whether or not to proceed, these perks can help with your decision-making process.

Market Demand

We talked about the food delivery market earlier. But even looking beyond the statistics, you can see that there’s a grim outlook for restaurants and grocery stores that can’t adapt to the times.

Our society has already reached a point where consumers expect products delivered to their doorstep. Just look at what happened to retailers who couldn’t adjust to the Amazon era.

This same concept can be applied to food delivery apps and services. If you can’t offer mobile delivery to your customers, they’ll simply look elsewhere for food.

Saves Time For Your Customers

Driving to pickup takeout is time-consuming. This is especially true in metro areas where parking is tough to come by. 

It could take 30 minutes round trip to travel a mile or two in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and other major cities. For some people, this time just isn’t worth the hassle. 

A recent survey suggests that 70% of consumers are willing to pay more money to save time and effort on food delivery services. 

Easy to Use and Order Food

Using a mobile food delivery platform is easy for consumers and businesses alike.

There’s no waiting on hold, struggling to understand thick accents, or trying to hear customers over kitchen noises. 

It’s as simple as selecting food options from a digital menu or grocery list. Items are added to a cart, and payments are processed ahead of time. Businesses get paid immediately, and consumers benefit from convenience. 

With a smartphone, anyone can order food from an app. There’s virtually no learning curve, and your business can reach people of all ages. 

Increased ROI

Food delivery apps are money-making machines. So you can quickly generate a return on your initial budget for development. 

If you’re using an app maker, you’ll only have to pay a monthly subscription fee to use the service. This typically ranges anywhere from $300 to $1,000, depending on the service and features you need. 

Based on the cost of your subscription, you know what your monthly breakeven point on the food delivery app needs to be. 

Expand Your Business

Creating a food delivery app helps you generate another form of revenue for your business. 

Food delivery services aren’t going anywhere. So you can either adapt with the times or risk becoming irrelevant to your customer base. 

This is a logical expansion for any restaurant or grocery store. Other apps on the market are going to offer food and grocery delivery anyways. Why not handle this internally with your own app? 

Key Features of a Great Food Delivery App

To create a food delivery app that succeeds, you need to ensure it has the right features. While the actual features of your app will vary based on your business type and monetization model, these are some proven ideas to steer you in the right direction:

User Registration and Profile Management

Every great food delivery app has user profiles. But there are several different types of users, and you need to make sure each profile and user interface is designed appropriately.

  • Customer — The customer app is where users will browse for food items and add them to a cart. They must be able to search for nearby restaurants or food categories in a way that provides a seamless browsing experience. Customers should also be able to save their payment information and delivery address on file to speed up the checkout process.
  • Admin — Admin profiles will be used by authorized people at a restaurant or grocery store. This allows them to see orders coming in and manage how they’re being fulfilled. Admins also need access to pricing information and the ability to update menu items. 
  • Delivery Driver — If you’re providing a service that uses third-party drivers, you need to have a completely separate interface for the drivers. This allows them to accept new orders and gives them instructions for pick-ups. Drivers should also have turn-by-turn GPS instructions with a maps integration so they can get items to customers quickly and efficiently. 

If you’re creating an app for your grocery store or restaurant and handling all of the fulfillment and delivery in-house, you could potentially combine the administrative and delivery driver interfaces. But it’s generally better to keep those users separate for security reasons, as a driver shouldn’t have access to pricing changes or things of that nature. 

Search Functionality

Food delivery app users must have a way to quickly find what they’re looking for without scanning through an entire menu.

Think of how many items are available at your local grocery store. Imagine having to scroll through thousands of items to find a single product. That’s not realistic.

If customers don’t know exactly what they want, you should have items categorized in a way that makes sense so they can narrow down their options. For a restaurant, categories might include:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Appetizers
  • Entrees
  • Pasta
  • Pizza
  • Dessert
  • Gluten-Free

For a grocery store, the options might look a little different:

  • Bakery
  • Deli
  • Produce
  • Milk and Eggs
  • Canned Foods
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Household Products and Cleaning Supplies

Payment Integration

An integrated payment solution is crucial for a food delivery app. 

