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How Olshan Foundation Repair is using ArcSite | Podcast Webinar
Our ArcSite Essentials August Webinar brings you a recorded interview with an ArcSite customer, Olshan Foundation Repair.In the webinar, we take a deep-dive into how this foundation repair company uses ArcSite to complete more jobs in a day. Plus, go behind-the-curtain to look at how the tool has helped their business continue to grow. This webinar was previously recorded on Thursday, August 6th. The transcript of the interview is available below.
We will discuss how easily Olshan employees adopted the tool, the successes they had while setting the system up, and how it’s allowed them to have more natural and consultative interactions with clients.
This week's webinar is an audio podcast between our head of customer success, Patrick Caldwell and Olshan's own Shawn DeShazer.
Patrick: [00:00:00] Hey, this is Patrick with ArcSite. We're doing our August webinar here, prerecorded last month. And I'm pretty excited because instead of hearing me talk, I'm actually talking with one of our clients. Here is Shawn DeShazer from Olshan Foundation, a good client of ours. And I really appreciate you taking some time, Shawn, to come and talk to us. Just to get started, can you tell us a little bit about Olshan?
Shawn: [00:00:24] Yes, sir. Thanks for having me. We’re Olshan Foundation Solutions. We started in 1933. So we've been in business 87 years now. We're a family business based out of Houston. Like I said, we've got 10 locations currently, mostly in the Gulf coast, but from Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas, all the way up to Kansas City and Jackson, Mississippi—and that's kind of our range.
We do foundation repair, waterproofing, concrete repair, driveway lifting, concrete raising—those types of things.
Patrick: [00:01:07] Okay. Thank you. Obviously you're a client now, and I'd kinda like to talk a little bit about how you found us and why you were looking (if you were). So, can you tell us a little bit about that maybe? Where you were having a challenge or an issue or something that you were looking for a solution for?
Shawn: [00:01:27] Yes. Sure. So we had kind of two main challenges with our previous drawing software; we were using AutoCAD LT. And what we found was it was overly complicated and very difficult to train new people, it was not intuitive at all for a newer guy or even a really long-term employee that's been doing hand-drawings for 20 years. Transitioning that employee, with all their knowledge from hand-drawing, to doing it on the laptop was very difficult and they would get overly frustrated and give up.
They said the drawing program we were using was very complicated and then after they would use AutoCAD, they would spend 20 to 30 minutes in Excel typing into a template. And so we kind of felt like number one: it's causing busy-work or double work from transitioning from hand-drawing, recreating an AutoCAD. And then also if we could eliminate the step of typing into an Excel template, that would be ideal.
Patrick: [00:02:39] Okay. So the issue was one of time and effort, the ability—
Shawn: [00:02:45] (It was an issue of) the time and effort, and one of our core values is continuous improvement. It had been a long time since we'd made any major improvements to our AutoCAD program or how we drew the house while we were there. And so we were looking to upgrade that.
Patrick: [00:03:06] Right, and so you were using AutoCAD LT on a laptop?
Shawn: [00:03:12] Yes, sir.
Patrick: [00:03:13] Okay. So were you actively out looking for a solution?
Shawn: [00:03:19] It had been something that we knew we needed to address for probably a couple of years, a handful of years. We knew that there had to be other solutions out there that were better than what we were using. And what we were using was getting kind of stale as, in addition to all the other difficulties such as training, it was just too time consuming.
Patrick: [00:03:47] Okay. How did you find ArcSite?
Shawn: I used Google, I think we Googled “drafting software”, “2D drafting software” things like that. We actually weren't looking for a tablet-based program or anything super mobile or handheld, but once we kind of found ArcSite and we saw the benefits to using it and that really having it on a tablet isn't a drawback at all—it's almost a benefit. Mostly because it's less intimidating both to a client and when training a new rep.
It's a lot less intimidating, just drawing on a tablet than it is pulling up to their kitchen table whipping out a big laptop and setting a printer down next to it and plugging everything in; that can be a little overwhelming and intimidating to the customer. Whereas, if you're talking while you're sketching on a tablet, it's really no different than showing them a picture on your cell phone.
It's very unobtrusive and doesn't create any barriers between you and the customer.
