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Best Apps and Technologies to Help with Moving to a New Home

Moving can be exciting, but also provides many challenges. Staying organized while you move can feel impossible. However, technology is making it easier than ever to stay on track. Many websites and apps are great resources to help during your move to find your dream house, know which boxes go where, and more. Here are five apps that can help you get started today.

1. Zillow

Zillow is a great app for finding your perfect house or apartment. They have customizable searches that allow you to pick the location, features you’re looking for, and even find places based on nearby ratings. You can connect with real estate agents, property managers, lenders, and more.

Features:

  • Customizable search
  • View foreclosure listings
  • Save your favorite searches
  • Get notifications when houses in your search become available
  • Calculate mortgage and refinancing
  • View floorplans and home designs

2. Magic Plan

Knowing where everything will fit and how you want your new home to look is a big difficulty in moving. Magic Plan allows you to take pictures of your home and create a floor plan so you can add furniture and decorations on the app without having to move a muscle. The app measures everything for you through your pictures.

Features:

  • Create floor plan
  • Measures rooms through photos
  • Get floor plan in different formats
  • Add furniture and other objects

3. Moving Planner

Moving makes it difficult to stay organized and on track. Even if you make lists or plan, there are important things you can forget about. Moving planner, recommended by these movers in Las Vegas, starts several weeks before your move and has preset and customizable checklists that lead all the way up to the day of the move. The checklists have important reminders like “pack medical and dental records” or “make sure you have children school records.”

Features:

  • Customizable checklists
  • Ability to share checklists
  • Preset checklists so you don’t forget anything
  • Instructions on planning your move

4. Sortly

Sortly is a great app to keep track of everything you pack. When you get to your new home, it’s important to know which box has the toilet paper and which one has the dishes. Create an inventory for each box and then print off a QR code to attach the box. Scanning the code lets you know exactly what’s in the box.

Features:

  • Customizable visual lists
  • Printable QR codes
  • Categorize box locations
  • Share lists with movers

5. My Move

This app helps you find reliable local movers. Finding movers can be a gamble, but this app takes the gamble away by providing tips, reviews, cost estimators, and more. It even provides you with an interactive moving checklist.

Features:

  • Find movers based on your location
  • Keep notes during the move
  • Free moving expense estimator
  • Moving reviews, ratings, and license information
  • Interactive checklist

Moving doesn’t have to become overwhelming. These technologies can keep you focused and lower the stress of moving so you can be more excited than worried. With these five apps, you’ll hardly have to lift a finger during your move. Make moving to your new home so much easier with these apps.

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Technologies Changing Transportation, Logisitics, and Other Small Businesses

Technology is clearly changing the way we do just about everything, including business. Massive numbers of businesses are experiencing changes in how they operate based upon the availability and demand for new technologies. If you’ve been a small business owner for very long, it’s likely that new, disruptive technologies have changed how you do business somewhere along the way. Here, we’ll discuss what disruptive technologies are and some of the most common examples that small businesses have had to adapt to in recent years.

What Are Disruptive Technologies?

Knowing what these technologies are is the first step to adapting to them. A disruptive technology is one which replaces or entirely changes the way existing operations function. This is the opposite of a sustainable technology, which is implemented and operates with the existing technology already in place.

Disruptive technologies typically arise to further the advancement in ease of use, function, human interaction, and overall improvement of existing technology. For example, the cellular phone rapidly replaced landlines once its ease of use was well established. We’ll discuss more on this below.

Disruptive Technologies Affecting Small Business

Some of these aren’t exactly new, but as they become more integrated into mainstream use, we’re seeing their impact on small businesses more readily. Here are some of the technologies small business owners say have most affected how they do business in recent years:

Radio Frequency Identification Tags

One of the foremost technologies that continues to disrupt small and large companies alike are radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. Some form of the technology has been around since radio frequencies were used to track troop positions in World War II, but wasn’t patented by Charles Walton until 1983. These tiny chips, some now the size of a grain of rice, can be attached or embedded in a variety of objects to help businesses automatically identify and track them.

