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Green Industry Perspectives: How Goat Turf LLC has become more profitable and efficient by using SingleOps

January 21, 2020 · 21 min read

   

Welcome to the first installment of Green Industry Perspectives – a video series in which SingleOps’ CEO, Sean McCormick, sits down with different SingleOps’ customers to discuss their experience in the green industry, solutions to challenges they are facing, and how SingleOps is helping their companies win new more business, streamline operations and win customers for life.

Watch as Sean sits down with SingleOps’ customer Tyler Burnett, the founder of Goat Turf LLC, located in Murfreesboro, TN. Tyler started Goat Turf in 2018 after having identified a need for an artificial turf business in the middle Tennessee area. After 9 months of operating, Goat Turf grew to $100K in monthly revenue. Sean and Tyler discuss Tyler’s journey through the green industry, and how he’s managed to grow his business so quickly while also becoming more profitable and efficient.

 

 

Interested in learning how SingleOps could help your business like it has Goat Turf? Click here to schedule a free online demo. Want to join Sean for an interview? Shoot us an email at info@singleops.com. 

 

Full Transcript of the Interview Below: 

Sean:

Hi. I’m Sean McCormick with SingleOps, and I am here today with Tyler Burnett of Goat Turf. Tyler, how are you doing?

Tyler:

Wonderful. How are you?

Sean:

Good. Good. Well, Tyler, first off, thank you for joining us for our SingleOps customer interview series. I really appreciate your time. Love to kind of ask you a few questions about your business and your take on the industry.

Tyler:

All right, sounds great. Fire away.

Sean:

Awesome. Cool. Well, to get started, about you and your business, how did you get started in the green industry?

Tyler:

I think I got started a lot of ways, same way a lot of people get started, 14, 15 years old and you want to start doing things and your parents tell you, “Well, you need to go make your own money.” So, that’s kind of how I got started. I first started cutting my grandparents grass and then got into cutting their neighbor’s house and then the next neighbor. Wanted to be able to do things with my own money when I turned 15, 16 years old, and just kept knocking on doors and asking if I could cut the grass when I’m see a yard that needed to be cut. That’s kind of how I got into it.

Tyler:

Through college, I played baseball in college and I continue to do it just because I developed a passion for it and it was a way for me to have some financial freedom. So, just kind of continued through college and played professional baseball for a few years, as well. I even had a couple of crews while I was playing still running back home.

Sean:

Really? That’s awesome.

Tyler:

I just love to have an ability to take care of other people and I felt like I provided a resource for them and to open up some free time for them to be able to do other things. It was a way for me to have some financial freedom, too. So, we’re both able to win. Then I kind of got away from a little while. I opened up an indoor baseball facility, training kids, and did some other things.

Tyler:

I had a guy ask me playing golf one day, he’s talking about turf in his backyard. I was like, “I’ve done a lot of landscaping type stuff in the past,” and I was very intrigued by somebody in middle Tennessee turfing their yard. It’s just not a thing you see. It’s not like Arizona or California. He said, “Yeah, I got a bid for $30,000 night,” and I, “Wow! There’s some opportunity it sounds like.” So, started doing a little bit more research and decided I wanted to give it a try. I knew a guy who did some excavation and rock work, and I knew that I could kind of sub him out on that, and I gave the guy a bid and told him I would give him a $2,000 discount if he paid upfront. And he wrote me a check right there on this bar that day, and that’s how I started the company.

Sean:

That’s awesome. So, for folks getting started, what do you think it was that gave that first customer the confidence to write that check for you?

Tyler:

That’s a good question. He knows that I’m really passionate about things that I do, and he’s just confident in me knowing that if this was what I was going to do, that I was going to go at it full-tilt boogie and make sure it was done right. I think I had just over the years developed trust in him and him seeing me do other things in life, and I believe that’s what gave him the ability to trust me and move forward.

Sean:

That’s awesome. Yeah, it sounds like your personal connection with him definitely bought that confidence.

Tyler:

Absolutely.

Sean:

Well, that’s awesome. About your business, Goat Turf. You’re one of our favorite customers with SingleOps. You have an amazing business, so I want to share it with the viewer about the business. Why do customers choose turf? Why do your customers choose it?

Tyler:

Well, I think it kind of piggybacks off what I just said. Anything that I do, I go at it like crazy. I want to be the best and most knowledgeable in the industry. I think the way that I’ve gone about attacking the turf business in middle Tennessee, and they’re not being many people familiar with it, and really just spending time with manufacturers, spending time with vendors, suppliers, and spending time with people that are excavating professionals and people that are the … spending time at the quarries and learning about rock, and really just diving in and learning the most I possibly can about the trade. Then you’re partnering that with my communication and my professionalism. SingleOps has been a huge part of that.

