What Do Landscapers Do In The Winter Off-Season? (They Work!)

What Do Landscapers Do In The Winter Off-Season? (They Work!)

LANDSCAPE BUSINESS MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE

Winter can pose quite a challenge for landscapers. It’s their off-season when patio projects and beautiful backyards aren’t being built. Unless climate permits of course, in which case, build away! But for those landscapers who have the misfortune of Mother nature bringing in packs of snow and cold weather, fall and winter can be a difficult season. Especially for those who are just getting started in the business and don’t have the capital of summer projects to take them through the winter months.

Luckily, even though backyard projects may be coming to an end, maintenance and seasonal projects begin. Landscapers don’t have to put away all their tools and let their crews sit idle when there is work to be done. Especially for those who have invested in landscape business management software and are using crew tracking and maintenance scheduling tools. It may not be the lavish profits of full designs and construction projects, but it’s income you can take advantage of through the slow season.

Snow Removal

The most typical off-season work for landscapers is snow removal. They have the trucks already for summer use, so what’s adding a detachable snow plow to the front and plowing parking lots and driveways. It’s a perfect way to flex your landscape business management software, showing that software isn’t just for those busy months. And that it can still help earn you profit in the off-season.

When the snow comes falling, businesses, condo units and residents want to know someone is going to be on scene to clear away the snow. Setting up snow removal contracts in your landscape business management software is a great way to earn some recurring revenue. It’s basically your lawn maintenance, but with snow on the ground. The same scheduling you do for your crews in the summer can work in the winter. Your snow plowing will need to be more flexible depending on when snow is falling. But snow removal contracts can be great profit generators in the winter months for landscapers.

Planet Trees and Shrubs

As long as the ground is not frozen, fall and winter are the perfect time to transplant bushes, shrubs and trees. Schedule your crews for each of your clients using your landscape business management software and get them into the yards of your clients to transplant. This can also include other activities such as pruning, trimming trees back and planting winter annuals and raking the soil. It might be the off-season but think of the prime season and what your clients will want their yard to look like when the snow melts and it’s ready to use again. And for future projects that you could be doing in the summer months.

Other activities that can be completed during the winter months include:

  • Removing dead plants from flower beds and planters
  • Draining sprinklers
  • Dethatching and aerating the lawn
  • Fertilizing the lawn
  • Wrapping young trees in protective burlap
  • Moving patio furniture into storage

Christmas Lights Installation

One of the most profitable winter jobs for landscapers is putting your design skills to the test and installing Christmas lights. Keep the project work coming with Christmas displays, which between materials and labor hours, could net you over $1,000 for each installation, depending on the size of the display and the property. This kind of off-season work does require more planning than other work in this list. And it requires proper insurance to cover your crews that are going to be climbing up ladders and on roofs.

With landscape business management software, however, this can be a great revenue generator during the winter. Schedule your crews for each project and the takedown as well. Ask your customers when they want them up and down and plan out your crews to accommodate. Get yourself a wholesaler in materials for lights and other Christmas items and put your designs to the test to brighten up any house on the street. Your work is on display each off-season and could make you a busy and in-demand company come to the next off-season.

Leaf Removal

Does anyone enjoy raking leaves? If you have customers that have plenty of trees, and maybe you planted them, an add-on to your project work could be lawn maintenance. And that includes leaf removal. Some customers won’t want regular leaf removal, except if their backyard is full of trees and it’s a weekend activity to have to rake up what has fallen this week. Depending on how long winter snow holds off for, it could be up to eight weeks of leaf removal. Much like your regular lawn maintenance, schedule your crews using your landscape business management software and keep your customer’s lawn, which you work hard on during the summer, still looking great.

Training and designing

The off-season is the time to relax, but it’s also the time to learn. If you have decided to go with a landscape business management software that includes a design element, there is always time to brush up on new techniques and get more training in your software. Never stop learning as a landscaper. A tool, module or element inside your landscape software may change the way you look at off-season business.

You can’t turn your landscaping business into a multi-million-dollar business if you don’t work all year long. It may not be the same glamorous results you get from completing award-winning backyards, but it’s still revenue. And whoever turned down revenue? Don’t have your crews taking the winter off and keep them busy by scheduling recurring maintenance for the winter months.

