End of Season Wrap Up

End of Season Wrap Up

At this point in 2018 you’ll have decent understanding of your financial position. How did you do? Now’s the time to step back and see how you did. How you really did. There’s a lot to consider when trying to determine just how successful your season was. Did you trend toward the profit margin you set for yourself? Did you get that granular when you were doing your planning?

 

Profitability

At the highest level, you want to key in on where you were most profitable. Was it your design/build division? Or was it enhancements? Remember, don’t rely on just looking at your total sales. It’s more than that, look at your expenses (overhead, job related, and labor) that went along with generating that revenue. How much was left over? How did that compare to last year or the year before? (In DynaSCAPE Manage360, the job profitability report will show you this information.)

Take a look at your most profitable type of work, this will help you plan for the upcoming season by looking to sell more of that type of work that yields higher margins. How do you know what type of work is more profitable? Well, let’s break that down. These jobs tend to be what you’re best at, what your known for. Everyone has a speciality. What’s yours? These profitable jobs are usually what your crews like to do, you easily recover all of your overhead and job related expenses, and your clients are willing to pay more for that type of work. After it’s all said and done, it has the higher profit margin than your other jobs or services.

Is there a particular area that you service that has more affluent neighborhoods? Are you tracking where your affluent clients are? What geographies are producing the more profitable jobs for you? Are you visible in their circles? Be where your clients are, be as visible as you can. If you’re not, your competition will be.

 

Review this season’s budget and plan for next season

During your budget planning you would have set out your projected revenue for each of your divisions (design/build, enhancements, grounds maintenance, gardening, snow and ice as examples). Did you reach that key result? Did you fall short, meet it, or exceed it? Have you built up your pipeline enough to carry you through the spring for the upcoming season? Planning your expenses (both overhead/admin and job related) are key aspects of your budget planning process. Make sure you’re looking at it from all angles and include your key people. They’ll have insight into parts of the operation that you might not or might overlook. You’ll want to make sure you account for any planned equipment purchases, staffing needs, investments in coaching or consultants and software (hint DynaSCAPE!).

 

Staff performance reviews

Feedback for your staff is more important than you think. Don’t take it for granted that they know how you feel about their performance. Without the right feedback your staff are going to interpret your behavior as either positive or negative feedback. Saying nothing can be the most detrimental. If someone isn’t performing to their potential let them know how to improve in a constructive reaffirming way. If their behavior needs to be corrected then do it in a firm but coaching oriented manner. Reward those that go above and beyond. Your key people should be treated like they are key members of the team and compensated to reflect that. If not, you may find yourself looking to have to fill their spot because they moved on to an organization that will.

When wrapping up your season, it’s important to gather the key members of your team and do an open and honest debrief. Talk about what went really well and how you can repeat that. Talk about what really went horrible and how you can avoid it for next season. Plan strategically for the spring so you can hit the ground running.

Have you looked at DynaSCAPE’s Manage360? It’s your budgeting tool, your sales pipeline management system, estimating software, job and crew tracking, profitability reporting, and integration with QuickBooks. It’s really the operating system for your landscape business. We want to be a partner in your success. Get in touch with us and we’ll show you how we help transform landscape businesses.

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Creating a Change Order Culture

Creating a Change Order Culture

The important part to realize here is that when a client wants more work done a formal Change Order will help them understand that more work costs more money! Managing each change through a formal Change Order helps manage expectations and sets out a fair and equitable relationship between you and your client.

Let’s start out by clarifying what a Change Order is. Many contractors and subcontractors start off by offering their services to friends, making verbal contracts, and performing great work while trusting that they’ll be paid. Any modifications to the original project are discussed and verbally agreed without a fuss, and everyone walks away happy. Right. How often does it ever go that smoothly?

A change order is a document used to record an amendment to your original landscape construction contract. Change orders create a record of additional services being provided to your customer, along with pricing for those services. A subcontractor that neglects to use change orders may forget to bill additional costs related to the changes requested, or forget to complete the changes altogether.

