Note: Carita Koen is a speaker at our next Lawn and Landscape Technology Conference. For more information or to register for the event, Click here.
It took a global pandemic for Green Magic Landscapes of Mobile, Alabama to start embracing the technology. But the company’s COO, Carita Koen, wishes they had made the effort sooner.
“COVID was when we really had to pivot, adjust and embrace technology,” she says. “I think everyone at that time was in a pivotal phase just because COVID was weird and unpredictable and overwhelming.”
Koen says that’s when the world saw an even greater influx of people buying products online. She knew the company had to take advantage of this trend.
“Everyone uses technology for something,” she says. “They pay their bills online, shop, order transportation and food — it’s all online. Everyone was using technology, and I just thought, “How could we use technology in our business to benefit us and our customers?” »
GO VIRTUAL. One of the things Green Magic did was make it easier for potential customers to get a quote online.
“During the pandemic, we started offering virtual quotes, and it’s the best thing since sliced bread for us,” says Koen. “When we went to people’s homes, they wanted to talk to us, but they didn’t really want to be around us. We wanted it to be beneficial for them to get a quote virtually. »
Not only was the online option nice for customers, but Koen says the business has benefited dramatically.
“We spent a lot of time in traffic going to people’s homes to do estimates,” she says. “Then we had to come back, enter the numbers, do the estimation and it would just take a while. We thought if we could integrate technology into our sales process, it would make us more efficient and profitable. »
Koen says that’s exactly what he did, adding that the software used for virtual quotes was well worth the investment.
“It’s not expensive,” she said. “I think we spent more on gas to get to people than we paid for software.”
The software is user-friendly for everyone, which is important to ensure people use it.
“The system we use allows you to access our website, fill out a form, and upload a project video,” Koen explains. “You just put the camera in landscape mode, and you can talk, point at things, and guide us through the video.
“With the system we use, you don’t have to be a very tech-savvy person to use it,” she adds.
Koen says the software is constantly evolving and Green Magic looks forward to its next update.
“They are preparing to match it with Google Earth, which will make it even easier to measure areas,” she says.
EASE OF EXECUTION. Whether it’s quoting software, accounting software, fleet tracking or anything else, Koen says when it comes to using technology effectively, it all starts by implementation.
She suggests instituting a top-down approach to ensure a smooth transition process. For Green Magic, that means Koen and her husband, CEO Larry Koen, are the first to test things out.
“My husband and I learn to do everything in-house before joining our team,” she says. “I think it’s very important. As business owners, we don’t want to be the best at everything because you should have people on your team who do certain things better than you, but we think it’s important to know how the process works. . This way, when there is a problem or we need to resolve a conflict, we can step in and go from there.
According to Koen, the next step in implementing something new is to establish a trial period to prove whether the technology is functional and profitable.
“Every time we use a new system, I basically do a 90-day trial period,” she says. “I think with everything you do, 90 days is a great time to let you know if something is working or not.”
After rolling out a new concept or technology, Koen says listening to those most affected also helps gauge its success.
“We rely on feedback from our customers to let us know if something new we’re using is working,” she says. “We want to rely on those who keep us in business in the first place because their opinions matter.”
Employee feedback is just as important as customer feedback.
“We also rely on our employees, because they are the ones who have to do the work,” she says. “If there’s something we’re implementing that they find too complicated or takes too many steps, we like to sit down with them right away. It can usually be worked out. Often it is a communication or training problem.
BREATHE A SIGH OF RELIEF. For Koen, the benefits of technology make things easier at every turn.
“Technology has allowed me to see my husband more instead of seeing him leave, especially during high season,” she jokes.
One of the reasons for this is automation, and Koen says it’s been a huge time saver for everyone.
“Doing virtual quotes has been great, but having a system to automate everything and have these programs talk to each other has been great,” she says. “We spent so much time in the office re-entering the same information into different software systems. Now it goes to the CRM and it talks to another system, and they all talk to each other.
Office automation has helped in all aspects of the business. Koen says it has been very beneficial.
“Adopting technology has made us more efficient,” she says. “Our response rates are faster and our turnaround time for creating projects is faster.”
Koen admits he sleeps better at night after making technology a priority.
“As business owners, we all have things that stress us out and some of them can be controlled and some of them can’t… But technology will just make you more organized, and organization increases the efficiency, productivity and revenue,” she says. “Technology has made us more organized, and I’m very grateful for that.”