It took a global pandemic for Green Magic Landscape of Mobile, Alabama, to start embracing technology. But the company’s COO, Carita Koen, wishes they would have made the effort sooner.
“COVID was when we really had to pivot and adjust and embrace technology,” she says. “I think everyone at that time was in a pivot stage just because COVID was weird, unpredictable and overwhelming.”
Koen says that’s when the world saw an even bigger influx of people buying products online. She knew the company had to cash in on this trend.
“Everyone uses technology for something,” she says. “They pay their bills online, shop, ordering transportation and food — all that’s online. Everybody was using technology, and I just thought, ‘How could we use technology in or business to benefit us and our customers?’”
One thing Green Magic did was make it easy for prospective clients to get a quote online.
“During the pandemic, we started offering virtual quotes, and it’s been the best thing since sliced bread for us,” Koen says. “When we’d go to people’s houses, they wanted to talk to us, but they didn’t really want to be around us. We wanted to make it beneficial for them to get a quote virtually.”
Not only was the online option nice for customers, but Koen says the business benefited dramatically.
“We were spending a lot of time in traffic going to people’s homes to do estimates,” she says. “Then we’d have to get back, put the numbers in, do the estimate and it would just take a while. We figured if we could incorporate technology into our sales process, it’d make us more efficient and more profitable.”
Koen says it’s done just that, adding that the software used for the virtual quotes was well worth the investment.
“It’s not expensive,” she says. “I think we spent more in gas driving to people’s homes then we paid for the software.”
The software is user-friendly for everyone, something that’s important to ensure people use it.
“The system we use allows you to go to our website and fill out a form and upload a project video,” Koen says. “You just turn the camera to landscape mode, and you can talk, point to things and walk us through it on the video.
“With the system we use, you don’t have to be a super tech-savvy person to utilize it,” she adds.
Koen says the software is always evolving, and Green Magic is eagerly anticipating its next update.
“They are getting ready to make it correspond with Google Earth, so that’ll make it even easier to measure areas,” she says.
Ease of execution
Whether its quoting software, accounting software, fleet tracking or anything else, Koen says that when it comes to utilizing technology efficiently — it all starts with the implementation.
She suggests instituting a top-down approach to ensure a seamless 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 we bring our team on board,” she says. “I think that’s very important. As business owners, we don’t want to be the best at everything because you should have people on your team that do some things better than you, but we think it’s important to know how the process works. That way when there’s an issue or we have to do some conflict resolution, we can step in and take it from there.”
According to Koen, the next step in implementing something new is establishing a trial period to prove whether the technology is functional and profitable.
“Anytime that we’re utilizing a new system, I’ll basically do a trial period for 90 days,” she says. “I think that with anything you do, 90 days is the sweet spot to let you know if something is working or not.”
After a new concept or technology is rolled out, Koen says listening to those most impacted by it also helps gauge its success.
“We rely on the 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.”
Equally as important as customer feedback is employees’ reactions.
“We also rely on our employees because they have to do the work,” she says. “If there’s something that we’re implementing that they find is too complicated or takes too many steps, we like to sit down with them right away. It can usually be worked out. A lot of the times it’s a communication issue or a training issue.”
Breathe a sigh of relief
For Koen, the advantages of technology make things easy at every turn.
“Technology has allowed me to see my husband more instead of just seeing him leaving, especially during peak season” she jokes.
One of the reasons for this is automation, and Koen says that’s been a big time-saver for everyone.
“Doing the virtual quotes has been awesome, but having a system to automate everything and having those programs speak to one another has been awesome,” she says. “We’d spend so much time in the office re-entering the same information into different software systems. Now it goes to CRM and that speak to another system, and they all speak to each other.”
Automating the office has helped in all elements of the business. Koen says that’s been most beneficial.
“Embracing technology has made us more efficient,” she says. “Our response rates are quicker, and our turnaround time for creating projects is quicker.”
Koen admits to sleeping better at night after making technology a priority.
“All of us as business owners have things we stress about and some of it can be controlled and some of it cannot… But technology will just make you more organized, and organization increases efficiency, productivity and revenue,” she says. “Technology has made us more organized, and for that I’m very thankful.”