Monroe businesses should upgrade with apps to keep up with social trends

An Editorial by Robert Kenneth Wright

Monroe is the hub of technology in Louisiana. We are the home to the third largest telecommunications company in the country. That should speak volumes for the people of the city, but I don’t think many people realize how we should fit that description.

Last week, North Louisiana’s legislative delegation spoke at a Chamber luncheon at the Civic Center. They spoke about the financial woes of the state and how the changing technology is making it difficult to collect taxes. They spoke about health care and crime. However, State Senator Mike Walsworth spoke about the need to capitalize on CenturyLink and the type of employees it demands for its operations. There is a cry in the public that we need more jobs. Are we ready for them? Are we the type of people who could maintain the type of jobs or the lifestyle of that of a modern telecommunications company?

Companies like CenturyLink are looking for tech-savvy workers. They are also looking for people educated and knowledgeable about how technology works and how to better get its services to customers. This type of worker is not only good to work at CenturyLink. This type of worker could most definitely be good for himself in generating his own business.

Monroe businesses should upgrade with apps to keep up with social trends. Last week, dozens of people flocked to the City Council chambers to hear the verdict of the council’s decision to allow Uber and Lyft ride-sharing services to operate in Monroe. This will be a perk to employees of big companies like CenturyLink, but also to tech savvy citizens of Monroe who prefer to use their app to pay for a ride and know where their drivers are at the click of a button on their phones. We may be a small town in the South, but there are thousands of Monroyans who like this type of service. But Uber and Lyft aren’t the only app driven services.

There are businesses created around apps. Their services are created through the app. There is no location, no office, no overhead. The only expense is the creation of the app and the monthly fee to host it. The rest is profit. Uber and Lyft make billions on the back end of the ride-share operations. The drivers do the bulk of the work. Could local businessmen create apps to drive more customers to their operations? Yes….and more can and should.

When I was a kid, I used to get my haircuts at Stamper’s Barber Shop, Downtown Monroe. Wardell Coward was my barber. We’d have to go to the shop and take a number in order to be placed in line. If your number was called and you were not there, you’d get skipped over and you’d lose your spot. It’s the same process similar to what happens when drivers go to the DMV. I wonder how different the experience would have been if Stamper’s had an app of which you could ping the barbers and reserve your spot, then the app would let you know how far down you were in order to be seen by your barber. It’s still a needed tool and many locals would greatly appreciate the app, for we just don’t have the time to sit around waiting for a turn in the chair. Local barbers and beauticians should look into it.

There is already an app service in other cities called Washe’. This company comes to your residence or place of business and washes your car for you. The customer pays for the service in the app and indicates where the car is located. The company doesn’t need your keys or access to the interior. It merely shows up, does the job, and moves on to the next. The same could be provided for businessmen who operate lawn maintenance services. Imagine the customer’s appreciation to be able to reserve a lawn maintenance crew to cut grass at their home, pay for it on their app and don’t have to be at home to verify the work. The maintenance man could take a photo of their completed yard and instantly send it back to the client, letting them know that services were complete.

Schools, churches, government agencies, and many other types of business could be more efficient and possibly save on costs by providing a number of services through an app. Today’s customers prefer facetime with a phone than with people. There are already churches with apps, where members can pay offering, tithes, and read the sunday school lesson and sermon from their phones. Schools could send text messages out to parents when a student checks in or notifies them immediately when a student is checked out or is tardy from class. Citizens could pay for their city bills through the app, and Public works could let citizens know when the pump stations are activated during heavy rains and if they are working properly.

There are many uses for apps. There are many uses for modern technology. Are we the type of city that is really ready to harness the power of this technology and be a technology city. That’s what companies like CenturyLink want to know. That’s what our customers want to know too. It’s time to upgrade, because the old way of doing business is fading away.