Daniel, thank you so much for being on call with me today.
Yeah, thanks for having me. Utkarsh.
All right, so let's just start with a short introduction. Just tell us what you do at Greenscape and what Greenscape does?
Yeah. So I'm Daniel Currin, CEO of Greenscape. Greenscape is a commercial landscape maintenance and construction firm based in Raleigh, North Carolina. And we are celebrating our 42nd year in business this year. So we're excited about that.
Oh, all right. So let's talk about the solution that you started using from SiteRecon. So when, when we talked about it for the first time, what intrigued you about it?
Um, I think the first time, let's see, the first time we talked about it. I mean, I was just automating the measuring process. I think at first, when I first heard that the first time I was like, I've seen that before. There's a couple sites that do that, you know, when we measure it online, we've been doing that forever.
And then it was in further conversation, realizing that wasn't the solution and the tool that you are offering, you're offering to really fully automate the measuring. And that really caught my attention, because we spend a lot of time internally measuring online and that, you know, is as fast as that is, it's not fast. And so I was really curious about seeing how we could leverage that to save some time.
Alright, so when you say that you were thinking about automation? Did you actually work on a solution? Did you try something out? How did that work out?
No, nothing fancy. In regards to like automation, the thing that we had to do was, you know, again, trying to free up sales people to go do high value activities of prospecting and networking, and obviously making sales, we created an internal estimating measuring position, to do a lot of that sales support work that you have to do to be able to get a cost and ultimately a price for project. But we really weren't saving time, we just kind of moved the time around to different positions, which still had costs associated with it.
Yeah, so prior to this year, to COVID more so, we had a full time role, did sales support that did all of the measuring and estimating we did as much measuring online as we could, which is kind of the kind of the common way of doing things now, but still did some in the field too. But it was a one person's basically full time job to do that.
Understood. And so what intrigued you about the solution that we came out and talked to you about?
Yeah. So, you know, during COVID, when things slowed down for us, we downsized a little bit. And that position was open. And we as we were coming out of COVID and things on the sales side started to speed back up. We really were looking for a way not to kind of add back in that overhead cost of that full position and everything. And so came across SiteRecon and the tool that you created and saw the opportunity that it would almost do equal to or technically more than what that one position internally could do. So now our sales folks are using your tool to, to just basically very similar to how they would have interacted with our internal estimator. And to get properties measured, and getting all the data, they need to be able to put a proposal together and get a price to the customer.
All right, did you get to try something like that before? This was the first solution you came across?
Yeah, this was the first one that works, let's say how about that. One that really kind of made sense for us, you guys seem to really understand the industry really well, and have good insights and have built something that like works for us versus there are a couple things out there, we've tried that kind of on the edge, that kind of work. And then obviously, there are tools where you can do it yourself, but take a lot of manpower to do that work internally.
All right. So once you implemented the solution, what changed? What was the difference that you saw after the implementation?
There's several different things. One that I love and I think sales guys actually love it a lot, is just the speed in which properties are measured. In the past, you know, with that one person, one position (estimator) that was doing all that work, they start to backlog and you know, you got a new project, new lead that came in, and you, you know, hand it over to them to get it measured. And you know, you're talking like, oh, it might be a week, or it could even be longer than that, we have a lot of sales opportunities. And so this has changed dramatically.
So I think sales guys have kind of made it work as an opportunity pops up, you know, at the worst case, by the end of the day, they're entering in their new opportunities into your tool, and then they can go home. And by the time they get back in the morning, they've got an email with all the data from your tool, and then they're able to kind of move forward in the sales process.
So the speed of sales has increased greatly, we're able to do more sales, you know, kind of measure faster, or in more, so not just faster, but like, hey, if we've got 10 projects that we need to get cost on, we can put all 10 in the tool and get all 10 measurements back very quickly. And that's really, that's really cool too, because in the past, that was where that one position (estimator) was the bottleneck. And we'd have that backlog of multiple days or even, you know, a week or two, to get something measured.
And so the sales guys are seeing when they can get back to the customer faster, they can keep the customer engaged, and keeping the customer engaged is starting to increase their closing rates and things like that. So that's been, that's been really helpful.
So there's this speed of measurement. And with that, we're seeing some output in terms of more closer, it's because you get to spend more time with the customer. There isn't really a shortening of the scale cycle, I assume the sales cycle is still the same, but the output per lead changes.
Yeah, so that's probably true. I don't know the customers when I would say typically, we think of a contract sale being about a 90 day sales cycle from the time you initially meet with the customer until the time it closes. So that probably is not dramatically changing.
