How this Entrepreneur Uses Data to Maximize the Efficiency of His Trucks, Supplies, and Marketing
How Edward Ramsden grew his business by a staggering 240% in five years.Visit Website ››
Applying the scientific method doesn’t just work when you are trying to land robot probes on Mars. As one Canadian lawn care firm found, it can lead to impressive business growth in a short amount of time. Edward Ramsden acquired the Enviro Masters Lawn Care franchise—fertilizer and weed control application specialists—in Edmonton, Alberta in 2010 and within five years grew its core business by a staggering 240%.
Ramsden, who had been studying neuroscience at the University of Alberta, initially took on the franchise not just to learn how to be an entrepreneur, but to fill his summer study breaks. As a scientist, Ramsden is naturally inclined to apply a method of systematic observation, measurement, experimentation, and modification to his business practices.
The scientific method and the entrepreneur
From the very beginning Ramsden applied the scientific method to his new business.
“We had 25 years of weather data,” says Ramsden. “We know how many clients our trucks can service in May, for example. So, if we want to make sure we visit clients three times a season, then the first visit has to be within the first three weeks of May.”
Ramsden says having historic data to drawn on helped make him make logical assumptions that became the foundation of his business’s success. He methodically analyses all aspects of the business on an ongoing basis in this way.
“We know how much fertilizer each truck goes out with and what comes back at the end of the day. If it’s higher or lower than expected there may be a problem.” Monitoring fertilizer levels can expose weaknesses in the system. “If it’s low then we may have to look at the spreaders—maybe they are dirty. Or we misquoted the job based on how big those properties were. Or if it’s high maybe the spreaders are misadjusted or something else may have to change.”
Ed Ramsden, Enviro Masters
We know how much fertilizer each truck goes out with and what comes back at the end of the day. If it's higher or lower than expected there may be a problem.
The same goes for the productivity of each of his teams.
“If they’re not getting enough work done in a day is it because we haven’t trained them properly, or have we scheduled the route poorly, or they got caught in traffic or whatever,” he says. “There’s always something to learn from each day. Keep track to find out what is going on.”
It's the metrics that matter
That kind of attention to detail and data applies for the way Ramsden has decided to market his business. “You have to question what you are doing why and does it work or not,” he says. That’s why Ramsden says he favors Google AdWords.
While his business shows up pretty high in the search rankings organically, Ramsden likes the feedback metrics that AdWords can provide. “We like it because of the information we get back from how many clicks that day to how our website is performing,” he says.
From the dashboard, Ramsden can see exactly which keywords are performing best, so he can tweak the ad copy, and display ads at the the times they are most popular. Adwords also gives options for location targeting, so Enviro Masters can market in the region that it makes sense for them to service.
“Facebook is quite effective, but there’s more time needed to maintain your page, whereas Google will send people right to your website, which needs less day to day maintenance,” says Ramsden.
Ed Ramsden, Enviro Masters
Facebook is quite effective, but there's more time needed to maintain your page, whereas Google will send people right to your website, which needs less day to day maintenance.
Experimenting and experience
He says Google Adwords provides most of their leads these days. “We’ve tried print ads, but it’s hard to gauge their effect. If we run a weekend ad and get a lot of calls on Monday we don’t know if it was the ad or just the weather.”
This season, Enviro Masters pulled back on print ads and flyers to see if there is any measurable difference in bookings. Ramsden says print ads also tend to end up with phone calls which creates office work.
“If we get someone to go to our website they can simply book online, which takes less staff. There are no phones calls to answer. So, we drive customers online where we can handle more queries with fewer people.”
Ramsden says Google Adwords allows him to track his return on investment and brand awareness, and convert traffic to the Enviro Masters website directly into sales.
Better planning through technology
The key to staying organized is having the data to work with.
“By collecting a lot of data about what we are doing. We know how much we are growing each year,” he says. “We can figure out how much business we are doing and how many trucks we need, so we can keep track of things like how many visits we’ve done each day, how much fertilizer we use, and how much pesticide we use.”
That helps modify the delivery and schedule of goods with less wastage. “So we have to look at our capacity and what we can do. We have seven years of data on how efficient each truck is,” he says.
Jobber also helps keep Enviro Master organized says Ramsden.
“Internally, we are organized and so we can be externally organized with our customers. They know when we are coming and after we get the invoices out,” he says. “Being data-driven means adjustments can be made on the fly based on feedback.”
Ramsden says he’s leveraged technology and innovation by utilizing Jobber to reduce costs and increase efficiency. “I honestly enjoy the challenge of scheduling without letting the client know you are under stress. They don’t know you are scrambling to push the limits,” he says.
But adapting to customer needs based on directly observed feedback doesn’t just mean good use of the scientific method, it just makes for good customer service. And that, says Ramsden, is the real secret of success.
Lightning round with Enviro Masters Lawn Care!
Outside of work tools, what would you never leave home without?
My iPad or iPhone so I can take pictures of jobs to upload to Jobber. Other than that maybe a multitool. It helps to have one all the time.
What’s your favorite Jobber feature?
We’ve been six years with Jobber… It’s like our right hand. The best feature is the tags that index info. We can follow year to year, week to week how many clients we had, and how it’s grown.
How do you unwind after a long day in the field?
Going for run with my dog, a mini husky named Indy.