Artificial intelligence may seem like a tool that landscape professionals can’t take advantage of, but this technology provides multiple opportunities to business owners.
“There are a ton of tools that can help you with marketing, that can help you with daily tasks, being able to automate those so that you can give more time to different things,” says Chelsea Hartshorn, co-founder of Threadleaf Landscape Design. “Within automation itself, there’s a huge slew of things that you can do.”
Hartshorn, along with Skyler Westergard, learning and development specialist with LandCare, will present on AI tools during their session “How to Leverage Artificial Intelligence in Your Green Business” on Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 9 a.m. at ELEVATE. This session is part of the Operational Excellence track and is worth one CEU.
During this session, not only will you learn about tools that can help market your services and automate business processes, but you will also have an opportunity to interact with and test the different AI tools.
AI Potential Uses
Hartshorn says there are numerous AI tools coming out daily that can help with everything from tracking manhours and improving routing to client engagement and communication.
“If you’re just sitting there waiting and you get random questions from clients all day long, that’s hours and hours of your day that’s just being lost to little questions here and there,” Hartshorn says. “So being able to have a chat bot that can answer basic inquiries from customers and be able to show them the right way to go is huge. It’ll boost your client engagement, which boosts your sales.”
Another example of a time-saving AI tool that Hartshorn uses is one that generates a response to emails she’s receiving based on that current thread.
“It has my voice and knows how I want to respond,” Hartshorn says. “I can tell it to respond a little bit more professionally or a little bit more relaxed. That takes just a second to be able to click on that button and be able to set that up as opposed to me having to go through every single thing, and I can just look at it in my email and click that little button. It will show me that response, and then I’ll click it off.”
AI can also be used to generate imagery or mood boards to portray a specific design element you’re trying to convey to a customer.
“I use ChatGPT and Leonardo because what I’ll do is I’ll put it in the ChatGPT and tell it to create a descriptive prompt for Leonardo,” Hartshorn says. “If you don’t have those two together a lot of the time, Leonardo will give you something very basic.”
While landscape design isn’t being taken over by AI, Hartshorn says it can easily serve as an assistant as there are AI tools that can take notes automatically during a call and send them to the appropriate person after a meeting.
Both large and small to mid-sized landscape companies can benefit from utilizing AI tools. Hartshorn says while smaller businesses can use AI to complete tasks that big competitors pay teams of people to do, larger operations can take advantage of the data analysis these tools provide.
“Every branch has their specific data, and if it’s implemented in the company on a large scale, this AI tool can make sure that you’re optimizing your routes within your scheduling for construction and for maintenance,” she says.
AI Misconceptions and Integration
One of the main fears regarding AI is the belief that it will replace people.
“AI really serves as a tool to enhance and augment human experience, in my opinion, and not replace it,” Hartshorn says. “Really, it’s not going to replace people. It’s going to replace people that don’t use it.”
Another concern is that AI is too expensive for smaller companies to take advantage of it. Hartshorn argues that the tools are becoming more affordable daily. She says the main way to become more comfortable with AI is to try to use it daily, even if it’s just ChatGPT for everyday tasks.
“A lot of the time, will end up happening is the more and more you use it, the more you realize, ‘Oh hey, I could ask this’ or ‘I can go to this AI tool and they should be able to do this and this for me,’” she says.
She suggests brainstorming with your team about what pain points and tasks could be automated by AI when trying to find which tools to use. Hartshorn says the other key to successfully integrating AI into your operations is to start at a small scale and get used to that tool before rolling out something significant.
“Starting very small, I think it’s definitely the way to go,” Hartshorn says. “Little things can change so much of your day. Having Otter.ai be a part of your meetings every single time and then sending you action items and sending you that summary for each meeting is huge.”
Hartshorn says taking the time to integrate AI tools into your day-to-day can help landscape companies stay ahead of the curve, improve their efficiency and explore opportunities for growth.
Want to learn how to implement AI in your own operations? Register for ELEVATE and we’ll see you in Dallas, Texas!