Customers must be able to save their preferred payment methods to their profile. This allows them to checkout with a single click, and they’re not forced to manually enter card details for each purchase. 

Setting up payments through the app also ensures that you’re always getting paid for the service. Relying on cash payments upon delivery or taking payments over the phone after an order is placed just adds complexity to the process. 

This also makes it easy for customers to pay using digital wallets that are already stored on their smartphones.

Coupons and Loyalty Rewards

Customer loyalty is the key to success in any business, and it’s no different with a food delivery service. Having a food delivery app actually gives you an edge in this space compared to other business types. 

That’s because customers must use the app for service. So it’s really easy for them to track their loyalty and redeem rewards from their phones.

There are tons of different approaches to this strategy. For example, you can offer blanket deals like free delivery on orders of $25 or more. Or you can have more specific rewards to encourage customer spending. 

Maybe each $1 spent is worth five points, and points can be redeemed for free food. Every Tuesday and Wednesday is a triple points day. This can encourage people to buy on days that would normally be slower for business. 

BuildFire has customer loyalty plugins that can be added to your app in a single click. They’re really versatile, and you can set them up to create a loyalty program that fits your business model.

Push Notifications

Push notifications can remind customers about upcoming specials and promotions. Examples of messages might include:

  • Order now for FREE delivery!
  • Take 30% off your next two orders
  • Buy one pizza and get a free side
  • New restaurant in your area!
  • Craving ice cream?

All of these notifications would encourage someone to open your food delivery app. You can also use push notifications as a way to remind customers when a driver has arrived with their order.

The great part about push notifications is that you can set them up based on triggers and activity. For example, you can send promotions around dinner time, when customers are more likely to order something.

Or you can send a notification specific to something that a customer has ordered in the past. This ensures that you’re not sending notifications to vegetarians about your steak dinner specials. 

Delivery Tracking

Your food delivery application should make it easy for customers to track orders. This will prevent them from calling and wondering what’s taking so long. 

Existing apps on the market have a pretty standard flow for the status:

  • Preparing order
  • Order ready
  • Driver picking up order
  • Driver en route

In some cases, customers might be able to track the exact location of a driver on a map. Although this may not be necessary for everyone. 

How Much Does Food Delivery App Development Cost?

Food delivery apps can cost anywhere from $500 per month to $50,000+ upfront. Your features and development method will have the largest impact on this price.

A DIY app builder is going to be the most cost-effective option. Rather than paying tens of thousands of dollars upfront to an app development company, you can create the app on your own for a low monthly subscription fee.

Alternatively, if you want to create an app like UberEats that integrates with thousands of restaurants and has real-time GPS tracking, it could cost you millions of dollars. 

For a local restaurant or grocery store that wants to create a food delivery app, you can likely get away with spending $10,000 or $25,000 if you keep it simple. Simplicity doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice features and functionality. It just means you need to eliminate the bells and whistles and only develop what’s necessary for the app to work as needed. 

You can use our app cost calculator to estimate your costs on development. Make sure you keep some money in your budget for post-launch app maintenance as well. This is another reason why it makes more sense to stick with an app builder platform, as all of the maintenance and updates will be handled for you.

Develop Food Delivery App — Final Thoughts 

Food delivery apps can be extremely lucrative. They’re great for local restaurants and grocery stores that want to offer customers a modern way to order food. 

You can also create a food delivery app that connects customers with local restaurants and grocery stores in your area. So you don’t need to be an existing business owner to make an app for food delivery services. 

If you’re ready to create a food delivery app, just follow the simple steps outlined in this guide. Pay close attention to the key features for success that we covered as well. This is where your focus should be during the development process. 

Mobile App for Your Wedding Planning Business

Today, it seems like there is an app for everything.

Mobile apps are penetrating every industry. Think about how much you personally use apps on a daily basis and how your customers rely on them as well.

You’ve got to get with the times and stay up to date on the latest technology trends.

If you’re in the wedding planning industry, you’ve got to have a mobile app. So much goes into planning a wedding. Obviously, you know this better than anyone.

A wedding is one of the most important events in a person’s life. As a wedding planner, you need to make their experience and planning as easy as possible for your clients.

Think about all of the different aspects that they need to keep track of. A mobile app can make this much easier.

