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How technology is changing the way we do business

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Space-aged technology (Photo: Nongkran_ch / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Photo: Nongkran_ch / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Space-aged technology (Photo: Nongkran_ch / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
(Photo: Nongkran_ch / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Clients have crossed over from wanting attention and customer service to wanting anonymity and convenience. Think one-click payments over handshake agreements. And now, new technologies like artificial intelligence tools are becoming an everyday part of life.

At this year’s Equip Exposition, Landscape Management will host a one-hour educational panel called The Easy Button: How Technology is Changing the Way We Do Business. Panelists include Mike McCarron, owner of Image Works Landscaping; Jeff Wraley, founder and CEO of Groundwork; and Utkarsh Sharma, founder of SiteRecon. They will discuss what they are seeing at their own businesses and how they think companies can embrace new technologies to make their customers happy, with the added benefit of becoming a more streamlined, efficient operation.

Information overload

Mike McCarron
Mike McCarron

The company McCarron founded, Image Works Landscaping, based in Fairfax Station, Va., celebrates its 25th year of operation this year. McCarron recalls how things were when he first got started, like spending hours over a folding machine and a stamp service to mail out invoices.

Today, more than 700 invoices a month go out electronically, a far cry from how it was in 1998.

McCarron notices another change afoot, and it’s happened just over the last few months — information overload for his clients.

“I think this just started in January or February of this year, where you send them reminders and they just blow right through it,” he says. “I have friends in roofing and painting and they’re seeing the same thing. We have to be more selective with how we communicate, and we have to be concise.”

Sharma believes services like Amazon Prime have created a change over the last few years. People now accept a different, less personal way to do business.

“People don’t find it surprising anymore to just order a lawn care service online, without actually talking to someone on a call,” he says. “A few years ago, it was tough to see if you got an ROI if you invested in your website. Now, all of these long-term companies need to change their websites to reflect this new reality of e-commerce.”

Virtual everything

Utkarsh Sharma
Utkarsh Sharma

The technology customers expect to see from the industry go beyond convenience. Because they stimulate the sense of sight, landscape and lawn care services need to be able to show their customers what they can deliver before they deliver it.

In this sense, Sharma adds that artificial intelligence is something the industry needs to keep an eye on because of its potential.

“[AI] automates the understanding of a property, having it built into the system … that’s step one,” he says. “Step two is the AI actually suggests the design. It helps you place the design within the context of a 3D space. Some of these technologies come from the gaming side, where they can design a whole world in 3D, photorealistic graphics.”

Wraley’s company, Groundwork, is a video- and text-based sales tool that helps contractors give video walkthroughs for homeowners before the first appointment. In his experience, the industry has shown that it is ready to embrace these new technologies to satisfy the needs of their clients, he says.

Jeff Wraley
Jeff Wraley

“The pandemic opened a lot of people’s eyes to virtual everything. Take the car-buying process, or the dating process. It is common to connect on serious matters,” Wraley says. “There’s a misclassification that service providers in the green industry are slow to adopt. That may have been the case five years ago, but now, when I’m talking to customers, I’m continually surprised by technology that they’re already aware of and already using.”

The Easy Button: How Technology is Changing the Way We Do Business panel takes place at 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 20 at Equip Expo in Louisville, Ky. To register for all Equip Expo educational sessions, you’ll first need to register to attend the show. Register for Equip Expo by following this link to get a 50 percent discount on your Equip Education registration. During the registration process, you’ll be prompted to add educational sessions. 

Photo: Seth Jones

Seth Jones

Seth Jones is is editor-in-chief of Landscape Management, Golfdom and Athletic Turf magazines. A graduate of Kansas University’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Seth was voted best columnist in the industry in 2014 and 2018 by the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. He has more than 23 years of experience in the golf and turf industries and has traveled the world seeking great stories.

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