Regular system checks are a priority at Dallas-based Prestonwood Landscape Services, and yet with the paper system the crews were using, it was easy for reports to get lost, wet and even covered with mud. Plus handwriting wasn’t always easy to read. As a company that has moved to smart irrigation and keeps up with the latest technology, the company’s management knew there had to be a better way.
“I was talking to my brother, who works for United Healthcare, and he told me about Access (Microsoft Database software),” says Jesse Congleton, irrigation manager for Prestonwood. “We found an Access database designer who completely customized a program for us. Now we not only do paperless system checks but have moved into so much more.”
With crews armed with iPads, properties can be fully assessed through an electronic system. “The techs in the field are doing their reports through the program and I log on each morning and export all of that into an Excel file. It’s sped up the process for everyone. For instance, it used to take our office manager all day to type up everything from the paper reports and create invoices. Now it takes minutes.”
Congleton says that because crews are essentially using the same form they were on paper (it’s just on a screen now) that the learning curve has been easy. Instead of writing things out, crews are just using drop-down menus or typing data. And Congleton is also using the system to generate bids. “I walk the property with my iPad and enter the quantity of each item we need,” he says. “It used to take me anywhere from one to five hours to prepare a bid based on the property but now I can create a proposal in less than 30 seconds. I’m no longer stuck in the office typing.”
The company has big plans for the future of the system. The landscape division has begun incorporating its use into their daily workflow. There are also plans to create client lists that will not only effectively organize and manage client information, but will allow the company to export billing through the system. Adds Congleton: “It started as a simple idea to go paperless and has turned into so much more.”