If you don’t have an app for your wedding planning business, I’ll explain why you need one and how it can be applied. Here’s what you need to know.

Continue reading “Mobile App for Your Wedding Planning Business”

Restaurant Why’s for Offering Mobile Food Ordering

It doesn’t matter what kind of food you serve or where you’re located, your restaurant needs to have a mobile presence.

That’s right. Fast food joints in remote suburbs as well as high-class restaurants in major cities, need to go mobile. Mobile apps are a great way to increase exposure for your restaurant and reach new customers.

But going mobile helps improve the experience for your existing customers as well.

In addition to helping new and prospective customers find and frequent your restaurant, a mobile application will have tons of other benefits for your business as well.

If you’re on the fence about building an app for your restaurant or you’re trying to optimize your existing app to incorporate mobile food ordering, this guide is perfect for you.

I’ll explain everything you need to know about why restaurants are offering the option for their customers to order food from mobile devices and how you can incorporate this same strategy to your business as well.

Here’s what you need to know about the food industry and mobile apps.

Continue reading “Restaurant Why’s for Offering Mobile Food Ordering”

How Mobile Apps Are Transforming the Gym World

The world is trending in a mobile direction.

Mobile applications are penetrating every industry, and the fitness industry is no exception.

If you own a gym or you’re a personal trainer, you need to have a mobile app.

That goes for every type of gym, including gyms for weightlifting, boxing, mixed martial arts training, basketball, swimming, CrossFit, and every other type of fitness specialty. Even your yoga studio can benefit from a mobile app.

There’s no fitness business that’s too big or too small for a mobile app. Whether you’re a solo personal trainer or own a chain of gyms across the country, you need an app.

Fortunately, if you’re reading this, it sounds like you’ve already identified the possibility of getting an app. You might even be in the development phases or have a gym app that just launched.

That’s great news. This guide will also help you improve your gym app, engage with your customers, and get more people to download your app.

It’s also an educational tool for anyone who is on the fence about building an app for your gym.

Mobile apps are transforming the gym world. 58% of people with a smartphone have downloaded an app related to health and fitness.

I’ll explain why you need one and how your app can be used to make more money. Here’s what you need to know.

Continue reading “How Mobile Apps Are Transforming the Gym World”

Why You Need to Build an App For Your Beauty Salon/Barber Shop Now

If you’ve got a beauty salon or barber shop, you’ve got to break the mold and get on board with the newest marketing trends.

Whether you have a barber shop with just one chair, a beauty salon with 20 employees, or anything in between, it’s time for you to find new ways to retain and increase your clientele.

A beauty salon or barber mobile app is a solution to make you more money. It doesn’t matter if you’re a new business or an old one, going mobile will make a huge difference.

As I’ve consulted with some beauty salons and barber shops in the past, I’ve encountered a couple of common responses.

Older businesses are resistant to change. They’re set in their ways and kind of have the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” mentality.

Newer barber shops and beauty salons are hesitant toward making a mobile app because they just spent lots of money building their startup and don’t want to incur more costs.

But there’s a problem with both of those scenarios. The older shops and salons may be OK right now, but they’ll have problems getting new customers without a mobile app.

The newer businesses are in trouble too. Without a steady clientele, it’s hard to keep their appointment books full. So it’s worth it to build an app.

If you’re still not convinced, you’re the inspiration behind this guide. I’ll show you everything you need to know about how a mobile application can do wonders for your cosmetology business.

Continue reading “Why You Need to Build an App For Your Beauty Salon/Barber Shop Now”

Why Utilizing Mobile Apps is a Must for Nonprofits

Although nonprofits are for a greater cause, at their core, these organizations are still a business.

The mission and motivation behind operating these businesses may be different from other companies. But in order for your nonprofit organization to succeed, you’ve still got to make money.

While you don’t want to ignore the foundation of your nonprofit, you still need to run this business like everyone else.

Stick with the trends. Understand your industry. Recognize how your customers and donors live their lives on a daily basis.

Even if you haven’t done the research yet, it’s no secret that we’re living in a mobile world.

According to the Pew Research Center, 95% of Americans own a cell phone.

of americans cell phone

77% of adults in the United States own a smartphone. Back in 2011, that number was only 35%.