What's changing is how many sales cycles that we can be involved in at one time. Because that’s the part that we really control, right, the time the customer says, “Hey, can you give me a price for this?” to the time we give them a price we’ve shortened. So we've created more time in that part of the sales cycle. And then we're able to fill the funnel faster, you know, even if none of our other closing rates and things like that change. But by being able to fill the funnel faster, we're putting more sales through the funnel, which is really leveraging the cost of our salespeople and expanding what they're able to sell dollar volume wise on an annual basis. So a lot of great things from that speed.
Did you get a chance to think about the accuracy too? So we've seen that when the properties get large right, and there isn't a lot of time to measure them out, folks tend to take cut corners. They would zoom out and measure a property or just take shortcuts and then the errors add up. Maybe just use an average area of turf per house. Then multiply that with the number of houses. Did you get a chance to think about that?
I don't know if I told you this, but my first, my first job in the industry was commercial contract sales. Oh, and this is a while ago, 15-20 years ago. And so there was no online measurement or AI or anything, this was like me in a wheel.
If I didn't have any sales going on, or new opportunities, I was really good at measuring, I'd take all the time and go out there and spend, you know, two or three days measuring a property. But then as soon as I had a couple opportunities to get a measure, that's when I started really, you know, kind of cutting corners and saying, no, that looks a lot like that, and multiply by two or measure one building in an apartment complex, and just saying the other 19 of these, multiply that by 19, and all those kind of tricks you kind of learn, which when you have to put the time and energy and effort in and the cost of being a salesperson that kind of makes sense. It's not necessarily best for the company in the long run, but it was definitely best for me to like, produce as many sales as I can produce.
And so now, we don't, you know, you could say, oh, while measuring online, you don't have to do that. But still, time is time. So if you can cut time, we always, you know, we're like water, right? We go, least resistance and so we'll cut time in.
So now, what I like about this is it's kind of really taking the measurement out of my sales people. And even, you know, the sales support, estimating positions’ hands and we're getting full measurements back. And we're able to, you know, if there's something we want to change, you're able to adjust and stuff, but there's just no, I know corners not being cut. Because, I know, corners do get cut, because I've done the job. And then now the way we're doing it with your tool, I know they're not being cut, which is a good thing, I think in the long run, to make sure we're putting estimates out that have a true cost of what's gonna take to do the work.
Because the worst part is like, you know, labor costs are so high. If you're out doing bad work with your labor, meaning like, you know, a bad estimate, and you need X number of hours, you get x minus those hours, and you're over budget every week, you're not making any money, customers aren’t happy, you know, it'd be much better off to almost not do those jobs.
So now we're going into every project, not that our margins are going up or anything, but we're going in knowing where our costs are, that we can execute those, we've got really good confidence in the measurements, you know, that we're using from the tool.
Would you say this is something that's true for only larger properties? And this is kind of true for properties of all sizes?
Yeah, it's probably, I don't know, that's frequently I would say, definitely true for all. The thing that I see with small properties, you've got to be pretty exact, because you don't have much room for error, because you can't make up much and there's not ways to like kind of scale it. Larger stuff, yeah, you actually might be able to, like, you know, become more efficient on a larger property than you are small property.
But that doesn't cut it. I want to become efficient, based off of a good estimate, which comes from good measurements and versus becoming efficient, because we have a bad bad estimate from bad measurements. And we're, you know, we just kind of having to do whatever we can to make money.
So definitely, I don't know that there's a property size, that means like, Oh, this one's so small, you don't even need to measure it, right.
I think on smaller properties, you have, like less and margin to mess around with, because everyone bids in a very small zone. So if you just had a bit going up slightly, then you might miss yeah?
Yeah. And we use I mean, the other part too, is we sub out those parts of the contract, like an easy one to talk about is like lawn care we sub that out. The lawn care, the provider that we use, you know, we're giving him the measurements and and you know, and so when we measure well and give him good measurements, and then he can go out and also make money like we're trying to make money, so much better partnership versus every time he gets a job from us, it's underbid or under measured or whatever and he kind of gets screwed.
You know, so then a lot of times too, that's where he potentially come back to us going like, “Hey, you guys are saying it's x square feet, it's x plus, and I can't do it for that price, I'm going to need more money” and so on like day one, our margins kind of, we kind of shoot ourselves in the foot by miss measuring, because our, our cost of lawn care has gone up more than what we thought it was going to cost.
