I got a text recently from our fearless leader Marc at HomeFixated headquarters. He wanted me to take a look at the new Home Depot Pro App, to see if it might be a useful tool for contractors. (Apparently with 168 levels of Angry Birds on his phone, he was out of storage). The Pro App is a mobile app designed to provide a robust assortment of useful and customizable features for pros. As it happened, I was IN Home Depot when I got the text; I took this as a sign I should take the Home Depot-sponsored assignment.
When it comes to tech, I am NOT on the cutting edge. Actually, I’m barely on the blade. According to research done by the Home Depot, though, 93% of general contractors and 87% of subcontractors use some sort of mobile device at jobsites. The Home Depot’s Pro App is one of the only solutions-oriented apps specifically designed to meet the needs of professional builders, and it was designed based on the wants and needs of actual pros. When Marc told me about the project, he said to download the app and play around with it a bit. I fired up my trusty Droid, texted “PRO” to HDepot (433768), and followed the link that was texted back to download the app.
I was very proud of myself, until I noticed the message on my screen: “App is not compatible with this device.” What the heck, I thought; the phone’s only a bit over four years old. Apparently in tech years, that classifies it as a museum piece, and even though it still worked fine (well, MOST of the time), it was starting to have some reliability issues. For that reason, and since there had apparently been some technological advances I was missing out on (like cameras that have Bluetooth, and take decent pictures), I decided to sell my soul to Verizon for another two years and get a shiny new iPhone. The Verizon rep promised me that with this phone I could run ANY app, while simultaneously ending world hunger, bringing peace to the Middle East, and becoming irresistible to the opposite sex. (Oh well, two out of three ain’t bad)…). But I digress.
After a brief iPhone familiarization session (many more of which will be required), I downloaded the Home Depot Pro app, this time with no demeaning comments, and launched into it. The app allows you to select a “home” Home Depot, and specify a few alternate locations as your default stores when checking for inventory. After entering a little customization info, I started to explore the features.
The Home Depot Pro App—Getting Organized 101
One very useful feature gives you the ability to reduce paperwork on the job site – the Pro App allows you to gather receipts and customer service agreements on your mobile device to stay organized, and have less paper lying around. I particularly like having the ability to add in older receipts; I added in a few, from various dates going back about a year and a half, to test it out. It accepted them all. If your phone is scan-capable (like mine now is!), just scan in the bar code off the receipt. If not, just type in the receipt number and date, printed just below the bar code. Either way, you can also add a job name to associate with it. This is a huge help in keeping organized.
Once the receipts are in, there’s a lot you can do with them; the summary shows the date of purchase, total spent, and job name. There are options below it to allow you to view the actual receipt, get info about the specific store where the purchase was made, or generate a list of everything in the order.
This is a VERY slick feature; it actually gives you a scrollable list of each item, with a picture of it, the SKU and model number, a brief description, and in most cases the price. The items are clickable; when you do so, it brings up another list of options, in which you can get detailed specifications on the item: size, weight, type of product, warranty info, and a lot more, including the ability to check Material Safety Data sheets, always good for a bit of light reading.
Also available is a detailed description of the product, the opportunity to write a review of it, and the capability to add it to a list of items to purchase. This is really handy if you bought a particular product, need more, and can’t quite recall its name or color or whatever (not that that ever happens to ME, of course…). The Home Depot Pro App lets you check the inventory of your chosen Home Depot stores, showing quantity on hand, and even telling you the aisle and bay number! Using the Home Depot Pro app, you can easily make purchases right from the job site.
I used the app to create a list of stuff I needed to pick up from my local Home Depot. Since I have fat, clumsy fingers, I used the voice search function, which worked very well, quickly returning a list of mostly-relevant results. When the list comes up, you can refine the search to narrow it down to more relevant results by category, brand name, price, etc.
I created a list, and added eight items to it. One quibble: after creating the list, every time I wanted to add an item to it, I had to go through the process of choosing which list to add it to. I only had one list. I can see where you might want two separate lists, for instance if you were purchasing materials for two different jobs, but it would be much faster and less annoying if the app used the list you most recently added something to as the default, and only made you go through the extra steps if you wanted to choose a different list. Not a big deal, just not very efficient, especially if you’re creating a long list.
At any rate, once I had finished, the list summary showed the total cost, which was is a helpful feature. I took it to my local Home Depot store, and used it to fill my cart. The aisle/bay information provided was accurate for all the products I checked. I also checked out the scanner on several products. It worked well, bringing up all the relevant info for each product, along with the price. A couple of the prices displayed in the app were different than the price on the rack; the posted price turned out to be the correct one.
