Increasing productivity increases profits, and scheduling and route optimization are two key areas where landscaping companies can see significant productivity gains with small investments. In this article, we’ll cover what to look for to improve your systems and tips to boost efficiency, reduce costs, and do more with less.
Lawn care and landscaping crews are most likely doing multiple jobs in a single day, so increasing each job’s profitability—even by a small amount—can have a significant impact on the bottom line. It’s crucial to keep crews as productive as possible.
Key Metrics To Monitor
Understanding your metrics is fundamental to optimizing efficiency, achieving growth goals, and maximizing profitability. For every part of our industry, it’s vital to leverage expense tracking through job costing. Job costing can be looked at in different ways including “profitability per job,” as well as more granular views like “profitability per crew” and “per man-hour.” When you know which crew is most efficient, you can staff them on your biggest-ticket jobs and highest margin work to maximize profitability.
Backlog is another critical metric to monitor to make sure you’re adequately staffing your team to serve clients without delays. Access to real-time metrics reveals which factors contribute to your backlog, such as production capacity, crew efficiency, and material availability.
Another important metric for maximizing revenue is proposal acceptance rate. A low acceptance rate may indicate that your pricing is too high. On the other hand, if nearly all of your proposals are being accepted, it might mean your pricing is too low, and you’re leaving revenue on the table.
Unfortunately, many of these metrics can be very difficult to determine because they require so many inputs. Teams that get accurate real-time data and actionable insights are at a clear advantage. Business management systems automatically give you these metrics spun many ways, such as per sales rep, per service, and by zip code. These insights can help you make data-driven decisions to best focus your efforts and grow your business.
Potential Of Route Optimization
Many landscaping business owners are surprised to discover just how much time can be saved by optimizing routes. Unfortunately, looking at each location on a map and arranging site visits is not something humans can do as well as computers. But software applications use machine learning and artificial intelligence to put routes in the ideal order. By grouping job sites, both within the same day and in the proper order, crews use their time effectively. These ideal schedules save time so you can complete as many jobs each day as possible.
Scheduling efficiency and route optimization are critical. Scheduling just one more job per crew and per week (or even per day) can provide a tremendous increase in profitability. And we see nearly all companies that leverage route optimization are able to achieve this. That means businesses can staff fewer crew members or get more done with the same size team. Completing jobs quickly also makes customers happy.
Complete More Jobs
Team members often start the day at the office to punch in and get paper route sheets before traveling to job sites. But by combining scheduling and route optimization, you may find these trips are often unnecessary. Meeting instead at the first job site or other convenient location may enable a company to fit another job or two into most days.
In particular, software built for the green industry optimizes routes using relevant inputs, saving up to 30+ hours every week by improving efficiency through streamlined scheduling and job costing.
“Our staff can create tasks for team members in other branches, which they’re able to flip into proposals and promptly serve our customers,” explained Jarrett B. Myers, Chief Operating Officer at Capital Land Management, a Florida-based provider of landscape maintenance, fertilization and pest control, irrigation, and design and installation services. “Having all of this integrated into one system helps all our branches come together. It’s much more efficient than having to e-mail someone and risk things being lost in inboxes.”
Efficiencies In Scheduling
Scheduling involves not just assigning crews to jobs but keeping both crews and customers informed. Customers need to know when they’re on the schedule and might also need reminders via text or e-mail. This usually requires moving between different systems, such as a calendar app, spreadsheets with customer data, and e-mail. These processes are not only time-consuming, but also prone to errors with copying and pasting.
However, by using an application built for the green industry, you can integrate your calendar with your customer data and eliminate the need to jump between apps. Mainly when billable amounts are small, efficiency is the name of the game. And software rigs that game in your favor.
Austin Heath, Owner of Austin’s Lawn Care & Landscaping, a provider of residential and commercial landscaping and hardscaping services located in the Johnson County and Kansas City metro areas, stated, “Previously, we had lots of issues transferring things over from spreadsheets and proposal notes. Errors are inevitable with copy/pasting. But we’ve had increased accuracy by using software, and we’ve definitely been more profitable this year because of software.”
A fully integrated system pulls in all other business functions from customer relationship management (CRM) to proposal generation, invoicing, and payments, in addition to scheduling crews with calendars available on their mobile devices.
Software for the green industry can also integrate automated weather information and your pesticides and other chemicals information into your calendar, streamlining regulatory compliance. Using an app that integrates the calendar with automated weather, work orders, and chemical usage, you can deliver excellent customer service.
There is a clear trend toward data-driven decision-making in our industry, as businesses recognize that you can’t manage and optimize what you don’t measure. An easy-to-use business management app integrates your sales, back office, and field workforce, giving you the insights needed for success.
McCormick is CEO of SingleOps. He has over 10 years of experience building successful cloud and mobile products. He started his first cloud software company while an undergraduate student at Northwestern.
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