Case Study: Technology Increases A Contractor’s Productivity
In today's environment, the pressure to be competitive is enormous.
Without implementing time management systems and using the tools and technology that are available, it is a foregone conclusion that you and your company will always be fighting for more time, productivity and profit.
Take Kyle Carlisle, who in 2006 started Carlisle Land Management, LLC. It is a full-service commercial and residential landscape company located in Sikeston, Missouri. “I started this business for one reason: to take care of my family,” he said. “As the years went on, I became so wrapped up in building and running the business, and trying to do everything myself that my family was operating without me.”
“The year 2006 is also the year my son was born. I looked up one day and realized, it’s 2011 and my son’s already five.
I said to myself, ‘Wow! How’d that happen? A minute ago, I was holding a newborn in my arms.’ By then, I’d also had a daughter.”
The sacrifice Carlisle was making to support his growing family was also stealing the time he wanted to spend with them. He thought that there had to be a better way, and began researching tools to help his company become more efficient.
In 2012, six years after starting his business, he found ExakTime. The company offered a workforce management and time-tracking system for contractors that saved time and boosted his bottom line. It even made him a better dad.
Using the ExakTime mobile app on a smartphone or tablet, a supervisor can clock in employees onsite, using the GPS and camera features for verification. There’s also a crew clock-in option, allowing a supervisor to clock in a crew that’s working on one task, as a unit.
“The key to a successful bid is knowing how much a job is really going to cost you,” Carlisle said. “Using this app, we’ve been able to see exactly how much time we’re spending doing each task.” He said that’s allowed him to make better, more accurate estimates and bids.
Each task, whether it’s mowing, string trimming, or changing a sprinkler head, has a specific cost code. Before a crew member begins any task, or switches from one task to another, he enters the cost code for that task. Each task is allotted a standard amount of time that should not be exceeded. With the app, Carlisle can monitor the cost codes and times as work progresses.
For instance, before trimming the hedge at Mrs. Jones’ house, the crew member first types in the job code for “trimming.” Carlisle knows that the hedge at that location is 50 feet long, and that the average amount of time it takes to trim it is 12 minutes. If the crew member exceeds that amount of time for some reason, Carlisle will know about it.
The app uses the phones’ GPS capabilities to tell him whether his workers are really clocking in onsite. “It puts a virtual barrier (Geofence) around a jobsite. After someone’s clocked in, we’re able to see if they’re still within that barrier, or if they’ve left it.”
The money-hemorrhaging practice of “buddy punching,” a time-card for someone else, is completely eliminated. The moment a crew leader checks in an employee on his smartphone or tablet, the app’s “FaceFront Biometrics” feature snaps his photo and notes the exact time and location. No more time-card fudging, either.
The app enables Carlisle’s crew leaders to ‘attach’ a piece of equipment to an employee while he or she is using it, keeping the leader apprised not only on where that machine is, but how long it was used for. “It’ll show you the number of hours each piece of equipment was run and report on it, so we’ll know when it’s due for maintenance.”
Carlisle also uses the app to monitor travel time between jobs. “That’s been huge for us. Say someone doesn’t show up at a jobsite on time. If the salesperson said it should be a 15-minute drive to the customer’s house, we know that with a truck and trailer, that probably turns into 20 to 25 minutes. But when we see that it took someone over 30 minutes to get there, we know we’ve got an issue, and we can look into what caused it.”
“Not too long ago, at an event, I heard a guest speaker say, ‘Learners are leaders, and leaders are learners.’ If you’re not willing to get on the bandwagon as far as new technology goes, the younger generation is going to pass us up.” (Carlisle isn’t exactly an old-timer; he just turned 29.)
What’s the result of the three-year experiment? The proof is in the profits. “Prior to 2012, we were averaging $83,000 a year in gross revenue per technician (full-time equivalent). In 2012, we got those numbers up to $108,000 per technician. That’s a 30- percent increase in productivity, all from being able to manage our manhours more accurately.” After the initial big jump, there’s been a leveling off. “We’re reaching the max-out point of what one person can produce.”
Believing in sharing knowledge, Carlisle was asked to speak at a recent trade convention. He showed the audience, through a PowerPoint presentation how the app not only bolstered his business, but allowed him to strengthen his relationships with his family, his customers and the community.
Now that his son is eight and his daughter is six, Carlisle is able to spend time with them “every chance I get. I coach their baseball, basketball teams, and go to their school events. If I hadn’t harnessed my time with this application, I’d have missed all that.”