RFID technology has greatly improved since it was first introduced, and now more and more businesses are adopting it. Back in 2014, roughly $738 million was spent on RFID readers. It is projected that by 2020 this number will grow to approximately $5.4 billion. How are small businesses implementing these tiny tags? In a recent article by Inc., VP of sales at RFID company Rush Tracking Systems (now TotalTrax, Inc. – on Facebook & LinkedIn), Chuck Thompson says there are myriad ways to use these little gems. Here are just a few:

  • Tracking IT equipment such as tablets, computers, and servers
  • To track rental equipment
  • For use in tracking inventory: tires, books, clothing…you name it
  • Tracking the custody of important legal and medical documents
  • For tracking high value items and equipment

If you deal in the tangible, RFID tags may be the next investment to help grow your business.

Cell Phones

Landlines were clunky and inconvenient, forcing users to be at home or in their office in order to make or receive phone calls. The arrival of the cell phone made it possible for anyone to make or receive a call from practically anywhere. Smart phones have taken the idea of mobile cell phones to an entirely new level; now users can text, email, or browse the web with a device that fits in the palm of their hand.

For many small business owners, the invention of cell phones was bitter sweet. Cell phones mean that you don’t have to be on site all the time, but they’ve also made us slaves to the job, since anyone can be reached at any time. Now instead of fostering productivity, some argue that they are a huge distraction. For one small business, Apple Austin movers (see website, Facebook & Yelp), cell phones have been a mixed bag. Rudimentary cell phones were already on the market when the moving company opened shop in 1991, but it wasn’t until a decade later that nearly every employee owned one. They’ve made life easier for the owner, who can now keep up with his office staff and movers no matter where he is, but they’ve also caused some headaches. Now it’s really difficult to separate personal life from work life, since he has the same phone on him at all times. Additionally, like many companies, there is frustration over wasted time when employees make personal use of their phones during business hours. This goes to show that not all disruptive technologies are all good.

Emerging Beacon Technology

According to Business Insider, beacons are small hardware devices that use Bluetooth connections to transmit messages directly to a phone or tablet while the user is within close range. This makes for a more interactive and informative shopping experience for the customer. For example, Alex & Ani (Facebook & Instagram), a chain of jewelry stores based in Rhode Island used the technology to engage customers in enhancing its store layouts. Many other companies use beacon technology to push out coupons, discounts, loyalty programs and in-store events while customers are nearby. In addition to use by businesses, beacon technology also has applications in healthcare, event planning, educational institutions, and even at home.

If you own a retail shop or restaurant, using beacons could really bolster your business. And the best news? These small devices aren’t that expensive.

These are just a sampling of the technologies that are currently disrupting business. They may not all be applicable to all companies or industries, but you may want to consider the impact the could have on your small business.

 

 

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How Technology Has Forever Disrupted Small Business Marketing

Today’s consumers have a wealth of information literally at their fingertips. Just a few years ago, traditional marketing for a small business consisted of ads in local newspapers and magazines, billboards and signs, and maybe even purchasing commercial time on a local radio or television station. The rapid advent of technology has profoundly impacted the way small businesses market their products and services. In order to keep up with the times, small businesses have to reassess their marketing strategies to incorporate and function in the rapidly changing digital world. As the tools change, the small business has to shift its initiatives to accommodate technology and social media.

As we examine some technology considerations for small businesses in the modern world, we’ll look at some examples from Austin-based businesses. This tech-friendly city is home to enough techie start-ups that it’s been dubbed the Silicon Valley of Texas. Thanks to the influence of technology companies, many of Austin’s small businesses are early adopters when it comes to integrating new technologies:

Website

web-design

A website is absolutely critical to your small business. According to Austin lead SEO consultants, Moonraker SEO, the majority of internet users will research goods or services online before buying, even in the local market place. Customers need the ability to find you and communicate with you digitally. In addition to providing a communication platform, a website provides you with the means to share details about your products and services, customer feedback, and photos or videos to attract customers. Not only does your site have to exist, it also needs to be easy to navigate, educational, engaging, and discoverable. To be discoverable, your site must be search engine optimized to have the best chances of ranking in users’ search results. Today, having a digital marketing strategy is a must.

Social Media

The explosion of social media provides endless opportunities for the small business owner to communicate with current and prospective customers. Whether through a Facebook page or a Twitter account, or by participating in an organized application, such as Groupon, social media is a valuable tool. Social media technology enhances the age-old marketing technique of word of mouth and allows you to interact with customers and encourage them to share your product information with others. Austin’s beloved pizza place, Homeslice, has over 14,000 Twitter followers and uses the platform to keep its loyal fan base up-to-date on everything from special events to daily specials. Their prolific use of social media is likely one of the top reasons this place is always crowded!

