Yardmaster, Inc.

Case Study Interview

Pioneer - Michael Montenaro, General Manager

SiteRecon adoption - January 2021

Source of measurements before SiteRecon - Go iLawn®, Site Visits

Key benefit - 40% increase in the ability to generate proposals

                    *Go iLawn® is a registered trademark owned by GIS Dynamics


Interview transcript

So, Mike, let's, let's back up a bit. Let's go back to January earlier this year 2021. When you just heard about the concept, what were your thoughts? Was it something that you were familiar with before? Had you been thinking about it?

So we were not familiar with the, with a specific product. We had used some similar products, but that weren't quite as robust as yours. In particular, Go iLawn. Yeah, which is a measuring service. But it did not give us the specificity that your current site or your current platform offered. So we were very excited when we first heard about it.

Interesting. So the, the process of doing it on go alone versus site recon. You mentioned the specificity there. The did anything set? Like did you did the automation piece stand out for you like you don't have to do it? And itself generates the thing? The measurements?

Yes, that, that that was the big attraction for us. So to be able to identify the boundaries of a site, and then have the different disciplines that we were looking to measure. Automated as far as the takeoff was concerned, to drive efficiencies and highest the best use of time was our set with our sales staff was the real attraction for us.

And so just just so everyone knows here about Yardmaster, can you talk a little bit about what type of market does do you focus on the type of properties you do the type of projects you'd like to pick up?

So Yardmaster, we are a commercial maintenance and snow removal contractor. We are in for metropolitan markets. In the upper Great Lakes and Upper Midwest region in the United States. We focus on high end, large scale multifamily apartment complexes, high end large scale retail centers, large scale logistics and industrial facilities.

Interesting. And what is your role at YardMaster? Mike?

I'm the general manager.

Right. So you're sort of like a mini CEO, I assume that is? So from your point of view, when you looked at the tool, did you evaluate it from like for your market? Or did it make sense for all the markets when you looked at it?

My initial introduction to the product was with a with our previous northeast, regional manager and myself. So we were looking at it for both the Columbus market where I'm located, the Cleveland market and the Detroit market respectively, that Northeast regional manager was responsible for. So those were our three target demographics. Our fourth market is Erie, Pennsylvania, which is a significantly smaller, both geographic Lee and population wise metropolitan market, so we didn't, we didn't see it as a as a feasible tool for that market.

And did you at some point, think about, okay, here are business developers and account managers doing this rather mundane task? Should we have a support staff in the office or maybe just interns doing it? Did you like consider something like that at any point?

Well, Yes and no. So to elaborate a bit on the, our previous process, so we used go island for the turf and for the pavement. However, it was not a useful tool for bed measurements. So we were still physically measuring mulch beds and linear footage of mulch bed edging in the field, we would the account managers and business developers would go out in the field with wheels. And at that point, they would bring assistance and or if there were interns available, that sort of thing to help expedite that process, but it's still somewhat of a time consuming and, and labor intensive process.

Understood. So you had a hybrid model going on hybrid and sense of who measures it. So BDs, and interns, and also in terms of how you are getting the measurements you're using oil on and also going into the field to verify and just add new insights. Correct. So with that happening, you see this new piece of tech? What made you decide to pull the trigger?

We were impressed with the presentation. It was it was an affordable application. And we currently we're short staffed, in particular, in our Detroit and Cleveland offices, with account managers and business developers. So we thought anything we could do to help speed the process up was going to be to our benefit. Make sense?

And so once you decided to pull the trigger, how easy was the onboarding training process? What do you think about like moving from one workflow to another workflow? Talk to me a little bit about the SOP that you had to set and all the like the business processes changes that happened as a result.

It was really it was seamless. So we introduced the platform to our respective sales staff that we're currently using that at that time, we're currently using go island. The regional manager, and myself did the we sat through training, and then we perform the training with our our staff at our respective branches. And it was, it was really easy. There was there wasn't a whole lot of whole lot of difficulty as far as going from one platform to the other.

Excellent. So did you also do and the other regional manager that was there you guys, were you direct users of the platform, did your direct use of the platform helps you other, convince others use it? Or they just naturally gravitated towards it? And they were like, Yeah, I like it.

