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May 1, 2024

Why power users win more and how to become one?

Shivang Shukla

The landscaping industry is going through a renaissance, isn’t it? We’ve got autonomous mowers. We’ve got IoT devices in the field that help you measure your productivity and track your jobs. And we’ve got never-seen-before mapping tech being developed and deployed by yours truly ;)

So many people are talking about using tech to make landscaping easier and profitable.

Here’s something that doesn’t get talked about that often though - how to use tech the right way.

Having worked closely with hundreds of landscaping companies, I had a few observations that I thought I should share with you.

All users are not created equal

Fancy line, eh? But what does it mean?

It means that just purchasing software that was able to help your competitors or friends isn’t guaranteeing success anymore.

A couple of years ago, you would’ve stood out in sales negotiations if you had automated takeoffs. It was innovative at that time and very few people were using takeoffs in sales conversations so it was a great USP (Unique Selling Point).

Now, so many guys do takeoffs before they submit their bid. Simply put, the playing field has been, sort of, leveled there. If you want to succeed, you’ve got to think beyond takeoffs.

If you’re using a software that has a hundred features and you’re only using, say, 5 or 10, then you’re not going to stand a chance against a guy who is using, say, 60.

You can start by familiarizing yourself with a handful of features, but as time goes on, you must dive deeper and see how you can make the most out of your investment in that tech. If not, you’ll eventually lose the competitive edge and be run over by guys who are finding more value by mastering that tech.

Let me give you an example here.

SiteRecon has customers like Rockaway Inc., Mulhall’s, Level Green Landscaping and Greenscape who have grown tremendously in the past couple of years. They’re beating competition 50X their size, closing 2X more and making hefty margins on the jobs they win.

Unfortunately, not all users are achieving this level of success.

The reason why some companies find crazy success with a software and others see only slight benefits is how they’re using the software. Guys at companies like Level Green, Rockaway and Greenscape are leveraging all the capabilities of the platform to their advantage.

They aren’t just satisfied with doing takeoffs.

They’re building inventory maps.

They’re creating site inspection reports.

They’re doing motion planning on the map.

We call these guys the power users.

Try to become a power user and see how things change. And I’m not just saying this for SiteRecon. You should do it for all the tech that you use.

How to become a power user?

Here are a few tips that will help you.

Explore with a childlike curiosity

Spend some time on the software and just play around. If you’re worried about messing things up, create a trial account. Click on buttons. Try out different things. You may find things you didn’t even know existed.

Did you know that you can measure parking lots and turf areas in 30 seconds for properties up to 5 acres?

Get educated

The software you’re using must have a help center or a guide. Study that thoroughly. If you see features that your company isn’t leveraging, but could be useful for your work, write those down.

If you’re a SiteRecon user, you can visit https://help.siterecon.ai/

You’ll find tutorials and use cases for all the features that we have on the platform. You can also schedule a training call at your convenience with our Customer Success Team and they’ll help you out (help is available 24/7).

Show and Tell

Just like your school days, sometimes it can be fun to show off something that you’re knowledgeable about and get others excited and curious about it too.

Encourage others on your team to do the same or gently point out some ways they could be (or rather should be) using it if they aren’t already.

If someone finds something you've shared with them particularly useful, make a note of it to add to a user guide or even offer to hold a little workshop that you can record.

Collaborate with your vendor

Once you’ve grasped all the features available on the software you’re using, you can collaborate with your vendor to build new features to suit your needs.

At SiteRecon, we build what our users ask us to build. We have a Core Development Group where we sit with our power users, hear their requirements and build features accordingly.

You can join our group by registering at this link: CLICK HERE

All these things that we talked about apply to other software as well besides SiteRecon. So you can apply these tips to whatever systems you’re using for takeoffs, estimation, job ticketing, site inspections, etc.  

Side note, on SiteRecon, you get all of the above in one software.

If you’re new to SiteRecon, I highly recommend checking out the platform with a trial account. I’m sure you’ll find something useful there. If you want a more personalized tour, feel free to book a demo call with us

Here’s the link to our calendar: CLICK HERE

In a meme

When you become a power user and your teammates ask you for help with the software.