3 Big Ways Landscape Design Software Saves Time

3 Big Ways Landscape Design Software Saves Time

There is that old saying in the business world that “time is money”. Every minute someone is designing, working on a bid, planting, shovelling or putting the finishing touches on a picture-perfect backyard, costs the business in expenses. And that in turn, eats away at the profit you are earning on each landscaping job. The overhead costs for each job can quickly spiral out of control and cost a landscaping project at the end. Hours add up, wages need to be paid, and all that extra time spent can take a massive bite out of your revenue.

So, when we talk about saving time, we are also talking about saving money. And with landscape design software, there is an opportunity to save on both. That is if you are willing to change your business and not just automate the way your business runs but rethink how you do business, to begin with. You can have the nicest drawings in the industry, but if those drawings are taking hours to complete and costing you a pretty penny, what is their return on investment against your closed deals.

Landscape design software saves design time (obviously)

This one might be the most obvious to point out, but your landscape design software will save time on designing. The best pencil crayons and designers can’t match the ability of design software to turn ideas into amazing and beautiful designs in a fraction of the time. With color swatches, patterns and other design elements, an entire design can be rendered into a presentable piece faster than someone can manually color each flower, tree or stone being placed.

Where landscape design software really saves time is on repetitive tasks. Store designs and concepts you have used before and reused them on new designs. Why redraw what you already have done before? And to really wow your customers when presenting, show multiple angles of the same design. But you only need to create it once, as design software will give you the ability to create different views of the same original drawing. The manual way of designing can be very labour-intense. But with design software, you are not only saving time but getting beautiful, colorful and 3D rendered designs that will win you more business in a fraction of the time.

Designs to estimates

Now that you have this beautiful design, you need the facts and figures that go along with it. You need the estimate. How much sod was used in your design? What kind of plants and trees did you use? How much time is it going to take to do the entire project? All of these questions require someone to calculate in order to give the customer an estimate along with their design. And plenty in the industry are still using spreadsheets for each project and manually pulling costs from their master cost book into their estimate.

All of these spreadsheets equal a lot of time being wasted. Whereas, if you already pre-loaded all of your cost books into your landscape design software, you could import your design and have a full estimate prepared. Every shrub, tree, plant and stone are accounted for out of your cost book. Did prices change? Update your cost book and your estimates change as well. No more having to go and manually update each bid to include the new cost of materials.

In-depth budgeting

Some landscapers are only thinking about the project and estimating and budgeting for that. But if you’re going to save money, you need to be thinking of everything you spend money on. And that isn’t just materials and labor hours for the project. It’s all your overhead, like storage fees, dump runs, inventory, equipment repair and if you have an office, the overhead expenses of running it. Those costs need to be built into every single project you complete. They are a part of your business and should be part of your final quote.

By planning your budget out before estimating, you can include overhead charges and decide how much you want to make back on each project. Save time when estimating by having a set method already in place to charge overhead back to the customer and include it in the final estimate cost. Remove the manual work of trying to calculate your overhead, and then how to spread that around to all your project work. Load your overhead budget into your landscape design software and let the estimating tools do the rest.

Time not spent is money earned

Every hour spent working on some aspect of your landscaping business costs money. But there is only so much you can return back to the customer. Offering designs and estimates is part of the overhead you eventually have to make back. But if you are spending hours upon hours designing and estimating with manual processes, it can be very difficult to recoup the loss. By reducing the time it takes to make designs and estimates, you save money. And by automating the budgeting of your overhead, you save money not having to calculate it. Turn to a landscape design software and speed up some of the processes that are eating away at revenue.

Automation & Job Costing is a Business Changer for Scarlett’s Landscape Inc.

Automation & Job Costing is a Business Changer for Scarlett’s Landscape Inc.

Working long days used to be the norm for Jeremy Scarlett. The Vice President of Scarlett’s Landscaping Inc. in Ventura, CA, used to work in the field on new landscaping projects during the day, and would head home to continue working at night. It was a stressful time for him and his family as he worked alongside his dad in the family business and didn’t draw a salary in the early years. That is, until he discovered the benefit of using landscaping software.

The business was growing, and new bids were being done every night on his computer using spreadsheets. While Scarlett considers himself an Excel spreadsheet guru, it was a labor-intensive process to manually produce bids for potential new customers. 

