TruGreen ChemLawn may have the tools to eliminate pesky beetles or stubborn crabgrass, but it was having a little more difficulty finding the right science that would keep its employees in line when it came to procurement. Their transgressions usually involved paying retail and were often last-minute purchases that had not

been approved. But over time they built up–particularly when the company had potentially thousands of field technicians committing them.

For any other midsize company with annual revenues of $1.4 billion, this might have presented a problem. But this landscaping and lawn care company had a sugar daddy to lend a hand. Beginning in March 2005, ServiceMaster Co., the $3.8 billion corporate parent of TruGreen ChemLawn, began working with Ketera Technologies Inc. to equip 4,000 of TruGreen's employees in over 200 branches with a user-friendly e-procurement tool, enabling them to purchase everything from pencils and rubber gloves to fertilizers and lawn mowers from a centralized portal. By mid-August 2005, all of the lawn care division's field technicians were ordering off the new system, eliminating most of that maverick spending, and in the five short months since, TruGreen has already realized a cost savings of 3% attributable to the new system. It has even seen additional savings of between 7% and 20% through discounts, depending on the supplier, simply because it now can drill deep into the details of its employee spending to negotiate better prices. "We're excited about the progress that we've made," says David Rokosky, managing director of supply chain management for Downers Grove, Ill.-based ServiceMaster. "We've used the tool really to create new advantages that we've never had in the past."

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