May 1, 2024

From Tribal Knowledge to Institutional Knowledge

Shivang Shukla

Last month, when I posted on LinkedIn that I have been traveling around the states, one of our first customers, John Needles of R&S Property Services, commented on the post that I would be welcome to Philadelphia to visit their yard. 😀

I was in New York at the time, so I booked a Greyhound (lol yes, you read that right)

I don’t like driving - I can’t use my phone while driving, plus, coming from India, I am not used to driving in lanes at 60 miles per hour while reading road signs and without blaring horns. Greyhound is actually alright on a lot of routes, you should try it some time.

Here’s a photo of a Greyhound station in Milwaukee:

Fast forward, I am in their office, sitting in on their weekly meeting with production managers and they are going through the special requirements for different sites. On some sites they were prioritizing bed work - weeds and pruning; on others, it was about getting through the mowing.

They were still staffing up at the time but since spring had come early, the landscapes had started growing. Their approach - keep everything under control with the limited resources available.

After the meeting, he said something very telling 😮:

"I started the maintenance division for our company 2 years ago and in that time we have acquired 100+ properties. I know what the sites need and the little extras the customers would appreciate. If I could put that down for my team to pick up and run with, that would be huge."

Sounds familiar? 🤔

Account Managers across the country would say the same thing about not being able to share everything they know about the sites with the production guys.

Site information is tribal. It stays in pockets and doesn’t spread evenly throughout the team.

The urgent stuff that needs to be done right away gets shared and the rest gets buried. This leads to a host of problems:

1️⃣ Leaders/Business owners looking to offload client relations to new recruits can’t seem to succeed at it since context transfer is incomplete.

2️⃣ The level of customer service promised isn’t delivered. Subcontractors and crews may miss tasks.

3️⃣ Handovers aren’t clean, crews need multiple clarifications on what needs to be done on site.

4️⃣ If there’s churn i.e. Account Manager, Production Manager leaves - vital knowledge about the site is lost.

How is this solved? 🤔

Institutionalize a culture of documentation on job site maps. Million dollar insight right here!

By doing so:

1️⃣ All the data has a context of “where”. You just need to note an issue, the crews will understand where it is.  

2️⃣ Every stakeholder in your organization can access information anywhere, anytime.

3️⃣ Job site data stays with you even when your employees choose to leave. It’s institutionalized.

4️⃣ Property Managers are visual creatures. When your site inspection reports are on the map, they make it easy for the Property Manager to understand what’s going on. By making a part of his job easier for him, you strengthen your position as his go to guy. This pays off when the contract renewal season comes.

Imagine a site walk with me if you will.

Your Account Manager is walking the site and documenting issues on the map using notes and photos.  

He shares those notes instantly from his phone with the crew leader.

\The crew leader gets those issues sorted and adds photos of jobs well done to your notes.

The AM exports these notes in the form of pdf reports and shares with the PM.  

The PM is happy. Your issues are sorted. Business runs like a well-oiled machine. ⚙️

So close yet so far! 😬

John knew what he had to do about it - he had to sit down and document everything. Being a Siterecon user, he also knew which tool he had to use for it.

Tribal knowledge would be institutionalized. Accessible to everyone and for posterity. That’s how we have grown as human civilization. Transferring knowledge to our peers and down the generations to win over the planet. No other species is able to do that as efficiently as we do.

Easier said than done though…we all have tasks that we need to take care of but never get to.

How do I even start with this? 😵

If the following questions are popping in your head like bubbles in a freshly poured mug of beer, then you’re onboard the right train of thought.

Are you wondering:

How do I get my team to do this?

What is the guarantee that it’ll work?

How long will it take for me to implement this new process?

The answer lies in the following 4 steps -

1️⃣ Start small. Spend 20 mins a day in the morning documenting site information on SiteRecon. You will cover all your sites in 2 months.

2️⃣ Make it a point to open SiteRecon when you visit a site to take pictures and notes.

3️⃣ Share the maps with others in your team while handing over tasks and expect them to respond on the map.

4️⃣ Institutionalize the habit by requiring everyone to follow this practice. Use job site maps and site photos during production review, train new recruits to do it, make sure people leaving the team complete handover of their SiteRecon data to their peers.

Support from SiteRecon 🤜🤛

Site inspections will be a focus for us this quarter.

We’ll be working closely with our customers to establish an airtight process of documenting job site data.

1️⃣ Setup the mobile app and reporting mechanism to match your SOPs

2️⃣ Training on best practices from us.

When I say I’m your wingman, I mean it!

If you’re interested in doing this, and I mean seriously interested, book a call with our experts.