There's a little bit of both. So I did. I used it myself, for probably a half dozen sites, I've got a small book of business that that that I carry. So for a couple of different reasons. One, because, you know, again, the efficiency piece and to to have an up close and personal understanding of the functionality of the of the app, I went ahead and ran my sites through it. And I don't believe so Tim came on board. Shortly after, we had decided to start to utilize the application. And he I don't know that he used it personally, but his staff had already had some training with it, and we're excited and, and eager to continue to use it.

Gotcha. Um, the, um, what were the conversations in the initial days, like once you started using the system, like, what were the first impressions of what you were getting back and the result it was having on the sales process.

One, the accuracy was really impressive. So we've got some senior sales staff in the Columbus market that have been with the company for 25 plus years. And so they are they're very reluctant to change and very skeptical of new and innovative technology. So I challenged them to take the traditional process which included hand measuring and compare it do side by side comparisons with site today. It's since the site recon, and we were very impressed with the accuracy as far as that was concerned. So that met that made the the initial implementation Conversation pretty easy for us.

Makes sense. I think that that accuracy piece is really important to develop trust in a new thing, right? Like, at least it does its job. Yeah. Um, so Tim his hair, I just let him into the room. I think he's about to join us at all right.

I couldn't join from my car for some reason. So I'm back to the office. It is.

Alright. Yeah. I don't know my how Mike is doing it. I find it rather hard. Oh, but I don't drive automatic. So.

So alright, Tim. So we are just in the middle of a conversation, we were talking about onboarding. And so, you know, using the system for the first time. And just like the first impressions of using it, the effects you see. So, could you join this conversation? And give us what your thoughts were when you saw it for the first time? And saw it being used?

What Mike said, and any issues? I don't really have any issues.

Alright, so um, yeah. So actually, yeah, we're basically just going through the benefits of the system. In like a sequential fashion, like you hear about it for the first time, what you think about it. And we're trying to record the experience so that others can benefit from that, and use that as an anchor point to make their decisions when they're evaluating site recon, right, like a case study? So, Tim, so yeah, alright, so you had no issues with it? You looked at it the first time? Did you see any benefits coming from it?

Yeah, I mean, my, I guess my input is mainly feedback from my the team that uses it, you know, cuz I don't, I don't use it that often. But Michigan uses it quite often. Jason uses it quite often. And their feedback has always been pretty positive about it.

Well, that's great. So when they talk about it, do they refer to certain benefits that they get out of it? Like, what is it? Are they happy with speed? Are they like, talking about automation? What are the pointing towards?

Well, probably? Speed I would say is? Yeah, sometimes I hear things get turned around quickly. And other times I hear things get take a little bit of time, but not anything that's significant and probably is more related to the size of sites versus anything else. But But accuracy. I've just not had any. Any issues, any concerns?

All right, great. Excellent. So, um, let's, let's talk about the numbers a bit. Have you been able to look back into your sales funnel? My team both of you and say, Alright, so we used to do X volume of page before site recon, the volume has gone up. We were doing why percentage of closed rates, the closed rates have changed. Have you seen like these measurable changes in your sales funnel performance? Mike, Mike, I'm good. Yeah. Could you just speak again, we weren't able to hear you clearly.

So I can't give any data directly related to close rates yet, because you know, we're just now in the early stages of closing our our new work proposal. So in our market. Our proposing season begins typically and late August early September and runs through late October, early November. And our closing on those opportunities usually usually flows through early January. So we are just now starting to get some feedback from clients, beginning the negotiation process and closing some deals. What I can speak to through the process, though, is the the time savings that we have realized with, with using site recon versus our previous process. It would take in the, in a traditional manner, a type of process of using a virtual virtual measuring tool, and then in person measuring of beds, from start to finish would take us approximately five days to generate proposal and presented to a client. We've now reduced that to three. You think that you want to use that man? You know, we've increased? We've increased our ability to generate more proposals by 40%.

In the same time, yeah. Tim, have you had the chance to look at a numbers like that?

I would agree exactly with what Mike said, we're in the same boat as far as our timeframe. But it does speed up our proposal process. And my my opinion is, it's probably I haven't more accurate measure than my team. But it's too early in the season to tell you, I'm generating this amount from what we've got going on out there. But it's no, it's a huge time saver for us.

