It’s always good to know where you are in business, especially in the landscaping industry. Whether you just opened your landscape design or maintenance business, knowing where you are can be the difference between moving forward, or staying still. A business not moving forward risks either going out of business or losing profit.
Ben Collinsworth, General Manager with Yellowstone Landscape, presented the maturity level scale at the Lawn And Landscape Technology Conference and talked about how using this scale to see where your business is at is important when wanting to put in a new process or automate parts of your business.
“As you go through it, you recognize where you fit on this scale,” Collinsworth said. “For me, especially when putting in and implementing new things, it’s good for me to have a scorecard. This helped me understand where I am at as a business on this scale.”
The maturity level scale includes:
Unpredictable processes, poorly controlled and reactive
Processes characterized for projects and if often reactive
Processes characterized for the organization and is proactive (standards set)
Processes measured and controlled
Focus on process improvement
Let’s learn more about this scale.
Level 1 – Initial
New businesses generally fail at this level on the maturity scale. In dollar amounts, they are less than $1 million in revenue and don’t have many predictable processes in place. They run less automation and software solutions, are poorly controlled, and mainly are reactive to what is happening around them.
The example Collinsworth gave during his presentation was a client calls the office to ask if the crew is still going to mulch the property. They are at the job site but don’t seem to have any mulch. The owner runs to the truck, drives to a supplier, picks up the mulch, drives to the crew’s location to drop it off. There are too many bags at the property, so he must come back later to pick it up.
In this example, there are plenty of ways to automate the process and not be reactive. That includes using landscape software to establish purchasing of supplies and materials, proper scheduling of crews to go to a job site when the material is available, and knowing ahead of time what jobs you need to perform and the supplies you will need.
Putting systems in place to scale
Collinsworth pointed out that for Level 1 businesses, not looking to add landscape software and automated systems can slow your business growth and stop you from scaling your business forward to the next level. And what limits landscapers from growing is their inability to update their process, and search for solutions to assist their business in getting to the next level.
“I found these were some of the limiting factors to landscapers growing,” said Collinsworth. “If you couldn’t get past those stages where your business was more systematic with software and hardware, it really didn’t matter how good your work was, you couldn’t scale. If you don’t go through this process, you will get stuck in a plateau and not be able to go to the next phase.”
By Level 2 and Level 3, the processes are starting to become more defined and revenue is growing. By the time a company has hit Level 2 in his example, the owner isn’t reacting to a job he didn’t know was happening but is still bringing the supplies to the crew on the job site. By Level 3, the processes are in place through landscape software where the crews are picking up supplies and materials before they leave for the job. This can be accomplished through a crew tracking mobile app, where crew leaders see what is needed for each job before heading to the site.
Work to become a Level 4 landscaper
A goal every landscaper should aim for is to become a Level 4 landscaping business on the maturity scale. According to Collinsworth, that’s a business that has processes in place that are measured and controlled and are more managed than other businesses.
Using his example, Collinsworth said a client calls the manager to tell them that they did a great job, the property looks great, the crew cleaned everything up, and can’t wait to refer them to their friends. That’s because there were processes in place to get the landscaper to that point. Using landscape business management software, they scheduled their crews appropriately, the correct amount of materials and supplies prior to heading to the job site was obtained by the crew leader and they followed a process when leaving a job site.
It’s a well-run business and many landscapers are happy to reach this level of revenue, which Collinsworth said is between $7-10 million annual. It’s a healthy business that is producing results that customers are happy with. But there is still room to improve and continue to scale in order to reach the final level.
“A lot of us stay there and there is nothing wrong with that,” said Collinsworth. “People are happy, but there is still a little bit more in the system to make more revenue.”
The pinnacle of maturity
Where every landscaping business wants to get to is Level 5 on the maturity scale. At this level, your business is running fully optimized and your focus is on constantly improving the processes you have in place. Because you have landscape managemet=nt software already in place, you have been tracking all your data and collecting as much information as possible, you can make these kinds of adjustments with the best information available.
The difference in outcomes directly reflects your ability to optimize your business practices so that you are running a more efficient organization. And in the end, it not only increases your revenue per job but also expands your customer base, as happy customers are more likely to refer you to other people for more work.
“There is a big difference and a different outcome for the client,” said Collinsworth. “To me, these are driven by processes we put in place through the software we are choosing to use. The guys that are very systematic, they know what to do, how long to be there, know what to take and are incentivized to do it the right way, and the client is happy because they have quality work done.”
The good problems to have
Once you have reached the Level 5 maturity rank, you are at a place where you are having good problems in your business. By installing landscape business management software, your processes are optimized and automated and you have a system in place to achieve great results. Now you just need the people to produce those results for you, which means hiring more crew members if your landscape business is growing. And hiring more because you are growing and scaling is definitely a problem you want to have.
“Once we got to that Level 5, we weren’t worried about the systems breaking down, we were worried about the people being able to do the work showing up,” said Collinsworth. “And that’s okay. It’s a better way of doing it than having the people show up and not be able to produce. That’s an important part of the process. As you go through it with your own business, you can address this with landscape software.”
Let us know if you are ready to talk to someone about taking the steps necessary to reach Level 5 with your landscaping business. We have a team ready to help you, and we’d love to hear from you.