“That’s how I was doing my bidding,” said Scarlett. “Keeping Excel spreadsheets of pricing of products and then just creating a new Excel spreadsheet for every bid that I did. I’m still working in the field all day, so this is at home at night when I’m supposed to be resting.” 

It was a great problem to have, as there was constantly new business to bid for; however, it reached a point when there were too many bids to complete using the spreadsheet format. When he came across DynaSCAPE’s landscaping software (Manage360), he was immediately impressed with the automation tools and their ability to change his entire bidding process. 

Prior to using landscaping software, Scarlett’s entire cost book was located in an Excel spreadsheet. It was a tedious process of typing it into a new bid, or even having to refresh costs, which wouldn’t be reflected on past bids unless he went back to manually update them. 

“Whereas in DynaSCAPE, you have the Costbook and it’s really easy to update materials and pricing,” said Scarlett. “You can always refresh and pull in the new pricing.” 

It also includes budgeting tools which allowed Scarlett to create a budget and enter it into Manage360 so he knew exactly how much he needed to cover for overhead costs on each new project. With the job costing model already set, he started gaining greater insight into the margins he was making on each project and where his pricing was coming from. 

“When you are doing these bids, it’s correctly calculating things like overhead, subcontractors and whatever profitability you want on a job,” said Scarlett. “It really just dials in your focus. Whatever you set your focus at, it helps you execute that focus. Just the ability to have that budget in there and your pricing model already set that calculates it and enables you to execute it day after day.” 

With bidding under control with a faster process, Scarlett turned his attention to data collection. He was looking for a system that was able to track his closing rates, what his margins were compared to his estimates, and even deciding if his crews should continue making runs to the landfill, or just buy a dumpster for the yard. 

Data became so important to his everyday decision-making, and it was something he just wasn’t getting out of Excel spreadsheets. Today, no matter the size of the decision, Scarlett is looking at Manage360 for the data he needs to make decisions that will positively impact his business. 

“You need a way to collect the data to make business decisions on a day-to-day basis,” said Scarlett. “I have to have data. All my small and large decisions are based on data. I want to look at past performance, how we have done on projects. I want to look at how much I’ve spent on dump fees last year and how much is it going to save me to buy a dumpster. I’m all about doing analysis.” 

“Unless you have systems in place to keep that information, I don’t know how you access that information. You’re making decisions based on gut feelings or what you think is happening. I don’t want to base decisions on what I think is happening. I want to know the data.” 

With Manage360, Scarlett is now able to be more accurate in his estimates. For him, if you’re off on your estimate, you’re making a mistake. While it’s great to know if you are hitting your gross margins over the course of the year, Scarlett wants to know if he is hitting them job by job. He has taken that data and analyzed the efficiency of his crews, looking into things like the location of jobs that cause his crews to drive too much, or looking at specific crews to see why they’re not as efficient as others, and what they’re doing differently. 

With more accurate estimates, Scarlett has been able to win more bids by tweaking his budgets if needed, knowing his crew can come in at the estimate he put in and still achieve the profit margin goal. All of this is possible because of the budgeting, job costing and estimating system that is feeding him plenty of information to make these kinds of business decisions. 

“We want to be able to analyze it job by job so we can see if we are hitting our goal or not,” said Scarlett. “If you are hitting it, then maybe your net profit is not enough. You have to have that info in order to analyze and set your goals and constantly be reviewing. Things change, you get new guys, or you want to be able to know if you can give a little because you really want this job, knowing I can execute what I planned on. Without that information and job costing, I don’t know how you are doing that.” 

With landscaping software in place, DynaSCAPE’s Manage360 has turned Scarlett’s Landscape from a $100,000 business in to a $2.5 million business. They are taking on and winning more projects, so much so that they focus exclusively on new projects and designs. It’s grown the family business by so much that today, Scarlett has an estimator to complete all job estimates and bidding, because now the automated process is in place to ensure it will be accurate. 

No more working all day and estimating at night. No more spreadsheet cost books and bids. Just a complete, automated system that has allowed this vice president to become more hands-off after more than a decade in the business. 

