Level Green Landscaping

Case Study Interview

Pioneer - Michael Mayberry, CTO

Revenue - $23 million

SiteRecon adoption - September 2020

Source of measurements before SiteRecon - Go iLawn

Key benefit - Saved 250 hours in property measurements during peak bidding season

Interview transcript

All right, Mike, thank you so much for being on call with me today. Can you give a brief background about what you do and about Level Green?

Sure. So Level Green is a commercial landscaping company. And we maintain properties in the DC, Virginia, Maryland areas. We do mostly maintenance with enhancements and snow removal as well. Our property sizes range anywhere from small parcels in DC to very large hundred Acre properties in Maryland and Virginia.

Alright, and what's your role at level playing?

So my role is CTO, which is a role that you probably don't hear that often in the landscaping industry. So my responsibility is everything that is tech related in the industry, in our company. So anything from robots to software, that's, that's what I'm taking care of in Level Green.

Nice. That's quite a bit of range to look at. I think the first time we spoke about a property measurement solution, I think that was in February, when we met at the Lawn and Landscape Conference. So what intrigued you about what you were discussing? And what I proposed? Did you have a thought about this before? Like you saw it for the first time, then?

Yeah, so um, it was very apropos that we met at a tech conference, because this is something that I had been thinking about for a while and had been looking for a solution for but didn't really find anything that met our needs exactly. So when we sat down and discussed what the possibilities were, I was very intrigued by it, and absolutely wanted to follow up on it, because it's something that didn't really exist in our industry, and in our workspace, and I saw a lot of potential in it. 

So what we were talking about was property measurements and how we could go from what we were doing at that time, which was manually using a platform to go in and have someone click around a property and measure these turf areas and these bed areas. That was taking us a lot of time and, and therefore a lot of resources, because somebody actually had to do that. And then there were still other steps involved with that. So it takes a decent amount of time. And while somebody is doing that, they obviously can't focus on anything else. 

So the biggest benefit to this platform was kind of twofold: it happened faster than we could do it in house. And also we freed up somebody to go do something else, because they now are not having to focus on the so the benefit is not just the savings of time of one person, but the fact that we can also redirect that person on to something else. 

Right. And so just walk me through the process that you were following for measurement estimating take off before, and let's just see the different stakeholders that were involved there.

Sure. The process used to be that a business developer would get a lead from a potential client. And we would get an address to that property. A lot of times, we didn't end up with great boundary maps. So we would have to go visit the site first to kind of understand where the boundaries were. And then we would go into this web application and trace out the individual polygons for each turf boundary, each bed boundary, sidewalks, all of that, so that we could get these measurements to put into our proposal bids. 

That measuring was typically done by a manager trainee (MT). And because it would take two to three to four hours per property, in our main bidding season, there could be 20 or 30 properties stacked up for one MT to work through. So the amount of time that it would take for a person to work through these bids was a very long time and sometimes we need to turn bids around quickly so that we have a very short window to get all of this done. And this is just the first step of the process right. So measuring the property is...nothing else can be done in terms of creating this proposal until the property measuring is done. So it was taking us a very long time to do that and causing some friction within the company as we tried to move through the process. 

The great thing about SiteRecon now is we have eliminated all of that friction. And we can now submit these properties and we do not need to have somebody spend their time going through a map and clicking around a map, we can just get a good outline of the property and put the features that we want. And a few hours later, we get the results that we need.

The one thing that you mentioned once was the time to get the property map is quite significant. Because, you know, the management trainee is, of course, doing something else, then he'll fit into a schedule when he should measure it out. And then it's going to take that time to measure the property, just like there's a lead time to start measuring. And then there's the measuring time. And so just just just tell me how that helped, like squeezing this time down to a measuring time, and just just getting that data out in a few hours.

The ability to compress the amount of time in the beginning of the bid process is huge for us, because it allows us to do a better production review. And it allows us to spend more time focused on the client and, and figuring out what the client needs, rather than focusing on measuring property. So it allows us to quickly turn this around, do a production review, and then have a conversation with the client if we see something that maybe they need to be notified about. So the fact that we can compress this time down gives us more time to focus on the client, which is what we want to do in our sales process is focus on the client, not focus on trying to get measurements from the field.

Well, that's quite on point because that then helps tightening the scope of the job with the client. And I guess, actually, with the engagement that you have with that for that client, right?

Exactly. I mean, we want to spend our time finding out what the pain points are from our clients. and, we can do that better now, because we can focus on the client rather than focus on trying to get these numbers for the property.

Right. And so, manager trainees must be quite happy now, now that they don't have to measure properties. What did you put com back into, like, training or?

Yeah, absolutely. So you know, I think that that is a huge benefit to this platform is that manager trainee...it's good for them to go through the property measurement, because they then kind of understand how we put bids together. But that doesn't have to be 40 hours a week of clicking around a screen, I think a lot of the learning of how to do an estimate is actually going out into the field with the branch managers with the operations managers with the account managers to understand how they look at a property and how they view a property so that we can put this bid together. So it is excellent for manager trainees, because they get more time on focus training, rather than just sitting in front of a computer and clicking around a screen. Again, it has its benefit, but it is much much more beneficial to have them out in the field with the other managers in the company rather than sitting behind a computer screen.

What do you think about these data points? One apprehension could be that it's hard to trust a system to do something that a human is doing. And you feel like a higher level of control on that human, you can talk to that human, you can explain things kind of control and customize what he's doing to what you want and you feel like that’s not what you could potentially do with a software system. So what are your thoughts?

