Remember flip phones? And then when you got a smartphone? Could you ever imagine going back? This is how I see Service Autopilot’s Automations feature. I could not picture running my landscaping company without them.
So what exactly are Automations? Automations are a feature of Service Autopilot that allow you to bring together and automate many of the features that you already use on an everyday basis with the CRM software. All the things you create manually when using Service Autopilot can be programmed to happen AUTOMATICALLY using Automations.
Specifically, Automations brings together many of the features you already use and are familiar with:
I went to school to be an engineer (although I never did get a job) but I still do have an engineer’s brain. In my eyes, I see Automations as a simple form of “programming” that allows you to “program” your business to run.
In this way, I have essentially set up my landscaping company to run on its own. Using this technology in combination with hand picked core team members has allowed me to be involved in my business about 1 hour per day, and rarely do I physically visit the shop.
I recommend using Automations for anything you find yourself doing more than once. If you are doing something for a second time, take a mental note. If you are doing it for the third time, this task should be added to your list of things to be automated.
I recommend using the simplest, most powerful Automations first, and then getting more complex with your ideas. To get you started, the Service Autopilot Marketplace has many free templates to get you started. Alternatively, Certified Advisors such as Ready Business Systems can be contracted to set up and manage your Automations for you.
Following up on estimates may not currently be something you perform repeatedly, but it is definitely something that SHOULD BE! If not, you are missing many opportunities.
As landscape company owners, we are always running around doing a million different things. We get calls for estimates all the time, and typically we send them out and forget about them.
This is a problem because the customer very well may not have gotten the estimate (went to spam), or they are just too busy and you catch them at a bad time. When they don’t hear back they call another landscaper, or just forget about it. This is why estimate follow up Automations are so powerful!
Using Automations, once you send an estimate, a plethora of things can happen. For example, the customer can be emailed, texted, and even receive automated voicemail bombs through SendJim that will continually remind the lead about the proposal until they give you a “yes” or “no”.
Once implementing an estimate follow up Automation in your account you will be shocked at how much your sales skyrocket!
In the marketplace, search for “Perfect Estimate Follow Up” for a free Automation from Service Autopilot. Don’t feel like dealing with it yourself? Check out “RBS-01: Estimate Follow Up with Prospecting” which has SendJim voicemail bombs built in as well as allow your customer to request a follow up in 10 days, 30 days, or the following spring.
If you have been around the Service Autopilot crowd for a while, you may have heard about the idea of autopay by credit card. It’s really not something that is “standard” in the landscaping industry. For the most part, landscapers are expected to cut your lawn for a month, send and invoice, and hope to get paid 6 weeks later for the work completed.
Jonathan Pototschnik (the founder of SA) I believe was one of the first pioneers of mandating his landscaping customers to put their credit card on file. Once on file, cards can be charged weekly or even daily for completed work.
The benefits of autopay by credit card are clear:
So I went a bit off track there, but the reason I mentioned all this is because when you combine this credit card autopay concept with Automations, you have an amazing system for getting paid.
Combining these two powerful tools ensures that cashflow and debt collection are problems you can now put in the “completed” pile indefinitely.
Collections Automations can be triggered based on a failed credit card charge, or an invoice being past due. Whether your customers are required to have a card on file or not, they can be reminded of their overdue bill by text message, email, and voicemail bombs. To-dos can be automatically created to notify yourself or your office staff of this bad pumpkin so you can stop service or send the client to collections.
In the marketplace, search for “017 - Cash Flow (Invoice Past Due)” which is a free automation from Service Autopilot. Don’t want to deal with it yourself? Check out “RBS-03: Office Automation” which provides collections Automations as well as automates other routine office tasks.
I have been in the landscaping industry for two decades, and I know how it is. In the spring, you are so busy picking up the phone for new customers that sometimes you forget to take care of your existing customers.
If only there were two of you…
But WAIT! There can be. Using Automations, of course. This is one of my favorite Automations.
Using a trigger such as “job was completed” or “estimate was accepted”, you can be sure to automatically and “personally” follow up with each and every client on a routine basis.
The basic idea is this: each time you mow a customers lawn, or complete a mulch job, for example, a follow up is triggered. I found that text messages work well, saying something simple such as “Hi, this is Justin with RI Lawns, just touching base with you to make sure you were happy with the mow our crew did for you yesterday. Let us know if there is anything else we can do for you”.
While you are running around trying to drum up new business, your customers will really appreciate this “personal” follow up you somehow found the time for in the busy spring season.
These text messages can be substituted for, or sent in conjunction with, a voicemail or an email that customers cannot decipher from a real, personalized message.
On top of all these things, forms can be automatically emailed out at the completion of each service, asking customers for feedback. A positive score can trigger a review request to automatically build your online reputation, and a bad score can trigger an apology text message or even a gift and card mailed out through the SendJim integration.
Don’t feel like building it yourself? Search the marketplace for “RBS-02: Customer Service Automation”, which ensures you touch base with your clients on a monthly basis, and stay up to par with your brand new clients you worked so hard to sell that job to.
With these three Automations (Estimate Follow Up, Collections, and Customer Service) you are already eons ahead of your competition. Depending on the size of your company, these Automations alone can easily replace a part time office person and/or make your office person hyper-productive. More importantly, they ensure critical things are not forgotten in your business!
Although I believe these are the 3 most powerful Automations available, there really is no limit but your creativity (or the creativity of one of our advisors!) as to what these Automations can do for you and your team.
I’ll give you a few more creative examples to leave with. You can easily automate your equipment tasks, employee tasks, and HR activities through the creative use of the CRM system:
Good luck with your Automations journey, and remember you have many resources at your fingertips if you need help such as the Facebook Members group, the Service Autopilot Automations team, or your friendly neighborhood Certified Advisors!