Patrick: [00:05:03] Okay, cool. But when you did it previously, when you were using the laptop, you were always drawing out the plans and doing that up during the visit?
Shawn: [00:05:11] So that was something we struggled with for a long time and kind of our rule was anything that was sold—meaning that we gave them a bid and that turned it into a signed contract—we required that to be put into AutoCAD. Ideally, while they're signing the contract or before the customer signs it, but that became very difficult. And so I would say over 50 to 65% of our sales reps previously would do a hand drawing, present the hand-drawing to the customer, and then once the customer said yes, they would recreate that hand drawing in AutoCAD.
And the whole intent and purpose of creating it in CAD is so that you do it digitally while you're there in the house initially. We just really struggled executing that; we only had a handful of sales reps that would only draw on the computer versus hand-draw then recreate.
Patrick: [00:06:19] Is there any problem with doing hand-drawings?
Shawn: [00:06:23] Biggest issue for me is my writing is illegible and it looks terrible. It doesn't look professional. Some people do pretty good hand drawings, but I don't think it's really possible for a hand drawing to compete—as far as looking professional—with something done on a computer or tablet.
Patrick: Right. Did you look at any other solutions or anything else?
Shawn: So we looked at a newer version of AutoCAD LT, or the 2D version. We looked at a couple things based off of Google SketchUp. We had somebody that was a big SketchUp fan that had us check that out. We don't need the 3D type design elements; those are almost more of a hindrance for us than they are helpful. So we really wanted something that was more 2D based. Then we did look at one other tablet based program. I can't remember the name, but it had a blue background.
Patrick: [00:07:29] Okay. What was it about ArcSite? I mean, from that initial view of it that made you want to continue.
Shawn: [00:07:36] I guess the intuitiveness and the ease of use for both a brand new sales rep—that doesn't know anything about foundation repair, waterproofing, etc.—training him how to design and draw a repair plan that is very intuitive for that user, and then our other users that have been doing hand-drawings for 20, 30 years. It’s extremely intuitive for them to just draw on the tablet because it feels just like drawing on graph paper or grid paper, just digital. So those were the two biggest things.
And then the third thing, the real kicker—specially as a time-saver/productivity-saver—was finding out that this will also be able to create your contract and put together the estimate as you draw.
Patrick: [00:08:27] So in the past it was, you draw it either on paper or an LT, and then you would do the estimate on Excel as two separate processes?
Shawn: [00:08:34] Yes. A hundred percent, two totally separate processes.
Patrick: [00:08:40] Is there anything stand out about the app that you can think of or any features that you were happy to find or anything?
Shawn: [00:08:50] Probably the biggest feature for me honestly, is the speed and pace that it improves at and working with y'all we say, “Hey, here's a feature request that we would like, that would really help us.” Both when, like we know exactly what we want and also, when we're like, “Hey, this is an idea I have. How could you make it easier or simpler for us to do this?” And then they'll help us come up with solutions and just make us more efficient and better in the field. I can't stress enough how important that's been to us.
And we've had lots of users saying, “Hey, this is the best tool I've ever used out of any of the five foundation companies that I've worked for.” That's been the biggest thing that we've seen after we started working with you all.
Patrick: [00:09:42] Cool, I’m glad to hear it.
Shawn: [00:09:45] I think that—just the contract generation—cause that is a massive time suck for the sales rep and totally breaks up the person-to-person interaction with the customer. It's very hard to have a conversation with somebody or just chit-chat while you're typing numbers into Excel.
Patrick: [00:10:08] I mean, could you talk to that user, I should say client versus salesperson or interaction, what do you guys try to do regardless of ArcSite or not?
Shawn: [00:10:21] Yeah, so we have a 10 step process that we train all our sales guys to use.
I think sales is probably the hardest job in our entire company. The guys that dig the holes, they work incredibly hard physically, but I found sales to be extremely difficult because you're trying to balance putting together a repair plan, creating a drawing, pricing it out, while also engaging with that other person that's in the room.
You're a stranger in their house and you're looking at all this stuff. You've got tools beeping, and you're writing numbers down. You kind of need to break that ice and have a decent relationship with the homeowner. Treat them like a neighbor, you know, and be able to just interact while you're there.
