Family-owned Lake East Landscape has always prided itself on adopting new technology when it made sense for their business. As the company expanded from a modest one or two crew operation to managing six or seven crews, they realized the need to stop relying on paper and manual processes to monitor project progress, time, and labor.
Traditional methods, while familiar, were proving to be a bottleneck. The age-old practices were not only cumbersome but also fraught with inefficiencies and errors.
“Paper lost its appeal.”Casey Freedom-Izdepski, Operations Manager, Lake East Landscape
Lake East Operations Manager Casey Freedom-Izdepski knew the company needed tools to help them get out from under the stacks of paper that were piling up. He quickly discovered eSUB and began using the software in 2018
“Let’s just say, paper lost its appeal,” Freedom-Izdepski mused. “It’s a miracle it worked as long as it did.”
Like a lot of trades, Lake East had been coordinating daily reports separate from timecards for every employee. The gaps in data were glaring, and the system was far from foolproof.
There were errors, and delays, and managing everything could often become a big time-sink that diverted attention away from bigger picture issues.
Freedom-Izdepski felt the pressing need to optimize operations. He realized that manual methods were not sustainable if he wanted to focus on the bigger picture.
“My work is like a million jobs in different locations, and crews switch halfway through a job,” he said. “When I saw that the timecards could be populated from the daily reports, I realized I could address two issues at the same time.”
One of them was how to get paid faster from jobs.
“It was taking to be honest, near the end, before we switched to eSUB, we were 30 to 60 days out,” Freedom-Izdepski explains. “That sounds crazy now but from the field to the office, looking at what the guys did, how many hours they spent would take 30 to 60 days and then we’d bill and then get paid 30 days after that.”
“That wouldn’t work now whatsoever. It would be a disaster,” Freedom-Izdepski said. “We needed to shave that to like zero to 30.”
And they succeeded. Lake East has gotten that timeline down to net 30 days from project completion.
As Lake East grew, eSUB was flexible enough to grow with them.
“Once I figured out how to get the data running with one or two crews, managing seven crews was no different,” Casey noted.
When the company faced the challenge of a senior field supervisor’s departure, eSUB proved invaluable. Freedom-Izdepski could effortlessly step in to fill the void. And got things working more efficiently, too.
“I don’t know how he did it,” Freedom-Izdepski said. “He was he’s doing his daily reports separate from timecards for every single employee. And then coordinating those timecards with the specific jobs—three-to-five jobs a day … there were a lot of gaps in the data, as they say.”
Freedom-Izdepski needed to focus on the bigger picture and do fewer things manually.
“When I was taking on more and more by myself, I very quickly realized that some of those things are going to need to be optimized for me to not spend a million hours on it,” he said.
“I was thinking, ‘how am I going to balance timecards so it doesn’t take a ton of time to revisit every single time card connected to jobs like this?’” he recalled. “We were working way too hard.”
But eSUB made it simpler.
“eSUB made it so that when he moved on, and it was just me sitting there, I was able to figure things out,” he said.
Field Adoption was Important
However, Freedom-Izdepski knew introducing new technology wouldn’t come without challenges. He was initially apprehensive about how his crew, especially the older members, would adapt to the software.
Freedom-Izdepski needed to make sure the guys on his crew would use the app and see it as a benefit.
“I had this fear that, like, oh gosh, how the heck am I going to convince these guys?” he recalled.
But his fears were unfounded. The intuitive interface of eSUB, combined with its bilingual support, facilitated smooth adoption.
“Then I realized, … all these guys have smartphones. Their kids are playing with apps on their phones and stuff,” he said. “There were a few old timers that had flip phones, but ultimately, that was just our assumptions and fears.”
Ease of use was key.
“The way a lot of [other] apps work, you look at them and look at the user interface just think ‘hell no! this is crazy looking,’ Freedom-Izdepski notes. “I’ve got a minor in Computer Science and I’m looking at them and thinking, ‘Yeah, this is awful. You’re running a spaceship.”
Freedom-Izdepski realized right away that adoption came down to simplification. If software appears too complex, crews would be far less likely to use it.
“I couldn’t hand that to a guy and say, take two minutes to input your time for the week, or whatever, because there’s just way too much information [on the screen],” he explains. “But not in eSUB. eSUB is far more attractive. And eSUB was one of the very few [providers] to have any sort of bilingual support. That was huge for me.”
The crew found tracking time on eSUB far more convenient than the tedious paper timecards they were accustomed to.
“They’re stoked because it was frustrating for some of the guys to have these big stacks of paper timecards,” Freedom-Izdepski said.
eSUB’s integrated field app now allows crews to upload information seamlessly, making their entire process more efficient.
eSUB Helped with Job Costing
eSUB also provided valuable insights into job costing and big-picture information. Gone were the days when job costing was a convoluted process involving multiple sources and endless phone calls. With eSUB, all the information was readily available, streamlining Lake East’s entire process.
One of the most significant impacts of eSUB was the elimination of the paper backlog.
“It used to be ‘oh, let’s go find the box. Now find that month and try to search for it and hope that numbers and the timecards are all there,’” Freedom-Izdepski recalled. “Whereas now it’s like, ‘let me get back to you in 10 minutes.’”
“I feel like I’m ahead of everything.”Casey Freedom-Izdepski, Operations Manager, Lake East Landscape
Because in eSUB, there is a record of everything.
“I feel like I’m ahead of everything,” he said. “Which is nice. It’s good to know that all the information, is in one place.”
And that confidence helps Lake East focus their energy and resources on the things that matter most—performing the actual work they’re paid to do—instead of minding busywork.
“We’re not on the phone all day long,” Freedom-Izdepski said. “We’re not chasing information.”
The labor tracking, and timecard export functionality for payroll in eSUB was also a boon for Lake East. Gone were the days of manual entry of data from timecards, which was often prone to inaccuracies. With eSUB, the company could now efficiently record time, and import that information into their payroll software ensuring that payroll was spot-on.
“If we weren’t running eSUB, I can’t imagine the amount of time we’d be spending on payroll.”Casey Freedom-Izdepski, Operations Manager, Lake East Landscape
“Before, somebody would have to manually enter that into the system for payroll.” Freedom-Izdepski said. “And that was like three different steps. Now, I use my export from the timecard, and it’s directly entered into payroll.”
That has turned out to be a major efficiency gain for the company.
“The time saving is hard to calculate,” Freedom-Izdepski said. “If we weren’t running eSUB, I can’t imagine the amount of time we’d be spending on payroll.”
Freedom-Izdepski also had words of praise for eSUB’s customer service, contrasting it with other platforms where responses could take a week and often felt impersonal.
“With a lot of places, getting a hold of their help desk might be like a week or something,” he said. “And then you might get AI scripts responding to you.”
With eSUB, Lake East Landscape felt they had a partner, not just a service provider.
“I know who I’m going to be talking to, and that I’ll get the help I need.”
Lake East Landscape’s journey with eSUB is a testament to the transformative power of technology. By embracing change and innovation, the company has not only enhanced its operations but also now ensures they’re paid faster for work completed.
The transformation was exactly what Lake East was looking for. eSUB significantly diminished the company’s dependence on paper, ushering in a new era of streamlined operations. And the impact on their payment cycles has been impressive. What once took 90 days from job completion to payment was now reduced to as little as 10 days.
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