Struggles and Solutions to working with Utility Companies as a Landscape Contractor | Webs Unweaved

originally posted on LinkedIn

When utilities go to homes to do an install or repair, they often disrupt the owner’s property with trucks and equipment. The utilities then put out to bid, and award, remediation contracts to landscapers to correct the damage done to the property. Most utilities hand you a spreadsheet with pertinent information such as: Request/Tracking number (so the utility can keep track of the project), address, area (in square feet – 4x9 15x45 etc.), and comments about the site. It is now up to the landscaper to sort, dispatch, track, report, and invoice from that spreadsheet.

The Struggle

Spreadsheets are for graphing and analyzing numbers, not for holding data. Think about a spreadsheet of addresses, comments and areas (such as: 50x21 6x5 16x22) and answer some questions (abstractly of course)

  • How will you dispatch addresses to your crew? Another spreadsheet? Text message?
  • Did you sort the addresses by City, then by Address? Did the utility separate the address numbers from the names for you?

After sorting by City, if your Address numbers aren’t separated, you will get a street listing such as:

  • 1 Cook Street, Catskill, NY
  • 1 Main Street, Catskill, NY
  • … imagine 20 more addresses here
  • 4 Earl Street Catskill, NY
  • 6 Main Street Catskill NY

When you were hoping for this:

  • 1 Cook Street, Catskill, NY
  • 4 Earl Street Catskill, NY
  • 1 Main Street, Catskill, NY
  • 6 Main Street Catskill NY

Sorting by Address alone you will miss that there are 2 or more addresses on Main Street you could have hit in succession. Now your crews are in the same City but skipping around streets, wasting gas and time.

Here are some other questions:

  • How well do you know your geography in your area? Can you quickly identify how close one city is in proximity to another?
  • Where are all the duplicate addresses (you will get them) – if you have duplicate addresses in your list, you may accidentally send a crew out twice to the same location wasting gas and time.
  • Which addresses did you dispatch to your crew, and what did they do there? – You will need to know this so you can invoice the utility. You may need another spreadsheet here.
  • How is your crew communicating to you that addresses are completed, a notebook that you need to transcribe back to another spreadsheet, email or text that you need to copy and paste to the spreadsheet?
  • How many addresses are your crew doing per day? How many square feet?
  • Which sites are your Urgent sites – the sites from the utility that if not done, the customer is calling a Public Service Commission?

How many spreadsheets are there now? The utilities have one copy that they sent to you, you have a copy you got from the utility, you have another copy keeping track of where everybody is and possibly what they did, and maybe another (clean copy) ready to send back as an invoice to the utility.

See what I’m getting at? There seems to be a lot of time and money being wasted.

The Solution – Softscape

Softscape is tailored to landscapers who are contracted by utilities (gas, electric, or communication). With Softscape, your data is in a database – reachable by a custom web application available from practically anywhere.

Lets address (pun intended) those questions from above using Softscape:

  • With Softscape, the crew can practically dispatch themselves with a map of all the addresses. You or they can decide which group of address in an area they want to be at that day. Clicking on one of the addresses will give them directions to that address.
  • With Softscape, if you want to work off a spreadsheet, we sort the addresses by City, Address Name, then Address Number so your crew isn’t jumping all over.
  • With Softscape, dispatching from one city to another is as easy as selecting the markers on the map.
  • With Softscape, you get information about the square footage of each site, right from the map, so you can better plan if you need equipment or a few guys with rakes.
  • With Softscape, you have reports that will identify your crews statistics for that day, identify duplicate addresses, and show you some items that just may not look right.
  • With Softscape, your crew is able to submit a site from the field eliminating the time and effort needed to do it later.
  • With Softscape, each submission sends an email to you so you know, in real-time, what is being done.
  • With Softscape, urgent sites are easy to recognize on the map – the marker is red and has a “U” on it.
  • With Softscape, invoicing is a breeze – click a button – a spreadsheet is generated based on completed addresses so it’s ready to be sent back to the utility so you can get paid.

Other benefits to using Softscape and Webs Unweaved:

  • We will import your spreadsheet data if you like, unless you want to do it yourself from Softscape
  • Cancel anytime – If at any point you do not want to continue with this service, cancel. You don’t lose any of your data! All your data is downloadable in a spreadsheet format better than the way it went in. We include all the work, dates, and notes you generated.
  • Your data is secure – we give you usernames and passwords so you have access.
  • New features are always being added based on your needs.

Have a chat with us – let us tell you about it. Or Register now and get your first month for FREE.