Harder Services Instantly Saves Time, Improves Accuracy, & Closes More Leads
October 4, 2021
Harder Services, Inc. has been providing Long Island and New York City with quality and affordable tree and landscaping services since 1922. Founded by Frank Kenneth Harder, the company has remained a family-owned business for almost 100 years. The Harder team includes ISA-Certified Arborists, both Utility and Municipal Specialists, a Certified Nursery and Landscape Professional, DEC-Certified Applicators, ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualified arborists and a registered Consulting Arborist who provide all levels of the professional tree, landscaping, and maintenance expertise for homes and businesses.
For business management and accounting, Harder Services previously used a DOS-based system that was over twenty years old. “We were very paper-based and used handwritten proposals and work orders with triplicate carbon copies. There was minimal info put into the system. Processes were cumbersome and time-consuming. It was frustrating to handwrite everything and try to remember details when I got back to my office. There wasn’t even a way for me to email customers.
“With municipal bids, we needed to provide unit prices, such as for removal of trees within a specific size range. It was difficult to do that math without any frame of reference and line-item details from past contracts. With the world moving rapidly toward centralized data, it was obvious we were lagging way behind.” explained Jack Harder, General Manager, Harder Services.
Jack spent a few years evaluating a wide range of software, including CRM apps like Salesforce.com and green industry programs like Arborgold, ArborSoftWorx, Jobber, and LMN. Because Harder Services provides recurring maintenance as well as one-off jobs, the company required different ways of estimating.
“Prior to seeing SingleOps, I had found some solutions for route-based maintenance activity which lacked the ability to handle an estimate to prune a tree. Conversely, Arborgold was great for IPM and tree care, but not route-based maintenance. I set up a SingleOps demo account and it checked way more boxes than any other program I had experienced. SingleOps could do everything we needed,” stated Jack.
“The implementation support provided by SingleOps was great. The team helped with importing data, building custom reports, and integrating with QuickBooks. For us, moving to SingleOps was taking a big leap, like from a windmill to a nuclear reactor.”
Instant Time Savings & Improved Accuracy
“With SingleOps, we realized instant time savings and improved accuracy. Previously, sales reps would hand write details on proposals and the notes weren’t always reliably transcribed onto work orders. Now, we don’t have to worry about not being able to read handwriting.
“We’ve also seen an increase in efficiency by using the tags feature to tag pieces of equipment, tools, plant materials, and more. We can also add warnings such as ‘No parking’ or ‘Talk to the neighbors.’ Our crews leave more prepared, with far fewer instances of crews getting to the jobsite, then calling the supervisor because they forgot a wheelbarrow. All the info they need is right in front,” stated Jack.
Additionally, printing, sorting, and distributing maintenance work orders used to require an entire day every week, and now takes only five minutes.
Generating Proposals Quickly, Closing More Leads Faster
Harder Services integrated a lead capture form on their website. New prospects can fill out the form requesting a proposal and a lead is automatically created in SingleOps for follow up. The company also receives many messages through Yelp and has set up an automated reply directing people to the request form.
“Everything was running smoothly, and we were cranking out more proposals, as well as using SingleOps to generate work orders and invoices. What really opened the floodgates for us was seeing displayed on the home screen the number of leads converted and the percentage change from last week. Those stats were going bonkers. We were converting more leads every week through the first several months of using the system. I think the number one reason is time savings.
“I was taking leads and going out to take notes, and then I could sit in my car on my tablet or at my desk at the end of the day and send out 5 to 10 proposals in one-tenth of the time it used to take me to hand write them. In addition to generating proposals onsite, salespeople can return to the office to dedicate time to building more complex proposals that include architectural drawings,” explained Jack.
Vital Profitability Insights Support Job Costing and Commission Payments
“Job costing in our old system took forever, with hand-written work orders, pay rates for each individual crew member, and work start and stop times. Now, we don’t have to do that anymore. With SingleOps, we built custom fields to input variables such as labor rate, insurance, vehicle use, and overhead to develop a formula to generate a loaded rate.
“Lack of insights into profitability had also made it difficult for our salespeople to price new maintenance jobs. Our experienced senior managers could just eyeball it and know the price, but I couldn’t get a clear understanding of how they reached those numbers. Now our maintenance profitability report is one of the items I use most. The report shows every visit along with man hours and costs. When calculating pricing, I can also consider the profitability of nearby customers.
“With greater insights, we’ve been able to uncover some jobs we costed years ago when wages were much lower, and realize we needed to make adjustments to be profitable. Now, we can also ensure that commission is paid only after a minimum profitability threshold has been met,” stated Jack.
Quickly Sending Invoices and Receiving Payments
Once a month, Harder Services’ office manager used to spend nearly an entire day printing, stuffing, and addressing maintenance invoices, and now it’s down to 10 minutes.
Several Harder customers set up recurring credit card payments. Overall, use of SingleOps has enabled Harder Services to reduce the time to receive payments from several weeks to mere hours in many cases.
Improving Customer Service and Communication
SingleOps has also enabled Harder Services to improve customer communications. The company previously had no way to email customers. Now, the team uses email templates frequently and regularly receives positive feedback. Customers are able to click a button to accept a proposal, pay an invoice, or request additional services.
“When we have a shorter week due to a holiday, I email maintenance customers to remind them that we might show up on a different day and we can’t take requests for additional services. One hundred percent of the replies I’ve received have been positive, such as, ‘Thanks,’ or ‘Can I get another estimate?’” said Jack.
Accepting Deposits and Prepayments
Harder Services is now able to take prepayments as well as deposits, with everything clearly labeled in SingleOps. The company sends out proposals with the deposit fees outlined and prompts the customer to pay the upfront percentage upon acceptance of the proposal.
SingleOps Incorporates Customer Feedback
Jack has submitted feature requests to SingleOps, some of which were ultimately added to the product for all SingleOps users. “SingleOps has evolved so much over the last couple of years. The company is very attuned to user feedback, and the support team is always very helpful,” concluded Jack.