Business Spotlight: The Wright Gardner Makes Safety A Priority With Automile

The Wright Gardner provides plant services that make indoor environments more vibrant, healthy, and productive, and is based out of San Francisco, CA. As a private, locally owned business, they deliver top notch personalized service to every client, and guarantee their work so their clients can focus on what they do best.

We had the opportunity to speak to Christian Figueroa, CFO at The Wright Gardner.

Christian, tell us a little bit about your company and your role.

The Wright Gardner is an interior plantscaping business, and we’ve been in this industry for 30 years now. We take care of plants in professional settings like offices, hotels, restaurants, legal offices, photo studios, and the likes, and our services are based primarily out of the Bay Area. We have 20 employees, and 10 of them form our mobile workforce.

As a plantscaping business, we focus on doing excellent plant services, and people pay for excellent looking plants. Anybody can have plants in their office that don’t look good, but we pride ourselves in making plants thrive. If plants start looking bad, we replace them immediately. We sell, lease, maintain, source containers, and do everything clients need for their plants.

I’ve been at Wright Gardner for 20 years, and when I first started, it was really about getting into a field that got me excited. As a company, we really wanted to be doing something that we enjoyed, and were proud of. We like keeping our clients happy and running a profitable business.

Can you walk us through a day in the life of your mobile workforce?

Our technicians start their day at the warehouse and then span out to the rest of the work areas. They use 5 company owned vehicles to commute to the client locations, and some of our technicians use their own personal vehicles.

When our technicians go around, they visit all their accounts on the route, service plants at the companies, and make sure the plants are clean and healthy before they move on to the next account. They have a 16-step process to go through at each location, and it includes steps like rotating the plants regularly, looking for pest problems, and treating for those problems.

What challenges did you face with your mobile workforce?

As with any company that has a mobile workforce, our biggest concern is the safety of our employees and the liability on the company from having our vehicles on the road. We really need to know that our drivers are being as safe as possible. Identifying drivers that are speeding too much or abusing the vehicles is priceless because one big lawsuit from hurting a person could literally break the business.

With each of our technicians servicing over 10 exterior and interior accounts each day across the Bay Area, our trucks commute in multiple directions every day, but you never really know where the vehicles are. We needed a way to keep track of our vehicle locations to know if clients were being serviced on time, and to address client issues at their location as soon as possible.

One of the things that is important to us is making sure the technician takes the right amount of time to service a client. We want to make sure that the client is getting exactly what they need while still being profitable for ourselves. So, our technicians aren’t just breezing through in 10 minutes, but they’re also not stuck there for an hour.

How has Automile helped address these challenges?

Automile addresses the issue of technicians not spending the right amount of time in the client’s location. I check the Live Map and let them know if they’ve been at a location for a long time. By helping us address our technicians time on the job, Automile is saving our company money, and making the labor force work in a more efficient way.

We love having the ability to know where the vehicles are during the day. If something comes up, we can now quickly respond to issues by dispatching the closest vehicle to the client location. The only way to help our customers better is by having more information and having more ability, and part of that is knowing where the vehicles are.

We use the Notifications feature to be alerted if our drivers are speeding or driving recklessly. We need to know that our drivers are being as safe as possible. It’s so important to make sure that everybody’s aware of not just where they’re going and being there on time, but about doing it safely and non-aggressively.

Most importantly, it helps us keep safety as our #1 priority as our technicians are on the road driving around all the time

Does your workforce know that you have a vehicle tracking solution in place?

Before we got the Automile devices, we informed our technicians that we were going to be using them in our vehicles. The purpose was to keep up to a schedule each day. At the end of the day, having Automile devices in the vehicles help our technicians know that there is some sort of accountability, and puts them in the correct mindset while they service our clients.

What ROI have you seen since you started using Automile?

We see the value in Automile, and there are so many positives to it. We use it as a tool to answer questions, and for priorities like making sure people are being safe.

What Automile is doing for businesses is very important. There are very large consequences for rash driving, both personally and for a business. The #1 reason we wanted Automile was we didn’t want to cause a loss of life by negligent driving, and we also don’t want to lose our business to a lawsuit.

Automile is helping us protect a huge investment in the company, and we take that very seriously. I would rather lose a technician for being a bad driver than lose the company for hurting someone. Automile is saving lives.

Christian what other technologies do you use at your company?

  • QuickBooks– To easily track our money.
  • Google Drive– To store all our files, and make our business more cloud-based
  • Asana– To manage projects.
  • Slack– To communicate within the company.
  • Automile– To track and manage our fleet.

We are now using Automile’s integration with Slack and it has some great features – we can efficiently manage our fleet and know their whereabouts of our vehicles within the Slack app using Automile.

What advice do you have for other business executives like you?

I would say don’t micromanage your employees. Also, put in place systems, as opposed to reacting to things individually. Find solutions for things that will work now and for the future.

Christian Figueroa, CFO, The Wright Gardner


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