So yeah, so I think that applies to small property, big property doesn't doesn't matter at all, we're, you know, you're just kind of lying to yourself, if you think that not knowing the details of the job, you know, it's not important.
Hmm, makes sense. And so your sales process would have changed a bit, right? Considering that you are able to get back measurements faster, are you seeing some modifications there that you would like to make to the process going forward, the way you do interactions with customers, some new things that you could try out?
Yeah, we're. So the new thing we're trying out is, just because there's such a low friction to get the measurement done, which has always been the biggest time kind of suck when it comes to getting a price together. Since that, friction is just so minimal using the tool. So we're kind of going, maybe it used to have been, you know, - customer calls (step 1), meet on site (step 2), kind of figure out the scope (step 3), then measure and estimate (step 4) and then like, you know, proposed finally (step 5).
Now we're actually going - customer calls (step 1) measure property (step 2). And then, you know, estimate, which we're, you know, scope, we might not have the scope 100%. But we know, you know, in the market, what the scope is right, and then kind of meeting with the customer (step 3).
So we're coming in meeting with the customer, knowing least up a range that we think that project would cost. And so we're having a much more intelligent conversation with that customer from day one, the first time we meet them, versus that kind of what happens a lot in the industry is like, there's this kind of pre bid meeting, and people go and the customer is talking about, you know, it's kind of it's really elementary, because it's like, “okay, here's the property”, which if you look on the map, you can see what the property is. And, you know, to go “Yeah, we do something over there. And don't forget behind over here, and, and then also out front, we've got flowers and stuff”
It's a really waste of time in the sales process, because neither party is terribly intelligent at that moment. The customer is not really that intelligent about the service they're buying, all things considered. And we're not that intelligent about what's going to take to do that job for them. So it's not a great communication process.
But by changing that, and moving the measuring, estimating into before meeting the customer, we're now having a much more intelligent conversation with them, which is making them much more intelligent and giving us information back and, and so we feel like right now we're going into some of these bids kind of a leg up on the competition, because we kind of pulled the sales process forward and actually talking details and asking good questions and, and connecting with the customer on their budgets and things like that, which a lot of times wouldn't have happened in the old way.
So, yeah, we're doing that, and I don't have any data for you of like, is it better or not, but the sales guys seem to feel way more confident going into those first meetings with that information at the least. So...
I think that also happens because a lot of sales guys do not have direct operational experience. So when they go on to a property, and then they try to think about what's gonna, it's gonna take to service the project, It's hard to just come up with those numbers off the top of your head, and if you have that measurement done beforehand, it helps.
Yeah, no, that's a really good point. I'm thinking of one of our....we hired a guy. He has probably been with me about six months now. He came from outside the industry. He was in furniture sales. So he was selling to like, in the commercial space and had connections and property management and stuff like that. But he has no landscaping experience. Right? And so sending him in was like, in the beginning on these initial meetings and stuff. I mean, he's asking questions, he's doing all the stuff your salesperson is supposed to do, but he just has no answers, for the most part. And so he's been the one that has really enjoyed (using SiteRecon), because that helps him go walk in property and like, he just has intelligence now. Right?
And so maybe people with a lot of experience could walk into a project and go, “Oh, that's just about, you know, a $35,000 project” or something. But he couldn't do that. But now he's walking in and he can actually talk about budgets and understand the project at a much higher level much faster than if the old way of like, hey, if you want to do 100 of these, you'll finally get it figured out. Right. So that has definitely been our experience with him.
Awesome. And I think that also gives you access to a larger pool of sales talent to tap into if you're going outside the industry and kind of getting sales people from outside your budget.
Yeah, yeah, I think anyone in the industry would know probably the thing we are the worst at as an industry of sales. And that's probably because most of us do come up from the operation production side of the business. And that's fine.
The part that's kind of a shame on us is we're just bad as an industry of training salespeople that we bring up out of the operation side. So then when you're a bad salesperson, the only way you sell anything is being the lowest price, right. And so then it's a race to the bottom in our industry to just be the lowest price contractor to get in to get a job, which ultimately, is not a long term profitable solution. So we've definitely found really good salespeople outside of the industry who are like well trained and have come from good sales systems and realizing that, hey, we can probably teach them landscaping, way better than we can teach them sales. So, so we've been doing that,
But the crux in doing that, in the past has been when we were measuring stuff ourselves, that salesperson had to be like, you didn't have to be good at that or have to understand that...maybe wasn't doing all of it, he had support or whatever. But he had to do some and know some of that and be able to generate the measurement piece when putting an estimate together.
