Introducing Interior Plant Scapes
When Brad Miller started Interior Plant Scapes 40 years ago, he was armed with nothing but a great idea, a Honda Civic and a passion for potted plants.
Four decades later, Interior Plant Scapes is an award-winning live plant design business serving more than 400 organizations in southwest Florida. Pretty impressive, right?
The company’s success is no fluke — by continuing to reinvent its mission, invest in its team and set ambitious but achievable goals, Interior Plant Scapes has set itself up for sustained success.
But that doesn’t mean there weren’t challenges along the way.
For Office Administrator Kirsten Bidinost, each day is different. She handles everything from back-office financials to ordering materials and speaking with clients on the phone.
Eventually, those responsibilities included managing Interior Plant Scape’s fleet, which consists of primarily vehicles used for delivery and installation — the exception being a “gardener vehicle” that’s constantly on the road visiting customers for live plant maintenance.
Their diverse customer base includes car dealerships, luxury high-rise condos, country clubs, golf courses and hotels, to name a few. And as they gained more customers — and more vehicles — over the years, Bidinost realized that she needed help managing the fleet.
The “before times”
Bidinost started with the company as a gardener. As the driver of a vehicle, she realized there was no system for inspections and maintenance in place. She was responsible for checking on the vehicle, but no one was checking on her.
“Before, we had nothing,” she said. “People were given a vehicle, then signed a piece of paper with guidelines and expectations. There was no record. We were a lot smaller then, so we got away with it.”
This struck her as an issue — since drivers took their vehicles home, it was possible that no one else would even see it for two weeks at a time. Instead of shrugging it off, she decided to do something about it.
“That’s not sufficient. That’s not safe,” she said. “Worst case scenario, missing a problem could lead to an accident. Best case scenario, I was trying to incorporate a higher level of accountability.”
Finding a solution to suit their specific needs was tricky. As Bidinost explained it, different departments were responsible for different materials, used different vehicles and had different processes.
Those unique needs for each department presented a challenge — and that’s what drew her to Whip Around and its ability to create custom inspection form cards.
“I have different forms for different departments. My gardening fleet consists of two different kinds of vehicles — either a Nissan NV200 or a Ram ProMaster,” she said. “Whereas my box truck has things like the lift gate, the cab versus the box itself. It’s also different materials they’re responsible for and a significantly larger vehicle, so there’s a different form for those.”
Now, everybody who is assigned a vehicle has access to Whip Around as a driver on the app. They are expected to submit daily inspections.
While it may initially feel like more work for the drivers, they’ve grown to appreciate the system for the ease of use and value it offers.
“I may drive them nuts on occasion, like hey, do your inspections,” Bidinost said. “But I think everybody now sees it as an endearing thing, knowing their company cares that they’re safe.”
Interior Plant Scapes has grown significantly since incorporating Whip Around, so quantifying the impact isn’t exactly an apples to apples comparison. But Bidinost has no doubt about the difference it’s made.
“I’m able to be more proactive. I can’t put a price tag on the downtime we’ve avoided, and I can’t put a price tag on the amount of repairs that we’ve done that could’ve become significantly worse. And I certainly can’t put a price tag on driver safety in having these up-to-par vehicles.”
Service schedules and repairs
Bidinost has an agreement with her drivers: She’ll take care of building out service schedules for preventive maintenance in the Whip Around platform if they serve as her eyes and ears on the road.
“I say, I’ll reach out to you when Whip Around notifies me that you hit 30,000 miles and you’re due for an oil change,” she said. “But in return, if your mirror gets smashed, you need to tell me.”
Before Whip Around, it wasn’t possible for her to be proactive in that way. But it has also helped her address new defects as soon as they materialize, helping to maximize uptime.
“I get email notifications as soon as one of my drivers finds an issue, and a lot of times it’s stuff like I’m out of wiper fluid,” Bidinost said. “So there’s no downtime for me. We send our driver to the shop and they take care of all the fluid top-offs, tire pressure check, battery life tests, getting them back on the road.”
In her role at Interior Plant Scapes, Bidinost is diligent about following her core values. Whip Around helps her to do that.
“We try to invest in the best products, and we invest in the best people so that we can be the best for our clients,” she said. “Show up big. Exceed expectations. When my vehicles are properly taken care of, when the proper accountability is in place and when we’re being proactive instead of reactive, I can do that.”
This was always the goal, and it turns out Whip Around was the missing piece to the puzzle. Not only are they now more organized with inspections and maintenance, they know what’s coming down the line — weeks and even months ahead of time.
“It’s really helped us refine our commitment to diligence, which in our core values we define as a systems approach to excellence and quality. We did not have a system for this. There was a huge void where we needed a system and without it we couldn’t be excellent,” Bidinost said.
“This helps us be excellent.”
Boost Your Fleet Inspection & Maintenance Process
If paper processes and inefficient maintenance systems are making fleet operation and DOT compliance more difficult than it needs to be, then it’s time to schedule a Whip Around demo or start a free trial today.