Yeah, so change is hard, right? Nobody wants to change. And there's a lot of uncertainty in change. So I completely understand people's apprehension about moving to a system that there is very little human involvement. And what we did to overcome that was we did checks at first and we took the time to follow up with these measurements to make sure that they made sense and were accurate to where we expected them to be. And once you do that, and you can prove, you know over 10 properties 15 properties 20 properties that these measurements are coming back where you expect them to be, I think that's how you build confidence in the system. And so the only way to really build that confidence is to, to do some checks to do some spot checks in the beginning to make sure that they do fit your numbers. And then once you've done enough checks, and you feel confident in the system, you don't have to do those checks anymore. And at that point, everybody should feel very, very comfortable about it. 

I know that there is absolutely, for most people, a higher level of comfort in communicating directly with a human being. However, SiteRecon makes the system very easy to give feedback so that if there are changes, or if something was missed, or if there's a complex measurement that needs to be made, you can communicate that very clearly using the platform because it gives you an opportunity to type in your feedback. And more importantly, provide screenshots that show exactly what you're talking about. And we have found that if you do a good job of explaining what you want, and include a good screenshot, we have not had any issues with that. And the communication and the back and forth, even though you're dealing with a system rather than a human being has been frictionless.

Yeah, I think we should give credit to the English language for enabling that communication, right? At the end of the day is just words, right? And we have kind of come to a common vocabulary on how to talk about these things. 

At Level Green, you have got business developers using it, you've got account managers. So there are a lot of different roles in your company that have come in contact with the platform. You mentioned account managers, operations managers, branch managers and business developers. And I think the management trainees also have had a look at it. So how has their individual experience been with the platform?

Across the board, it's been excellent, because the common thread across all of these different positions in our company is that we are saving time, and we are giving time back to people that they would not have had in previous sales seasons. So from a manager trainee, you know, we talked about them actually, you know, sitting behind a screen, so they've gotten a lot of time back. And an account manager then would have to spend a decent amount of time with the manager training, making sure that the property boundaries were correct, and that everything was measured properly. None of that has to happen. Everything is streamlined for branch managers so that they can see all of these properties in the system and go through and look and approve them all in one place. So it has made their jobs a lot easier. 

So not only has SiteRecon lessened the amount of time that we have to spend on getting these measurements. But they've also put the data in a place that makes it accessible and visible to everyone in our company, which is important. We need transparency in our company so that we can continue with our open communication. And site recon delivers that to us.

One thing I often think about is how to look at the time saved, as you are getting back some time, right? We are talking about metrics here. Time is a metric that you can look at in very different ways. So one thing I thought about is, let's say you are putting out a bid. It could have earlier taken you 25 or 30 hours to get it done, including what management trainee does, the business developer does, the account manager does going on to the site, just like adding all that up, it would take you somewhere between 25 to 30 hours. And with the platform coming into the picture, there is a potential that the savings of time that you get is not just at the level of not drawing the properties anymore, because that's what the management trainee was doing. There are some other savings that you end up getting too. This squeezes down the time that you spend on your sales process, right? So effectively, you end up saving the investment that you're making for the revenue that you're getting from the sales engine. What would you say to that?

Yeah, I think another thing, as we're talking about just time savings here. Another thing that this enables us to do is produce more bids with the same amount of time. So like you were saying if it was taking us 30 hours to produce a bid before, and we're now doing that in 10 hours, that means we can do three bids in the same amount of time that we used to be able to do one bid. So that allows us to bid more work. And it also allows us to focus more time with the customer. So that's really what our company is about is customer service. So we want to make sure that we're spending time with our clients. So whether that's an MT and AM and OM, a branch manager, whoever it is, even if they're not part, you know, tie directly to the sales process, the way a business developer is, because their portion of the sales process is reduced. All of those people can focus on the client, which is what we want to do. This gives us time back to focus on customer service. 

Yeah. All right. So I think we still have to run some quantification on that time. And we just done that on the site and see what those numbers come up to. But in terms of your, how you're looking at it going forward?

So definitely going forward, we plan to switch 100% of this over the next coming year here. Because we have done this as sort of a beta test in our company, just to make sure that the results were where we expected and that the cost made sense. And everything is aligning correctly for us. So we plan to move to this model as our only model in the coming year in 2021.

Thanks for that trust Mike. So how likely are you to recommend this to others in the industry?

Yeah, so I think that anybody then is doing a bunch of property measurement should consider switching to this service, because the amount of time that you will get back is just super beneficial. It allows you to focus on your clients, as we've talked about before. So if you are spending even a few hours a week during your sales season working on manually producing these bids, I would say really, really put some thought into giving that up and what else could that person be doing? And think about it from that perspective - is having somebody measure something on a screen or go out into the field and measure it with a wheel, is that really the best use of their time? Or is that just because it's how you've always done it? 

I think that that's what you have to consider when you're thinking about making this change. Are you doing it the way that you're doing it just because that's what's comfortable and that's how you've always done it? Or is it really the best way to produce what you are looking for? And I think if you think about that, in terms of property measurements, that measuring a property is something that can be automated, so that a human being can focus on what's more important. 

Yeah, I think, to your point there, when you don't have any other alternative to do it better, then you're going to do it in a particular way. But once you can automate, then you can make that choice.

Absolutely. And I think that's another way to approach this is if you're concerned about it, do it the way that we did it, try testing it out and compare the numbers to doing it manually compare the amount of time that it takes to doing it manually. And I think that you'll see the benefit without any issue.

Thank you so much for that, Mike. I'll definitely catch up with you on some referrals. If you would like to recommend this then. Thanks.

And please, please send anyone who is considering or wants to talk to a large company, please send them my way because I will be happy. I do that with Aspire. So send them my way. I'll be happy to talk to them about it. I think sometimes it's definitely better to talk to somebody within the industry who is using this and how much it has really changed their company. So please, anybody that is concerned or just send them my way I will be happy to talk to them.