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The nick of time: How one company implemented software

December 4, 2020 -  By
Quality Irrigation tech (Photo: rich Stack, Service Titan)

Smooth sailing iPads enable techs to streamline their working process. (Photo: Rich Stack, Service Titan)

Sometimes, it takes the benefit of hindsight to realize how fortunate you are. Late last year, Ryan Jardine and his crews at Quality Irrigation made a well-timed switch from a server-based software system to Service Titan, a cloud-based service platform.

A couple months later, COVID-19 struck the U.S., and implementing the cloud-based system when it did allowed Quality to work remotely and track crew members more easily right away.

The Omaha, Neb., company has 30 employees and provides primarily
irrigation services and some snow services to 80 percent residential and 20 percent commercial clients.

Jardine and Bryce Groteluschen, general manager, reveal key changes that helped their irrigation business succeed in this hectic year.

The processes

Jardine says the company’s new cloud-based software offers more advanced features than its prior software.

“The techs like having iPads and having a good way to email or text clients good, better and best options and before and after photos,” Jardine says. “And, it’s better for the homeowners. They like that we send a pic of the technician before they arrive — it’s an Uber-like experience.”

Quality Irrigation also began looking at other processes like inventory management. In a simple hack, the crews starting using large clear plastic totes labeled with the crew names. Rather than drop off orders in one large delivery for the shop manager to sort, Quality’s distributors, SiteOne and Reams, provide just-in-time inventory, where they now deliver supplies to the shop on demand and divvy them up directly into each crew’s bin. Quality doesn’t see any extra costs for this, and it saves man-hours.

The organization didn’t stop at the shop inventory. Late last fall, Quality also opted to switch 10 of its 20 trucks to Dodge ProMaster vans, and is in the process of adding on three more.

“We’re way more efficient with them,” Groteluschen says. “They’ve got LED lights, and multiple shelves help us stay organized — everything has a place.”

The people

Quality also added new people — 15 in 2020, compared to three to five new additions in a typical year. The company also got lucky in the beginning of the year, welcoming the four workers it requested from the H-2B visa program before the program was halted.

To manage the training, the company added a level of middle managers to oversee various departments and training, allowing Groteluschen to manage sales, installation, service and office managers.

“We didn’t implement that (system) at the beginning of the year knowing we were going to have this great of a year, but we would have failed horribly if we didn’t,” he says. “It was a hard transition because I basically had to create four of me, but after those three months, our stress levels went completely down, and profitability went up because it was a well-oiled machine.”

The company also hired a leadership coach to help train the managers on their new roles.

The reputation

One thing that’s helped Quality Irrigation achieve success has been around far longer than the last couple of years: a team mentality that’s based on everyone working together and providing good service.

“I think our reputation penetrated through the market — do the right thing, make the right repairs,” Groteluschen says, adding that Quality has nearly 700 Google reviews. “And, we preach customer service, and that’s come through in people’s reviews, sharing their experiences.”

The team mentality of the equation extends just beyond reputation — it also shows up in job titles.

“I like to say that I’m a coworker — I’m not anyone’s boss,” Jardine says, though technically, he is the president of the company.

“I don’t need the ego piece of that. It’s more important that people feel valued as part of a team,” he adds. “Everyone wants to feel like they’re working toward the same goal. Plus, it’s easier to be a better teammate and easier to have a better culture when everyone is just coworkers.”

Abby Hart

About the Author:

Abby Hart is the former senior editor of Landscape Management. A native Clevelander, she spent 10 years in Chicago, where she was operations manager of a global hospitality consultancy. She also worked as managing editor of Illumine, a health and wellness magazine; and a marketing specialist for B2B publications. Abby has a degree in journalism from Boston University’s College of Communication.

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