Courtesy of The Wright Gardner
Just about every entrepreneur can relate to the feeling of acquiring a small business, and realizing its technology is stuck in the pre-internet era. This is something that my team experienced firsthand when we purchased The Wright Gardner last year — a San Francisco-based company that designs, sells, leases and maintains interior plants for clients throughout northern California.Immediately after closing, my team and I went to work understanding the nuts and bolts of the company’s operations. We quickly found that our paper-based systems, while functional, were inefficient, and presented serious risks to the company. We quickly moved to modernize our systems by migrating data into the cloud and implementing G Suite, Asana, Slack, and a few other simple management applications.
With Google, though, we ran into a challenge. We were using Sheets as our main database for processing critical data like client information, schedules, and service logs. While Sheets is great for some things, it doesn’t scale well. It’s also fragile, and not mobile-friendly. Try manually entering data into a spreadsheet over your phone. It’s not fun.
We started looking for ways to make it easier and safer for employees to enter data into Sheets. And this is how we discovered AppSheet.
With AppSheet, I was able to design a simple and user-friendly app that our workers could use to input and modify operational records in Sheets. It’s made our operations much faster, more intuitive and secure, and has drastically reduced the administrative burden we put on our team members.
What’s great, too, is that I designed the app in no time at all. While it did take some time to build our data framework, the process of designing the app only took a few hours — and I’m not even a developer! While I have some experience in Java and C++, that doesn’t mean I had the time, energy or desire to build a solution from scratch, and then maintain it. As a business owner, I just wanted an affordable and reliable app that we could use to run our business. And that’s exactly what I found with AppSheet.
Here are some ways that we are using AppSheet on a daily basis:
Scheduling: Scheduling and coordinating our service visits was a big challenge for us at first. Before AppSheet, we had one person who basically devoted half of their time to scheduling — at least 20 hours per week. Now, we schedule three times as many people in 15-20 minutes.
Communicating: We continue to expand, onboard new team members, and evolve our organizational structure. As we grow, it’s vital for everyone to have a directory with current team member information. Now, we store organizational and team member information right inside of AppSheet for easy access.
Customer information: AppSheet also allows our employees to quickly access and update client information, providing a single point of truth that drastically reduces the incidence of costly mistakes and allows us to automatically error-proof our operations. This has been essential in managing a larger book of business with the same core staff and with fewer mistakes.
What I love most about AppSheet is that, as a Main Street entrepreneur (see my article on this: From Unicorns to Main Street: Why Small Business is the Next Big Thing), I could use AppSheet to digitize and operate almost any imaginable business process for any type of business. AppSheet provides the tools required to collect, process, disseminate, and act on business data and to easily implement robust and scalable business processes in a mobile app.
Make no mistake about it: AppSheet is a must-have tool for entrepreneurs, and I couldn’t imagine running our business without it today.
About Nick Haschka
Nick Haschka is the CEO of The Wright Gardner (TWG), a San Francisco-based interior plant company offering sales, leasing, and service of interior office plants, flowers, and horticultural decor to a wide variety of commercial office and real estate clients throughout Northern California. He's also a co-founder of Cub Investments, a private equity partnership that acquires and operates successful small businesses undergoing a generational change-of-ownership.