While I was there, I talked to the guys at the Pro Desk, and asked them about their experience with the app. They said their interaction with it is mostly to pull products from lists for orders that come in. They also said that when the product first came out, it had some reliability issues, but later versions have pretty well resolved them.
Other Handy Features For The Job Site
Getting ready to head out to a new site, or wondering what the weather gods have in store for you today? The Pro App can bring up local weather conditions in real time, so you can be prepared for anything. You can check the five-day forecast, or see an hourly forecast for the day, so you know what time the snow dump is coming. Or if you’re unfortunate enough to have to deal with the miserable weather in, say, California, you’ll know how much sun block to pack.
The Home Depot Pro app also includes some useful calculators and converters. There are dedicated calculators to help you figure out how much paint, carpet, insulation or drywall and screws you’ll need, based on the dimensions of your project. The converter tool can help you convert various units of measurement in area, length, mass, temperature or volume into OTHER units of measurement, for example square yards into square feet, meters into inches, Celsius into Fahrenheit, or ounces into six-packs. You can save the results of your calculations for future reference.
Other Xtras for Pros
The app also allows you to access Pro Xtra, The Home Depot’s loyalty program for Pros, from anywhere, linking you to personalized information at the touch of a button. The Pro Xtra program provides more tools to save time and money and manage your business, including project estimating tools and materials to help with marketing your business. You also get access to online receipts, and the ability to track transactions and export the details into any accounting software.
I’ve been signed up for awhile, and among my favorite perks of this program are the coupons that arrive periodically, providing savings, typically $5-25, on almost any purchase made. $25 off a $250 purchase? I’ll take it! When you check out at the store, they’ll also ask you if you want to add a job name, which will show up on the receipt, another nice way to stay organized.
Also available through the Home Depot Pro site is access to another tool: EagleView. Contractors can use the Home Depot Pro’s EagleView 3-D aerial technology for job site measurements anywhere, anytime. I have no personal experience with this product, but according to the website, this program allows the user to gain a bird’s eye view of the project at hand. With EagleView, you’ll get a discounted aerial photography tool that takes accurate roofing and wall measurements and converts them into an exterior building materials list.
The Home Depot Wants To Keep Pros ‘Appy
The Home Depot’s Pro offerings provide advanced technology in a system of easy-to-use, efficient tools for professional builders and contractors, both in the home or office and on the job. Roughly 60% of construction professionals said mobility is important when considering IT solutions, and the Home Depot Pro App makes it easy to take everything you need on the go, from receipts to in-store product availability. Whether you’re a general contractor, builder, painter, carpenter, roofer, plumber or other construction pro, the Home Depot Pro App’s contractor-grade features are tools that can help you run your business, jobs and projects more effectively.
My experience with the Home Depot Pro App was positive. It installed easily on my iPhone, ran quickly with no technical glitches, is fairly easy to navigate, and provides a lot of useful capabilities I didn’t have before. My favorite features? The ability to store and access receipts online, the ability to use voice search to check product pricing and availability, and the ability to put together and place an order, and pick it up two hours later at the Pro Desk—all from my cell phone. Not bad for a low-tech geezer!
My complaints? The slightly cumbersome list navigation, and the fact that, when trying to add some products to the list, I got the message “Couldn’t add item to list at this time, please try back later.” I got this message for a product that showed over 400 units in stock. After adding several other items to the list, I tried again, and that time it worked. Not sure what the issue was, and it resolved itself, so just a minor annoyance. Another list-related issue: when viewing the list while in the store, I clicked on various items to check the aisle location. After getting the info, hitting the Back button returns you to the home screen, rather than the list. One final addition to the wish list: it would be nice if the screen would rotate when you turn the phone sideways, to give a wider view.
The Home Depot Pro App has over 260 reviews on the Google Play site, for the Android version. The average rating is 4.3 out of 5, and some of the low ratings are for earlier versions, which apparently had scanner-freezing issues. The most common complaint is force closes, which may be specific to certain devices; some users had it happen a lot, some never. The version for iPhones, on the iTunes site, has 96 reviews, including 75 five-star and 10 four-star ratings.
The Pro App is available for free and can be downloaded on iOS and Android systems by texting “PRO” to HDepot (433768). You can get current product updates and savings opportunities by checking out The Home Depot’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and their Pro YouTube Channel has a wide assortment of product demonstrations and recommendations, tool reviews, and how-to videos. Now can someone please tell me where I can get some lessons so I can be as smart as my phone?
The Home Depot partnered with bloggers such as me for their Pro Technology program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any product mentioned in these posts. The Home Depot believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. The Home Depot’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.