CLICK HERE

We have set up site inspections on SiteRecon for teams across the country and no two processes are the same. Yet, they are all able to use the same tool, it doesn't matter if you are the biggest private landscaper in the world or running a $500k lifestyle business.

What matters is what you resolve to do today.

Resolve to dedicate 20 mins to this every day. Sit back and relax while this boosts everything - customer satisfaction, upsells, retention and gross margins. 🔥🔥🔥

In a meme

May 1, 2024

Michael Mayberry on Robotic Mowers!

Shivang Shukla

I’m finally back in the United States.

I’ll be attending conferences all over the country, meeting with the guys who run the show, observing the processes up close, and as always, looking for opportunities for improvement. 📈

Talking of improvements, we’ve come a long way when it comes to landscaping tech, haven’t we? Yeah, I’m talking about robotic mowers. Man they’re getting better and better.

Pioneers like Level Green Landscaping have already started testing out these robotic mowers and I got the inside scoop from Michael Mayberry, CTO at Level Green, and my co-host at Beer Chai Future podcast on YouTube.

Here’s what Mike said about his experience in my own lightly edited words.

So, you're trying out some robotic mowers? 🧐

We are. We've deployed Husqvarna's little Roomba mowers on some of our sites. So we're definitely all in on robotics, we understand the benefits that it's going to bring in the future.

Ideally, should the small mowers even be considered right for commercial companies? 🤔

I would say that with commercial companies, you need to really identify the proper place to put a Roomba type mower. Just because you're a commercial landscaper doesn't mean that these mowers don't have any benefit to you.

We have deployed them in two different places. One, we've deployed inside a gated area, so that our teams don't have to go there and mow. It just stays mowed down. We just need to send one person through this gated area every week to do the touch up details.

But really, the benefit, I think, to the Roomba mowers for commercial maintenance companies is on athletic fields. That's where we deployed the second one - to a Bermuda sports field, because what it does is it gives that consistent cut look every single day for the client. They don't have to worry about us coming out, especially since the Bermuda field needs to be mowed 2, 3, 4 times a week. That's a lot of labor time that we are saving there. It also helps the client because they get that consistent look every single day of the week.

You can also schedule them. You can schedule them to mow at night while there's no practice or games going on. The great thing is that all that scheduling can simply be done from an app on your phone.

That robots work on cellular? You don't have to be close to them to do the scheduling? 😮💨

That is correct. Every robot has a 4g or 4g LTE data box in it so that it can communicate wirelessly.

How big of a field is it? And how long does it take for the robot to take care of it?  

A year ago they could really only manage to mow about an acre and a half. Now that's at least doubled, sometimes triple depending on the size of the mower. When we say an acre, we're pretty much talking about a square or a slightly oblong rectangle.

If the area is 20 feet wide, and the rest of it just runs straight back, it becomes problematic. The problem is the wire that needs to be laid starts to lose its electrical signal the further away from the charging station that it goes. So if your acre property just runs straight back, you're not going to be able to wire that entire piece because the electrical charge runs out. So you really have to think about the shape of the area as well, not just the size.

Typically the size of a football field, that is something that a mower could easily handle and easily keep up with.

The amount of time that we saved is is significant, because we used to send an operations manager out there and there was an expensive mower just for that property, then we had travel time - both directions - plus the time it took to mow the field, get the machine out, put the machine away, clean machine off and that time stuff.

We're saving almost an entire day's worth of labor from an operations manager just by putting these machines out there. So in that case, it paid for itself in the first year.  

What happens in the winter? Do they stay around?

In the winter, we pick up the robots and bring them back to the shop; the charging stations can stay out there. They're weatherproof, it's fine for them to stay out there, but we don't want the robots growing legs and walking away in the wintertime. 🤣

We pull them back and do a little bit of maintenance. The blade is the only thing that needs to be maintained really, and then we put them back out.

How does the Property Manager take this? 😕

It was a little bit difficult at first to convince the property manager that this was the way to go just because they didn't necessarily believe it was going to give them a consistent cut.

Some of the other challenges that we had is because it's an athletic field, we had challenges with the mowers getting caught up in the nets. We just went out there, watched what was happening, did some tightening of the nets and were able to fix the issue.

There’s a little bit of a learning curve with these things. I think as it becomes more mainstream, we’d have less and less issues and customers will become more accepting of these machines.

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