I can also report that So currently, I have a total of four members of my sales team in a central Ohio market. Okay, two of my four members are exclusively doing their take offs with site recon, the other two are still kind of in a hybrid, you know, a hybrid scenario. Yeah. And the, the, the two that have gone exclusively to site recon, have had a higher than average win rate for this time of the year. And I asked both of them on a call earlier this morning, in preparation for this call. How much of that win rate that increase on their win rate, they attribute to site recon. And I asked him, you know, at first to give a percentage, they kind of struggled with that. But if, you know, if they felt that it you know, on a scale of one to five, where it would rank as far as being a contributing factor to that they both said that it was a neighborhood of of three and a half to four. So it was certainly having a positive and fat impact on the where they believe the accuracy in the square footage, which helps give us a more competitive price on the new proposals.

Well, that's nice. Um, and then so that would consequently flow into the the net revenue that you end up generating. During the financial year you keep like the keep using it. And then finally, that contributes the total revenue that you end up closing the course of the year. Good stuff, good stuff. And the other two guys were still in the hybrid model. What has been their apprehension is that the nature of properties that the bid on why they have had a greater difficulty in switching.

There's two scenarios employ one. And they're both the account manager. So they've actually both been with the company for 30 years. So we started YardMaster of Columbus 30 years ago. They've been with us since day one. They're both somewhat reluctant to technology and in particular to change. One of the two account managers primary responsibility is to exclusively renew his book of work without new sales goals outside of that book work. So he doesn't really estimate on new opportunity. He's his book of work is pretty high in the enhancement sector, so we haven't focused a lot on that. And the other account manager who, ironically is the most successful account manager on our company He, He loves the the grind of being in the field. So we're, you know, we're trying to convert it, he has used it. And he has had positive feedback, but he likes to be out in the field measuring a sights. And, you know, he's he, he's old school, he likes to operate in that manner. So, you know, we choose not to force too much technology too fast onto him because he doesn't operate at his highest and best use if we do that to him. So we're kind of spoon feeding him that the this this platform, and it's been received well, with what interaction he's had was

Interesting. I guess he might like some of the new features that are focused on account managers, and not just the sales folks. All right, yeah. So I keep that in mind. Just so that helps you take that conversation forward with both of them? Yeah. Um, them, the folks that you're working with, do all of them use it.

All of Michigan uses it. In Cleveland, Jason uses it. And Kyle, who is newer to us, probably just needs to be introduced to it. Okay, well, everybody in Cleveland will be in Michigan, we'll be using it without a doubt. I'm Stuart.

Nice. And have you. So a couple of thoughts, just a couple of life questions I want to throw out there in terms of new thoughts that you might have had because you have the system. So you don't have to mention the properties anymore, right? So that opens the possibility that you just plug in a list of properties into it and get mapped, get the map upfront. So these can be sides that you want to acquire in the market that lie along your service routes in the service area of your branches. So have you thought about doing something like that? Hey, just plug a list of properties into it. And let's get the measurements back. And these are the properties you are a prospect on anyway.

We have not done that in Cleveland, or Michigan. And Michigan is simply because they're busier probably right now then, then Cleveland, that is something that is an option I could

Mike, what do you think?

Can you repeat the question, I kind of lost connection for a moment.

Sure. So one way to approach the measurement piece is proactively instead of waiting for, you know, qualification the client and getting them interested in your sale and then measuring it, when they ask for a braid, you measure the thing out front. And then you approach the client because this is a process property that you anyways want to acquire, and you will keep prospecting on it. So you want to start the conversation with a map. And so use that as a prospecting tool, get like a foot in the door, make an initial impression, and so on. So, this opens up as an option because you don't have to measure properties anymore. So you can just be like, Okay, here's my branch, here's my service out, I can go ahead and measure 50 properties in the area that I want to acquire going forward.

Certainly think that would be a set that sounds to me, like that's a really sound sales strategy as far as volume of proposals that you're able to get out on the street. And I think that certainly with my younger account managers that are more aggressive, they would be open and excited about that, that type of opportunity.

All right. All right, great. Um, so on that talk, if anytime you want that conversation going, we can actually help you scope out those 50 properties like based on which ones you know, distribution of landscape area by snow area, what you want to do on that price and so on.

So, just because I'm I'm newer to this whole process, how how does the billing work for site recon, is it done by site that we have made there's not a monthly fee or anything like that done by site?