Yeah, it can be difficult to do, especially when you're mentally tied up or—like I mentioned creating that barrier of a laptop in between you and the customer. A lot of times it scares them away a bit when you plop down your laptop and your printer on their kitchen table.
And you're not trying to create any separation between you and the customer, you're just trying to do your work and put together a professional looking repair plan. But that really almost shuts you off from the customer. And then they feel like they're almost interrupting you in your office and just standing over you and really, you're just trying to do your work so that you can work through and talk through the repair plan with the customer. And a lot of our guys that hand draw it's pretty easy to hand draw and just, you know, chat with the customer about their dog, their kids, you know, just general. I dunno, being polite, polite conversation.
Patrick: [00:12:24] So you mentioned you had laptops. And so you had to put an investment into tablets—I remember from early on speaking with you guys—any concerns on the shift between hardware?
Shawn: [00:12:40] I think there were some concerns initially. Honestly they were overblown and they were all in our heads. I thought it was going to be a big hurdle for us to move from laptops to tablets, but once we did it, most people enjoy using it in the home.
Most of our sales reps enjoy using the iPad versus the laptop. I've done it in the field, but it's kind of hard or difficult to do; I'm balancing a laptop on my knee. But our previous workflow, at least for me, when I was drawing in the house, that would be like holding my laptop on my knee, like this, and a mouse to draw my walls—you just look a little ridiculous and it's awkward. And it's just much less closed off in conversation, just holding a tablet. You can draw and talk to the homeowner, but you're walking around—the customer, showing you their cracks area of concern—and it makes them feel really nice when you take a picture of exactly what they just showed you.
And they see that that's important to you. And then you can make notes on that and annotate it and all that good stuff.
Patrick: [00:13:53] Okay. One of the other things that we’d be interested in knowing—because you're a large company, you’ve got a lot of different locations—can you talk to that implementation? That's obviously a big concern in any kind of project is how are you going to—you know, it may work—but how are you going to get it out?
Any thoughts on before or after or during with the implementation side of things?
Shawn: [00:14:18] Yeah, we've gotten better over time, that's for sure. I almost feel a little bad for our first couple of users just because we hadn't done any implementation yet, or not in 15 years since we switched to AutoCAD.
And so we did get a lot better as far as preparing to transition these employees, especially the long-term sales reps., to new devices and a new drawing program. You know, change is always hard and difficult; nobody likes change, especially if you have these ingrained habits from 10, 15 years.
So that was the biggest kind of hurdle we would be getting our sales reps to have that “Aha” moment with ArcSite and be like, “Wow, this is so much better than I've been doing it in the past; now I see how this is a huge time saver.”
Patrick: [00:15:20] So how have the users reacted to that? I know you briefly mentioned, but any thoughts on the, on the end user, your sales consultants in the field?
Shawn: [00:15:30] Yeah, so we don't have anyone that hates it. Our only issue is people that are just afraid of change. And that's just because it's changed, not because of anything else. What we definitely found is training new sales reps or new users has been unbelievably easy. It's been the best thing ever.
The new sales reps love it; it’s so much easier than AutoCAD training. It's very intuitive. They can pick it up like that. And what we found is we had a couple new sales reps and locations that started using ArcSite—had just started their implementation—and that new sales rep would grab ArcSite and just start running with it because they thought it was the best thing ever. It was so easy and intuitive and they weren't afraid of switching.
And then the traditional long-term sales reps would see this new guy using ArcSite and talking about how great it is, and that would really spur the long-term guys to fully commit and make the switch and break those old habits that they had with AutoCAD.
Patrick: [00:16:43] Gotcha. So I know we're still sort of working with you guys and we're not completely done with the rollout. We briefly talked about some of the things you were looking for. Is it meeting those objectives? The tool?
Shawn: [00:16:59] Yeah. It's definitely meeting those objectives. It’s exceeding them tremendously with those new sales reps, because the training process for AutoCAD was just a nightmare.
It would take six months to really have a new sales rep start creating their AutoCAD drawing in the house. Whereas, I think we had one of our users—Heather Claxton, maybe—spend 30 or 40 minutes training with you. And then the next day she was able to draw on ArcSite while looking at the house.