Just as social media can be used to promote your business, negative comments or reviews can spread like wildfire. You have to stay on top of social media to address and resolve negativity as it occurs.

Email Marketing

One of the most cost effective ways to reach a large number of customer to market a product or service is through email marketing. Email marketing provides an ideal means to share information, promote new products, offer discounts or share information. Digital newsletters add interesting content to entice customers. No longer do you have to spend money on mailers – with email, reaching customers is FREE. Austin-born lifestyle brand, Kendra Scott, does a fabulous job of keeping customers wanting more with its glossy weekly emails touting new products and flash sales. A solid marketing campaign is no doubt one of the reasons Ms. Scott now has dozens of stores across the country.

Use of In-House Technology

For businesses with brick and mortar locations, in-store technology is another rapidly changing arena. Technology such digital signage allows businesses to capture the customer’s attention and market specific products. Innovative point of sale systems provide employees with real-time information about a customer’s preferences as well as inventory tracking. Portable point of sale systems, using cellphones and tablets, provide easy transactions and eliminate the concept of standing in line to check out. These new technologies have enabled small-time businesses to provide their customers with a less cumbersome way of collecting money than insisting on cash or check. Take, for instance, vendors at Austin’s City Wide Garage Sale, Austin’s monthly vintage market featuring wares from antique dealers and fine junk aficionados from all over the state. In previous decades, vendors had to keep lots of cash on hand to make change or hope that customers had their checkbook. These days, you’ll see many vendors swiping credit cards with a simple device attached to their phones.

Cellphone Marketing

Cellphone marketing allows the small business to send text messages to alert customers to specials and promotions. Many businesses have cellphone applications to provide information about products, provide coupons and offer discounts to customers. Customer loyalty cards are rapidly being replaced with cellphone apps. Some businesses, like Rick’s Dry Cleaners, make practical use of cellphones by sending text reminders that their order is ready for pick up.

cellphone-marketing

A small business has to embrace technology to survive in today’s digital world. Like it or not, businesses need to have strategies in place and budgets to allow for digital marketing to provide service to today’s technologically savvy consumer. Businesses have to keep up with current digital trends in order to compete in today’s marketplace.

 

Find out more about the Austin businesses featured in this article:

Moonraker Marketing

2401 Winsted Ln

Austin, TX 78703

(512) 234-3690

 

Homeslice Pizza

1415 S Congress Ave

Austin, TX 78745

(512) 444-7437

 

Kendra Scott

3800 N Lamar Blvd

Austin, TX 78756

(512) 879-3422

 

Austin City-Wide Garage Sale

900 Barton Springs Rd

Austin, TX 78704

(512) 441-2828

 

Rick’s Cleaners

3411 N Lamar Blvd

Austin, TX 78705

(512) 323-0188

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Modern Moving Day Gets a Boost

From pioneers who moved all of their possessions via wagon on the rough Oregon Trail to the modern day family who hauls their stuff from one suburb to another, moving has long been the bane of the American existence. Census bureau data indicates that nearly 12% of Americans will move this year, but thankfully, technology is continually evolving to simplify the moving process.

Back in 1945, Sam and Anna Mary Shoen created a company that one might argue was the first disruptive innovation in the moving industry. Looking for a way to economically relocate from their home from L.A. to Portland, they were shocked to discover there were no DIY truck rental options available. Seeing the need for this, they went on to found U-Haul, which today, still helps millions of Americans move for less than hiring a professional moving company. Clayton Christensen, a professor at Harvard, first recognized the term disruptive innovation in 1995. U-Haul would meet his criteria for a disruptive innovation because it disrupted the traditional model for moving, displacing the standard professional mover and allowing individuals an alternative means of getting their household goods from one location to the next.

As we move further into the 21st century, there are a number of technologies that have continued to disrupt the moving industry, while improving the overall experience of those moving. Here we look at three ways the moving process has been improved by contemporary technologies:

Finding a New Place

There are many reasons that people move – a new job, to be closer to family, change in climate, or just for fun. If one can help it, it’s ideal to find a new abode before packing up your old one. In the olden days, one had to call a realtor and sift through print outs of MLS listings. Having MLS access cost thousands of dollars, a year, so it wasn’t a service attainable to the average Joe looking for a house. Realtors were the gods of real estate; they held the keys to Oz in their hands. Then came Zillow.

