When it comes to designing award-winning projects, there is no question that it can be time-consuming. Every tree, plant, piece of furniture, and every line has to be hand-drawn. Then it needs to be coloured and shaded to bring out the visual. And perhaps multiple views need to be designed to give the client a walkthrough of the space. Eventually, that design has to be turned into an actual number, fully costed out for all the material used and labour time. Needless to say, it can be very labour-intense.
It’s why many in the landscaping business are dropping their pens and pencil crayons in favour of landscape design software. Computer-assisted landscape design streamlines many of the aspects of design work and completes it in a fraction of the time. Designs not only leap off the page with beautiful colour and 3D renderings but also gives you accurate and precise shapes and measurements in your designs. If you’re looking to grow your landscaping business, CAD-based design solutions are a must. Let’s look at how software is streamlining the design process.
Sketch from a site plan
For accuracy in your designing, start with survey plans of the property and load them into your landscape design software. One aspect of streamlining designing is improving the accuracy and having exact surveyed plans will definitely be a better starting point for any design plans you have. You can also scan in plans you have mocked up on a notepad. Go from napkin drawings from your customer to a professional-looking design with the scan ability. It’s about precision in your measurements so you get the most accurate estimate possible.
Some design elements have groups of objects that you will constantly use in designs. Think about a table and chairs, or a grouping of flowers. Having to put each individual piece down over and over again can be time wasted in designs. Especially when you have done it on a previous design before. In landscape design software, build custom kits of items, objects or groupings that you commonly use in order to speed up the production of your designs.
Pre-drawn shapes and libraries
One of the benefits of using CAD-systems is that it’s computer-generated. If you are using specific shrubs, stones, trees or water features, you want your clients to see exactly what they will look like. With over 1,200 pre-drawn library figures, select these objects and put them into your design. These are already drawn and rendered for you. Just scale them to size and add colour to get the exact plant or stone you want in your design. With over 9,000 plants in the library, set your designs apart from your competition with a detailed and accurate rendering, giving your designs character and more realism than what could be completed with pencil and paper.
Add a lot more colour
Colouring designs can be very labour-intense. Each tree, shrub, plant, water feature, deck and grass area has to be coloured, shaded, and textured in order to offer that wow factor to clients. It’s difficult to do manually, not to mention how much time it takes to complete a full design. With colour tools in your landscape design software, bring your designs alive with colour swatches that can instantly change the look and feel of your design.
Colour will win more bids, but it’s another part of the process that needs to be streamlined to cut down the time it takes to complete. With landscape design software, you have the ability to change shading, opacities, textures and colours with the simple sliders and paint tools. Put the pencil crayons away and bring to life your designs with an easy to use colouring function.
Make it come to life in 3D
Flat designs can sell. That’s what you get with pencil crayons and paper. But if you really want to wow your potential customers and win more bids, you need to bring those designs to life. And that means giving them a real 3D look at what their landscaped space will look like. With 3D modelling tools as part of your landscape design software, transform your 2D designs into a 3D world that your customers can actually envision themselves in.
Take them through a walkthrough of their space. Let them see the height of the trees, how the shadows will fall during the day and where their pathway will take them with a 3D rendering. If you want to guarantee a sale of your project, wow your customers like no one else will. The proof will be in the presentation when you deliver an award-winning and most importantly, job-winning 3D design.
From design to estimate
Having a great design is one thing, and you can definitely wow your customers with designs made in landscape design software. However, your customers still want to know the cost of all the work. Eventually, you will have to give them a price. The old way is to do the bid in a spreadsheet, accounting for each plant, shrub and tree you have designed and pricing them from your cost book. That’s every single item, one by one, put into an estimate. That keeps many landscapers up late at night completing bids, instead of spending time relaxing after a day working in the field.
With landscape design software, turn your design into an estimate automatically. With a cost book in your software, each element you place in your design is accounted for and automatically put on the estimate. You don’t need to go plant by plant, as the software will account for it all. It’s one of the fastest ways to turn designs to estimates and allows you to streamline all your bidding. Change a price in the cost book and the price updates on your bids. Get the most accurate bids you have ever completed in a fraction of the time by removing the manual process and replacing it with automation.