Patrick: Wow. That's great.
Shawn: Yeah. Huge. It definitely exceeded those expectations with new sales reps, as well as with older sales reps, because one of the main benefits is having the long-term guys—they have long-term knowledge and they know what they're talking about and they know what they want and what they need.
And so when we get together with you and those guys and they say, “Hey, here's what I'm trying to do. I like this, but can I have it do that? Or if we change it to work like this, that'll be a lot better for me and the customer.” And once they see those changes that make the whole product better for everyone, then everyone's happy.
Not just at the location, but at other locations where now we say, “Hey, John Campbell had a great idea. Hey, San Antonio; hey, Houston, and Dallas, we're gonna share this with y'all and show you what they're doing there.” And then they just share back and forth, you know, what they like, how they're using it, those types of things.
Patrick: [00:18:41] Okay. Well, one of the things that we have talked about you and I, and some other folks is, you know, the folks in the field are the ones that are using the tool in the field. Any thoughts as to how your general managers, your operations or folks that are in the office [feel about it]? Any feedback on that?
Shawn: [00:19:01] General managers love it.
Previously, when our pricing template was Excel-based, the CFO would create a new template—maybe three times a year, max, from what I remember—and getting your pricing changed on the template was a huge ordeal. You had to talk to your general manager and say, “Hey, convince him to change the price.”
Or he would have a price that he wants to update, but it's not going to get done for three months just because it's such a chore. Whereas now with it being cloud-based, they just go to their ArcSite portal, they navigate to their products and they say, “Okay, I have this product at this price, we're losing money on those, I need to charge $50 more per year, etc.”
And they can type it in right then and there and be done with it. So the general managers absolutely love that control. So I'd say they love the price and control.
And then with our new sales rep, who's in the house and he's got a question about his repair plan. All he's got to do is upload it to the cloud, call his general manager and be like, “Hey, where do you think I should put piling number 13?” And the general manager could simply make the changes and review the repair plan while our rep is in the home with the customer.
It becomes very transparent and upfront the sales new sales rep likes it. He learns more and gets more comfortable. The homeowner loves it because they can see and feel that attention to detail from the general manager and, ultimately, we end up providing better repair because we have a repair plan that's been reviewed and checked by our experts, our general manager.
Patrick: [00:20:54] Yeah. And the thing for you guys is you pretty much spread it throughout your entire organization, right? It's not just whole other departments or something. Everybody who needs it is using it.
Shawn: [00:21:07] So yeah, a hundred percent, everyone that needs it is using it. I think for us, the final frontier, the last leg of this trifecta will be getting it in the hands of our production guys, having them with their own ArcSite license. So when the repairs are being done and if a change has to be made in the field, they can quickly update the drawing on their own and easily and quickly create that change order and have the customer sign it right then and there. As well as, taking pictures of damage before we do the repair; taking pictures of how things looked after we did the repair so that we know after we finished our job there were no cracks in the sheetrock by this window in their front bedroom. Those types of things.
Patrick: [00:22:08] Okay. Well, Sean, as usual, it's been fun to talk to you. I appreciate all your insight and we do really appreciate your business.
Shawn: [00:22:17] No, thank you. We enjoy working with you all as well. We've had lots of our long-term and newer reps say, “Oh man, this tool is so great. Thank you all for providing it for us.”
And I truly think it makes their jobs easier and improves their productivity and, essentially, their quality of life while they're working for the field.
Patrick: [00:22:40] I hadn't thought about that, but it's a good point. So the sales guy has it a little easier on the job.
Shawn: [00:22:47] Yeah. I mean, we had a lot of long-term sales reps that would do a week's worth of hand drawings, and then Sunday night, they're going to spend up to five hours, just recreating those hand-drawings in AutoCAD. And like a weekend is supposed to be fun. You're supposed to relax. Spend time with your family. Nobody wants to be doing that Sunday night at seven o'clock at night.
Patrick: [00:23:13] I agree. We work on the weekend, it is not a pleasant task.
Then Shawn, appreciate the time and have a great rest of your day. Thanks.