 

A change order form has the following features:

  1. A revised scope of work – this could mean less work or more, but usually, the customer is asking for something in addition to what has already been agreed.
  2. Pricing for the new work.
  3. Any relevant modifications to the original contract that result from the new scope of work, for example, extending the delivery schedule for the project because the scope of work is now greater.
  4. The signatures of both the contractor and the customer.

The most important function of change orders is that they show the customer that getting more work done costs more money. Change orders were made to help you manage the customer that always wants more for less, and when combined with a detailed scope of work, you’ll have an easy time ensuring that both and your client are treated fairly.

Overall, just make it part of your standard operating procedures that anytime a client requests a change the request is communicated to the appropriate responsible person to create a change order and have the client sign off on the requested change. Make sure everyone on the team buys in to that. Sure it’s going to add more admin work to your already heavy workload, but it will save an incredible amount of headaches in the long run. Additionally, your client will respect your level of professionalism and appreciate your careful attention to detail on their project.

About Change Orders in Manage360

Change orders can be added to a job at any time, on the fly and on site. Once approved, it’s simply added to the current job in Manage360, which gives you different views of the job so you can see the original contract, the change orders, and a current view showing both.

With Job Management, each change order is tracked and billed separately, which not only ensures that you’ re paid for all additional work, but also lets you see exactly how you’re recovering your overhead for each change, and how all of the changes are affecting the job’s overall profitability.

With output to the client that’s based on the American Institute of Architects’ standard change order form, Job Management’s change order capacity is a simple solution to one of the industry’s most complex problems, namely, how to ensure that all of a job’s change orders are recorded, tracked and compensated for in a way that’s easy to do and consistent with your overhead recovery method.

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Summer Time Checks and Balances

Summer Time Checks and Balances

There’s never really a perfect time to review your processes to make sure you’re being as efficient as you possibly could be, but like the old adage “the best time to plant that tree was 20 years ago, the next best time is today”. What better opportunity when you’re in the peak flow of all of your processes to take a few moments and make sure you’re running how you want to be.

Take stock of all of the processes you have for a key area within the business. I wouldn’t recommend a complete audit of every standard operating procedure you have, rather a targeted check-in to make sure you’re doing the absolute best you can in that area. Here are some keys to success in reviewing your processes:

  1. Be inclusive! Have everyone who that process affects in the room when reviewing and making any changes.
  2. Discuss the current reality – are things working or are they not? What can be done to improve? What needs immediate attention?
  3. Have the difficult conversations – if something isn’t working, it’s important to call it out. Be hard on the issue, soft on the person.
  4. Identify best practices – there are many different ways of doing things well. Have someone surface best practices and discuss how the team can do better than that.
  5. Adopt a continuous improvement approach – your processes never become stuck in a state of status quo. As a team, you’re always looking for ways to enhance how you do things.

It’s often difficult to find time in the midst of the summer in the landscape business to work on the business. It’s incredibly important to focus on the strategic direction of your company, carving out time to do that is the key here. Whether it’s once a day, once a week, once a month — make sure you are giving the right amount of attention to how your business runs.

Roadmap to a Successful Business Software Implementation

Roadmap to a Successful Business Software Implementation

Roadmap to a Successful Business Software Implementation

by Dan Weaver, DynaSCAPE Account Manager

When implementing a business software solution there are many key factors that lead to a successful implementation. Of course, the road to success will come with obstacles and challenges that can arise throughout the process but having the proper mindset and leadership team to manage the project from the top down, will significantly help any company achieve their desired end goal.

Here at DynaSCAPE we coach hundreds of landscape businesses on green industry best practices including: budget setting, cost book creation, sales pipeline management, cost-based estimating and job tracking workflows. All with the goal to produce profitable jobs and increase productivity. Critical to the successful implementation is patience, challenging work and guidance; and, of course, it is critical to also have a software solution and company that will coach and guide you through the journey.

So, how does a successful implementation happen?

