HomeResourcesCase studiesSouthern Sun Landscaping cuts operational costs, creates efficiencies with Verizon Connect Reveal

Case study

Southern Sun Landscaping cuts operational costs, creates efficiencies with Verizon Connect Reveal

If we can do things a little quicker, a little bit faster, even if it’s five or ten minutes here or there, those couple of dollars saved add up by the end of the year.
Andrew Grider
President, Southern Sun Landscaping

Andrew Grider is the kind of guy who would rather have his hands in the dirt than sit behind a desk crunching numbers. But, as founder and president of Virginia-based Southern Sun Landscaping, Grider has learned that every penny saved makes a difference when you’re running a small business.

“I hate accounting. I hate record keeping. I just don’t like to do it,” he said. “Landscaping is my passion.”

Still, Grider knows that the longer it takes to complete a job, the more money spent on fuel, and the potential of damage and even theft of company equipment are all things that can negatively impact his bottom line. He also knows the way his employees drive in his company-branded vehicles reflects on his business.

It wasn’t long after launching Southern Sun Landscaping in 2017 when Grider realized that building the right team could be as challenging as growing and serving his client base. Scheduling routes, keeping track of work hours and minding the way his team used company-issued vehicles proved to be as time-consuming as completing jobs and attracting new customers.

Grider needed a way to know how his crews were performing in the field to create a more efficient operation and save on costs.

“Nobody likes to be micromanaged,” he said. “But it’s about shaving those costs. How efficient can we get on labor? How efficiently can we use those trucks to save on fuel? How efficiently can we do what we need to do with less?”

Looking for a way to tackle some of the numerous challenges he faced running his business, Grider found a fleet management solution that could make a positive impact on Southern Sun Landscaping’s overall operation—Verizon Connect Reveal.

Building the brand safely and efficiently 

Southern Sun Landscaping is a company that provides landscaping services and snow removal for residential, commercial and municipal clients in Roanoke and the Greater Richmond area. When he started the company, Grider discovered that managing his employees in the field could be as exhausting as a long day on a landscaping job. Simple fuel stops between jobs were taking much longer than seemed necessary. Company-issued vehicles were being used after hours for activities unrelated to work. Complaints from the public were coming into the office about unsafe driving.

“You’re putting the company’s reputation at risk when you’re speeding or driving recklessly,” said Kristine Kvasnicka, the company’s office manager. “Southern Sun’s name is all over the truck, and you’ve got to present an image that unsafe driving is not acceptable.”

But, without proof, Southern Sun’s leadership had no way to verify that any of the suspected bad behavior or poor reports from the public had real merit. For example, in the case of a collision or other traffic incident, liability for an accident could fall on the company even in an instance when an employee wasn’t at fault.

And when a customer, being billed by the hour, complained that a landscaping crew arrived late or left a job early, the company had no way to prove otherwise. The same went for the occasional times when the Southern Sun team took on snow removal jobs, when on-time arrival and proof of service become more challenging due to the weather.

Grider knew he needed the right data to deal with inefficiencies and respond to complaints.

“We’re running thinner margins than ever before,” he said. “It’s been incredibly challenging.”

A platform for effective change

Southern Sun Landscaping adopted Verizon Connect Reveal with dashcams and asset tracking as a way to address these challenges.

Verizon Connect Reveal is an intuitive, cloud-based fleet-management system that monitors and manages a mobile workforce. It offers a near-real-time, 360-degree view of a fleet’s daily operations and is designed to help reduce costs and increase productivity.

High resolution maps help Reveal users keep tabs on company-issued vehicles, mobile assets such as trailers and heavy equipment, and personnel in the field. Reveal also can help reduce fuel consumption and provide accurate times of arrival and proof of job completion.

Several of the tools offered by Reveal have been game-changers, cost-savers and reputation-keepers for Southern Sun Landscaping, including:

  • Fleet management for monitoring vehicles in the field, payroll management and proof of service
  • Asset tracking to locate trailers and heavy equipment in the field and combat theft
  • Integrated dashcams to mitigate risk and prove or debunk liability claims in the event of an accident
  • Roadside assistance when a light- or heavy-duty vehicle breaks down

Fleet management information from Verizon Connect Reveal allows Southern Sun Landscaping’s leadership to analyze the team’s performance over time, identify trends in hours of operation, and also assess driving performance with metrics for harsh driving, stop duration, idling time and distances traveled.

Another feature that Grider said his company is looking forward to using more in the future is Verizon Connect Reveal’s vehicle maintenance record keeping. It provides predictive intelligence to help users keep vehicles performing as needed and reduce the likelihood of costly repairs.

Grider also said the integrated dashcams have been key in fostering safe driving habits among the team. In one instance, a Southern Sun Landscaping employee driving a company-issued truck rear-ended a rubber-necking highway driver who had slowed to view a law enforcement incident on the side of the road. With integrated dashcams on board the truck, Southern Sun Landscaping’s leadership was able to review the incident to prove that, yes, their driver was at fault, but the collision was difficult to avoid.

The accident offered a teachable moment for Grider to help foster a safety-first mentality for his crews.

“I pulled the dashcam footage, and it was less than a second that my guy had to make that decision to stop,” Grider said. “That’s something that we can take and pull up with the driver and say, hey, this happened. We all make mistakes sometimes. But that’s something we can address and keep top of mind. The more top of mind it is, the more safety-conscious we’re going to be as a company.”

Creating a culture of mindfulness

Grider describes himself as “the most disorganized person, but I’m very good at operations and getting stuff done.” He said Verizon Connect Reveal helps him stay more organized with the ability to keep his team in the field on track and offer his support when needed.

“Everything now is technology-based, from the way we dispatch our crews in the morning to the way we do payroll,” he said. “All the routes go directly to their smartphones so they’re not wondering where they need to be and when, instead of having to call my crew lead, and then have them call the customer, and then keep playing phone tag. If there’s ever a question, we can solve those things in real time.”

With the Verizon Connect Reveal app—called Spotlight—on his phone, Grider is able to get out from behind the desk and spend more time in the field while still monitoring the routes, whereabouts and performance of his team.

“I work out of my truck a lot and I can be anywhere instead of working with a computer,” he said. “I can pull this up and quickly see where crews are located.”

He said it’s not uncommon for him to offer support while running estimates in the field, whether it’s picking up a few plants at a nearby nursery to help his team stay on a job, or dropping off cold drinks for a crew working outside on a hot day.

“That always helps with camaraderie,” Grider said.

Back at the office, Kvasnicka is able to respond to inquiries about the Southern Sun Landscaping crews and whether or not they arrived where and when they were supposed to, or whether claims against their driving habits have any merit.

“I did have a customer call and say, ‘Your guys weren’t here but five minutes,’ ” she said. “I can go in and check Verizon Reveal and find out exactly when they arrived and exactly when they left. I’ll be like, ‘Ma’am, they were at your location on this date for the exact amount of time you were billed for.’ ”

All in all, Verizon Connect Reveal has helped Southern Sun Landscaping’s leadership create a culture of mindfulness in terms of showing up to jobs on time, working efficiently, using less fuel and encouraging safe driving habits.

These seemingly little things add up to cost savings that allow the company to grow and maintain a reputation for excellent service.

“If we can do things a little quicker, a little bit faster, even if it’s five or ten minutes here or there, those couple of dollars saved add up by the end of the year,” Grider said. “It’s important that the people who are the right fit for our company culture are going to see the value in it because it’s about being able to support each other.”

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