Weathering Change with Daily Logs
Flower Mound, TX
Daily Logs & Documents
About Allstate Landscape
Allstate Landscape is a commercial landscape and maintenance contractor serving the Dallas-Fort Worth area. With more than 10 years in experience in all areas of design, install, maintenance, construction and sprinkler install, Allstate Landscape is the go-to for landscaping.
Starting Out of Necessity
Before Luke Stokes began Allstate Landscape, he worked in commission sales, but when the economy crashed between 2006 and 2008, Luke was hit hard.
”I grabbed my lawn mower to keep the lights on,” Luke said.
He soon realized his supplemental business income was matching that of his corporate paycheck. When the economy dipped, his customers opted to invest in their homes they already had rather than take vacations, putting Luke in a good spot.
Through research, he discovered the landscaping industry had significant growth potential. He invested in additional equipment, built a larger customer roster and within three years employed 30 people.
“I started as just a guy with a truck,” Luke said, “but my competition wasn’t too tech-savvy and didn’t write great emails, so it was easy to shine above the rest.” Now Luke is on a mission to help others in his industry perform at his same level.
At one time, Buildertrend was Luke’s secret weapon, but these days he talks about the project management software to anyone who will listen. He believes a rising tide lifts all boats, and the better his industry performs, the better everyone can do financially.
Luke Stokes, owner of Allstate Landscape, believes a rising tide lifts all boats, and the better his industry performs, the better everyone can do financially.
Prove It or Lose It
Primarily being a landscape business, Allstate Landscape often operates as a subcontractor.
As Luke explained, “We’re the only trade that operates with a living product.”
If his final product isn’t maintained properly, it dies and the materials—trees, bushes, plants, grass—are basically worthless. Over the years, Luke has lost money when his product died or was damaged as a result of another contractor’s or subcontractor’s actions, and that’s something he’d like to avoid happening again in the future.
Luke remembers one project where his team’s landscape work was followed by an electrician. In the process, the electrician accidentally turned off the irrigation system. Eighty trees, valued at $600 each, died. And according to Luke, if you can’t prove your innocence in the landscaping industry, you’re stuck with the bill.
Seeds of Organization
Luke knew he needed better business systems – Allstate Landscape was quickly outgrowing what they had in place. He and his team used photography to track project work but organizing the images was time-consuming, so he began looking for software to help.
“My pants were on fire,” Luke said. “Fortunately, I attracted good employees, but I didn’t have good systems in place.”
Through the help of a little research, he found Buildertrend. He chose it over other options, because it seemed like the most intuitive solution for his type of work.
Luke hardly used the software for the first year, because it unintentionally brought about a culture shift. The Allstate Landscape team had to learn words and phrases that weren’t part of their organizational process, but today words like “Daily Logs” and “To-Do’s” are part of their company’s internal language. They’ve even changed some of their accounting practices to align with Buildertrend. Luke feels the software has paid for itself over and over.
The Allstate Landscape team had to learn words and phrases that weren’t part of their organizational process. Today, words like “Daily Logs” and “To-Do’s” are part of their company’s internal language.
Documents May Save You Thousands
The feature that Allstate Landscape relies on the most in Buildertrend? Daily Logs. Luke and his team use this feature regularly and upload many photos and videos of projects in motion.
“In this industry, the ‘he said-she said’ tendency is huge,” said Luke.
He’s learned through experience that it’s essential to be able to track information in a methodical way. Sharing relevant data with customers and other contractors can mean the difference between spending thousands on a warranty claim or not.
On a recent occasion, Luke recalled driving through a property and noticing another contractor’s ladders in his flower beds. He stopped and took a quick photo, then saved it to Daily Logs. A month later, the client complained to him that the plants were dead and the irrigation was broken. They demanded he replace everything, because it was all warrantied.
“I just pulled up the picture of those ladders in our (flower) beds, because I’d created a ‘damage by others’ tab,” Luke said. “And that photo probably saved me $600 to $1,000 in warranty work.”
“I just pulled up the picture of those ladders in our (flower) beds,” said Luke. “And that photo probably saved me $600 to $1,000 in warranty work.”
In another instance, Allstate Landscape was subcontracted to landscape and irrigate a large-scale housing development. At some point during the project, a legal dispute erupted and caused payment to stop to all subcontractors. Luke was in a difficult position…the majority of his product could be destroyed if it wasn’t maintained. But he wasn’t certain he’d be compensated for the original installation, let alone ongoing maintenance, as the dispute continued.
“I knew if anything died, it would enact a one-year warranty,” Luke said.
His solution was to create a comprehensive set of videos documenting the property and what was likely to become of the landscaping materials. He uploaded the videos to Buildertrend, complete with commentary. Six months later, after multiple $600 trees had died, Luke produced his video documentation to prove he’d lived up to his part of the contract.
“There are many times I’ve pulled up photos and videos that have saved me hundreds, even thousands, of dollars of warranty work,” said Luke. And now his team has gotten a reputation – they’re the people with evidence.
Setting a New Standard
Luke admits it took time for his team to build the habit of creating visual documentation. While it’s a minor inconvenience to spend a few extra moments to grab photos or videos of a jobsite, the result is greater peace of mind. Luke has also seen a greater sense of unity arise within his own team.
“We all love Daily Logs,” said Luke, “and we get along well knowing we all did our job.”
As Luke steers his business toward an increase of $1 million dollars in new mowing business by 2020, he is reflective about Allstate Landscape’s early days. In the beginning, he used his professionalism and Buildertrend as a way to stand out in a field that’s not known for great communication skills. Today, he encourages others in his industry to use Buildertrend because he wants the industry as a whole to have a better image. He believes everyone’s business will improve if there is a greater sense of stability in the industry – if the norm is as high as the standard he sets.