Are you thinking of your sales funnel from start to finish when you begin working with a new prospective client? Unfortunately, many landscaping businesses don’t even think about billing and invoicing when they haven’t submitted a proposal yet. And that’s not because they have a system in place that will make the process more efficient, but rather, they don’t have a process at all. They will simply get to it when they get to it.
Moving prospects through the sales pipeline is critical, and each step along the way needs to be in sync with the process before and after it to create that end-to-end process. So, the question is, does your landscape estimating software have the tools for an end-to-end process, or is it just for bidding on jobs?
Let’s look at steps in the sales pipeline and how landscape estimating software can make a difference to the very end.
Identify the Best Opportunities in your Sales Funnel
Estimating is just part of the sales funnel. There are many phases to turn a prospective customer into an actual billable customer. This also means there are many areas where drop-offs can happen. If you send estimates out to your prospects and don’t have the proper follow-up, that’s an opportunity lost. So, as part of an end-to-end process, your landscape estimating software needs to be able to see you through the entire funnel from start to finish.
There are many ways to generate leads. For example, meeting prospective clients at a home and garden show, doing an email marketing campaign, or simply having them read a sign on a lawn from a project you already completed. All of those prospects need to go into your landscape estimating software and start down the sales funnel.
From there, your sales team can identify the best opportunities. Of course, not all leads and prospects are the same. Some may want information or a free quote. Others may be out of your region. Many factors would take a prospect out of consideration, but without visibility into them all, you might find yourself targeting more than you can handle or simply the wrong ones.
Landscape Estimating Software Opens the World of Analytics.
Building estimates quickly with a software solution is great, but growing your business requires an in-depth analysis of how well you have performed. For example, when you win a bid, can you explain why you won, other than your design was better or the price was lower? How about when you lost to a rival company – is there a trend in your estimating causing you to lose certain bids?
We’ve often said before that if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. With loads of data available, landscapers need landscape estimating software that has the analytical abilities to put that data to good use. For example, tracking company goals on leads generated and how many of those leads convert. That will help in the future when you want to grow your business, and you have data on how many more leads your marketing efforts will need to bring in to gain more customers.
The software can also give you the ability to analyze each salesperson on the team and see where they excel and where they could improve. Detect trends in salespeople, and get in front of issues salespeople may have closing deals before you lose too many of them.
Data is one of the most undervalued assets any landscape business has access to. Without the ability to analyze it, you can’t improve your business and the processes you have in place.
Read more about the importance of data by downloading The Landscape Data Guide.
Reducing Errors in Your Estimating
Estimating is a big part of the process, and it’s why business owners are seeking out landscape business software. But it’s not just to get rid of excel spreadsheets and copying and pasting line items, it’s to automate the process and recover costs. Many business owners who use estimating software often hire estimators and push the job off to them because the process is more straightforward and requires less ‘gut feelings.’
There is plenty of room for errors when going from design to estimate. For example, how many of a specific plant is needed? How many square feet of mulch is being put down? Are they planting three trees or four? Did they request a particular kind of wood for the deck?
These have different costs and, depending on the supplier, another price point for the customer. The old manual way was to count each plant and give a ballpark on square-foot costs. But now, with an integrated design and landscape estimating software, designing is just part of the end-to-end process. Errors are reduced when combining the two because an integrated system can read the design and pull out pricing from the cost book for a more accurate estimate.
Inside the landscape estimating software, the cost book just needs to be updated, and every estimate will share the same database of information. No more guesswork. Built-in recovery tools will also account for mark-up and overhead recovery, so your estimates are as accurate as possible. The more accurate you are, the more likely you will win more bids or be able to zero in on areas to improve or reduce costs to come in at a lower price.
Finishing the Process with QuickBooks Invoicing
You’ve made the estimate and started the job by turning that estimate into purchase orders and work orders. Now, you need to invoice. Change orders may also happen, and your landscape estimating software needs to handle the customer’s mid-job requests. For example, they want more plants, a larger deck, or media and lighting. Rather than writing up a change order and working out the details later when it’s time to invoice, make the change order part of the original estimate with the change in price happening automatically.
When the job is complete, if you integrate your landscape estimating software with QuickBooks, it’s a simple transition to turn estimates into jobs into invoices. The accuracy of your estimates and the information collected from jobs will make invoicing easy. Then, migrate the data from your estimating software into QuickBooks. Your change orders and an invoice is ready to send to the customer on any schedule you need to complete the job – or one big final bill.
It’s the closing part of the process. Still, the work you did before in your landscape estimating software will make invoicing easier, as information is clear and accurate, removing any guesswork in the final cost.
An End-to-End Process Will Make You a Better Landscaper.
Going from design to final invoice is a lot of work that requires many moving pieces and multiple steps. By improving that process with landscape estimating software, you can ensure accuracy in your bids and build a process that can help you identify opportunities in the future. In addition, by building an integrated system with a design solution and QuickBooks, you can create the end-to-end process that will scale your business, allowing you to get out bids faster without giving up on quality.
Read more about how DynaScape’s landscape estimating software can help you achieve an end-to-end process. Download the Landscape Estimating Guide now.