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Automating Scheduling, Invoicing, and Quality Assurance for a Landscape Company

A Case Study

About the Company

Nearby Neighbours was a service that connected students in high school to mow lawns for their neighbours within walking distance. The students would bring their own lawn mowers and weed whackers and service up to 4 clients at a time. The company was teaching adolescents independence while introducing them to the working world but this came with a logistical nightmare.

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The Problem

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The Problem

Scheduling Students

The concept for scheduling the young entrepreneurs was unique and could not be achieved by any existing scheduling tool. Here’s what needed to happen: Each student needed to automatically receive a schedule that lists which houses to attend and what tasks were required from each client. On top of this, we needed a way to collect payments from the customer and calculate the amount that each student should receive at the end of every week

The Problem

How Customers Pay

The payment structure required clients to pay every time a student completes their property. The amount depended on the size of the client's yard and any additional services that the client required. They could choose from small, medium, and large lawns which had rough square footage references. They could also choose to have their student trim around the edges of the yard, pick up dog poop, or they could request their own custom additional service. Each additional task would add to the total bill.

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Payment via Mobile Phone
The Problem

How The Students Are Paid

On top of this, students should be payed based on the amount of time each client requires, but instead of tracking students time, we would calculate the amount of time a client required and pay the student a set price per client based on this amount of time. The total amount of properties that the student attended should be added up and payed out at the end of each week.

The Problem

Assuring Quality Work From the Students

Finally, we needed a way to communicate each request of each client to the student in a clear, straight-forward way. We also needed to use “before” and “after” photos in case clients weren’t home during the service and to mitigate any liability concerns in regards to property damage.

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The Problem Summarized

We were looking for a way for students to always have their schedule defined, know exactly what to do for each customer, record necessary information for quality assurance, get paid at the end of every week, and invoice customers as soon as a student completes a lawn. This would free up the time of the business owner to only be responsible for onboarding new clients, hiring new students.

The Tech Stack

Monday.com

Project Management

Monday is a great project manager that acts similar to excel but has a beautiful, easy-to use User-Interface. It was chosen because it’s API abilities were very diverse. This would be used to store each customer and all their data. Each student would use this to set their availability, see their schedules and each customers requirements. Monday.com was essentially the “Front End” of the entire system for the students.

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Quickbooks

Payment Processing & Bookkeeping

Quickbooks would be used to pay students, invoice customers, accept payments online, and track everything for bookkeeping purposes.

Google Drive

Photo Sharing

Google drive would be used to allow each customer to access “Before” and “After” photos of each servicing.

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Outlook

Email Notifications

Email reminders were important for making sure everyone was notified.

Twilio

SMS Service

Students didn’t check their emails as often so SMS notifications were required to ensure each student was ready to go!

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Make.com

Automation Service

Finally, we used a service to tie it all together. Make.com is a great tool for creating in-depth automations and it was definitely put to the test.

Tying it all together

How It Was Structured

Setting Up The Processes

When a new student was hired, they would be invited to monday.com as a member and told to download the Monday.com mobile application on their phones so they can update statuses and upload pictures. Each student would have access to 3 boards, their Availability board, their Schedule board, and their History board. Their availibility board allowed them to define their availability for each day of the upcoming week. Clients would be directly added to the students schedule board and would hold all the data that the business owner needed to see but the students were only able to see the data relevant to them. For each client, a subitem would be added for each task. For example: 1_Take Before Photos, 2_Mow Lawn, 3_Weed Whack, 4_Pick Up Dog Poop, 5_Sweep Sidewalk, 6_Take After Photos. When it was time to go to each customers’ property, the students would take their mobile phones with them so that each task could be checked off as the student works through them. Once they were finished serving each customer, the customer would be automatically invoiced and the emailed with the new photos. It would also add the servicing to the students their History board to see how much they were going to be paid at the end of the week as well as review any photos they took if necessary.

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Automations

What Happened Behind the Scenes?

In order to save as much time on repetitive tasks as possible, I needed to setup an automation that placed individual clients into the students schedule within the students availability so the student only needs to think about what they need to do that day. When a client has been scheduled successfully, an email was sent to the client to inform them of the next day the student was planning on coming back to give them time to reschedule if they’d like. An automation was also necessary to ensure that clients were billed as soon as the student completed the work and added to the history board for the students to be paid at the end of the week. Students needed to update their availability once a week so multiple SMS notifications went out to ensure that students filled their availability.

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Watch The Video

See How Everything Worked Once the Project Was Completed

The Conclusion

Once the scope of work was defined, the project took a total of 3 weeks to complete. This is the primary selling point for TPI-3 as a company. We’re not forcing you to change the way you work to adopt a single software platform. We’re also not telling you to build a solution from scratch which could take months to years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If you’re interested in seeing chatting about a project idea you have, please reach out at josh@tpi-3.ca.

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