Frustrated With Your Systems

Frustrated With Your Systems

Frustrated Landscape Contractor

May 2017 — The landscape season is in full boom mode all over North America. You’ve planned for this. You spent the latter part of last year and the early part of this year getting ready for it. What you have planned for is here upon you and your team, working the plan and striving to achieve the goals you put in place.

We’ve been fielding lots of phone calls and emails from landscape professionals like you that are in full operation of their season but have found quickly that there are some significant pain points with the design and business systems that they have in place. Some of the common pains we have heard about are:

  • Leads are falling through the cracks
  • It takes too long to do take offs from the design so the estimator can do their work
  • Working from a generic estimating system that their shoe-horning for landscape construction jobs and maintenance services
  • Estimating based on a gut feeling or experience
  • Not any real systems in place
  • Many software applications in place that don’t speak to each other contributing to disjointed operations
  • No mechanism in place to track actual costs of doing the job

This is really where DynaSCAPE comes in. We have been helping these landscape professionals by expediting the setup of their systems, getting them enrolled in our training sessions, and outfitting them the software solutions that are right for them. Alleviating frustrations in the way you manage your back office everyday is a core strength of our implementation and training specialists. It’s at the foundational level that our software solutions are based on.

Our team here at DynaSCAPE is ready to assist you in working through some of the most difficult time of the year to help you run a efficient, effective, and profitable operation.

If any of this sounds remotely familiar, let us know. The DynaSCAPE team is ready to help!

Get in touch with the DynaSCAPE Team!

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Stick to your core values

Stick to your core values

dfm_corevalues

Sticking to your core values is what makes you great, regardless of what your competition is doing. Far too often we worry about what others are doing and it causes us to veer away from our original plan. Sure, we need to be keenly aware of our surroundings and what is happening around us but my point is don’t let it take you off your course.

DynaSCAPE is laser focused on our core values:

  • An unwavering attention to detail
  • An unrelenting demand for quality
  • Over the top delivery
  • And, superior customer service

In your landscape business, do you have someone that is responsible for quality? Sure, you’d expect everyone in the company to maintain a certain level of quality. But who is your quality driver? Someone that will stand on a table and throw a chair across the room because the expectation is not being met. Someone who so passionate about the highest level of quality that they will make everything else grind to a halt until every effort is made to achieve their quality expectation.

I agree, there’s a risk/reward discussion that must take place when implementing something like this, but if it becomes part of your culture then everyone becomes your driver for quality. They’ll call out other team members when they’ve cut a corner or got lazy for a moment. The result is a reputation in your community that is so admirable and respectable that you’ll be booking work a season or two ahead. The result is a culture within your company that is so attractive to those who don’t work for you that you’ll always have a pile of resumes to draw from. The result is a community who follows what you do and is proud of the work you do.

Be so focused on your core values that you won’t let anyone get in the way of them.

10 Traits of a Great Sales Person

10 Traits of a Great Sales Person

In Grant Cardone’s book, Sell or Be Sold he talks about 10 Traits of a Great Sales Person. 

1. Is willing to be told no. 

“Can’t make the shot you never take,” said Wayne Gretzky. To be a great salesperson you have to be willing to be told no and then allow people to tell you no more than once. Most salespeople never ask for the order repeatedly, failing to even ask for the no, trying to avoid the very thing they are certain to end up with. 

2. Asks for the order regardless. 

Believe it or not this is the number one reason salespeople fail is because they just never ask, “Can I get your signature here and here, please?” Most salespeople believe they ask for the order more than they do and in fact never even asked the first time much less enough times. They are probably trying to avoid rejection, getting a no, or failure or because the discipline of asking hasn’t been developed yet. Many people who are unable to ask are operating under the false belief that if they are just nice to people the people will buy from them. Only a very small percentage of the people will buy from you without you asking, and most will only buy after you have asked five times. If you are unwilling to ask for the order you will only get the leftovers of those who are professionally trained to ask for an order. 

3. Listens selectively. 

If you are one of those people who believes everything someone says to you is true and that what people say is what they will do, you will be a disaster at selling. People will say many things to you that are close to meaningless: “I can’t afford it, we are on a budget.” “We aren’t buying today, we are going to wait until . . .” “We never buy at the first place.” “I have to talk to my wife.” “I’ll see you later today.” The list goes on and on. If you are a gullible person and just believe everything your client tells you is “the gospel,” sorry you aren’t cut out for selling. 

