HomeResourcesCase studiesApex Landscaping overcomes challenges, scales operations with Verizon Connect Reveal

Case study

Apex Landscaping overcomes challenges, scales operations with Verizon Connect Reveal

Everybody is our competitor. Anybody can grab a lawn mower or a truck and start a business. Instead of hiring more people, more equipment, more laborers, we chose fleet management, because it just helped us be a step above everybody else.
Bob Atwater
Owner of Apex Landscaping

After a major snowfall, people only see the plow that comes to clear out their driveway. It's people like Bob Atwater, Owner of Apex Landscaping, who understand what it takes to scale that kind of service across hundreds of customers, all of whom expect fast and reliable service simultaneously. 

Based in Lake Zurich, Illinois, Atwater and his team provide year-round, full-service snow removal and landscape maintenance, design and building for the Chicago metro area or, as it is known locally, Chicagoland. Since its founding in 1991, the company has grown from 1 to more than 100 trucks and as many as 80 units of heavy equipment, such as skid-steer loaders and plows. 

Coordinating jobs for a vehicle fleet of this size is challenging, and when customers reach out to Apex, they need to have confidence the team will show up on time and at the right location. That's why Apex made a decision 15 years ago to adopt Verizon Connect Reveal, enabling the monitoring and tracking of its employees and equipment. 

"The decision to go with Reveal ultimately was the fact that it took worries off the table," Atwater said. "You know where your equipment is. You can't modify the reports, so you can trust information like time sheets. It just allows you to focus more on growing the business. It's basically like having seven other employees that do all the reporting for you."

 Tracking the team in the field presents record-keeping challenges for Apex staff

 Vincente Peralta is a Production Supervisor at Apex Landscaping, which means he is responsible for coordinating the field crews that service more than 400 properties. He used to have to make the schedule and plan routes on paper and whiteboard. It was a laborious and mentally challenging process. Then, as teams were dispatched to client sites, manual record-keeping hampered productivity and affected morale. 

"Our staff had to write down how much time they spent on each property, and it was frustrating for me because I would have to check my books as well and maintain those paper records," he said. 

However, Apex Landscaping had no other way of verifying when the crew arrived onsite, how long they were there, and when they left. 

Additionally, the company was struggling to locate broken-down equipment in the field, keep their maintenance records organized, and track issues of theft and recovery. It was clearly time for Apex to dive headfirst into a digital transformation and use a platform that could provide the insights the company needed about its assets in the field. 

A solution that builds transparency and trust with customers

When the company made the decision to evolve past their manual processes, they found that using Verizon Connect Reveal simplified and improved record-keeping for Peralta and his teammates in the field. The platform includes everything from dashboard metrics and maintenance scheduling to live maps and advanced reporting and alerts. 

"With Verizon, I save a lot of time—what used to take about two hours I can now do in about five minutes. And instead of being locked up in the office, I can check where they're going, how they're moving and if they're on the right route," Peralta said. 

If a driver gets lost on their way to a customer site, Peralta said he can use Verizon Connect Reveal to guide them so they arrive on time. This can all happen from a smartphone, which adds to the convenience, he said. 

Matt Menoni, the company's Vice President of Sales, said features like Verizon Connect Reveal live maps have provided invaluable transparency to its clients by validating that work is completed as expected. 

"I don't have to say, 'Oh, I know the guys are there because they told me they're there.' I can produce a screenshot, send it to the client, and say, 'Here's where they are,' " he said.

Shifting from reactive to proactive maintenance 

Fleet management technology doesn't just support a more consistent customer experience for companies like Apex. It also streamlines the ability to maintain vehicles and equipment. When a snow plow or truck isn't running as expected, for instance, people like Uriel Recendez, the Operations Manager at Apex Landscaping, would typically have to do considerable detective work to get all the necessary details and schedule repairs. 

"Now, whenever we have breakdowns, it's a lot easier for me to know where that equipment is and where to dispatch the mechanics," he said. 

Jeff Hoetzer, Fleet Manager at Apex, said Verizon Connect Reveal has helped the company set alerts and move from reactive to proactive maintenance. 

"Once you've got a vehicle in for an oil change or to do maintenance, you go through the entire piece of equipment, so you can see what's going on with it. Then you can catch things," he said. "You might notice a tire is starting to wear funny, and that might be a loose suspension part. If you don't do the maintenance on the machines, they're going to break down, and it's going to be costly to fix them," he said. 

Fleets not only need to be maintained but kept secure. Verizon has also helped with theft recovery for Apex's vehicles and expensive equipment. Atwater recalled an incident when one of their bobcats went missing from a project site in downtown Chicago. Fortunately, they had asset-tracking capabilities using Verizon Connect Reveal. "We notified the police, and it was back within a day," he said.

Vehicle tracking that brings peace of mind 

With Verizon Connect Reveal, the near real-time tracking Apex has gained helps the company's leaders easily locate their crews and check on the progress of each job. This digitizes and simplifies processes, such as verifying employee time sheets, and allows the company to accurately bill clients by the hour, which can be especially helpful in the event of snowstorms and blizzards. 

"The time and aggravation it saves our team was well worth the investment," Menoni said. 

Atwater agreed, adding that Verizon Connect Reveal has enhanced communication as the company onboards new employees and gives them clear data to perform each job. This all brings peace of mind, especially in the kind of market where Apex operates. 

"Everybody is our competitor. Anybody can grab a lawn mower or a truck and start a business," he said. "Instead of hiring more people, more equipment, more laborers, we chose fleet management, because it just helped us be a step above everybody else."

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Tags: Customer retention rates, Customer Service, Dispatching & Scheduling, Performance & Coaching, Productivity & Efficiency, Routing, Safety, Team Management, Vehicle & asset security, Vehicle Maintenance