That doesn’t even include tablets. As of January 2018, 53% of adults in the United States own a tablet.

With the vast majority of people owning and using mobile devices on a daily basis your nonprofit needs to go mobile if you want to survive.

That’s where the world is trending. You need to jump on board now before it’s too late.

If you’re not familiar with this, it may sound intimidating. You might be asking yourself if it’s really worth it.


As an expert in the mobile applications industry, I’ll explain exactly why your nonprofit organization absolutely needs a mobile app.

Continue reading “Why Utilizing Mobile Apps is a Must for Nonprofits”

Church App Checklist: What features do you need?

A mobile app can be a wonderful benefit to the church and the community it serves. Apps enable the church to reach beyond Sunday morning and far beyond the four walls and interact with the community anytime, anywhere. We have seen cases where the number of those using the app, far exceeds church membership. This usually occurs when the congregation begins sharing the app, a favorite sermon, a blog post or daily devotional with a friend. Or perhaps it is as simple as a FaceBook or Twitter post from the app.

We are not here to convince you of the need to go mobile. If you are reading this document, then you are well past that stage. Most churches understand they need to go mobile, they just don’t know how. Therefore, we have written this guide in plain english (no technical talk) to be used as a checklist of features, functionality and use cases you should be considering when going mobile. It will help you understand what is possible and then determine what is right for your church.

As you go through the list below you are going to start to understand the power and possibilities of mobile. When you are done, I believe you will conclude that mobile needs to be woven into the DNA of your church.

A word of caution. As you read through the possibilities you are going to be saying to yourself, YES, I WOULD LOVE TO BE ABLE TO DO THIS but …… how much does it cost. That is the beauty behind BuildFire. The hard work has already been done. We’ve implement solutions for thousands of churches. You can see all the functionality below working in a live on a BuildFire app. Just download “The Vertical Church” on iTunes or on Google Play or go to our website and play with a live web version. So for now just imagine the possibilities and when you’re done reading, let’s talk!!

So let’s get started ……

Mobile giving

An absolute must for any mobile platform. A statistical discussion is beyond the scope of this document, but it should suffice to say that study after study indicates giving increases when a mobile solution is offered. It really is intuitive – when people are thinking about giving, provide them the tools to do so at that moment. Implementing a mobile solution is very easy, especially if you have a mobile friendly giving page on your website. If not, it very inexpensive to change it. No need for any fancy mobile giving software, simply import the web view from your website into your phone. When done right, it will provide the user with a very nice giving experience.

Sermon notes

Another one of those “must haves” in a mobile solution. To begin with, it saves money. How much do those Sunday morning bulletins cost? What if you could print 50% or 80% less? What if there was a last minute sermon change? How about all that material printed for retreats, bible studies, etc. Sermon notes is not just for sermons, they work for any seminar or meeting. Some churches attach follow-on bible study material to a sermon. On the user side, let’s face it, these notes might last a week or two before they are thrown out. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a place to electronically take personal notes while in church or in your Bible study, then store the notes in a private place for future reference, bookmark your favorite notes and be able to search for past notes based upon keywords, etc? Make sure if you are going to implement a sermons note solution that your mobile solution is optimized for tablet use. Most people using this functionality will do so on their iPad or Android tablet.


Push Notifications

An absolute must! Push notes have a 97% read rate!. There are many use cases, but the most valuable are those where you need to reach out and alert people now. A change in a starting time, a cancelled service (a favorite in snow country), a last minute special event, change in Easter service times, a special Good Friday service reminder, etc.. I recall visiting a church where they were expressing disappointment with the attendance at a hastily planned weeknight event. A great guest speaker was in town and they were unable to contact enough of the congregation through email (less than 10% read rate). There are many features to push functionality but one that is key for churches – Groups. The ability to target groups within the church … you don’t want the entire congregation receiving a notification regarding the women’s ministry.


Daily Devotional/Daily Scripture

A fantastic way to reach out to the congregation; send something inspirational each day. Tie it into the weekly sermon. If you lack the time and resources to do this manually, simply automate …. there are a number of free services that provide messaging that can be automatically updated in the app each day. Find a service you are comfortable with, set it up once and let it run.


