Integrate new technologies

Integrate new technologies

The right technology ensures all of your processes and procedures are being executed appropriately and your systems were holding your people accountable for consistent results. Mike Callahan, the owner of Callahan Lawn Care and Property Maintenance, explains how the transition from antiquated systems and processes to technologically-advanced ones may not be popular at first but, if you are willing to put in the work, you will surely see the payoff in your snow and ice management ops.

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December 4, 2015
Equipment & Technology Operations

Nowhere in your job description should it read: the person who plows snow, salts slippery surfaces or clears sidewalks.

You are probably asking what this has to do with integrating technology into your snow removal operations. The truth is, I realized several years ago technology is the vehicle for success. In order to successfully scale my snow removal company, I had to integrate and effectively utilize technology.

I knew the right technology would enable us to ensure that all of our processes and procedures were being executed appropriately and our systems were holding our people accountable for consistent results. If you are the snow plow technician, this implementation is not possible.
 
The process
Begin by taking an aerial view of your current processes and systems, and determine which ones lend themselves to automation through technology. Consider those areas that are easily monitored. Next, choose one area for implementation and research your technology options.

Select the program or tool that will provide you with the best return on investment following implementation. Instead of immediate full scale implementation, consider beta testing the tool or program with one person or a small group within your organization.

This will allow you flexibility to troubleshoot any issues that will arise prior to full implementation. Finally, you will implement the tool or program and train all employees on the use of the technology. Remain flexible upon implementation and make all necessary adjustments as you learn and grow.

At Callahan’s, we came up with three areas that lent themselves to the automation process: sales, fulfillment of services and employee and subcontractor systems including recruitment, hiring and training. We use a core group of technology tools including GPS units, mobile tablets and smartphones as well as several programs including Service Autopilot, Infusionsoft, Ring Central and Microsoft MapPoint to manage the areas.
 
In action
The power of technology is harnessed from the first minute a potential customer interacts with our company. Their contact information, service request and property measurements are logged in Service Autopilot and Infusionsoft simultaneously. And so begins the standardized and automated sales process. These programs enable the sales team to follow up on the sale until it is closed or becomes a lost lead, fulfill the service request and follow up to ensure customer satisfaction.

Once a potential customer becomes a client, we use Service Autopilot and Microsoft MapPoint to maximize route efficiency. After optimization of residential routes, we are able to provide service to approximately 70 driveways per route with an average drive time of approximately 27 seconds between stops. Service Autopilot and Ring Central automate communication with customers regarding service via text messaging and email during a snow and ice event.

This includes providing updates of when trucks are dispatched as well as weather updates during snow and ice emergencies. In addition, all plow and salt trucks are hard wired with GPS units and are equipped with web-enabled mobile tablets. Employees use Service Autopilot and Ring Central through mobile apps on the tablets to allow for seamless communication to those in the office. GPS is employed for real time crew tracking, job costing and coverage for slip and fall litigation.
 
Challenges
One of the most difficult obstacles to overcome will be employee buy in. The best way to win them over is to articulate the purpose behind the implementation and help them understand the benefits for the company and their daily responsibilities. Training and support are critical in moving employees forward during your transition. Most importantly, be proactive in addressing employee objections.

Whenever implementing new technology, plan for growing pains and a hefty learning curve. But don’t lose hope. The transition from antiquated systems and processes to technologically-advanced ones may not be popular at first but, if you are willing to put in the work, you will surely see the payoff. Within just a few short weeks, you will begin to see the fruits of your labor and your technology paying major dividends for your bottom line. Be the entrepreneur who gets results, not the snow plow technician trapped in the day to day minutia of his company.

Mike Callahan is owner of Callahan Lawn Care and Property Maintenance. He has been in the snow business for more than 15 years. He can be reached at mcallahan@giemedia.com