Use Technology to Manage and Improve Your Business

GPS, CRM, Real Green, MS Project, Google Docs, Go iLawn, Service Autopilot, Google Maps, and the list could go on and on. For years our landscape industry lagged in using the latest and greatest technology. That was then, and this is now. Smart contractors are adopting innovative technologies to manage their businesses. Their goals are almost always the same: accomplishing more work in less time and with less effort.

If you’re not taking advantage of the technology boom, you’re losing ground to these smart, tech-using owners, who realize their clients are also using technology in their day-to-day activities. Why wouldn’t tech-savvy clients expect their service providers to be just as progressive?

Whether contractor or client, everybody realizes that time is money, and using technology can optimize both time and money. Try reaching a busy property manager by phone about an issue on their landscape that could be corrected immediately, and it’s likely you will get their voice mail. Text them a picture of the issue, and you will likely get a fast response that could save both of you money.

Keep your team informed

Information exchange among managers is vital in today’s fast-paced work environment. Take advantage of the latest technology to track and share P&L reports and other management data with key personnel. Keeping managers up to date on your company’s performance is always a good idea. You will improve profitability by keeping your team informed about your company’s monthly or quarterly progress. It will allow you to know what you need to do to achieve the goals you have set for your company.

It used to be that preparing a quote for a particular site was a time-consuming process that often required traveling to the site to measure and evaluate it. Now, several programs greatly reduce quote preparation time, which, of course, means you can generate more quotes, and that should lead to more contracts. If you’re still manually preparing quotes, now is a good time to move into the world of high-tech management. Sure, there will always be times when you’ll still need to walk sites and check out the terrain. However, think in terms of the overall time you can save, and remember time is money.

Simplify fleet management

Tracking repairs and maintenance of your vehicles and equipment is an area that could save your repair costs and improve operations. If you’re tracking the service shop’s activities on paper, look into a program that tracks fleet management. Select a program that can be easily administered by a technician and shared with management. These programs will increase the useful life of your equipment and trucks, and that will improve your bottom line. Computerization also saves inventory costs by accurately tracking your stock and notifying you when inventory is low and it’s time to reorder.

Join the tech revolution

The Tech Shop is a group of technology centers with outlets in major cities. Businesses can become a member of the Tech Shop and use their facilities where the latest innovations like 3-D printers and other high-tech machines and programs are available. The first-generation 3-D printers produced items made of plastic-type materials. New cutting-edge technology now allows 3-D printers to produce metal parts and components. The day is soon coming when manufacturers will be able to produce engines and other internal moving parts in machines using this amazing technology. Contractors can also find ways to use 3-D printers to advance business and increase profitability.

Update your website

Your website is a great way to reach clients and let them know about your company and your people. Many successful contractors are posting quarterly educational information or infomercials that are of interest to clients. Highlighting your people and their experience and their areas of expertise is always good. If you sponsor a youth sports team or community event, let everyone who visits your site know this. We’re in a 24/7 world, and clients are using the Web to shop and gather information around the clock. Compare your site with several successful competitors and make changes that improve your site. Take advantage of website design and formatting so that your site delivers a great first impression to potential clients.

The bottom line: With all the amazing innovations available, you can increase your bottom line and improve operations by taking advantage of these technological advances.

Rick Cuddihe is president of Lafayette Consulting Co. and works with companies to improve their operations. Rick is a PLANET Trailblazer and business adviser. Comment on this article or contact him at