iPhone in Business

Kids Crooked House

A playful mission, powered by iPhone.

In 2005, Glen Halliday was concerned: His kids were spending too much time on the couch. But Halliday believed that if he could create something compelling enough, he might draw them outside and into imaginative play. So he went into his woodshop and emerged with a colourful, cartoonish, crooked playhouse. His children loved it — and so did family, friends, and neighbours.

Halliday’s company, Kids Crooked House, was born. And two years later, when a marketing effort resulted in a rush of inquiries, Halliday turned to iPhone.

Halliday experienced an immediate shift in functionality. “Right away with the iPhone, I noticed a difference compared to every mobile device I’ve ever used,” he says, “in the usability, and how it could be integrated into the business. With iPhone, we could really hone in on the business and be as productive as possible.”

Staying on track

iPhone was different from other devices in another critical way: It allowed KCH to develop custom apps to run their business. First among those was KPI, or Key Performance Indicators, which allows Halliday and his team to track metrics on the KCH website.

“At any given moment,” says Halliday, “I can tap into KPI on my iPhone to see where we are with web traffic, what kinds of conversions we’re getting, and what kind of requests we’re getting, whether it’s catalogue or B2B.”

And when KCH launches a new campaign or outreach effort, KPI can track that, too. “I can put that line item in and watch the conversions go up or down at a glance,” Halliday says. “And this is from a daily, weekly, or monthly analytic report that I can check wherever I am.”

In addition to KPI, Kids Crooked House developed an app called KCHQ to track project management. “When a project comes in, we enter it into the database, and it gets put into the queue,” Halliday says. “From there, it goes into production, and then it gets shipped. I can then look at our iPhone app, and it tells me where all of our projects are in the process.”

A visual experience

Among the key iPhone features at Kids Crooked House is the 3.5-inch display, not least because KCH’s products are so visually appealing. “Having the iPhone in hand when we’re talking with clients is a win-win for us,” Halliday says. “We show them different ideas, products, and colour schemes.”

“We’re a visual brand,” says KCH Partner Rich Rico. “We’re all about colour and design and funky angles and twists. What’s great about the iPhone is that I can view large PDF files from Glen, give my comments, and send that file right back by email. And within a matter of minutes, we’re making major design modifications and better meeting client needs.”

Halliday and his team also use iPhone’s camera to capture inspiration. “[VP of Sales and Operations] Amanda Pike can be out looking for accessories, take a picture, send it to me for approval, and buy it there on the spot,” Halliday says. “Or I can be out and about, see a colour that feels right or a scene that works, and send it to Amanda. And she can give it to the guys out back so they understand my vision for the build.”

In fact, Halliday views iPhone as a “window into imagination.” “It allows me to get online, look at different images, and save those images for inspiration. It allows me to use a brainstorming app called iBlueSky to organize my new ideas. And then I take that inspiration to the customer, to kids.”

Deep into apps

Now that they’ve been with iPhone for a few years, Halliday and his team are deep into apps, with a long list of apps their business can’t live without.

“We use the Carpenter app at a lot of onsite installs,” Halliday says. “It makes it very easy for levelling and getting angles. It saves us from bringing tons of tools to the job site.” When dealing with international customers, they rely on You Convert Pro, a currency conversion app, and Word Power, a phrase translator app.

“I’m on the road quite often and the Dragon Dictation app is extremely handy,” Halliday says. “Instead of having to stop and type, I can keep moving, record my thoughts, and send it to anyone via text or email.”

Halliday and his team use Travelocity and Kayak to book travel and WeatherBug to check conditions prior to arrival. “We do outdoor installs all over the country,” Halliday says, “and it allows us to know at a glance what we need to prepare for.”

VP Amanda Pike relies on an app called Time Master for help managing multiple elements of a project. “I can track time by task — design, carpentry, delivery. And I can track expenses. So when we’re out in the field, I can record costs and mileage. And all of those elements go into bidding the final project and help keep us on budget.”

Once packages are shipped, Pike taps into UPS to follow their progress. “It’s not a small package, so clients always want to know where it is,” she says. “And with the UPS app on iPhone, I can find out, at any time, from any location.”

For her part, Pike credits iPhone with giving her everything she needs in a single device. “My favourite thing about the iPhone is that it’s everything. I can do everything on it. I can email clients, call them, text them. I can manage my schedule, invoice, and track expenses. I can manage it all on iPhone.”

Company Snapshot

  • 7 employees
  • Based in Portland, Maine
  • www.kidscrookedhouse.com
  • Kids Crooked House has been featured on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, DIY: King of Dirt, and Jon and Kate Plus 8.

“As a small company, we make sure that every penny we spend gets a return. And that’s why we invest in technologies like the iPhone. It helps us stay mobile, connected, and current.”

Rich Rico, Director of Marketing

“What the iPhone allows me to do is basically have the company in my pocket at any given moment.”

Glen Halliday, CEO

“My favourite thing about the iPhone is that it’s everything. I can email clients, I can call them, I can manage my schedule, I can invoice, I can track expenses. There’s not really anything I can’t do.”

Amanda Pike, Vice President

An app for active play

Kids Crooked House has had a lot of success using custom-built iPhone apps internally. And now, they’re developing an app for public consumption: a Kids Crooked House Active Play app. Halliday explains: “It gives parents active play ideas, depending on the weather. It generates ideas for parents and kids to play together, or for kids to go outside alone or engage in active play indoors. It’s a way to keep kids active instead of dormant on the couch.”

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