If you’re retired, or planning on retiring very soon, you can stop reading here. You’re not going to find much use for this column.

Now, for the rest of you who are operating or working at your tree care companies for the long haul — no matter if you’re 25, 35, 45 or 75 years old — please pay attention. The message is this: If you’re not already doing so (shame on you), make an effort this year to start embracing and understanding technology. That’s right, technology — that means a smartphone, a tablet, email, the Internet, a computer and, yes, mobile applications.

For the sake of the present (and yes, the future) of your business, you need to understand how to use all of these things and how they can make life easier and your business more profitable. Let me explain further. I’m not saying you need to become a technology master, or a computer nerd. But you need to understand the basics of how to make technology work for you.

Newsflash: this is the 21st century. So many things are now done digitally over email and instantly on our phones, and this includes business matters. Want some examples? How about estimates, pricing, GPS mapping, tree and soil identification, invoicing, plant health care, client relations and note taking. You can do all of this from your phone or tablet, most for free, as you’ll read in the pages that follow. There are so many ways the smartphone that’s sitting in front of you right now can completely change the way you do business.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

For those who have staffs that work under you, it’s not enough anymore to rely on them to “do all the tech stuff.” You need to understand the basics for yourself, or you and your business could get left behind.

Take this example. A friend of mine works for a company that’s owned by a man in his late 70s (not a tree care company). This owner is smart and successful. But he is woefully behind when it comes to technology. He asks my friend to print, scan or email things for him because he can’t figure it out. He asks my friend to fix his computer when the screen won’t turn on (usually because something isn’t plugged in), or to fix his phone when it’s “broken” (usually it’s just in sleep mode). But my friend isn’t always around, and, when his boss is traveling, or on weekends, he still calls my friend often because he refuses to learn to operate the technology he pays to own. Eventually, my friend will leave this company and his boss is going to be out of luck, until he finds someone new to do all of these tasks. This is not a good situation, and I predict it becomes a vicious cycle. A business can’t survive this way for long. Not in this time period.

I do understand technology can’t replace a personal touch. After all, in this space last month I wrote about the importance of business cards. In certain instances, a handshake or a face-to-face meeting will always be more effective than a text message or a FaceTime call.

If you’re a tree care company owner, and you think you don’t have time for learning “new” technology, I urge you to make a change. Want to do more? Ask your kid, or a co-worker or employee, to show you how to use Google Docs, get emails on your phone, or whatever it is that you don’t know.

You’ll be shocked how easy it is.

Read more: The Best Apps For Arborists