With mobile technology changing rapidly, it’s important to review periodically what apps your business can use to serve your families. We’ll review a few from the Apple and Android app stores that are commonly used by cemeteries across the country, and discuss some best practices to keep in mind regarding safety and security.

One convenient app is CamScanner, available for both the iPhone and Android devices. This useful tool allows you to scan a document by taking a picture of it with your phone. It then enhances the quality of the image, and turns the scanned page into a PDF file which you can send via email or post to an online location safely and securely. CamScanner also allows you to compile multi-page documents by taking multiple photos. This app can save you the space and expense of having a full-size scanner, or it can be useful to use when you are working from home or traveling for work.

Another office related app that we’ve probably all heard of is DropBox. You may have used this app to send or share large files, but have you considered using it to ensure that your sales staff is always following the right sales presentation? If you upload your company’s sales deck to a shared DropBox folder, you ensure that everyone is always opening and presenting out of the most up to date file.

Well-known apps for personal use are also easily adaptable to help improve your efficiency and customer service. Waze is an Android and Apple GPS app that helps you navigate, while advising you about traffic, hazards like stopped cars, accidents, even roadkill, and allows you to report and receive reports of police speed traps. Downloading the Bible to your phone keeps Scripture passages available at the touch of a button so you can offer comfort to your families, no matter where you are. Skype or FaceTime can help improve long-distance meetings, or simply allow you to show your office staff a particular issue while you are out on the grounds. And never forget that snapping a quick picture allows you to have—literally!—a photographic memory.

Apps can also get quite high-tech, for example, when you can use your phone to stream footage from a surveillance system. Using an app like iCamSpy, you can turn your webcam-enabled PC into a monitoring device that uploads the audio and video to your phone. You can view the footage real-time, or you can keep the app running and elect to receive alerts if motion is detected – letting you know if someone unauthorized is in your office. Many sophisticated outdoor video surveillance systems can also be routed to your smartphone.

Apps can be free, like the basic version of CamScanner, or cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, like the business Nest thermostat with remote temperature control. Many free apps have upgraded versions that allow you to access different and enhanced features. Try downloading the free version; then if you like it, consider if the benefits of an upgraded version is worth the cost of the app.

As with any investment in your business, you need to exercise caution and perform your due diligence before utilizing any technology services, including apps. When considering an app, first look at its five star review rating, as well as how many people have downloaded and reviewed the app. If you have an older phone or tablet, you will also want to make sure the app is compatible with your device, and that you’ve kept your device’s operating system up to date. Finally, it is also important to read the Terms of Use for the app, especially for apps that host or have access to your data (like CamScanner and DropBox). Make sure you are familiar with how they are using your information, as well as what security protocols are in place for protecting it. While these tools are convenient, some business information may require a higher level of security than certain apps provide.

In terms of security, it is also important to protect your mobile device with anti-virus software, just like you do your office PC or laptop. After all, your phone may cost just as much as that larger piece of software, and it’s certainly storing valuable information like your contacts, photos, and online account credentials. Software like Lookout Security and Antivirus is an excellent low-cost or even free way to scan for viruses, protect your web browsing, locate your phone when it is lost, and even provide some exciting security measures against theft (like sending you a selfie of someone who’s trying to hack your phone password).

Beyond the apps that you can find on the app store there are, of course, industry specific applications that have been tailor made to help your cemetery or funeral home perform more effectively. While these apps may not be free, they can be the most effective solution for your particular need, and provide a large return on investment.

Many cemeteries have raised the bar of their service level and amplified their marketing efforts by publishing their own branded mobile application for visitors to download. These apps allow visitors to search for their loved one, navigate to their location in the cemetery using the GPS on their phone, and view memories, stories and photos shared about their life. These mobile apps also allow the cemetery to publish walking tours of their landmarks, features and notable burials, and can even allow the visitor to create their own tour of favorite spots throughout the cemetery. These custom apps can also be used to publish the different types of property that are available throughout the cemetery, so that as visitors are searching for their family they can also be reminded of the value of pre-planning their arrangements.

Custom cemetery apps also include Sales and Field Office apps that can be used to streamline your operation on the field. These apps can integrate with your in-house records management platform and inventory sales maps, allowing your staff to search the records, navigate to the grave using their GPS, view nearby available property, see pricing, monument and ownership information, and using the industry’s Cemetery360 technology, show the family a ground level view of the property from wherever you happen to be meeting them.

This type of real-time access to information is being demanded by today’s families – whether it is when they are coming to visit a loved one’s grave, or when they are visiting the local funeral home and calling the cemetery to find mausoleum space near their loved one.  These custom cemetery software and mapping applications give you the flexibility to help these families from anywhere and meet the changing needs of your market. If you are interested in a custom mobile app solution for your cemetery, contact us today.

No matter what your needs, mobile technology and mobile applications provide convenient and portable solutions to help you run a better, more efficient business – allowing you spend more time taking care of your families and serving them.

A version of this article was first published in the Catholic Cemetery Magazine by Nick Timpe, Director of Sales and Marketing for webCemeteries.com. webCemeteries.com offers custom technology solutions to cemeteries and funeral homes, including award winning mobile apps. Nick is a member of the ICCFA Sales and Marketing Committee, the Catholic Cemetery Conference Technology Committee, and serves as a cemetery technology instructor the Catholic Cemetery University.