Play video recordings of Sermons

For those that can’t make it on a Sunday, are traveling, or perhaps were inspired and want to hear it again (you should be so lucky). Yes, I know sermons are on your website but people today are mobile. They want to watch from their bed, in the back yard, while waiting for a plane, etc. I recall sitting beneath a park tree with my wife while on vacation listening to a sermon from our home church posted earlier that morning. People will share the sermon through the app … “hey … check out this sermon.” If you record your sermons this is a must have and very easy to do. Most churches use YouTube or Vimeo to post their sermon. If so, this functionality is easy to implement. From then on, just update Vimeo or YouTube and your app automatically is updated at the same time.

Play audio recordings of Sermons

This one is more important than video. People love to listen while exercising, walking the dog, in the car, etc. There are a million use case. What is real important for audio …. Make sure the audio player in your app works in “background mode.” In other words, when the app is closed, the audio player still works. Otherwise, every time your app shuts off, you will lose the audio; eliminating 90% of the potential use cases. Seems simple, but many app solutions do not work in background mode.


You can have one or many calendars…i.e. One for each ministry or just one comprehensive church calendar. If you maintain an online calendar(s) through Google, Microsoft, etc., you should find a solution that permits app calendars to update automatically from your existing online calendars. No need to manually maintain and update separate calendars. If you choose to integrate a calendar solution, make sure it provides the ability for users to add church events to their personal calendar with a simple “click.” It is nice to be able to periodically peruse the church calendar and add events of interest to my personal calendar. In addition to the date and time, make sure your calendar solution provides for location information (address) to enable mapping and directions functionality. With all of this, you will be able get a reminder of event on your phone along with driving directions and estimated time you should be leaving your current location to arrive on time. That should certainly increase attendance for any event!


Home groups/Bible study times and locations

By posting addresses of these groups (along with phone, pictures, descriptions, etc. if you choose) you can make it easy for people to find a group near them. The phone’s GPG function will show a map of where they are in relation to all the groups around them. Find one you like, click on the map to get directions and/or click on the phone number or email to inquire.


The Bible

An easy call and very easy to implement. Your congregation will now have access to the Bible, anytime, anywhere. There are many on-line Bibles, pick one and use a web-view to enable this on your mobile solution.


Contact Us/Find the Church

Similar to Home Groups above. You can have a listing of all church staff organized by ministry, alphabetical, etc. Include addresses, pictures, phone numbers, emails, etc. The nice thing about a mobile app is the integration with the phone’s technology for GPS mapping, locations, driving directions, emails, calling etc. ….. as simple as a click and contact. An important note for larger church campuses – make sure you have the capability to provide detailed campus mapping. If looking for the administrative building, the address alone will not be enough. You will need the ability to specifically identify a location on your campus. This is a great on-campus feature for users to easily identify where they are in relation to the Administration Building, Children’s Ministry, Sanctuary, Bookstore, etc.

Public social walls

Men’s & women’s ministries, high school, etc. can all have separate chat walls. These social walls have a variety of uses. Some churches use them as prayer walls, others to allow the congregation to post comments on fun events they have attended, pictures, reminders, encouragement, etc.. We have seen a number of cases where people have reached out for help using either these public or private (see below) walls. It is amazing to see how people respond to those in need. In any case, you should be able to have as many of these walls as your church size warrants. If you implement these social walls, make sure your app requires user registration before they can post to walls and your solution provides an administration panel that enables you to lock out anyone posting inappropriate comments.

Private chat with the church

Some churches like to provide members the ability to chat privately 1X1 with the church. This might be a private prayer wall, someone reaching out for counseling, etc. This is a “many to one” chat feature where anybody with the app (many) can post a private message to the church administration (one) and the church can reply back privately as well.

Church Blog Posts

If you maintain a blog, this is a must. Very easy to integrate into your app via RSS feed. Feeds come in directly from your website into the app, it’s that simple. The good thing about a mobile blog is …. people may actually read it. When you post a new article, send out a push message letting the congregation know there is new material to read. Perhaps add a teaser … preview of what is coming this Sunday. In any case, it is an opportunity to engage and minister during the week.