Game Plan

Start with a game plan that includes a critical path, milestones, goals and an ideal go live date. Creating, outlining and simply working backwards from the end goal, drastically improves your odds of your team’s successful implementation of a business operating system. Here at DynaSCAPE, we take your business through a series of configuration and training sessions where we coach and help upload your budgets, materials and labour rates and show you how to use the system, end to end, to help establish the game plan before we kick off the project.

Change in Culture, Operations and Work Flow

There are many options and levels of software on the market today that address specific aspects of your landscape business and others that provide end to end software solutions that will fully transform the way your business runs their operations, work flow and processes from initial call to final invoice. No matter the size of the software solution or business, the first factor we discuss is that operational changes are necessary to adopt the new system. We have learned this through hundreds of successful implementations through the years. Not every implementation is successful, which is where we identify the issues and course-correct where necessary, until the desired result is achieved.

Buy-in From the Key Players

The process should always start at the top. When implementing a landscape business operating system or any software solution that will change the way you operate and conduct business, it requires focused time and attention from the business leadership. A key point to note here is that the entire team has full buy-in and by having the confidence and direction from team leadership, will set the stage for a successful implementation.

Having the Right People in the Room

It is equally important to have the right people in the room during configuration and training meetings. The leader of the project “Champion” should oversee this and will be tasked to make sure they include the right people in each session. For example, if the session is on sales CRM and estimating, make sure to have the sales and estimating team present. If the session is on job tracking, make sure project and operation managers are included. If the meeting is around payroll, billing and invoicing, make sure to include the office manager, accounting and accounts payable/receivable personnel. This will not only help with the overall communication and highlight what is expected for each team member, but it plays a larger role in building the trust from top down, thus making the team feel involved throughout the entire process. Again, the owner and leadership team MUST be involved during the entire process to ensure a successful implementation.

Scheduling, Planful Approach and Goals

Before we hit the ground running and kick off the project, it is important to schedule and plan an approach for the project. The biggest factor here is to be realistic with your time and resources. First you want to have a “champion” in your organization that will lead the project and be responsible for tasking certain employees with homework during the implementation. The second largest factor is seasonality and timing. For example, it probably isn’t the best time to implement during “The 100 Days of Hell – Spring!” Pick a time that best suits your business (of course there is no ideal time to make changes) but be mindful of when you have the right amount of resources and time to commit to the project.

Making Meetings and Being Prepared

Once you decide on the best time of year for your big improvement project, make sure to show up and come prepared to these scheduled meetings with your training specialist. Missing meetings is the number one reason for stalling or delaying a project, which has severe consequences down the road like pushing back your “Go Live Date” effecting the success of your business system.

Practice, Practice, Practice

During the configuration and training meetings we outline and provide best business practices, work flows, how to use the system and provide home work. We preach that practice, practice, practice is always the key to improving and learning any software. By not practicing what was taught, you can easily forget and settle on old familiar processes. Be sure to ask for help, reference recorded training sessions and use the many resources provided to help with the learning of the system. All of this will help drastically during the transition to a great business system.

Software is only as powerful as the set-up, understanding, learning and practice of the system. By following the top down approach and attitude from your leadership team, having a planful approach, being prepared, making the scheduled meetings and having the right people involved, will ensure this success formula for creating a great culture and buy-in from your employees. If you follow these steps, the transition to a productive and streamlined business operation will be a breeze. Let us know your plan, we are here to help guide your business through this journey and would love to chat more about how our software solutions can help make your business GREAT!

Managing Fast-Paced Teams

Managing Fast-Paced Teams

The heat of the summer is setting in (at least it is here in southern Ontario, Canada) and landscape crews are running flat out to get all of their work done on time and on budget (well, to the best of their ability anyway). When your teams are pushed to their max and they’re putting their top level effort into it, how do you keep them motivated to maintain the pace?