Tyler:

Originally, I was creating bids on Excel. I was sending them pictures through here. I was making notes and trying to do drawings and stuff and put it all together through another file. Then I was all over the place with then doing some QuickBooks. I just was scatterbrained with how I was going to order my material. Have I ordered this yet or not? Just, I was all over the place and I was developing … I didn’t know that I needed a software yet. I knew that I needed something that wasn’t going to take me to 12 different platforms to try to get one common goal accomplished.

Tyler:

Being in business like anybody else, you got to be about numbers. That’s one of my things. I’m big about numbers. I want to know exactly where we’re at. I want to see, can I pay a project manager $10,000 more? Can I get a cheaper price on the material? Did I charge the right for the customer? All of those things is when I began looking for a product like SingleOps, and when I found SingleOps, I just knew. It was like, all the notes that I had made, I had a sheet written out with 15, 20 goals that I wanted to have out of one system. Kind of that I’ve pulled from a little bit of everything else I was doing. It was like, just checkmark, checkmark, checkmark, checkmark. As I continued just to go down, I was like, “Yeah, somebody’s been in this same situation before, and they went ahead and developed it.”

Tyler:

So, it was really comforting to find that and see that system. That’s allowed me to have the better communication with the customer, to show them where we’re going to park, to show them that we know where the turf is going to go, to send a professional bid, to send them a professional invoice, and like the e-sign on the proposals. All of that just helped with my knowledge, and then having a legit software and helping me convey the professional message that I have trapped inside. I think those two things were the biggest reasons why customers choose me.

Sean:

That’s awesome. A great answer. I love that. That first part, especially, to how you built up this knowledge over time. Of course, out of hard work and an interest, and then established yourself, your area, which is still new to what you’re doing, as like an authority. So, folks are going to you for that information, and then you built a lot of it. I love that part of your story there.

Tyler:

Yeah. The goal is definitely to be the turf guy, right? When people think turf, I want them to think Goat Turf. That’s what I want, and that’s what we’re striving to do every day with every member of my team. We all have the same common goal and we’re going forward with that.

Tyler:

What are the things that you do to reinforce that with your team?

Tyler:

We have Monday morning, we have meetings every Monday, and we kind of go over the previous week and do a recap. Then we also go over our goals for this week, what jobs we have coming up, what goals we have for those jobs, where we need to be, all of those things. It’s been a series of a lot of different meetings. We’ve grown so fast. Just to have the right people on board, and there’s just … with such exponential growth. I’ve got to start delegating to people. We’ve had a lot of different meetings, and these guys have been absolute troopers. We’ve been on the phone until 11:00 at night some nights, and they’ve spent Saturdays on Sundays here. I think I got the right people on the team is the biggest thing that’s helped. I’ve got the people that want to be on the boat and they want to go in the same direction together. That’s been big for us.

Tyler:

That’s awesome. Yeah, I love the recurring team meeting. It’s simple. A lot of companies start it and then stop doing it or think they don’t need it, or it’s, oh, we meet so many times throughout the week. But to have that cadence and that rhythm of this meeting, we’re just going to put our heads down and get everyone on the same page at the same time, it’s perfect timing. Yeah, very well done there.

Tyler:

I also try to show up on the job sites at different phases, too, so I can reiterate the importance of this during this phase and this during this phase. Spending some time on the job site when I’m able to has has been another important thing for us to go over our goals and why we do things the way we do.

Sean:

Yeah, absolutely. Well, great. I’ve enjoyed it learning about your business. In terms of the industry as a whole, what do you see are some of the biggest challenges facing the industry today?

Tyler:

The biggest challenge I deal with on a daily basis is the knowledge of my industry. Turf is new in this area, so I constantly have to educate the market. I get a lot of questions. Is it the same stuff I can go buy from Home Depot or Walmart or Lowe’s? They think of the really, really short turf that people in the ’80s used to roll out in their back patios, and they think of football turf and all kinds of different things. They don’t realize that there’s pet turfs and there’s bocce ball court and there’s putting greens and there’s landscape. There’s all different variations of turf and how far the industry has come over the last five years and how realistic it looks.

