Working long days used to be the norm for Jeremy Scarlett. The Vice President of Scarlett’s Landscaping Inc. in Ventura, CA, used to work in the field on new landscaping projects during the day, and would head home to continue working at night. It was a stressful time for him and his family as he worked alongside his dad in the family business and didn’t draw a salary in the early years. That is, until he discovered the benefit of using landscaping software.
The business was growing, and new bids were being done every night on his computer using spreadsheets. While Scarlett considers himself an Excel spreadsheet guru, it was a labor-intensive process to manually produce bids for potential new customers.
“That’s how I was doing my bidding,” said Scarlett. “Keeping Excel spreadsheets of pricing of products and then just creating a new Excel spreadsheet for every bid that I did. I’m still working in the field all day, so this is at home at night when I’m supposed to be resting.”
It was a great problem to have, as there was constantly new business to bid for; however, it reached a point when there were too many bids to complete using the spreadsheet format. When he came across DynaScape’s landscaping software (Manage360), he was immediately impressed with the automation tools and their ability to change his entire bidding process.
Prior to using landscaping software, Scarlett’s entire cost book was located in an Excel spreadsheet. It was a tedious process of typing it into a new bid, or even having to refresh costs, which wouldn’t be reflected on past bids unless he went back to manually update them.
“Whereas in DynaScape, you have the Costbook and it’s really easy to update materials and pricing,” said Scarlett. “You can always refresh and pull in the new pricing.”
It also includes budgeting tools which allowed Scarlett to create a budget and enter it into Manage360 so he knew exactly how much he needed to cover for overhead costs on each new project. With the job costing model already set, he started gaining greater insight into the margins he was making on each project and where his pricing was coming from.
“When you are doing these bids, it’s correctly calculating things like overhead, subcontractors and whatever profitability you want on a job,” said Scarlett. “It really just dials in your focus. Whatever you set your focus at, it helps you execute that focus. Just the ability to have that budget in there and your pricing model already set that calculates it and enables you to execute it day after day.”
With bidding under control with a faster process, Scarlett turned his attention to data collection. He was looking for a system that was able to track his closing rates, what his margins were compared to his estimates, and even deciding if his crews should continue making runs to the landfill, or just buy a dumpster for the yard.
Data became so important to his everyday decision-making, and it was something he just wasn’t getting out of Excel spreadsheets. Today, no matter the size of the decision, Scarlett is looking at Manage360 for the data he needs to make decisions that will positively impact his business.
“You need a way to collect the data to make business decisions on a day-to-day basis,” said Scarlett. “I have to have data. All my small and large decisions are based on data. I want to look at past performance, how we have done on projects. I want to look at how much I’ve spent on dump fees last year and how much is it going to save me to buy a dumpster. I’m all about doing analysis.”
“Unless you have systems in place to keep that information, I don’t know how you access that information. You’re making decisions based on gut feelings or what you think is happening. I don’t want to base decisions on what I think is happening. I want to know the data.”
With Manage360, Scarlett is now able to be more accurate in his estimates. For him, if you’re off on your estimate, you’re making a mistake. While it’s great to know if you are hitting your gross margins over the course of the year, Scarlett wants to know if he is hitting them job by job. He has taken that data and analyzed the efficiency of his crews, looking into things like the location of jobs that cause his crews to drive too much, or looking at specific crews to see why they’re not as efficient as others, and what they’re doing differently.
With more accurate estimates, Scarlett has been able to win more bids by tweaking his budgets if needed, knowing his crew can come in at the estimate he put in and still achieve the profit margin goal. All of this is possible because of the budgeting, job costing and estimating system that is feeding him plenty of information to make these kinds of business decisions.
“We want to be able to analyze it job by job so we can see if we are hitting our goal or not,” said Scarlett. “If you are hitting it, then maybe your net profit is not enough. You have to have that info in order to analyze and set your goals and constantly be reviewing. Things change, you get new guys, or you want to be able to know if you can give a little because you really want this job, knowing I can execute what I planned on. Without that information and job costing, I don’t know how you are doing that.”
With landscaping software in place, DynaScape’s Manage360 has turned Scarlett’s Landscape from a $100,000 business in to a $2.5 million business. They are taking on and winning more projects, so much so that they focus exclusively on new projects and designs. It’s grown the family business by so much that today, Scarlett has an estimator to complete all job estimates and bidding, because now the automated process is in place to ensure it will be accurate.
No more working all day and estimating at night. No more spreadsheet cost books and bids. Just a complete, automated system that has allowed this vice president to become more hands-off after more than a decade in the business.
“Having a system that can do all of these things for you is very important to me and my business,” said Scarlett. “The estimating system abled me to automate my estimating process to the point where I was able to hire an estimator and I don’t have to do that anymore. I wanted a system that was automated enough where someone could read a set of plans and do some takeoffs, and if they had some basic knowledge of construction they could execute an estimate accurately. Having that system and information has grown our business. DynaScape has really enabled us to get to where we are today.”
Check out this interview with Jeremy Scarlett, and DynaScape’s Vice President, Joe Salemi:
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