And so now using a tool, that's a much simpler process for him as well, one less thing to learn and get good at, and he can stay in front of prospects, at networking events, finding opportunities, and then having the tools to then get it measured and estimated and price correctly from the operations team, and then go make the sale, which he knows how to do. Whether it's landscaping or you know, furniture.
Right. And then there's this time lag, because the properties are being done manually.
So, yeah, that's, um, yeah, that actually, is that point is one of my favorites. So we used to have the one position and you know, it really is a sales person's job to be able to be prospecting enough to kind of if you will, kind of backlog that person. So they were always busy measuring and estimating.
But then sometimes we get so backlogged that it might be two or three weeks before we actually could get a project done. And so we're constantly in a kind of shift shuffling the schedule, trying to get to the higher priorities. And when we're thinking we can make sales.
It was, you know, but so when it was running poorly, it was fast. I mean, like, we didn't have a lot of leads or something, you know, we could get some measured quickly. But if we're running efficiently, it was very slow. And so what I love about site recon, is the idea that, you know, our sales people would come in every day, dump one project, dump 10 projects, into the tool, and, you know, buy the next buy later that day, or even in the next day, at the latest, if it's in the afternoon, have all of the measurements, all the measurements, they need to like be able to now price the project. And so the speed of sales has gone on through the roof drastically. So that's a really cool thing where we think right now, it's kind of been one of the early adopters in our market, we're actually probably able to get customers proposals faster than our competitors, which there's some value in that and but minimally, it just makes the sales cycle much quicker, which usually raises our closing rate up, you know, the longer slower the sales process is more drags out closing rates typically kind of go down. But we see the fast turnaround allows customers to kind of stay engaged and make a decision and usually want one that's in our favor.
So where do you get the most value from? Is there any other point that you found where you get value from it?
Yeah, probably the most tangible like just dollar value, if you went about that, we were able to reshape our sales process, we were able to eliminate the extra position of sales support, which was a cost that just went away. So that's like a profit decision, right,
And speed up the process, which, again, speed creates a higher closing rate. So there's some dollars there.
Some other things that we are doing as well, because of the like just a low friction, to get to get a project measured, same estimated, versus the really high friction before. As we're, as we're generating a lead, we're actually kind of pre measuring those, getting those into our system. So we have $1 value target when we're talking to a prospect, about, you know, what their contract should cost, and making sure we're in the range and sounding educated and knowing in much more detail how to communicate with that customer on the front end of our of the sales process, versus a lot of times, you know, you would talk to a customer, and it would just be finding out information and you wouldn't have enough information to say, like if a knowing if budgets were good, or be able to recommend something to a customer, because you just didn't have the detail, right.
But now, we have like, we can get that detail almost, you know, we can get the detail before we meet with the customer. And so that's, that's kind of new to our sales process. I don't have a lot of data at this point backing that up. But what we're seeing, we're just getting a much more like, if you will professional conversation with customers, because we're coming in, we're educated, we know about their project, we know what it's going to cost to maintain it. And we're having that conversation on the front end versus on the back end, where it's more salesy. So I think there's value there.
And then also the tool stores all of the data for us. And there's a lot of value there. And like all these measurements are organized, they can be pulled up anywhere, and we can refer to them and kind of take you know, look in detail at measurements while we're on site if we need to, and all that stuff. So there's you know, so that's a benefit too.
So I just wanted to show you some numbers for ROI (return on investment). Alright, so if you've got a salesperson working, working through the year, and getting you a million dollars of revenue, and you figure out how much he's earning you every hour that number comes down to $480.
And as a matter of comparison, in whatever he makes in an hour, on a platform like Go iLawn, or Google Earth, you know, the same data can be you can get the same date on site recon for something like $7, right, so you're getting that data for $7. And you can then go back and put that time into revenue that can get you $480 per hour. So this is like the unit economics per time that are working out.
And if you look at the per week model, if you are doing prospecting, lead, nurturing all the sales activities and splitting this time up. So we had a discussion over this we just split this time up as it happens in your team. And so we found out that it's $19,000 (revenue earned per week per rep). If you're just doing manual measurements, that's the revenue that you get. And with automation, the revenue potentially goes up to $22,000.
