Just as it drives its employees to go above and beyond, Second Nature demands the same of its providers – and simPRO Software is no exception
After almost three decades in business, award-winning landscaping and gardening company Second Nature prides itself on having the industry’s most passionate, experienced and knowledgeable people on its team.
Specialising in the creation and care of boutique gardens, Second Nature has recruiting for the right staff down to a fine art, and finding the right software provider was no different.
“Passion, experience and skill level are all key attributes that we look for in an employee, but, when it comes down to it, being a committed problem solver is the best attribute you can have,” says Second Nature CEO Jonty Judge.
“We wanted a software provider that fitted that same criteria and simPRO [which stands for Service Industry Management Professional] was a natural fit. It was created to resolve a problem that we had, which was how to get rid of paper-based workflow and scale up a business.”
A compelling offer
Jonty’s first-ever job was with Second Nature and, after time spent working in various other industries, he re-joined the company three years ago.
At that time, Second Nature was already in the process of trying to determine what software platform to invest in, as the version of MYOB it was using was no longer well supported.
“They were looking at MYOB Advanced, but I quickly decided it wasn’t the right fit,” explains Jonty. “It was extremely expensive for the type of work we do and had a huge number of functions we didn’t need.
I started looking at different providers and simPRO quickly stood out as a strong contender for our line of work.”
The right fit
“simPRO provides cloud-based job and project management software suited to those in field service and trade contracting industries – including landscaping,” says simPRO NZ Sales Director Milan Kumar.
“Several successful landscaping companies around the country use and recommend simPRO. These are medium-to-large companies and have multiple branches and are nationwide.”
Jonty says the number of success stories was impressive and, after further assessment, simPRO came out on top.
“They offered good value and I saw simPRO fitting well into the service side of the business, which is our most dependable and fastest-growing division,” says Jonty.
Why & how?
Garden maintenance and planting is one of four distinct divisions in Second Nature’s offering, along with landscape design, construction and planting.
While all three areas are equally important, Jonty notes that, especially with talk of a recession, the service side of the business remains the most dependable.
“No matter how bad the economy gets, there are plenty of people who aren’t going to start doing their own gardens, which makes maintenance more or less recession-proof,” says Jonty.
“That’s not to say we’re worried about our other work. Most of our projects are worth more than $100,000, so generally, we’re not working with clients who are borrowing, which means they’re less affected by rising interest rates.”
The best bits
While simPRO suits the maintenance side of the business particularly well, it has also improved Second Nature’s performance across the board.
“We moved from a completely paper-based system for time and job sheets to doing everything through an app,” says Jonty. “Having that digitised significantly reduces the amount of administration required and, as a result, we can invoice more quickly, which has been a massive benefit for our business.”
Jonty says simPRO’s mobile platform works incredibly well, making it easy to create a new job for any part of the business.
“It helps that the user interface is friendly and easy to navigate, especially considering how many people on our team are using it.”
He says Second Nature has also found the reporting functions – which highlight efficiency and job statuses – very insightful on specific projects. He is hoping for greater explanation as to where more general summary reports are pulling information from, and simPRO is working to make it clearer for all users.
“One thing we really appreciated was the implementation process, which included a few discovery sessions followed by several days with one of simPRO’s implementation specialists,” says Jonty. “It was really useful to have that time with someone showing us exactly how to use the system – but, as with any system, it could always have been longer!”
Because simPRO is predominantly designed for fixed-price work, Second Nature has found itself moving in the same direction. “It has pushed us to do more fixed-price work, which although sometimes tricky to price, we’ve found can be better in the long run, especially now that supply issues have calmed down,” says Jonty.
“Moving into a more uncertain economy, we’re finding that clients want that certainty – even if they aren’t borrowing to pay for the project.”
Second Nature still uses its traditional method of providing open estimates on some jobs, and that’s an area it is working with simPRO to develop its platform capabilities.
A solid decision
Overall, Jonty says Second Nature couldn’t be happier with its decision to adopt simPRO as its software provider and encourages other landscaping businesses to do the same.
“The founders of the software knew what they were doing – they wanted to help people avoid becoming trapped in their own business and instead, manage it from a vantage point that allows them to make good decisions,” says Jonty.
“They’ve come at it from a small service industry business mentality and that comes through in all its functionality. Whether you have 10 employees or 100, using a software system like simPRO will help you see your work for what it is, and where it’s at.”