Success in landscaping is about streamlining
To be the most successful and to grow your business, you need to streamline processes. Saving yourself time in one area is time you can put in another. It can also take your bidding, estimating and designing to a whole new level you weren’t able to do before manually. Multiple angles, 3D renderings, real shades of colour for plants is going to make your designs more appealing to customers and win you more bids. By using landscape design software it’s a path to winning more jobs by doing a fraction of the work you did before.
The landscaping market has increasingly become more competitive. So much so, that just being able to offer a great project isn’t enough. There are plenty of other must-do’s landscaping businesses are having to do to stay competitive and grow their business. Between new equipment, landscaping software and keeping up with the latest trends, landscapers can keep their business in front of the competition, and stand out amongst a very crowded field.
It’s important for any business owner to always be thinking ahead and how they can improve their business. If you want to grow, you need to be evolving with the times. That means both in designs and industry trends with technology. So, for the landscaper looking to having a booming and thriving business, here are some essential tips to follow.
Become as efficient as possible
There are plenty of areas in a landscaping business that can benefit from a brush up to make it more efficient. Efficiency is generally dollars saved. Whether we are talking about spending fewer hours doing a task because of automation or buying the most effective equipment for the job, it’s all about doing what is right for business. Efficiency can come in the form of deciding to buy a piece of equipment rather than rent it. That’s because, over the course of the year, you would save money on rental fees if you purchased equipment outright.
Relying on pen and paper for all of your designing, tracking, quoting and invoicing also isn’t an efficient way to do business. Landscaping software provides the tools for those tasks that will complete them in a fraction of the time. How many more designs and bids can you do in a month if you are saving 30-50% of your time doing both. And to grow your business, you need to do two things. First, add more customers through more designs and bids. Second, lower the expenses on tasks by becoming a lean and efficient landscaping business.
Stay on budget, know your budget
Having a budget is critical for any future success of your landscaping business. But many landscaping businesses operate without knowing their budget. There are many expenses inside a landscaping business that you may not have accounted for when you are bidding on projects. It’s not all materials and labor hours that need to be in the estimate. There are also your outside costs, such as the overhead of office and support staff, warehouse and storage fees, insurance, and utility bills. All of those costs need to be recouped throughout the year and be included in your projects. But if you don’t know the budget for them, how can you account for them?
One way to stay on budget is by using landscaping software to include those overhead expenses in your project costs automatically. Let the software calculate the percentage of these expenses that need to be included in each job you bid for. It’s important to think company-wide when estimating and not just on the single project. There are plenty of budgeting methods available, and your landscaping software should manage it for you, so you know where you are year-to-date in your budget.
Know what your homeowners want
The customer base is starting to change as the population changes. Think about the people buying homes today that need lawn care and landscaping. Millennials make up a large portion of that market. And many millennials support environmental issues. That means you need to make environmentally sound decisions when it comes to your bids, the equipment you buy and the plants you suggest. Perhaps that means buying battery-powered equipment, rather than gas engines. Or starting to recommend more organic lawn treatment programs. And going paperless with landscaping software is a no brainer, as millennials are a generation of people who are built on e-bills over paper bills.
These new wants by homeowners could have an effect on your budget, on your expenses and how you design landscapes. To grow your business, you need to be ahead of the trends, or at the very least, with them. If the largest portion of your upcoming market has environmental issues at heart, then being an environmentally friendly landscaping business should be in your plan of action.
Embrace the technology that is available
We have already talked a lot about landscaping software, but that is an industry essential if you are wanting to grow your business. It encompasses every part of the tips we have discussed already, automating many of the processes you do on a daily basis. From quoting to tracking to billing, landscaping software is covering every part of your business. Pens and paper just aren’t doing it anymore. Technology sells and appeals to your customers. Be it a fantastic looking design from multiple angles or rendered in 3D to give them a full view of their backyard. Or as simple as automated billing. Technology is available to help grow a landscaping business and it should be something to embrace by everyone in the industry.
If you want to grow your business, you need to be willing to change your business. The company that doesn’t change, doesn’t grow. Sticking to the system and processes you have always done in the past, might not be what will make you succeed in the future. Take a look at your own landscaping business and see where you would benefit from a few extra hours, a better budget or being more aligned with your customers. And then see how landscaping software can be that essential piece to accomplish it all.