I think you know, on your first page with the salesperson who's going to make 100 K and sell a million bucks, I think the key thing there is like, you can't have a salesperson who is going to make a million dollars in sales, if they are measuring their own stuff, it's nearly like impossible, I wouldn't say it's impossible, but that is not the average. But when you take the measurement out, we've seen sales, people's productivity go way up, because they are able to focus on that higher value activities that you have listed out there, which really are like the highest value stuff, is people always gonna think that like making sales is the highest value stuff, it's like, no, that kind of making sales is, you know, some external result of doing the stuff upper in the funnel.
So when you add more time to, you know, your prospecting, your lead, nurturing, less time to your measuring, the funnel becomes way more efficient. And that's where you get that higher sales volume per salesperson. So I think that's 100% doable, when you remove the measuring, like you've done with the tool.
And then the other thing is, and we talked about this before, but I think it occurred to me that, you know, the type of sales we're talking about are typically contract sales. Even if the contract is just a one year contract, most contractors have a kind of lifetime value with the customer, that's probably in the three to five year range, on average. So that kind of extra dollars that you're talking about there that 3000 a week, I mean, you can almost multiply it by another, you know, three to five, based-off the lifetime value of that contract for the company. So that's a huge return on investment when you're able to save, you know, not so much the cost but when you're able to maximize efficiency of a salesperson to make more sales, and then have those sales, you know, stay in place for three to five plus years. So, yeah, that's probably conservative now that we're talking about it.
Awesome. So you have benefited from this, how do you see yourself using this going forward?
Well, my hope is that my salespeople that are not measuring are now prospecting and nurturing leads. And so our opportunities this coming year are going to go up, we're looking forward to 2021, being kind of like, if you will, a more normal normal year for sales and leads. And we think there's a lot of pent up demand, kind of because of a lack of movement in 2020, that will cause more opportunities, more projects kind of coming in for a bid. So we'll probably be relying on the tool a lot, this coming year to meet those demands and those needs. And like we talked about, they'll probably some of those will come on the same day, same week at the same time, and I'll need to be done. And this will help us to kind of meet that without totally burning out salespeople to meet the timeframes we sometimes get into with customers.
And then I think we'll, I think one thing we've discussed doing, it just kind of comes down to do we want to put the will probably maybe look at this winter, put the energy into it, going back to a lot of old projects, and re-measuring those because again, I can put all, you know, 250 properties in the tool, one day if I wanted to write and get all the measurements back quickly. And so it wouldn't be that big a task versus we've talked about doing that other winters past, the amount of time it would take somebody on our team to sit and measure and stuff has just never been realistic to do that. So we think we can find some operational efficiencies by using the tool to kind of confirm double check. And then as we renew contracts now that we're in, we're in a good spot now.
And what would you say to your peers in the industry who might not have heard about this tool or are sitting on the fence and like feeling apprehensive about adopting new technology? What would you like to say them?
Yeah, that's a good question. So, my peers, so my competitors, I would tell them to like turn this thing off and look away and don't don't worry about it. But my peers, the ones I love out there and have known for a long time, you know, I would say, you've got to take a hard look at this, if it fits in the sales process, it fits in what you need to be doing as a business to grow in scale.
So that's the one thing I really love about it, it's a very scalable solution. It's not just a tool, but it really is a scalable solution. So, for any peers out there that are growing their businesses, something like this will work for a long time to come, as you scale and grow, versus just a tool that you need to like, kind of repeat, repeat, repeat.
Any apprehension that you have the tool in terms of your new technology and technology not being the best driver, or I don't know, this is some apprehension about technology adoption in the industry.
Yeah, that's never been my problem. The actually, you know, a lot of times I find tools, tech, whatever that I like, I think it's great. I come back in, you know, “hey, so take this and run with it”. And, you know, follow back up in a week or two. And they're like, “What? Oh, yeah, I haven't looked at that thing at all right”. And it's sometimes very hard to get other people within the company to adopt stuff.
And this was not an issue really, at all. I mean, we picked up, kind of once we found the tool, we picked a champion to kind of, you know, be the point of contact and, and do all that. But it was not a problem for the rest of the team to kind of understand how it worked and what it did and start adopting. And, I didn't look at the numbers. You know, he said, spend about two months or so. And we've done what 30 or 40 properties already, in the last.
Yeah, so that lets you know, kind of like, I mean, sales people are using it, and we're taking advantage of it. And, and no one I haven't, no one has said they wanted to go back to the old way. So I think that's a good, that's good feedback.
All right, Daniel, thank you so much for that. And hope you keep trusting us with this in future.
Yeah, I'm glad to see new updates and where you guys are headed.