There’s a lot of season left and maintaining a high pace is hard. It’s hard for everyone. There are a lot of ways to keep your teams engaged, but they all boil down to three fundamentals:

Capability

Making sure you have the right people on your team can be a challenge. So, start at the beginning when you’re bringing new people into the team. Begin with the end in mind and identify who the ideal person would be and what set of skills you would like them to have to be at their peak level. But what about the people already on your team? Do you have a culture of personal and professional development? Rewarding your top people is key, but paying the right amount of attention to those that are struggling with performance will pay off. If it’s a matter of capability, it could entirely be because they just haven’t received the right training. Investing in your people is a win-win-win. It’s a win for them as they are evolving in their job/career path, it’s a win for you because they become better at what they do, and it’s a win for your client because the quality of their work will increase.

Internal & External Motivation

There are many internal and external factors that affect a team member’s motivation. I think we can all agree a good starting point here is to treat others the way you want to be treated. Get to know the people that are on your team rather than paint everyone with the same brush. Knowing what drives the individuals on your team can offer insight to what will motivate them to step outside of their comfort zone and take their performance to the next level.

Internal motivation is all about striving towards a goal for personal satisfaction or accomplishment. To engage and enhance someone’s internal motivation, focus on challenging them, peak their curiosity, create friendly and positive competition, and recognize their accomplishments.

External motivation refers to behavior driven by rewards like money, fame, grades, and praise from someone in a leadership position. Think of these as tangible motivation factors. These can be used to motivate team members to upgrade or acquire new skills. External motivation factors can also be used to be a source of feedback for the team, reinforcing desired performance outcomes.

Clear Understanding of Expectations

Setting expectations with your team is a key step to developing a productive working relationship between you (the leader) and your team. Some expectations that might seem fundamental to you may not be so much to your team, so make sure you discuss and document your expectations. Make sure everyone knows how communication should occur and when, working hours, production goals, operational styles, meeting frequencies, and career goals. It’s always easier (as a leader) to provide feedback (both positive and negative) when there are clearly identified expectations that have been shared with the entire team.

Five Ways to Manage Your Time

Five Ways to Manage Your Time

Feeling overwhelmed as Spring comes in like a lion?

It’s that time of year in most parts of the country where Spring has sprung and operations are either ramping up or full on into the craziness. Managing your time is the one thing that will help you keep some of that sanity through the next 90 (or so) days. We have some tips on how to make sure you’re spending your time in the most effective way possible.

During a period of increased demand for your time from others it’s often difficult to focus on your own work. This is where it is more important than ever to protect your time, your schedule with everything you have. We get pretty upset when people take things from us, right? How come it’s okay for people to take our time? It’s not okay, it’s not right for others to come in and demand your instant attention.

Here are some ways to help you manage the most precious asset you could ever have, your time:

  1. Screen your phone calls – CallerID is pretty prevalent these days, right? Well, use it to your advantage. When you’re in focused work, make use of this valuable feature of your phone service. If you feel like you need to answer every call, it’s also okay to say that you need to call them back.
  2. Block out your important time – make active use of your calendar here. Whether you use Google Calendar, Outlook, or whatever other tool you might use definitely spend some time at the beginning of your week to plan out your days. Earmark time for the important things you need to do and make it known that you’re not available during that time.
  3. Set expectations with those around you – make sure that your staff are ultra sensitive to the fact that your time is important by letting them know when you are and are not available. Over time, you’ll train your staff to know when is appropriate to ask for your time.
  4. Practice what you preach – if you’re asking others to respect your time, you should reciprocate. By showing others respect for their time, they will inevitably respect yours.
  5. Have the right meetings at the right time – how many times do you find yourself in a meeting that takes 4x as long as it should or you’re in a meeting that could have been done by phone or answered through an email (or text). Have regular meetings with your core team to make sure everyone is on the same page, everyone has an opportunity to raise any red flags, and to provide clear instruction and direction.

The important thing here out of all of this is to make sure you have the tools you need to help manage your time. DynaSCAPE is the landscape business software solution of choice for hundreds of landscape professionals in North America offering incredible efficiencies through automation of tedious tasks. Check out DynaSCAPE Manage360 for your landscape business operating system!