Tyler:

I mean, there are so many pros to the turf as opposed to cons. Like the drainage, no mud tracking in the house, no chemicals needed. You don’t need to make sure you have a good lawn care service that can make your yard look good and edge it very well. There are so many different factors. It can rain for six hours straight, you can get six inches of rain in six hours, and you can have your kids out there in the backyard playing five minutes later.

Sean:

Hmm, that’s interesting

Tyler:

I mean, there are just so many advantages. I still get customers every day saying, “Do I have to water it? Do I have to cut it?” No. So, that’s my biggest challenge is, number one, educating the market, and then the price. On my average job, I’m probably dealing with 10 different vendors. I’ve got shipping costs from every vendor coming in and all kinds of different materials. Then just the organization of the entire job and excavating and hauling off material and bringing NGO textile fabric, bringing rock in from the quarry, getting it back to the job site through a four-foot gate and a fence, and it’s the only access, and all of those things. Really just conveying to the customer all the work and materials that go into it.

Tyler:

A lot of times I quote a job, I used to quote a job before I qualified the customer, and I quote it at $10,000 and I get a response of, “I thought it was going to be $1,500.” That’s another one of my biggest challenges. So, education to the customer, from what goes into it and then a price, the benefits of it and then a price of what it costs to install.

Sean:

Yeah. I want to pick apart, actually, or pull out something that you mentioned there. You talked about before you started qualifying customers. What do you mean by qualifying customers? What do you do, and what benefit is that providing?

Tyler:

Well, we try to take them… Obviously, we get their information and we try to look at Google Maps or SingleOps and pull up the map and see what kind of area we got. Sometimes it does do take-offs, just discuss with the customer, have them send us pictures, and really just kind of try to get a grasp of what they’re looking at trying to do, and then give them a ballpark figure. I had a customer this morning say, “I have an area that’s about 900 square feet.” So we talked about what they wanted to do and kind of their access and some of those key points that we look at when we go bid a job. The customer stated that it was going to be … gave us all the facts, and we said, “It’s going to be somewhere between ten and twelve thousand dollars.” We said, “Okay, is that something you’re still willing to move forward with?” And they usually say, “Oh, absolutely, completely. I understand.”

Tyler:

Or they say, “Man, that’s higher than I thought.” That’s when we go into explaining the service, what all goes into it, how long it’s going to last, all the pros versus the cons. Then if they still are not willing to spend that much money, then we don’t drive two hours to and from a job. What we really do is try to learn how important it is to them and what problem we’re solving and if we can be a solution for them or not.

Sean:

Yeah, I love that part of your process because it’s so time-consuming to really fully build out an estimate, especially you’ve got to go onsite. Just for the client, too, that where they’re just not on the same page with you with what it’s going to cost. And so, I understand it really quickly is, saves you a bunch of time and ultimately makes it so that you don’t have a potentially unhappy customer or someone who’s shocked about that.

Tyler:

We’re also using the new tool that, I don’t know if it’s a new tool, but it’s new to my knowledge through SingleOps, the production rates. We’re able to type in some things real quick so I can let the square footage of the job dictate turf and my infill and my rock and my excavation. I could put it in square footage, and boom, it populates that real quick. I could get close to a price. How many miles away is the job, knowing fuel, how many days it’s going to take with providing my company overhead and things like that. I’m able to, on a ballpark figure, I can type in four or five production rate items and get a price pretty quick. Now obviously, sometimes it’s going to fluctuate based on accessibility and some of those factors, but it can get me within $1,000 within two minutes.

Tyler:

If I’m talking to a new lead, I put them in SingleOps and I create the lead, and then I start looking as I’m talking to the customer and I see that they have real interest, I can go ahead and create a proposal, type and some of those things and be able to give them a good ballpark figure. So, when I get there, I don’t tell them it’s going to be approximately 10,000 and I quote them 15. I’m able to give them a legit ballpark estimate and not be all over the place. That’s really helped me show, we go back to the professionalism again. If I tell a customer’s going to be about 10 and I come in at 15, I think that you kind of jeopardizes your professionalism there.

Sean:

That’s awesome. I’m glad SingleOps is helping you speed it up, too, because speed is the name of the game. Customers want that, they expect it. And accuracy is, as well. If you’re saying it’s going to be around something, you’d want to be close to it. That’s-

Tyler:

When we tell the customer, we schedule a proposal, “We’re going to come out here, we’re going to be able to finish your proposal within 30 minutes. I’ll be able to email you the proposal and show it to you on my iPad within 30 minutes from taking measurements, and we’d love to leave with a 60% deposit and get you on our schedule and order materials.” That’s kind of the way we go in and we spend … We make sure we spend our time. I’m not trying to rush and get out of the potential customer, but we show that we know what we’re doing, we know what our costs are, we know what we need to charge, we have the knowledge to do our job, and that’s what we do. Then 50% of the time or better, we leave with a 60% deposit.