While Zillow can be a realtor's nightmare, it makes it easy for consumers to search for houses on their own.

While Zillow can be a realtor’s nightmare, it makes it easy for consumers to search for houses on their own.

An article recently published by LinkedIn makes the assertion that Zillow is like the Uber of the moving industry. Uber came in and flipped the taxi industry upside down. Now, with Uber, practically anyone with a car and valid driver’s license can offer transportation services like a taxi would. Gone are the days of needing to obtain a pricey taxi license and overpriced fares. This revolutionary technology makes hitching a ride cheaper and easier for riders as it better matches market demand and supply.

In a similar vein, when Zillow was introduced almost a decade ago, it greatly reduced people’s reliance on a realtor to help them with the home search. With Zillow, anyone can see what any house on the market is going for, and even go on a virtual tour through pictures or videos. No longer is access to the MLS the golden ticket to a real estate agent’s success. This isn’t to say that realtors are necessarily the ones facing “displacement” by this technology. As Brad Inman points out, agents are still “grinders”; they are absolutely essential to negotiations, closing, home inspections, titles, appraisals, and more. Some would argue that Zillow’s technology merely just disrupts the real estate advertising industry. Fewer real estate agents place ads in newspapers, in phone books (do those even exist anymore?), flyers, etc. Now the industry is all about having an online presence, which Zillow enables with its Zillow Premier Agents, a title anyone can by for the right price.

But what Zillow may most disrupt is the National Association of Realtors. This age-old professional organization gave birth the idea of online, publicly-available listings when it launched realtor.com back in 1996. In the last 2 decades, this site has been outranked and outdated by the highflying Zillow platform, which some argue threatens to eradicate the Association’s importance. Over the past year, Realtor.com and Zillow have gone head to head in legal battles. It’s yet to be seen who will emerge on top.

Getting Rid of Stuff

After locating a new home and signing on the dotted line, the next natural step is starting to pack up. Most moving experts, like Great Guys Shipping, which specializes in long distance moving and car transport, suggest that you start packing at least a month in advance of moving day. This includes not only packing boxes, but arranging for things like auto shipping. But before you bust out the boxes and tape, you will want to start purging unwanted items prior to the moving truck’s arrival. Hanging onto worn-out, unwearable, and unusable things just costs more to move and is a headache to unpack. Enter Craigslist.

If you're not in the giving spirit, you can sell all of that unwanted stuff you've accumulated over the years on Craigslist or cPro.

If you’re not in the giving spirit, you can sell all of that unwanted stuff you’ve accumulated over the years on Craigslist or cPro.

Craigslist has long been a household name. Since its inception in 1996, the online classified has allowed millions of people to arrange everything from selling their sofa to buying a used car. Originally a pretty rudimentary desktop application, Craiglist now comes as a sleek mobile app, under the name cPro or cPlus. Craigslist challenges traditional newspaper classifieds, another dagger in the heart of the dying printed newspaper industry. Now it’s easier than ever to snap a picture of your old stuff, post it to Craigslist, and see who’s interested. There’s no need to haul your entire living room set outside so curious neighbors can pick through your things at a Saturday morning yard sale. Craigslist makes purging before your move pretty convenient and pain-free.

The Actual Move

Finally, when it comes to the logistics of the actual move, there are several new movers and shakers rattling the professional moving industry. Leading the charge is Dolly, a pioneer in the moving app niche, which has already raised $8 million in funding. Instead of hiring a professional mover or renting a U-Haul, now people moving can use a convenient peer-to-peer app for those hard to move items like couches, tables, etc. The app looks to eradicate having to bribe a buddy to borrow his truck for an upcoming move. Instead of hassling friends, one can arrange a pick up with a local truck owner who will come pick up the load either on-demand or at a scheduled time. Dolly helpers, much like Uber drivers, have been vetted and background-checked by Dolly. Additionally, all payment occurs seamlessly through the app, so there’s no messy exchange of cash or checks.

Dolly allows consumers to easily find local truck owners who are willing to help them move a load or two of things.

Dolly allows consumers to easily find local truck owners who are willing to help them move a load or two of things.

