Field work companies — think landscapers, home services (HVAC, pest control), or event rentals — have to balance a mobile workforce often using a passenger seat as a desk with an office team that needs to keep track of what clients have been serviced. These companies struggle to stay organized and on top of increasing paperwork with sometimes-ineligible handwriting, and often lose profits as they grow due to inefficiencies in their processes.
SingleOps is a cloud-based SaaS platform targeted at those field work companies looking to standardized processes and sync up their workforces on-site and on the go. It was started by CEO Sean McCormick after seeing the need for a management platform during a consulting job with a landscaping company. McCormick took his time to explore the market, focus his product to increase efficiency and accelerate growth, and nail down what industry verticals his solution would focus on.
“As these companies grow they face tremendous challenges coordinating their field workforce with their back office,” says McCormick. “Our product uses the latest in cloud and mobile technologies, which enables us to deploy a single solution that works across their sales, back office, and field workforce. This allows for much more timely and accurate data.”
Earlier this year, McCormick caught the eye of serial entrepreneur David Cummings and raised a $1 million seed round in May with Atlanta Ventures. Here, McCormick shares more about how validating his idea set him on the right path, how Cummings’ investment went beyond money, and what’s next.
What’s your pitch?
SingleOps is pioneering a new category in B2B software: a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) + Field Service Software hybrid, designed specifically for mobile service companies. Any company that sends a sales rep, crew, technician, or physical asset into the field to do a job fits this model (think of your typical landscaper).
We take all those processes and put them in one fully integrated and mobile-enabled system: connecting CRM, estimates and proposals, job management, scheduling, routing, work orders, time tracking, inventory, job costing, invoicing, QuickBooks syncing, and more. This has allowed our clients to see 27 percent increased revenue, 12 percent increase staff retention, and 32 percent increased profitability.
How did you get the idea for your company?
SingleOps began as a consulting project for a local Atlanta landscaper that had hit a ceiling on growth, so the idea came out of a real business need. Once we found that there was no good solution that fit their business model, we decided to build a prototype and saw immediate the success. This client began to grow so quickly that they’ve now been recognized by Inc. Magazine as the fastest growing in their industry and as one of the top 10 fastest growing companies in Atlanta. As word of mouth spread, we were contacted by many other potential clients interested in our product. So, we identified a need in the market and a true desire in the market for a solution like ours.
What problem are you solving?
As mobile service companies grow to about $1M in revenue, they develop huge inefficiencies coordinating their sales team, back office, and field workforce. This results in duplicate data entry, unproductive labor, lack of visibility into critical business metrics, slow growth, and low profits (under 6 percent on average).
This puts a ceiling on growth, which is seen by the huge fragmentation in many of these verticals. Take the landscaping industry — it’s an $80B per year industry but the largest company in the industry does just $2B in revenue. To enter the top 100 largest landscapers, all you need is $10M in revenue!
When you entered the market, you validated your idea with a few customers. How did this process help you find the right focus and fit to grow SingleOps?
By validating our idea and refining our product with a few initial customers, we learned that our initial strategy was way off. Although the interest was there with many mobile service companies, by trying to build a product across so many different verticals we started experiencing a feature death march.
So, we honed our focus to just a few specific verticals: landscaping, home services (HVAC, pest control, etc.), construction, and equipment/event rentals. This gave us a much clearer vision with the product and helped us build our repeatable customer acquisition process, as we know how to configure our solution to the exact needs of each vertical.
How does SingleOps’ platform help field-service companies manage their employees and keep up with scheduling demands?
No more tracking down that lost and illegible estimate, re-entering it into a proposal to send to the client, waiting days for client acceptance, re-entering that data onto a calendar, re-entering that data into a work order for the crew, dealing with an inaccurate paper timesheet, and then re-entering everything again into QuickBooks for invoicing. We integrate and automate that entire process.
David Cummings led your your seed round. How has his guidance benefitted SingleOps as you grow?
David has been a mentor of mine for several years so he’s already had a great impact on our business from the start. Getting the opportunity to officially bring him onto the team has already seen us accelerate toward achieving many of our goals, even in just the last few months since we closed our seed round. He’s helped our recruiting efforts, our sales strategy, and our product strategy, just to name a few.
As you grew your business, how did you keep your team motivated and vision alive?
The biggest thing is just hiring the right people, which is certainly not easy. By painting a clear vision and setting specific and realistic (but also aggressive) goals, a good team stays internally motivated. Also, by focusing our efforts on fewer verticals, it’s really helped to simplify our vision and help reinforce it daily.
How does Atlanta weave into your story?
We could never have been as capital-efficient as we’ve been in any other city other than Atlanta. Our product would have cost at least 5X more to build in Silicon Valley. In addition, Atlanta is a great market for our target clients. We’ve pretty much landed just about every large treecare business in the city. And of course, the tech startup environment has helped us to recruit an awesome team without a lot of the costs that other cities would present.
What’s up for SingleOps in the next 6-12 months?
We’ve already doubled the size of the business so far in 2017, but we want to double it again by year’s end. This is a realistic goal since many of our clients are highly seasonal and Fall/Winter is when most of them sign up. After that, we just want to keep the momentum going. Raising an additional capital round in the next year or so is certainly a possibility, but we aren’t building the business to require that for our ultimate success.