Time is a precious commodity for Michelle Berg-Wotton.
Michelle runs a large landscaping firm called Livingstone Landscaping based in Brandon, Manitoba. With 15 construction and maintenance crews, a truck driving division, a CAD design service, and a landscaping supplies dealership to oversee, every second counts. The team typically works on 200 projects in a single season.
“I never have enough time in my day,” Michelle says—but that hasn’t stopped her from exploring new ways to help the business to grow. The challenge has been to help her team work smarter and to do more with her time.
This is the story of how two simple decisions helped her to take her business to the next level.
“We need technology that evolves with us.”
“Before we started to track time with TSheets we had tried a couple of other systems before, including paper time sheets,” Michelle explains, “and we found that people got overwhelmed with those systems and would give up.”
“But TSheets was very easy to ease into. We started things off basic, using computers to clock in rather than phones at first, and then integrated the other features like the mobile app as we progressed.”
With so many crews working at different locations—in an area spanning 300km in any direction—TSheets’ mobile app had an instant impact at Livingstone Landscaping.
“It’s been great for us since everyone started using the mobile app,” Michelle reveals. “So much so that I’d now like to set it up so my employees can only use the mobile app to clock in and out. We’ve really been able to use it to our advantage.”
“We’ve always been quick to adapt and evolve to embrace new technology that can move us forward and evolve with us,” she explains. And this is a philosophy her accountant Rachel Fisch shares too. Rachel frequently recommends that her clients use new technology like TSheets to take their business to the next level.
“TSheets is our go-to app.”
“Referring people to TSheets is very easy,” she adds. “Some like to figure it out for themselves, others like the guided tour. It depends really on how they want to explore it. When they have questions for me I know I have a great support team at TSheets so I always know I’m doing things in the right order. I’ve recommended TSheets to all of my clients who have hourly employees.”
We have a number of clients in construction and TSheets is our go-to app for them. I recommend it to every single one of them.Rachel, Fischbooks
Why does Rachel think TSheets is such a good fit for companies like Livingstone Landscaping?
“It’s because you can be tracking time against each job, which is critical, and it takes way too long to manage paper timesheets when you’ve got different crews on different jobs. It makes job costing so much easier.”
“There’s also the multi-level approval process you can set up with TSheets when you need to know that the foremen are approving the crew’s hours, and that the operating managers also know what the foremen are doing. The payroll clerk can then bring all of that information through into QuickBooks without having to go chasing anyone down to get the hours verified. By the time it’s in QuickBooks all the pre-check work is done.”
This approval process really paid off for Michelle when she had to be away during payroll once so she could attend a training course. Without TSheets, she realized her team may not have been paid that week.
“I wouldn’t have been able to run payroll had I not been able to access TSheets from home and approve everyone’s time,” she explains. “I would have had to come into the office and that would have meant I’d either have missed my flight or payroll wouldn’t have been done. I now feel that if I needed to, I could have someone else run the payroll for me because once I’ve approved the hours I know all they have to do is import them and everything’s been verified.”
The link between TSheets and QuickBooks is an important one for Livingstone Landscaping, and it’s something Michelle and Rachel have been busy working on to try to get things streamlined even further for the business.Rachel, Fischbooks
“We work very well together,” says Michelle. “Rachel is very resourceful and forward thinking. We bounce stuff off of each other and are working together now on how TSheets can further evolve Livingstone Landscaping and how we can both save time for each other in our bookkeeping efforts.”
“I’m going through QuickBooks to revamp all the items I have set up in there and integrate them with TSheets so I can direct costs every minute of every day for every employee to the correct division and job. It’s a big process but I’m certain once it’s done it will work really nicely for us.”
Rachel adds, “The link between TSheets and QuickBooks is completely seamless. When you’re in QuickBooks, the thing I love is that it looks like the timesheet information was entered directly into QuickBooks.
“Michelle has been really open to using technology and new ideas to improve efficiency in her business, which is great. Not every business has that open-mindedness. I really enjoy working with her.”
“We’re already saving $50,000 a year”
Even before these QuickBooks upgrades take effect, how much does Michelle think TSheets is saving her business today?
“I’ve been able to quantify time saved on the human resources side as well as the man-hours saved that were being billed to the company,” she says, “and it adds up to $40,000 to $50,000 a year.”
This has inspired Michelle to explore some of the other ways that TSheets can help her manage things more efficiently.
“We’re trying to utilize every ounce of TSheets that we can for this coming season,” she adds.
“We’re just starting to breaking into all the new features that have been launched but one of the ones we use a lot already is the GPS tracking. It helps minimize interruptions because from the Who’s Working window we can check on the GPS to see where they are and that can sometimes save us a phone call.
“The new Take A Break feature is also great for this because it means I can ensure we’re not interrupting them with work stuff while they’re on their break. It’s improved the way we work a lot.”
https://www.tsheets.com/us_tsheets/uploads/2018/09/scheudling_livingtstone.png” alt=”TSheets Scheduling has replaced their old schedule and paid time off calendar they used to keep in Outlook.” title=”TSheets employee scheduling screenshot.”>
But perhaps the biggest change for Michelle and her team in recent weeks has been the introduction of TSheets Scheduling, which has already replaced their old “on-call” schedule and the paid time off calendar they used to keep in Outlook. Soon, it could be used in almost every aspect of the business, as Michelle explains.
“Now, when our team requests time off in advance and we approve it, it is all color-coded on the TSheets schedule and everyone can see that they are not coming in for that day—the employee, their crew, and their manager—so no one is waiting around for them to show up. This has been really beneficial. It’s also good for the employee to see that everything has been fully verified—that their time off has been approved and is already booked on the schedule for them.
“We are really hoping that we can use scheduling for all our crews this summer to plan out all our jobs.”
Given how mobile these crews are, Michelle has already seen the advantage of using the GPS data from TSheets’ Who’s Working window to schedule jobs more efficiently on the fly.
“We’ve already been combining scheduling with the GPS feature of the Who’s Working window to find out where people are located and that’s been very useful because sometimes our job sites are up to an hour away from the office so it’s very important to know if it’s cost-effective to have someone to do a task that you need done or if you should ask another employee instead.
“We used to use another program that was installed into each vehicle which meant as soon as the employee left the vehicle you weren’t sure where they are—but people don’t tend to leave their phones behind.”
This will be cutting down on wasted journeys and potentially saving her team time every day. But what about Michelle’s own schedule? Is her schedule looking any better these days?
“Definitely,” she replies. “My favorite thing about TSheets is that it has allowed me to free up some of my time to keep things moving.”