4. Stays sold on their own story. 

If you happen to be one of those personality types that is easily sold on another’s story and unable to hold your conviction and belief about those things you are sold on, you will suck at selling your own products and be great at getting sold on others. You are stuck in some kind of reverse boomerang universe where you intend to sell your story, products, or services, and then end up buying everyone’s stories rather than selling your own.

5. Asks questions. 

If you hate asking questions and feel doing so is “too” personal or prying into someone’s business, you will not make it in the field of sales or as a negotiator. “What is your income?” “How long have you worked there?” “Who is the decision maker?” “Why can’t you do this?” These are questions you will have to learn to ask. If questions cause you discomfort that you are not willing to handle, this will determine your fate in sales or, for that matter, in all negotiations. 

6. Gets answers to questions. 

I know some salespeople who don’t mind asking questions, but they never take the time to actually get an answer. These people believe they are controlling the conversation by asking questions, but they fail as salespeople because they never insist on the answers. They ask a question and then ask another, sometimes answering questions themselves for the customer and never getting anywhere. The person who controls the sale is not the person simply asking questions, but the person who can get answers to questions. 

7. Knows that price is not the issue. 

If you believe the lowest price is the reason people buy things, then you should not consider sales. You should become a clerk at Wal-Mart or a waiter in a restaurant. Cheaper alternatives can replace 99.9 percent of all products on this planet. Whether it is a purse, phone, TV, automobile, insurance, mortgage, etc., someone, somewhere can and will sell it for less. Even more of a reality is that most of the things that are bought and sold are not necessary to have, so if a person wanted the lowest price, the thing to do would be to not buy it at all. Too high of a price is actually a myth and not the reason people buy anything, but if you believe the lowest price is the reason people buy things you should not be in sales. 

8. Is willing to pressure and persist. 

If you are one of those people who became convinced as a child by your parents, teacher, and environment that getting your way is a bad thing then you should avoid all sales jobs and any job involving negotiating, debating, or entrepreneurship. A diamond is only coal until the right amount of pressure is applied for the right amount of time. People will not separate from their money or make decisions without someone building value and then insisting on someone taking action. If you despise pressure or persistence don’t do sales and do not go into business for yourself. 

9. Believes in selling as a good thing. 

Most salespeople actually believe that what they are doing is wrong and unethical, and because they believe that what they are doing is a bad thing they will fail at it. Even one small dose of this type of thinking will kill your chances of ever making it in sales. Great salespeople are proud of their title and profession and know that nothing happens on this planet without salespeople. 

10. Trains and prepares constantly. 

If you are one of those people who thinks they are going to successfully sell just because of their natural abilities and who is unwilling to train and prepare, you will not make it as a salesperson. You can be an average salesperson, but you will probably die broke. Even great salespeople over the life of their careers will be plagued with competitive threats, industry changes, and challenging economies, and they will find themselves at risk. To be great at selling you will have to make a commitment to sales training, sales seminars and books, and staying connecting to sales tips and sales strategies.

About Grant Cardone

Grant Cardone is an international sales expert, New York Times best-selling author, and radio show host of The Cardone Zone. He has founded three companies: Cardone Enterprises, Cardone Real Estate Holdings, and the Cardone Group. He has shared his sales and business expertise as a motivational speaker and author of five books: Sell to Survive; The Closers Survival Guide; If You’re Not First, You’re Last; The 10X Rule; andSell or Be Sold.

Benefits of Landscape Design Software

Benefits of Landscape Design Software

Design software can save you time, give you more flexibility and increase your sales. So why aren’t you using it?

 

Drawing by DuChene Design Solutions using DynaSCAPE Design and Color

No one likes change, but, like death and taxes, it’s one thing you can count on in life. You can’t stop it, so why fight it, right? But fear of change is exactly why the use of design software is not as widespread in the design/build industry as perhaps it should be.

Patrick DuChene knows firsthand the benefits of design software. As the owner of DuChene Design Solutions, which provides design services to landscape design/build companies, he has been using it since 2006. At that time, he was running a large landscape design/build division and had multiple responsibilities. He felt that hand-rendered designs were starting to become a drain on his time.

