Why your small business shouldn't create a mobile app

The Only Reason Your Small Business Shouldn’t Create a Mobile App

The Only Reason Your Small Business Shouldn't Create a Mobile App

There are so many fantastic reasons why your small business should create a mobile app.  The benefits are well documented and proven at this point.

As a mobile app provider I could run through the specific list of benefits you would see.  In most cases, they will fall under one of these categories: 

  1. You will increase revenue.
  2. You will enhance customer service.
  3. You will drive customer loyalty & retention.

These are great reasons to create an app, but when would I tell you NOT to create a mobile app?

When your business doesn't have repeat customers that come back on a frequent basis.

Let me explain.  I define a repeat customer as one who returns again and again to purchase your products or services. And I define a frequent basis as at least once every 3 months, preferrably much more.  The benefits of a mobile app will increase the more frequently your customers come back.

Downloading a mobile app is a very personal decision and the user is opening up their world when they choose to add an app to their phone.  The likelihood of a customer downloading an app for your business when they only purchase once a year or even longer is slim to none.

In most cases, I believe the following examples would not be a good fit for creating a mobile app.

When a mobile app DOESN'T make sense...

  • Realtor:  The average person moves every 5-7 years.  Although a customer might be repeat in this case, I don't believe they are consistent or frequent customers.  Why would a home buyer or seller want to download your app and keep it on their phone for the one transaction every 5-7 years?  Will they want to download a home search app (Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, etc.)?  Absolutely.  Will they want to download your app so they can hear from you consistently?  Unless there is serious value for them after the transaction is done the answer is probably not.
  • Roofing Company:   I just bought a 30 year comp shingle roof.  Am I going to be a repeat customer?  Maybe, but not for another 30 years unless a hail storm comes rolling through my neighborhood.  The chances of me seeing value in your mobile app and having a need for it is pretty slim.
  • Accountant:  Everyone files their taxes once a year and some will occasionally chat with their accountant several times throughout the year regarding tax planning.  Why would you download your accountants mobile app?  Maybe someone more creative than I am can think of a reason, but I don't see one.  For the several times a year I need his/her assistance I am going to call or email my accountant and I think most people feel the same way.

When a mobile app DOES make sense...

On the flip side, consider how these companies compare to the examples above:

  • Salon:   I get my hair cut once a month at the same Salon with the same stylist.  Am I a repeat customer? Yes.  Am I a frequent customer?  Yes.  Would I appreciate being able to book appointments, get special offers and access the Salon loyalty program all in one place, right from my phone?  Yes.  A mobile app would be a huge benefit to the customer and the salon in this case.
  • Restaurant:  I love Mexican food and my favorite place is right down the street.  I'm in there at least twice a month.  Am I a repeat customer? Yes.  Am I a frequent customer?  Yes.  Would I appreciate being able to place orders, get special offers and access their loyalty program all in one place, right from my phone?  Yes.  A mobile app would be a huge benefit to me and the restaurant in this case.
  • Gym:  I go to the gym 5 days a week and love the classes I can participate in.  Am I a repeat customer? Yes.  Am I a frequent customer?  Yes.  Would I appreciate being able to sign up for classes, view schedules and get special offers all in one place, right from my phone?  Yes.  A mobile app would be a huge benefit to the me and the gym in this case.


Are you starting to get the idea?  In most cases, an app makes a ton of sense for businesses that have repeat customers coming back frequently.  Although it's not the topic of this article, organizations that have an engaged community (think K-12 schools or churches) are another great fit for mobile apps.

Whenever we meet with a potential mobile app client one of our first benchmarks is asking - "Do you have repeat customers that come back on a frequent basis?" If the answer is NO, we are going to dig quite a bit deeper to determine whether a mobile app is really the right fit for your business.

How does your business compare to the examples above?  Are you having a hard time determining whether you should create an app for your small business?  Reach out and we'd be happy to provide you with some sound advice.

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PS.  Any business looking to improve communication with their audience and drive customer loyalty can benefit from a mobile app.  Small business owners in the salon & spa, bar & club, restaurant, retail, hospitality and nonprofit industries are seeing success with mobile apps.  Is a mobile app right for your business? CLICK HERE to find out.

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About the Author Tim Fitzpatrick

Tim Fitzpatrick is the President & Founder of Rialto Mobile Marketing. At Rialto Mobile Marketing we create marketing systems to help small businesses achieve simple, sustainable growth. We're the bridge between where you are and where you want to be.

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