Site scoping pricing structure for us. So you know, the and timing. So you know, if if we were to send a You know, let's say a large sale, large scale retail center, it's got all of the the measurables that are offered. So pavement, you know, both asphalt sidewalk bed edging sidewalk edging, turf mulch, and we asked for it, you know, ASAP, then that's going to be the hot, the highest end of the the pricing scale. If we were to say, you know, as as the normal standard time, the price goes down, if we were to reduce some of the services that we were looking to do not have measured, it will go down. So it's all based on size, scope and, and timing that I described that correctly.

So we don't actually change pricing based on timing, Mike, it still simplifies the same. But if you want the bed back quicker, we do help accelerate that process. So let's say you're running a large retail center, and you just have a day to turn it around, then we can actually give that back to you in less than a day because we maintain spare capacity to service such requests, but the pricing still remains the same.

Okay. Okay. That's good to know, I thought that that was one of the factors. So it's good to know.

And this is my this is the site where I'm going in and moving credits around, right. Yeah, to Tina or to Jason and Cleveland. That is correct. All right. I find that somewhat annoying and cumbersome. But I deal with it.

Yep. Yep, we've had that feedback. And it should, should be should be actually about to start a conversation on how to fix that. So we will fix that. I can give you a timeline on that. Exactly. But yeah, I think somewhere between first and second quarter of next year, we will release that fix. And we want to do is like there's a pool of organization credits, and all the creators that are in the account, they tap into it, it's a common pool, you don't have to like allocate it to individually, you people individually, they just tap into the council.

Will you will you still give us the the the credit used in the last 30 Day metric? That's a that's available now? Will that still be? Yeah, I see him as the exact opposite. It's the exact opposite for me. And it's because I've got a couple of other people work, you know, a few people working on it. But I actually like to be able to go in and see the activity that our people have listened, you know, without having to ask them. So I pop into it probably once a week. And I'll look and see, you know, when when I when a salesperson tells us how busy they are, because they're always the most busy people in the organization. Right? Just ask them, they'll tell you that. That that certainly helps validate it that I can go in and say okay, well guess what, you know, Jimmy use 240 credits this past week, he has been slammed, or you know, Rob has used 30 credits in the past week, he's Feed me a lot of crack. You know, I mean, it's just, that's just an example. But I mean, it does kind of help, you know, close the loop on the back end without having to micromanage them.

Makes sense. So, um, have you had the chance to check out some of the new features that came out like the iOS app, self measuring on your own, like, so you know, there's a automation piece, and then there's a self measurement piece, just like oil on insights actually gone? Have you had the chance to check these features out?

I have not.

All right, then we certainly need to do a better job at reaching out to you guys, because we basically send out product announcements when we release them. And so maybe, among all the mailers that come into your mailbox, this is getting into the promotion section, and not getting into your primary inbox.

So what is it that you're saying you can do?

So once we get the data back from us, you can edit it, you can change it. Also, let's say you want to turn the bid around in two hours for us no contract and, you know, you can just measure it out yourself. You've got that our right now to do it. So you can just do it yourself. Instead of depending on us to send that back to you. You can just go in and do your own clicks and measure it out. And so that's like the drawing tools, two ways that you can use them. Apart from that. We have the iOS app that you can take to the field. See what the map looks like in the field. See your blue.on the map see where you're standing with respect to the map, make notes. Take notes. You tab on the map where you want to place that note, let's say you want to place that note, for a tree that needs pruning or cutting, it has a disease there. So you land that lawn, tap on the map, the notes get created, you take a photograph, you'd write on a comment. Maybe you tagged the arborist back in the branch to come take a look at it. So you're gonna have a conversation there. And you can make multiple notes, enhancements, service issues, and so on.

So that that sounds like maybe I'm not understanding. But to me, Mike, that sounds like as like site photos application. It is.

Yeah, it is. It's exactly.

It's exactly that the only difference that we have added on top of it is like you just don't take notes on a site, you actually end up having a conversation there's, so someone can reply to it like you do on Google Docs, someone comments on it, then you reply to it. And there's like this back and forth happening. So that's, that's what we've come out with is just to complete the experience in the field once you take the map out there. Oh, by the way, it's free. We don't charge for it.

Good. That's awesome. Right? We like free stuff.

Oh, for sure. I like it, too. And for this, it was like, okay, already. You have credits and everything you're already paying. So just adding the app on top of it makes so much sense. Right? Yeah. So I'll definitely reach out to you guys separately for this. So that we can set up if you are you guys, by the way interested in like the ISPs? Should we set up a training call for that?

