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How Smart Charge America uses Zapier to scale and fight climate change

By Steph Knapp · April 24, 2023

How much time do you need to save the world? 

The Climate Clock says we have about six years until we reach a critical turning point in the race against climate change. When every second counts, saving a few hours a day is a big deal. 

That’s why David Laderberg, the Vice President of Smart Charge America, relies on automation to scale the company. Smart Charge America is an Austin, Texas-based company that sells, installs, and services electric car chargers. It plans to expand to 50 major U.S. cities by 2025. 

“We’re trying to move the needle on climate change—which is a really big thing to try and do. But when you look at the positive impact electric vehicles can have on our society and our world, that really drives me,” he said. 

After joining the company in 2016, David realized that if they wanted to keep up with a rapidly evolving industry and expand nationwide, every process must scale. 

"We're trying to accelerate the electrification of transportation. And if we’re going to accelerate that, we could get left on the sidelines so quick that we didn’t even see it coming.”

So, he got to work transforming Smart Charge America’s workflows with Zapier

Automated quote forms keep the company ahead of the growth curve

Every Smart Charge America project starts with a custom quote for each unique job. Traditionally, charger installation companies receive a customer request, schedule a home visit, and manually calculate a project quote. However, this kind of time-intensive process would put Smart Charge America behind in the race for electric vehicle adoption. 

“All of the estimates of EV adoption are off—it’s happening quicker than a lot of people have planned. That means things are growing quicker than anticipated,” David said. 

To ensure customers got personalized pricing quickly and in a scalable way, David created an online quote form. But that was just the first step. 

Although the form saved the team a home visit, it required highly skilled engineers to spend a ton of time meticulously tagging homeowner photos and log info across at least six different Google Suite tools. On average, this clunky process took 18 minutes per quote. 

“When we’re creating a quote, we’re dealing with an experienced electrician, and their time is valuable. I really need them focused on the estimating portion of this—I don’t want them spending time getting customer information into the quote. I need them focused on the unique electrical portion of this work,” he noted. 

So, David used Zapier to create an automated quote process that collects and organizes customer info. It begins when a customer fills out an online form and attaches images. Then the Zap automatically logs the info in Copper, assigns it to a local sales rep, calculates the distance from the office, and stores all the information in a customer folder. 

Smart Charge America’s quote request workflow uses Zapier to connect Copper, Airtable, Google Maps, and Google Drive.

Create Copper leads from new Google Forms entries

Create Copper leads from new Google Forms entries
  • Google Forms logo
  • Copper logo
Google Forms + Copper

Save new attachments from labeled emails in Gmail to Google Drive

Save new attachments from labeled emails in Gmail to Google Drive
  • Gmail logo
  • Google Drive logo
Gmail + Google Drive

Smart Charge America’s automated quote workflow saves five minutes per quote, which adds up to an additional 15 estimates per employee per day. The less time employees spend on estimates, the quicker homeowners get their quotes and the more time skilled tradespeople have to dedicate to their craft. 

Faster scheduling frees up 75 minutes per day per sales rep

After the quote and sales process, Smart Charge America needs to schedule the installation and ensure the homeowners and field team have project info at their fingertips. Instead of manually entering details for each Google Calendar event and following up with field reps after the installation appointment, Smart Charge America built a Zap to automate the process across four apps.

Automatic scheduling guarantees everyone has project information without manual data entry and research.

Send email reminders for new approaching Google Calendar events

Send email reminders for new approaching Google Calendar events
  • Google Calendar logo
  • Email by Zapier logo
Google Calendar + Email by Zapier

Add new Stripe customers to QuickBooks Online as customers

Add new Stripe customers to QuickBooks Online as customers
  • Stripe logo
  • QuickBooks Online logo
Stripe + QuickBooks Online

David also created automatic reminders before each appointment. 

“Twenty-four-hour reminders are really important because people have busy lives. It makes sure that they show up and we show up and everyone is ready at the time that we scheduled. It seems small and obvious, but if it doesn’t happen consistently, it will be a problem,” David added. 

David’s scheduling Zap allows sales reps to schedule appointments 75% faster—down from 20 minutes per customer to just five. Since each rep schedules an average of five appointments daily, this one automation alone frees up 75 minutes per day per sales rep. 

Automatic communication builds customer, partner, and vendor relationships

On the surface, automation can feel like a tool that removes humans from your work. In reality, it helps you better connect with customers and gives your communications a human touch. 

For example, Smart Charge America uses Zapier to give homeowners the documents they need to get cash back for going green. 

“We want to elevate the customer experience, and there are a lot of incentives and rebates out there for car chargers, depending on where you live," David said.

"So, I created a Zap that automatically sends the information they need for the rebate. We certainly have people that want and expect that information. Still, there are also cases where people don’t know about them. We’re actually introducing these customers to the incentives [and] creating a positive customer experience.”

David also set up Zaps to quickly share leads with partner organizations, follow up with prospects, and ensure compliance. 

“We have to submit specific information to some of our vendors. For example, Tesla has standards to conform to, and we want to do the job the right way consistently," he said. "Every step counts, and we have to do it in a timely manner. Before, it was difficult to track and time-consuming, and now it’s not.”

Smart Charge America relies on Zapier to support its growth

David and Smart Charge America are driven by passion and are racing the clock—and they're expanding faster to meet those goals with a little help from Zapier.

“If we’re going to move the needle on climate change, we can’t wait. In my mind, I’m in a race. I have to figure out ways to innovate, do better, and get things done [in a] more timely [manner],” David said. 

David’s strategic foresight and dedication to automation support Smart Charge America as they barrel toward its 50-city goal with 22 U.S. locations. He has 77 Zaps that automate more than 18,000 tasks every week, and he credits Zapier with supporting them as they scale. 

“Without Zapier, we would have needed over 100 employees today just to do what we’re doing, which would have been unsustainable. We would have been out of business by now. Instead, today we’re thriving with 50 highly productive employees.”

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