Protecting Your Business: Technology to Help Provide Proof of Service - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Protecting Your Business: Technology to Help Provide Proof of Service

Do you struggle with clients not knowing that you’ve provided service? In some cases, it’s obvious when work has been completed, such as snow being gone from a parking lot, but there are other services where clients may question if your crews have been to the site at all. Providing proof of service is a way to confirm when and what was done at a client’s property.

“As an industry, we should perceive proof of service methods as a tool to document progress, report issues, and provide value via better communication to your client base,” says Robyn Schmitz, owner and CEO of High Prairie Landscape Group, LLC, based in Edwardsville, Kansas. “Proof of service is an excellent opportunity to remind your clients how you’re serving them and protect your own team at the same time.”

Methods of Proof of Service

How you want to go about providing proof of service depends on what works best for your operations, but don’t just settle for leaving a door hanger to show you visited a site.

Level Green Landscaping, based in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, provides all of their customers with a property service report that is emailed to the address assigned to the jobsite. Joey Schneider, regional manager for Level Green Landscaping, says previously they used carbon copy forms to leave a document at the property. For the past five years, they’ve been using an app they developed where the crew can select from a dropdown list of what services they performed.

Similarly, High Prairie also generates reports that are sent to their clients through their online client portal. Customers can see the visit history complete with notes, photos and tasks completed.

“These electronic forms include time tracking, material use, tasks completed, observations reported, date/time of service, and options for both photographs and videos of work,” Schmitz says. “Sometimes we are photographing before and after depending upon the project. We use this reporting for both our construction division and our garden care division. The forms automatically track the date, time, location, and person submitting the information.

Mike McCarron, president and founder of Image Works Landscape Management, based in Fairfax Station, Virginia, opts to take photos to document the property before, during and after his crews work on a site.

“This helps put any issues to rest, especially for out-of-town clients and/or clients with out-of-the-area rentals,” McCarron says.

He says they have a training session to teach crews how to handle the types of pictures they need to capture and from what angles are needed both for their internal training and the client’s request. He says snow removal can be a tricky service to capture before images showing the depth of the snow and to what degree the ice is compacted.

He says they store the photos using Google Cloud services and Microsoft Azure. After 18 months, they will select what can be deleted.

Schmitz says they also train their crews on what and how to take pictures during a property visit so they can capture positive progress and observed issues.

GPS tracking is another way to show that your crew was on site, and it also helps with fleet management in general. Some platforms take this a step further by offering mower trackers that show the exact mowing path for increased visibility for your clients.

When to Provide Proof of Service

One aspect you have to decide with proof of service is whether you want to send it to all of your clients or just the ones who request it. McCarron says they only send the photos to clients who request it as most receive enough emails as it is.

“Most clients really appreciate this option,” McCarron says. “However, there are clients that claim you never showed up and/or did not really perform a particular service and when you send over the photos with the time and date stamp showing the job is completed, they don’t handle this well.”

He says this is especially common in the fall with leaf cleanup. A client could leave for work when it’s dark and return when it’s dark and by Saturday it looks like no leaf service occurred a few days ago. McCarron says pictures make all the difference in this situation.

McCarron says typically they will provide photos after a customer complaint and send pictures for the remainder of the season until the issue is resolved and the client feels comfortable that a particular level of service is being met.

Level Green and High Prairie both send proof of service to their clients no matter what. Schneider says that only 10 percent of their customers require proof of service and even five percent ask not to be sent any property service reports.

“We’ve never had proof of service required, but believe that documenting our work protects consumers and the team performing the work,” Schmitz says. “We strive to provide extraordinary value to our clients, which includes regular, consistent reporting of what’s being done on their property with every visit.”

Schmitz says that voluntarily providing service records and photos, reinforces trust by operating with transparency and high communication standards.

“A lot of our customers, especially the ones who aren’t on the site, appreciate it,” Schneider says. “Especially portfolio managers, they might have 20 or 30 sites. They can just check in their inbox and see ‘this site was serviced today,’ so they could see those and they know at least someone filled out the report that they were there today.”

Schneider says the best reason to offer proof of service is it gives clients peace of mind.

“For commercial companies, like most of our clients who we deal with, do not live and now even more after COVID, don’t even work on the sites we’re servicing,” Schneider says. “It is easy for them to see when services were done, what was done.”

Another benefit of providing proof of service is it protects your crews from false claims. In the case of a client claiming damage was caused by the team, Schneider says they can pull up their property service report and show when their crews were there, adding legitimacy to their assertion.

McCarron adds that requiring proof of service also holds your team accountable for quality work.

“I think it is becoming more and more expected as technology increases, so is transparency,” Schneider says. “It makes what we do very transparent and builds that trust that people are getting the services that they’re paid for.”

This article was published in the July/August issue of the magazine. To read more stories from The Edge magazine, click here to subscribe to the digital edition.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.