E-Commerce store

You have a bookstore, selling study material, etc.? Make it available through the app. An upcoming study series …. remind them to purchase materials through push notification and allow them the purchase using the app. This can be done very cost effectively with existing online solutions like Shopify, WooCommerce, etc.. When you settle on a mobile solution make sure you can integrate with an E-Commerce solution. Alternatively, you may already have a mobile friendly E-Commerce site that will work well with a simple web-view.

Sharing the App

It is about sharing your faith so make sure you have this functionality. The ability to send and email, text, etc. with a link to download the app. The link can accompany any message you like. “Hey … check out my church and listen to the sermon last Sunday; it was awesome!!!” I know many people who encourage their children who are at college or moved away to stay engaged with their “home church” on the app.

Sharing on Social Media

Similar to share the app. Make sure people can sign into your app using Facebook and Twitter. Provide them with messaging and graphics that they can easily be posted their their Facebook and Twitter accounts telling them about their great church!. The user can of course create their own message, but pre-templated messages provided by the church make it easier and you control the message. Think about including a short video in the message. Can you imagine the entire congregation sharing this on their Facebook and Twitter accounts; how many people would see this video? You will grow the congregation and likely find you have followers who are not even in your geographic area but like your sermons, blog posts, music, etc.

Youth Attendance Rewards

This one is a bit different but very cool. A twist on Loyalty and Reward functionality built into some app solutions. All kids have smartphones; so engage with them. Set up an attendance based reward system where, based upon attendance, they earn points towards rewards like a personal bible, church hat or tee shirt … the possibilities are endless. You just need a “check in” feature that is controlled by youth staff and a tracking method. Most loyalty based programs can do this.

Appointment setting

If your church offers counseling or other appointment based services, this one might be right for you. This provides the ability for users to view your calendar and set an appointment. No worries here, they can’t see your personal calendar, just a calendar where you have identified times when appointments are available. You can also limit the amount of time that can be booked … only one 15 minute spot can be booked at a time. This is an easy one to implement. There are a number of free or relatively inexpensive third party solutions that can provide this functionality, just make sure your app can integrate with the one you choose.


Forms Submission

How many forms are filled out each year at your church? Let’s pass on listing all the possible examples and just say it is a lot. Wouldn’t it be nice to have all these forms completed and submitted electronically? It is super cheap and very easy to integrate into a mobile app. Take a look at the options and pre-formatted templates available from Google forms, JotForms, TypeForms, to get some ideas. If forms is a need, make sure your app can integrate with the solution you choose. Also, make sure your mobile solution is optimized for tablet use. Most people using this functionality will do so on their iPad or Android tablet.

Polls, Surveys, RSVPs

Want feedback of any type, try a service like PollDaddy; they even have a free service. It is easily integrated into mosts apps. The point with mobile is that you can reach people and request feedback in real time, wherever they are. Send a push notice and ask for immediate feedback. Better than sending an email, waiting for them to get in front of their computer, hoping they read it (or it gets past the spam filter), further hoping they go to the survey website and then waiting and see if you get a response.


Voter Registration

Encourage the congregation to be registered. Many states have an online process. Create an interface on your phone, it is easy. On election day, send out a push message reminding the congregation to fulfill their civic duty.

Multiple Ministries on a single App

I see many churches with multiple apps. I saw one recently that had a High School app, another for Jr. High, a music ministry app, a men’s group app, a separate one just for sermon notes. Yikes!!! … what a maintenance nightmare and talk about confusing the congregation. With advanced folder capability (keeping each ministry within their own folder) and the Group Push functionality we discussed earlier, a single app should be able to provide for each of these ministries and/or functions. These capabilities should even provide for multiple campuses on a single app as well. There is no need for multiple apps.

Listen to Christian Radio

There are a lot of great Christian radio stations that broadcast over the internet. Stream their broadcast through the app. Give the congregation a few stations to listen to while on the go, in the car, walking the dog, etc. The app provides them with mobile access.

What do you think? Could your church benefit from a mobile solution? Have questions, want to explore more possibilities or just get started? Click here to set a 15 minute appointment with one of our church experts here at Buildfire.