Check out the full article in Turf Design Build magazine: http://www.turfdesignbuild.com/technology/landscape-design-software-benefits/

Case Study – Earth Turf Wood – Accuracy

Case Study – Earth Turf Wood – Accuracy

Case Study: How Earth, Turf, & Wood estimated and managed a 6-month-long backyard paradise project, accurately and profitably

Company President, Jarod Hynson, says that DynaSCAPE Manage360 was the tool they needed to handle such an ambitious project and keep it in the black

THE CHALLENGE

Have a look at the gorgeous backyard paradise project showcased in this YouTube video and ask yourself this: if it had been your landscape company’s project – which required six months, two full-time crews, numerous additional contractors, and almost 150 labor codes – how would you have managed it?

More to the point, how would you be able to estimate it, track it, and complete it in a way that remained profitable, bringing the same profit margins in at the end that you had estimated at the beginning?

That was the challenge that faced Jarod Hynson, President of Earth, Turf, & Wood in central Pennsylvania. Landing a job of that size was another high in his company’s impressive list of achievements – one of their top five largest jobs to date, he says – and managing it required a significant amount of time, attention, and accuracy in order to keep the project on track and profitable through all of the requirements and change orders that a job of that size involves.

THE SOLUTION

Luckily, he had some help. “We used DynaSCAPE’s Manage360 software extensively for this project,” said Mr. Hynson. “We tracked every minute of every day in it, for production.  And we estimated the whole thing with it, from the beginning.”

In fact, it’s because his company had been using Manage360 for several years already that they were even able to take on such a large job. “I wouldn’t have done anything of this size without having a program like Manage360 to help me deliver the proper estimate,” he said. “On a project of this size, if you don’t have the estimating down right, you could literally cripple a company. I hate to say it, but you may not survive a project like this! You get so far upside down and all of a sudden there’s 20, 30, 40, 100 thousand dollars worth of hours and material that you didn’t account for in your estimate? That’s right off your bottom line. It’s extremely dangerous.

“We had a tremendous amount of man-hours slated for this job, and when we went into it, we leaned heavily on Manage360 to make sure that we came out the other side where we were supposed to come out. Because it’s like setting off in a rowboat across the ocean and hoping that you’ll find England eventually.

“And with Manage360, we did! At the end, we were very, very close to our original estimate of hours. We ran over in just a couple of areas, and that’s only because we didn’t have accurate data on two fairly new installation techniques that were kind of a pilot program. So we had to guess on those two work areas, and they were the only ones where we ended up going over in hours. But, now we’ve got accurate data on that kind of work too, to formulate new kits for future estimates.”

THE BENEFITS

Change orders made easy

A key feature of Manage360 that helped Earth, Turf, & Wood to stay on top of this backyard paradise project was the software’s Change Order module. “There were a significant number of changes, mainly upgrades, in this project, so we used the change order module quite heavily.  Not only did it allow us to maintain a certain profit margin that we needed to have on the job, but it also really helped us calculate the schedule, based on man-hours that we added with each of the change orders.”

How does it work? “Our landscape architect meets with the customer to discuss the requested change, and then we attach a production kit to it and formulate an estimate, which we can turn around quickly for the customer’s approval. We don’t start anything new on the site without a signed change order.

“We learned, over many years of doing it, that much of a pain in the neck as they can be at times, if you develop the habit of issuing a change order for every change request, it keeps everybody on a level playing surface. Even if it’s just a color change. It takes all of the unknowns out of the production, especially when it comes time for the final invoice. Because the final invoice should just be an affirmation of all of the change orders and the original contract that was issued for the job. Once the customers get used to our process, I think they appreciate it, because they know exactly where they’re at, cost-wise, on the project.

“And the software really helps us. At any point, we can go into Manage360 and see what change orders were approved and what change orders are pending. And it’s very accurate, because you’re using the same production kits that you used to formulate the original estimate for the job. So there’s a lot of consistency that flows through from the original estimate right through all the change orders.”

 

Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy

Like the real estate maxim about the importance of ‘location, location, location’, what Mr. Hynson points to most about Manage360’s value to his business is its accuracy.  “We’ve been using Manage360 probably for about four years now, and I would say in the last two years, we’ve really got this thing dialed in. To the point where we are within probably 1% of estimated man-hours in production versus actual. It’s extremely accurate. I just looked at a spreadsheet the other day to see how close we were annually on estimated vs. actual, and we’re very, very close.