Not only is Dolly convenient for moving an apartment, but according to the Dolly site, the service is also useful for making charity donations, picking up Craigslist finds, or getting your new washer and dryer set home from the store. Dolly found initial success in the Chicago market, and has since expanded to Denver, Salt Lake City, San Diego, and Seattle. And Dolly isn’t alone – there is a plethora of other similar apps including BuddyTruk, Wagon, and Lugg, among others. Yet, most moving companies aren’t quaking in their boots. These new apps take little business away from most moving companies. None of these apps is ideal for long distance moving, as they primarily target small, local moves. Dolly seems to best cater to Millennials who would otherwise borrow a friend’s truck. It may take away a small chunk of business from local movers who specialize in apartment moves in major metropolitan areas like Chicago or New York City.

Even with all of the advancements in technology for the moving experience, it can still be a real drag. Now we just need someone to master teleporting…

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How Meal Delivery Services are Shaking Up Dinner Time

These days, it seems families are busier than ever. Between work, school, activities, volunteering, and socializing, finding the time to cook nutritious, unique meals is difficult. For so long, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and other fast-food drive-thru joints have been the only solution for grabbing a fast dinner on the go. In 2004, the documentary Super Size Me, starring Morgan Spurlock, shed light on the dangers of eating the highly processed and unhealthy foods these fast food restaurants serve up. More recently, documentaries like Fed Up and Food, Inc. have pointed out both the questionable practices of the American food industry and the importance of a well-rounded, balanced diet for one’s overall physical and mental well-being.

In the last couple of years, meal delivery services have been popping up left and right, offering an alternative to the traditional idea of fast food. They provide pre-measured ingredients and recipes so you can make amazing and healthy homemade dinners without the hassle of meal planning and grocery shopping. Read the descriptions below for more information about some of the most popular meal delivery services and how they can help you save time and your sanity!

Blue Apron

With services like Blue Apron, you can cook fresh, healthy meals at home without having to make a trip to the store.

With services like Blue Apron, you can cook fresh, healthy meals at home without having to make a trip to the store.

Blue Apron’s focus is helping everyone and anyone learn how to cook with step-by-step instructions and pre-measured ingredients. They deliver high-quality, sustainable ingredients to make dinners in a range of cuisines. Their how-to videos and interactive recipe pages make this the perfect service for someone who wants to expand their palate and skill set in the kitchen. Blue Apron’s website even offers a shop with pantry items, gadgets, and cookware you’ll need to stock your kitchen like a true chef. Meals are just $9.99 each for the couple’s plan and $8.74 each for the family package. You can choose your 2-4 meals from the weekly options for your plan; the couple’s recipes focus on seasonal produce while the family recipes are healthy but more kid-friendly. To see how this meal delivery service stacks up against the competition, get the full Blue Apron comparison.

Green Chef

With all so many other weekday commitments, making a healthy meal sometimes isn’t in the cards. It is often easier to pick up fast food or microwave frozen TV dinners. Green Chef provides organic, GMO-free, sustainably-sourced produce and meats to your door in a refrigerated box. You get the ingredients for 3 meals per week on the delivery day of your choosing, plus you can skip weeks if you want. This Colorado-based start-up also caters to more dietary needs than other services, including vegan, vegetarian, paleo, and gluten-free package options. Meals range from $10.49 to $14.99 each and take just 30 minutes to prepare!

Plated

Skip the French fries and make easy homemade meals with Plated.

Skip the French fries and make easy homemade meals with Plated.

Plated offers simpler, yet still healthy, meals in comparison with the other two services. That’s why it is great for people who aren’t looking for anything fancy, just some help with their weeknight cooking. You can choose from 9 new recipes each week, making this the most customizable service. They send just the right amounts of the ingredients you need, along with easy to follow recipe cards so you can try new foods and hone your skills with minimal effort. Plated also offers dessert recipes as an option for those who have a sweet tooth. Meals are $12 each and come in plans of 2-4 meals a week for 2 people.

Meal delivery services are the new answer to convenience foods. Rather than depending on frozen or processed junk, American families can order healthy, hearty dinners right to their doorsteps. This way, you can save time and stress by not shopping or planning, reduce food waste, eat healthier, and still spend less time in the kitchen than it takes to make a frozen pizza.

 

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