I don’t use the phone book. In fact, I’m not even sure where my copy of the Yellow Pages is placed. It’s been gone for months, and the only time I miss it is when I need to find a local plumber or electrician. It’s so difficult to find information on nearby contractors. No search tool or website can duplicate the concise listing of the Yellow Pages. That’s why I was excited to hear about Nearby Now, an iOS app for service professionals and their customers that helps to fill this gap.

The app lets service professionals create an account and check-in when they are called to someone’s house. They can check-in using the app, via SMS or by linking their Nearby Now account to Four Square. When they mark their location, their approximate position is saved to their profile. If contractors use it enough, they can create a detailed heat map of the locations they service.

This service map will help contractors find new customers. When a person needs a repair to their leaking roof, he or she can search Nearby Now for local check-ins. The homeowner could easily see that roofer Bob Smith worked on three houses in his or her town. The app not only marks a service person’s location; it also lets people review their service. When a service person works at a house, he or she can send the customer a satisfaction survey via email or SMS. All completed surveys will be attached to the worker’s account for others to see.

The app is a fantastic idea, but it’s relatively new and needs more service providers to become a useful tool. Getting people to use the app will be key. There’s been other similar services, but they’ve never taken off because only a few people used them. If the developers behind the app can entice contractors to use the service regularly, it could easily become the #1 tool people use to connect with service professionals. The Nearby Now app is free to use for both service professionals and their customers.

Daily iPhone App: Nearby Now originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 06 Jan 2012 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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