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How remote time reporting helped Winterberry slash its payroll time

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Bryan Stolz, CEO of Winterberry, says successfully adding software requires involving the whole team during rollout. (Photo: Winterberry Landscape & Garden Center)
Bryan Stolz, CEO of Winterberry, says successfully adding software requires involving the whole team during rollout. (Photo: Winterberry Landscape & Garden Center)
Bryan Stolz, CEO of Winterberry, says successfully adding software requires involving the whole team during rollout. (Photo: Winterberry Landscape & Garden Center)
Bryan Stolz, CEO of Winterberry, says successfully adding software requires involving the whole team during rollout. (Photo: Winterberry Landscape & Garden Center)

At the end of 2021, Winterberry Landscape & Garden Center, a full-service residential and commercial landscaping company, introduced remote time reporting for its crews. 

Bryan Stolz, CEO of the Southington, Conn., operation that clocked in at No. 115 on the 2022 LM150 list, says the integration of an app-based payroll software called Paycom helped set up the operation for a strong future. 

“One of the major goals of scaling is to decrease your overall overhead — particularly administrative — to increase that ratio of billable people out in the field versus administrative team members,” he says. “We are this year projected to reach $32 million with one fewer person in our accounting department than we had when we were doing $10 million.”

He says the ability to cut down on administrative overhead is a multipronged approach. It’s not just thanks to the addition of payroll software.

“Just as important as the actual software and the actual implementation is also the quality of the processes behind it,” he says. “It’s about that data flow from the field to the office and building the processes out right that makes it go efficiently and accurately.”

Imperfection in implementation

Stolz says he was part of a larger software implementation at Winterberry around 2016. Through that process, he learned that companies often don’t know everything that’s going to happen once it’s implemented.

“You can’t put on rose-colored glasses and tell people, ‘We’ve got this; it’s going to be fine,’” he says. “Instead, be honest with them: ‘Hey, here’s where we’re at. Here’s what we think is going to happen. If that doesn’t happen, let us know as soon as possible so that we can work on it together.’ I think people appreciate that level of honesty.”

Stolz says the Winterberry team told Paycom that it had to integrate into the company’s existing management software seamlessly. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a good fit.

“If you have all these different softwares that don’t talk to each other, then you end up segmenting the business and the information,” Stolz says. “You lose that sort of open book clarity that we find really important for motivating our team members and for letting them know how they’re performing.”

Change management

Stolz says as the company has grown about 230 percent since 2016, he’s noticed less resistance to the addition of the payroll software but more questions about whether the change was the right one for the company. As Winterberry looked to upgrade, Stolz says a small team vetted the options. 

As rollout began, leadership identified team members who were comfortable learning new technology to train their peers in each department. 

“That way they were able to speak the same language, both in terms of the technology, and just in general,” Stolz says. “They also were able to talk frankly about the challenges that they expected.”

Future moves

Stolz says a few crew members still fill out a paper time sheet as a backup. He says the next step will be to go completely paperless with payroll reporting.

From there, he hopes to integrate the payroll software’s GPS features to reduce the time it takes for crews to use the app to check in.

“Where we really want to get is that when somebody’s on a job, when they pull up their app to punch in, we want that job to already be there,” he says. “So that it saves time going through the phone. And that’s where we haven’t been able to get it to yet, but we’re hoping that we’ll be able to make that work (in 2023).”

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