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How a filmmaker revamped his dad's business

A story from Makerpad
Quick Stats

Tools used: Squarespace, Zapier, Mailchimp, Google Sheets, Typeform, Airtable, Zoho CRM


Time to build: 2 weeks

How a filmmaker revamped his dad's business

Hi, I’m Wes, and I’m a filmmaker based in Southern California.

Last year, I was brought on as a consultant to my family’s floorcovering business. We do sales and installation of all flooring types, residential and commercial. It’s about five years old and has become fairly successful in the local area in a short amount of time. My job is to handle lead generation and pipeline, keep our internal operational stuff running smoothly and finding ways to increase our efficiency. When I was shown by my dad how a typical flooring estimate usually goes, I saw a lot of places where we could tighten things up and reduce redundancy. My dad‘s been in the flooring business for over 40 years now, and he’s got this insane Excel workbook that he’s been developing literally since Windows 95. He’s taken it with him to all of the various flooring centers he’s worked for, it’s grown packed with formulas and refined over time; and it’s currently in a Google Sheets template in our shared G Suite team drive.

For every new estimate, he would go to the house, write down the customer’s information on a pad of paper, take all the room measurements using shorthand, come home, transfer all that into the workbook, which then takes the front page data and passes it between all the different pages, doing math and whatnot, to generate a purchase order from a manufacturer, a work order for our installers, and the estimate for the customer. This then all is summarized in a top-level profit and loss statement for each job, also embedded in the workbook. But this is where it ended. If we needed to contact that customer, it meant pulling up their Sheet in Drive which takes several taps to get to, same for the address, and copying/pasting. Calendar appointments were done by hand, and may or may not have missing information, etc. We had no mailing list. No postmortem metrics. No metrics of any kind from lead conversion to job timeline.

The first big change was to introduce a CRM. After doing some research, it seemed that Zoho would be a good fit for us. I took about a week and completely customized the entire interface to fit our business model. Someone is generated as a lead, with relevant contact information, job site address, and description of flooring needs. Once they make a deposit, then converted to a “job”, where we have a timeline of deposit, material ordered, labor scheduled, work order sent, install started, install finished, and final payment. This is a great central hub for all client and job information, but how else can we streamline this?

I did some more research and found Zapier. This is the biggest game changer for us.  I recently moved our website to Squarespace, and I was excited to see that the integration was already present. So I made a lead generation form that anyone could fill out for an estimate, which would instantly email me from Squarespace. Zapier then: takes the form info and creates a Zoho CRM lead, adds them to a master MailChimp list, finds our estimate document template in Drive, duplicates and renames that using their last name, then moves that to the root of our Team Drive. The link for that document is then added to a custom field we made inside Zoho for each lead so that we can open the document from their CRM page.  All of their pertinent information is also created as a record in Airtable, which is the database for our proprietary app that is currently in development. Part of that form also had date and time request done in plain text and drop down respectively, that data was then used to create a Google calendar appointment in our “Measures“ calendar in G Suite.

Then, to top it all off, our work iPhone receives a text message saying “You have a new measure on (date) with (full name). Their address is (address).” This text gets copied/pasted to my dad’s personal cell phone, which sort of acts as his notification system of new measures since the form emails came to me.

About a month ago, I reworked the front end of this form using Calendly instead of the built-in Squarespace form, so people can schedule their own estimates without me having to verify each one, and it will account for our own blackouts and daily limits and weekly availability. Plus, the customer gets a confirmation email 2 days prior, and a confirmation text 2 hours prior. They can also reschedule any time and the entire system updates. (I had to make a later step in the zap to go through and reformat the Google Calendar event since we didn’t like the way it looked, but aside from that, it’s pretty much untouched.)

Finally, once a job reaches the “final payment“ stage in Zoho, it sends an email to myself letting me know that the job has been completed. That email triggers smaller zap that is watching Gmail's inbox and trained on a particular phrase in the footer, which then finds their email in the CRM, and adds them to a dedicated MailChimp list where new subscribers are sent a Typeform satisfaction survey link via MailChimp. After two weeks of no clicks, they get a single follow up reminder, and then they are automatically unsubscribed.

Between Squarespace, Zoho, MailChimp, and Zapier, I’d say we’re all in at about $75 a month.  This whole process probably took a cumulative two weeks to build and test, with some small tweaks and refinements along the way. (One kind of funny one, is that when trying to copy/paste the text to my dads phone, my fat thumbs kept accidentally clicking the address or date links in the message… So back in the Zap, I added a couple empty line breaks with a period at the bottom to give myself a literal tab to grab onto!)

Here’s the kicker: this process used to take about an hour to get the customer info in to all the various places, with plenty of room for error, typos, missed services, and missing fields. Now, from them hitting submit to me getting the text message, it’s about 25 seconds.

"The fact that it’s a no-code solution means I can set up, operate, and refine the tools myself... sometimes, from the mobile browser on my phone while on the road"

While I understand basic web code, something like this would be extremely time-consuming and costly to pull off with 'proper' development. The fact that it’s a no-code solution means I can set up, operate, and refine the tools myself... sometimes, from the mobile browser on my phone while on the road (not driving!)

Our company, Langdon Floorcovering, can be found at www.langdonfloors.com, and the estimate form link is right in the header. I’ve also attached some pictures of the actual steps.

My Twitter, which is mostly filmmaking, tech, and gaming, is @firehouse_ca. I’d love to talk more about the tools we use, so feel free to ask away on there!

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