“It’s extremely difficult to estimate a job of this size accurately.  That’s why we get many different sets of eyes on it. It’s a very big number at the beginning, and an even bigger number for the customer by the end, but when we dissect it, we know it’s right – it’s all there in the software. It’s all attached in man-hours.”

Timesheet__Crew_3_-_James__Wednesday__16-Sep-2015_What he means by “having Manage360 dialed in” is that in his opinion, its estimating accuracy is a result of them having monitored each job, compared estimated vs. actual, and adjusted the production kits when necessary. “If you’re not willing to commit to the timesheet and to tracking all of it, you’re just creating estimates. At the end of the project, you won’t be able to figure out why you’re over hours, and why your production is taking so much longer in the field than you originally estimated. It’s because you haven’t gone back in and adjusted those kits. You haven’t tried to find out what the true hours and materials really are on these things. Until you’re willing to commit to that, you’re never going to get your estimating right, because you’re never comparing. You’re just spinning your wheels.

“It frustrates me to no end when I hear Manage360 users who say they use it just for estimating. How in the world do you know if your estimates are right if you’re not tracking it in production on the back end?  Because that’s where you have to go back in and readjust your kits. Sure, it’s painstaking for a while. It takes months to get to that point. But once you get it there, it will dramatically change the way your company operates, and your bottom line.”

 

Detailed monitoring capabilities

Manage360 provides his crew with other project monitoring advantages as well. “We’re very strict about not spending customer deposits before they’re earned, and with Manage360, at the end of each week we can go in and look at the analysis tab on the job, see how much revenue was generated on that project the prior week, and then take that into account on our cash flow statements.

“Of course, this requires drilling it into the crews in the field that every minute of every day has to be assigned to a work area or cost code. It has to be. From punch in time to punch out time, every minute of every day has to be put somewhere. Then we enter that information – all the crews’ timesheets – into Manage360. On a daily basis.”

So there’s a fair degree of discipline required? “There is. You have to be committed to it. You really do. It’s like if you buy a brand new vehicle and you don’t maintain it, the pieces are going to fly off of it in no time flat. To get the most out of the program, you have to commit to a process. Whatever you put into it is what you’re going to get out of it.”

 

The time savings are significant

Preparing an accurate estimate for a job of this size could take some companies days, but Mr. Hynson said that with Manage360, “we had some fairly accurate preliminary numbers on the original contract within 3 hours. It doesn’t take long when you’ve got all the production kits and the history. It’s just a matter of assigning different kits to different work areas.

“People are blown away when I say that with Manage360 I can sit down and estimate, say, a half-million dollar project in just a few hours and be very accurate with it. It comes down to tracking and being diligent. There are companies that would spend weeks with it and they still don’t know! We base our numbers on 15 years of experience, and we track every minute of every day, so it’s not like we’re guessing.”

 

Your professionalism shows

3D Rendering of part of the project

3D Rendering of part of the project

Asked if the software helped them with their relationship with their customer throughout the six months of the project, Mr. Hynson replied, “Yes, I think so; they knew that we were very detailed and very accurate with what we proposed for them, and how we were willing to execute it. The customer could see that we’re very professional, and that that level of professionalism was going to be there from Day One all the way through to the end.

“The software also ensures that our change orders have the same margins as our original contract. We’re not a company that’s looking to make a ridiculous amount of money on change orders. We’ll treat you fair. Whether we add it in now or we add it in later, it’s going to be the same price. I believe very strongly in that.

“The customer appreciated that. And they were extremely happy with the final product.”

 

Good for jobs of any size

Mr. Hynson had one other piece of advice for landscape companies looking at Manage360. “I don’t want it to come across like it’s just a program for large projects. The best thing you can do is start with very small, five, ten or fifteen thousand dollar jobs and use the program for them. Get comfortable with it, and eventually grow into some bigger projects. I would say it’s a great program for all sizes of projects.”

For more information:

About Earth, Turf, & Wood: www.earthturfwood.com

About DS|Manage360: www.dynascape.com/manage360

Find out how you can achieve the same results!

Investing in DS|Manage360 will result in tremendous efficiency savings. Let’s talk about how you can get started right away.