Yeah, we should. why don't why don't you? Why don't you circle back around with us? We've got you know, with thanksgiving being this week, we've got a lot of our team members are taking the time off this weekend, that sort of thing. What what I think works best for us is, well, the the larger the group, for me anyhow, the more successful the training. So you know, we could certainly set something up. And if Tim wanted to get his teams involved in that sort of thing. So sometime

I would, you know, I agree, Mike, I would, I would want because Michigan is seems to be pretty comfortable talking with Columbus folks right now. So if there's Yeah, yeah, if there's any sort of themes, you know, I would just assume do it all together?

Yeah. So let's look at the middle to end of next week would be best for, for probably all of us when you agree, Tim? Yeah. Yeah. We'll get our we'll get our team on board and then get it scheduled from there.

All right. That's awesome. Yeah, let's do that. Okay, um, a couple of closing questions. So based on what you've seen so far, what do you think about customer support and the reliability of the system?

Like customer support has been an A plus, reliability. I haven't had any reliability issues whatsoever. We've been able to connectivity has been really that's been flawless. We haven't had any issues with that. The feedback has been outstanding. So I, Customer Services has been great.

Thanks. Mike. And I can't disagree with anything that Mike just said. I've not had anybody give me any sort of feedback that would be any different than that.

Good stuff, good stuff. And how likely are you recommend us to other folks around you?

Highly likely, well, I mean, I've, we've, we've done it. We were our president and I were at a peer group function last month with eight other companies from around the country, in our industry, and the host company currently had not heard of your product or used it and we recommended it. They wrote down the information and to the best of my knowledge. I think they subscribe to that very same day.

Which company was it?

Was LSI out of Nashville, Tennessee.

Yeah. Um, yeah. Yeah, I think we did come see them come into the system. Yep. Thanks for that Mike. Really appreciate the, um, so if you if you see someone standing outside and just considering this thing, or maybe thinking that technology is not for them, what would you say? To them

I guess my, my general comment would be that all of technology, and the advancement that it's made on the on the user side has made things really simple to navigate your way through in particular, your platform, I mean, it's, it's really, it's, you don't have to be a high functioning tech savvy individual to be able to maneuver your way around your site. So there's there really should be no apprehension or fear, it's pretty simple to use.

And, like just a general change, like the change that you do to your process, just inertia to deal with that, if someone is going through that, what would you say to them?

Then it was seamless for us. So I would say that, if we can do it, anybody can do it. I mean, we, we converted, we converted a staff people that are extremely reluctant to change, as Tim will attest to, and we got them on board quickly.

If, like Mike said, if our if our team can do it, then and, and embrace it, which they all seem to have, then that speaks for itself. Because they're, they're just not a group that goes out and embraces technology. So

Good stuff, guys. Um, any tips for someone who's actually going through it, you are as leaders, you were able to get that thing adopted in your team, any tips that you would have for others were would need to go through the same process.

Personally, I, you know, mine and attended and adapted this way Exactly. But try try it yourself first. So be able to speak from firsthand experience to your team as you present it to them, so that way, they know that you're a willing user and a willing participant in the change.

And when I came in, I already had willing participants, so they're in a share with me mode, which, when when they're willing to share with me, that tells me they that they're embracing it and accepted. So nobody has said, you know, call Mike or call you? Because I don't know how to, to explain it to you that that hasn't happened.

Thank you so much, guys. The input really helps.

No problem. Thank you.

What what do you think we can do for you or the next month, next year? Any wishes that you have?

Um, I know, we spoke briefly at gap that the the net, the direction that you're headed with the service will be to implement some some estimating modules to it, I guess, be the best way to describe yeah, that's, that's something that I'm really looking forward to, I would like to be able to preload my, my efficiency rates into a system like this, knowing that we now you know, the, the data that we received now is accurate. So if I could preload my my rates into it and have it give me a tentative estimate, that would be fantastic.

Gotcha. Um, yeah, that seems to be like a natural step as we go on from the sales process, helping add efficiency to the sales process. And then moving on to the operations piece of it. The estimating piece has to come before we like go on to the operations piece and helps you plan job Gantt charting it out and motion planning and sequencing of things. Estimating piece is like a natural stepping stone to that.

Yeah, that would be huge. Be a huge piece. I agree. And if that was able to integrate and communicate with our current Upgrading software system that would be a slam dunk.

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