- Business: Ciotti Yard Maintenance
- Location: Humboldt County, California
- Interesting Fact about Pete Ciotti: Before becoming a business owner, Pete was the drummer in a touring rock band called Nucleus.
When serial entrepreneur Pete Ciotti sold his nightclub and transitioned into landscaping, he went from using a point-of-sale (POS) system for recording his employees’ hours to writing them down on paper. This new hardcopy system was difficult to keep track of and often resulted in mistakes. Now, with ezClocker, Pete has found a convenient way to clock employees’ time without the hassle of keeping paper records. This has allowed him to focus on growing his business – and the sky’s the limit.
Pete started doing yardwork for friends and picked up odd landscaping and property cleanup jobs. He decided to turn it into a business.
When Running a Business Interferes with Family Life
In 2019, Pete Ciotti was running a nightclub in northern California. The business was the serial entrepreneur’s third. He had started a pizza place in 2005 that operated for ten years, and he had opened a second pizza place in 2008. The former drummer of a rock band, Pete felt that his background in music combined with his experience operating a restaurant made him a good fit to run the nightclub.
But the lifestyle was hard on his family. With three kids at home, working until 3 a.m. was tough, and Pete needed a change.
He wasn’t sure what the next step should be. He thought about going back to school. In the meantime, he started doing yardwork for friends and picked up odd landscaping and property cleanup jobs. He discovered that he liked the work, so he decided to turn it into a business.
“Before I knew it, I had lots of clients,” Pete says. “I ended up picking up employees and we got really busy. And it’s been great ever since.”
Now, Pete enjoys working a nine-to-five schedule.
Learning the tools of the trade
Pete set to work learning everything he could about his new business. He went back to college to learn agriculture, soil science, plant propagation, and botany. He also learned about landscape construction.
“It’s been a fun challenge to learn new things – to learn how to grow a new business a different way,” Pete says.
Pete now has about 100 customers and does residential and commercial landscaping, offering a wide variety of services, from mowing grass to planting trees to building retaining walls.
“I do a little bit of everything up here, because we’re in a diverse landscape,” Pete says. Humboldt County, California, where Ciotti Yard Maintenance operates, has the beach, the mountains, and redwood forests.
“I really enjoy just being outside,” Pete says. “I think it’s really healthy.”
Pete had to rely on writing things down on paper – including what accounts they’d worked on, his employees’ start and end times, and what type of work they did. This paper system often resulted in mistakes, discrepancies, and lost notes.
Time tracking challenges
When Pete owned the restaurants and the nightclub, his employees used point-of-sale computers for clocking in and clocking out. But his landscape business operated out of his truck, so a computerized system was not an option. He had to rely on writing things down on paper – including what accounts they’d worked on, his employees’ start and end times, and what type of work they did. This paper system often resulted in mistakes, discrepancies, and lost notes.
Pete needed a new system, so he searched for a time tracking app. He found one – but it was too complicated.
“I tried to use it once and I couldn’t figure it out,” Pete says. “It had too many bells and whistles, and I just needed something simple. I immediately deleted it.”
Pete searched again and found ezClocker. Right away, he liked that it was affordable and user friendly.
“I’m not fumbling through paperwork or trying to look for lost time-cards,” Pete says. “It’s just easy. It’s an app. Pull it out and it tells you exactly how many hours, right on top of the page.”
An easy app to track hours and save time
Pete uses ezClocker to clock his employees in when he picks them up and clock them out when he drops them off. Now, his time-tracking mistakes are few and far between. He also likes that he can go back and check his employees’ hours later – without having to worry about misplacing a piece of paper.
Plus, the app is saving him valuable time. Prior to using ezClocker, he was spending 30 minutes to an hour each pay period doing payroll. Now, he can tally hours worked and send them to his accountant in mere minutes.
“I’m not fumbling through paperwork or trying to look for lost time-cards,” Pete says. “I’m not trying to go into a POS system and pick certain dates. It’s just easy. It’s an app. Pull it out and it tells you exactly how many hours, right on top of the page.”
He also likes that he can take notes in the app. He pays different wages for different types of work, so the same employee could earn different hourly rates for different jobs. With ezClocker, Pete notes the hourly rate alongside the employee’s hours. He can quickly and easily reference this when doing payroll.
Pete knows ezClocker will continue to help him operate efficiently as he scales up his landscaping business.
More Time for Service and Growth
ezClocker helps Pete run his business more efficiently, which frees up time to provide excellent service to his clients.
“You really want to make sure that every client that you work for is happy with the work you’ve done on their place,” Pete says. “You have to keep a really good relationship with each customer and realize every customer is unique. You have to talk to them. You have to walk the land with them and make sure they’re happy. I think that’s the key to success.”
ezClocker also frees up time for Pete to think about next steps.
He wants to minimize his carbon footprint by switching to battery-powered equipment. He’s also moving towards permaculture and learning how to create backyards that are little ecosystems of native plants and trees to attract native birds and bees.
Pete also plans to get a contractor’s license so that he can start bidding on city and county jobs. Once he does that, he hopes to get a small business loan so that he can invest in bigger equipment. Bigger equipment means bigger jobs.
When he lands more jobs and has multiple teams in different locations, he plans to start using ezClocker’s GPS feature so that employees can clock themselves in and out. Pete knows the app will continue to help him operate efficiently as he scales up his business.
“I see an endless amount of growth,” Pete says.