Sean:

I mean, that’s a great close rate, and you’re able to achieve that, too, because before you even make that ask, you’re telling the customer that you’re going to do what you say. When you say, “Hey, we’re going to be there assessment at this time, you’re going to receive it 30 minutes afterward,” and then they do, they already say, “All right, these guys are legit. I want to work with them.” I’m sure that’s helping you increase your close rates or have those good close rates.

Sean:

You know what? We’ve actually pretty much hit on this a handful of times through some of your earlier answers to the questions, but my next question was going to ask you, how has SingleOps helped you improve your business? You spent a lot of time on that, so thank you so much.

Tyler:

Well, I mean, I think just the organization and, like I talked about, having so many things in one, but not only just from a price standpoint, but from a work order standpoint. Our guys get here, they go to the job, they print the work order off from their iPad, and that’s how they go load at the shop, at our shop. They go load the job, what they need for that job, that day, the day before they’re able to go ahead and schedule anything we need to be brought in like rock, or if we need to take our dump truck or if we need to get a couple of dump trucks lined up to excavate. The organization has been a huge part of it.

Tyler:

One thing I haven’t really hit on that has been a huge home run for us is the profitability increase. I think the profitability increase has a lot to do with the organization. Getting everything done more efficient, making sure we had all the inventory here at the shop for jobs we had coming up. But one of the biggest tools for me has been the job costing. When we complete a job and we go and verify actual quantities, and we’ve got our employees clocking in on the app so we know exactly how much labor cost is associated at the shop and how much is at the job and all of those things that I would have put together.

Tyler:

So, not only has it helped us from a profitability standpoint because we’re able to understand what our true cost is, but also because we can make adjustments moving forward and understand where we got hurt on that job. We know. If we had an estimated 30% net margins and we hit 15% wide, learn from it and move forward. Put a countermeasure in place within our company to where we don’t have that situation happen again.

Sean:

I love that. Job costing is one of my favorite pieces of the software because it ties together, and so when you got it working well, it means that you’re pricing well in the system, or you’re pricing in the system lost your labor and you can kind of just compare that and see and see. See who’s a profitable customer, profitable area of town, profitable, or not, and make decisions based on that, which is so critical to.

Tyler:

Well, it’s your scorecard. It’s your scoreboard. When you look back at the end of the game and you look up at the scoreboard, that tells you, did you win, did you lose? Sometimes obviously you can win. You can make less money than you wanted to and still win and have a lifetime customer, or whatever the case may be. But it gives a goal for our project manager when he goes out there and he knows this job is supposed to be a two-day job, and he knows that we have 20 hours of labor associated with the job, and if they finish at 15 he knows that he capitalized on an opportunity. It’s really big for us to give some motivation and to set a goal for everybody, and also for us to just track and continue to improve our business as we go.

Sean:

Awesome. Well, that’s great to hear, Tyler. My last question, what are you most excited about moving forward in the industry?

Tyler:

We’re just really just getting into so much new stuff and really just continuing to learn some of the materials coming out. The turf is just changing every year. Some of the vendors are offering new products and different manufacturing techniques that they’re using to make the products better. Really just continuing to learn the trade and provide solutions to problems. We’re doing rooftops and hotels in downtown Nashville, and playgrounds all over the place in Kentucky and Alabama and Tennessee, and really just impacting more people through business. That’s really what I love to do, impacting my employees and obviously financially, but also, I mean, my guys come, and they love coming to work. I want to impact more people. The more business we do, the more customers we impact, the more vendors and then their employees we impact. Really, my whole goal in business is to be able to impact more people.

Sean:

Well, that’s awesome. That’s one of our missions, as well, to impact as many people as possible. We actually set a goal this year to have it be a few million, which is a lofty goal, but I think we’ll be able to do it. So, Tyler, it’s great to hear that, and I love what you’re looking forward to in the industry. It’s been great to see. I mean, yeah, you mentioned very early on in the session how customers think of turf sometimes as that stuff from the ’80s, but then you kind of see some of the product innovation that’s happened over the last few years, and it is really exciting to see where it’s going.

Tyler:

Yep.

Sean:

Well, great. Well, Tyler, thank you so much for your time. Really appreciate it, and have a great rest of the week.

Tyler:

All right. Thank you.