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Landscape Specific Software

Landscape Specific Software

landscape specific software

Five Questions to Ask About Landscape Specific Software

by Dan Weaver, Account Manager, DynaSCAPE Software

ppi_cloud_based_project_management_softwareHave you ever created a landscape design plan and wondered if it was possible to automate a take-off to a full cost based estimate and proposal for your clients? If you answered yes, you are not alone. There are thousands of landscape companies across North America that share the same frustration. The cumbersome task of manually creating the plan, labelling the plan, re-creating the list for takeoff, comparing the list with your excel spreadsheet, entering formulas, square footages and hoping that you are accurate enough to make a profit, just isn’t the best practice. This process is time consuming and more importantly, isn’t accurate and detailed enough for landscape companies to know exactly how profitable their job can be resulting in lost profits and money left on the table.

The big question is are you accounting for all of your overhead? What about labour burden? What about all the extra little costs involved when leaving the yard in the morning, travel time and many other general conditions? Are you recovering all of these often forgotten expenses? Are you accounting for these expenses on your estimates and charging for them? In a lot of cases, NO! This process can be difficult to track and include on a basic spreadsheet and needs to be organized in one system.

Over the past 3 years, I have spoken with thousands of landscape business owners, contractors, designers, architects and estimators and all of them agree that this process needs to be automated and improved within the industry. These professionals are actively seeking a solution to speed up this process and work flow that will allow their companies to be more competitive, professional, profitable and efficient.

Here are a few things to think about when implementing a new system that will help your landscape business follow best practices:

QUESTION 1: Do you have the right tools?

RightToolsThere are many programs on the market that contribute to the day-to-day operation of your business. These products can vary from accounting packages, cost book systems, POS, CRM sales management, inventory management, design software and estimating software. The challenge is selecting the right product for your unique business needs. A lot of these programs are great for some industries but are often shared among several industries and are not specific enough for your operation. This raises the biggest problem when using multiple mass market software products. Often these tools cannot be tailored to your company’s operations and just don’t check all the boxes required to successfully run your operation. By using multiple systems that don’t communicate, it makes everyday tasks difficult to complete and can waste your time. Double entry ring a bell? How about losing data from one system that doesn’t import correctly to another? This is what happens when you use software not designed for your industry.

 

QUESTION 2: Do your systems communicate?

CommunicateWhen selecting software to help solve your pains, you should always ask the question about integration. Software can be very tricky to connect to everyday mass market/industry products like MS Word, Excel and accounting programs like QuickBooks. By having an all in one system that handles specific green industry best practices that “play nice” with other programs, is crucial. More importantly, how about integrating your specific landscape software so that everything operates smoothly and communicates under one platform. There are very few systems on the market today that streamline the green industry’s design process, to a full cost-based estimate right through to final invoice. I encourage and stress the importance of this integration when choosing the right program for your business.

 

QUESTION 3: Are you practicing the right systems/procedures?

When you invest in a software program that is specific to your industry and integrates as an all in one business management and design solution, you will have the advantage over your competition. You will experience a large list of benefits for your landscape business. One worth noting, is the creation of systems and procedures your business will adopt from implementing the all in one solution. Software like DynaSCAPE Manage360 and DynaSCAPE Design, has been created from professionals like you that include built-in industry best practices. By utilizing the system and its built-in best practices, the program will guide your company to follow these practices that are proven to help streamline your operations, become more efficient and profitable.

 

QUESTION 4: Why is it important that both the Design program and Estimate communicate?

Integration1By using a professional design solution that integrates with a cost based estimating platform will allow you to automatically label your design from your centralized cost book and then create a material take off directly into an estimate. Within 5-10 minutes of design completion, you have your proposal ready to be sent to the client. You can manage changes in your design and produce a new proposal easily and quickly whenever the client requests any revisions. This process will eliminate errors and allow for your team to trust every estimate that leaves the office. This will also speed up and streamline the overall process that will create more time for you and your team to focus on client and business needs.

 

QUESTION 5: Why is it important to have built in best practices that allow for systems to be built and followed?

BestPracticesBy implementing a business management and design solution that integrates together, will automate your work in ways that will help you run your company better. Programs like this are structured to help you follow the best practices in the industry, from the way that you estimate to the ways that you manage your sales cycle, recover your overhead and schedule your crews. With those best practices built into the program’s workflows and options, your landscape business can use the same professional estimating, job management, sales and management methodologies that the most successful companies use to ensure consistent profitability. Having a system like this will help you steer your company towards greater efficiency and bigger profits.

 

So what are you waiting for? Jump on the web and start researching how software can enable great work flow, create professional systems and procedures, and how to invest in the right tools that will take your business to the next level.