“Having a system that can do all of these things for you is very important to me and my business,” said Scarlett. “The estimating system abled me to automate my estimating process to the point where I was able to hire an estimator and I don’t have to do that anymore. I wanted a system that was automated enough where someone could read a set of plans and do some takeoffs, and if they had some basic knowledge of construction they could execute an estimate accurately. Having that system and information has grown our business. DynaSCAPE has really enabled us to get to where we are today.”

 

Check out this interview with Jeremy Scarlett, and DynaSCAPE’s Vice President, Joe Salemi:

Contact one of our account managers today to learn more about DynaSCAPE’s business management software, and how we can help you save time and grow your business:
A True End-to-End Landscape Management Software

A True End-to-End Landscape Management Software

A True End-to-End Landscape Management Software

 

At DynaSCAPE, we design software that helps landscape companies do their work more efficiently and professionally. We have both design and business management solutions that are specifically tailored to meet the day-to-day needs of landscape professionals. As a landscape company, your focus is on winning projects and completing them to your customers’ total satisfaction. Our job is to provide you with the landscape management software to help you win those projects and make them not only outstanding, but also profitable.

Our overall mission is to help raise the level of professionalism in the landscape industry with the tools that we create. Our greatest satisfaction is knowing that every day, those tools are helping our customers to win new jobs and achieve new levels of excellence. The designs and projects that DynaSCAPE users create and manage with our software are well planned, well presented and in many cases, award winning.

DynaSCAPE’s Suite of Design Software

The very first tool we created, DynaSCAPE Design, is a CAD-based program that helps you draw spectacular, information-rich designs. It saves you time by automating all of the repetitive aspects of landscape design preparation, and its output features crisp line weights, professional symbols and an artistic flair that makes it hard to believe you didn’t draw it by hand.

Landscape Design Software RenderingDynaSCAPE Color adds value to your drawings by letting you show your landscape ideas in full and attractive color. With it, you can add a hand-colored look and feel to your drawings using an entire spectrum of color swatches, textures, opacities and shadings.

DynaSCAPE Sketch3D takes landscape design to a whole new level by letting you showcase your design ideas in full three-dimensional splendor. It imports your 2D CAD drawings into SketchUp, and gives you access to a comprehensive library of more than 1,600 landscape-specific 3D components including plants, ponds, pools, rose arbors, and more.

DynaSCAPE’s Business Management Software

We’ve also developed a tool to help you improve the way you run your company. DynaSCAPE Manage360 is a comprehensive business management system built specifically for landscape companies which help you follow best practices to manage your sales pipeline, prepare estimates, recover your overhead, manage your jobs and track the profitability of your business. It dovetails seamlessly with DynaSCAPE Design and is entirely web-based for easy access from any Internet-connected location or device.

We’re proud to say that we’re the technology solution of choice for thousands of landscape companies with hundreds of new DynaSCAPE users every year. Our programs are also used as the industry standard to teach landscape design and management in over 100 schools across North America. Some of the top landscape companies are using our software and it’s helping them to not only win jobs, but also awards.

DynaSCAPE’s Support Services & Industry Involvement

DynaSCAPE supports our software with a responsive help desk and informative, instructional documents and videos. We also offer training both in person and online for beginners and more advanced users, and consulting services on a variety of topics related to landscape business management.

In the landscape community, we support the education sector by providing affordable software to schools and students and we’re proud to partner with professional industry organizations like the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association, the National Association of Landscape Professionals and the Association for Professional Landscape Designers through sponsorships and other initiatives.

Today, DynaSCAPE is recognized as the standard of landscape professionalism. Our software is always evolving with the latest advances in technology, and our ear is always to the ground concerning best practices in both landscape design and business management. Our goal is to provide our customers with the tools to operate at a level of excellence and professionalism that gives them a real competitive advantage.

We’ve helped thousands of landscape professionals do just that and we look forward to doing the same for you.

Choosing the right software solution

Choosing the right software solution

With so many solutions available to you, it’s tough to determine where to start when considering your options. How do you narrow the field make to the best decision possible?

This webinar will focus completely on your process and walk you through how to choose the right software for what you do. Joe Salemi, DynaSCAPE’s Product Marketing Manager, will lead this free webinar and help you with selecting the right landscape design and business management software. Can’t make it? Register and receive the recording the next day.