The Importance of Landscape Business Estimating Software

The Importance of Landscape Business Estimating Software

Landscape sales and estimates

For any landscaping business, organizing all elements of sales and estimating is necessary to keep track of workers, projects, and the individual jobs for each client. Traditionally, that meant piling up the stacks of paper and files, but now landscape business software, like DynaScape’s DS|Manage360, exists to help.

In the landscaping industry, you need dates scheduled for sales phases, sales projections to be constructed, referrals and leads to be noted, and the best sales opportunities to grow revenue pursued.

5 Key Elements of Landscape Business Management

  1. Sales Phases 
  2. Sales Projections
  3. Referrals & Leads
  4. Sales Opportunities
  5. Landscaping Estimates

To maximize the revenue and profitability of your business, it is critical to have each of these 5 elements organized, and easily accessible.

Sales Phases

Stages of the sales cycle, including leads, follow up, meeting with a potential client for a consultation, providing an official estimate and proposal, and the win or lose result. Keeping track of the stages that a lead/potential customer is in is key. Whether they need a quick follow up after a referral, or a proposal from you by this Thursday, timely and appropriate follow up could make the difference between winning or losing their business, in addition to not letting opportunities fall through the cracks.

Sales Projections

Estimated sales and business, to plan out your season and year. Having a detailed understanding of your potential sales and revenues for the next week, month, season and year impact many areas of your business. The benefit of looking back at your past projections can assist you in determining the probability of winning, along with the potential revenue from each future lead. Along with the understanding of potential business comes advance insight into staffing needs as well,

Referrals & Leads

For new business via word of mouth, and via sales and marketing efforts. Word of mouth referrals are of course the best type of marketing you will ever receive. Free of charge, and full of credibility. Tracking them, and who is providing them for you, not only provides you with an opportunity to extend gratitude, but also is your best source to continue to nurture. Additionally, the ability to track all lead sources provides you with great insight into the ROI of your marketing spend. This can clearly show you which marketing tactics are providing the best value for opportunities that you win, and therefore will inform your marketing spend going forward.

Sales Opportunities

Qualified leads that move through your sales pipeline. A clear understanding of the upcoming work that you have booked (or are likely to win based on the percentage of business in different sales phases), also feeds into:

  • Areas of your business which are increasing, and those which require more attention
  • Availability for your business to take on new work
  • A need for more additional marketing efforts to increase leads
  • Internal training needs – is it possible to increase your win/lose ratio?

Landscaping Estimates

Cost to the client for the proposed project, where you plan to not only cover costs but a planned markup. According to iCapture, 50% of leads go to the first company to follow up after an event/request for proposals. How can you effectively increase the speed of your estimating process, while providing a quality proposal? Without a doubt, having easily accessible estimating modules, which are common to all proposals, will expedite the process. These include:

  • Templates
  • Centralized costs
  • Ability to account for direct costs
  • Ability to use your overhead recovery model of choice, such as MORS, SORS, OPPH
  • Terms and conditions

Additional time-saving measures include a system that can collate all your information and generate proposals for you quickly. Reporting which provides insight into the estimating process and win percentage by your estimator(s), can identify any training needs.

Increase Project Sales with Manage360 Sales and Estimating

Imagine a landscape business management software solution that can help your landscaping company centralize everything and makes sales flow more smoothly. Imagine the ability to manage your entire sales process and create accurate and profitable estimates using the overhead recovery model of your choice and increase your landscape project sales. DynaScape’s Manage360 Landscaping Sales and Estimating software component offers all of this for you.

Sales Phases

Organizes all your company’s prospects and customers in Manage360 by sales phases that you define. Set start and due dates for each sales phase and use this organization of your pipeline to quickly identify stagnant leads, bottlenecks, and best opportunities. With the ability to see the exact sales phase for each contact, you can push more sales through the pipeline.

Sales Projections

Manage360 minimizes the guesswork in your sales projections by setting the probability and projected revenue for each lead. Setting and monitoring the predicted revenues from each sale lets you make more accurate sales projections and analyze the results to achieve greater accuracy in future projections.

Referrals & Leads

Identify your lead sources with help from Manage360 and add a referral name to each lead in your system. Done properly, referral tracking can boost your sales by helping you to identify and cultivate your most effective marketing channels and your best customer referrals.

Sales Opportunities

The busier your company gets, the more you need a way to organize just your leads. With Manage360’s Sales & Estimating, each salesperson can view his/her own leads. You can also focus on today’s leads and identify all overdue leads.

Landscaping Estimates

When creating your estimates, Manage360 ensures that you recover your overhead by choosing from one of many available overhead recovery models (MORS, SORS, OPPH). It will calculate all your costs for you and establish your break-even point, so you know your profit on each estimate. You are also able to maintain a centralized cost book to ensure speedy access and creation of custom proposals, along with your own customizable terms, warranties, and introductions.

The efficiency does not end there – once your estimate is won, Manage360 allows you to generate crew sheets automatically.

Embrace the Benefits of Landscape Business Estimating Software

Connect with one of DynaScape’s account executives today to learn more about how Manage360’s Sales & Estimating component offers landscape professionals like you a better way to manage your entire sales process, and to prepare accurate and profitable estimates using the methodology of your choice. If you are interested in learning more about Manage360 and the Landscaping Estimating and Sales Module, contact us today to schedule a free demo.

5 Tips for Marketing your Landscape Business

5 Tips for Marketing your Landscape Business

For a greener landscape business, get marketing on the list, there are no two ways about it.

In the current scenario, marketing isn’t something that should be considered optional for the landscape industry. Perceive marketing as organic fertilizer for your business. Marketing is what tells your prospective customers that you exist. So do it right and let the customers come to you instead of you chasing them. Here’s a marketing cheat sheet for your landscape business.

Focus on Creating a Brand

With the growing competition in both the residential and commercial landscape industry, it is becoming challenging to stand out. Good branding helps you overcome the obstacle. Focus on establishing a brand identity that helps you differentiate yourself from others. Have a specialization or a unique offering? Say it out and loud. The best way to ensure people remember your brand is to use your branding at all potential spots. Here are some creative ideas to put your brand forward. Start with using your very own assets, for example, add a noticeable logo/branding message to your vehicle/trucks. Make sure it has your contact details, that’s your call to action. Using landscaping service software, you can easily add your brand’s logo to all your customer interactions, such as your invoices, proposals and designs.

Speak professionalism with your crew’s apparel. Add branding to your crew’s attire as it creates brand recall, and when people often see you around, they build familiarity and trust for the brand. Once your job is complete, ask your client if you could place a small yard sign with your branding and contact details on it, so if someone is impressed with your job, they can give you a call right then and there.

Make Professional Landscape Software a Part of your Business Strategy

Along with focusing on advertising and marketing, it is essential to keep a check on your backend operations because even the best marketing can’t help you sell poor performance.

A few fundamental questions to keep your landscape business strategy on track- Are you spending too much time managing your administrative tasks? Or are you able to organize your service calls efficiently? Are your overheads under control? These questions ensure that you focus your resources on providing more billable services than administrative tasks.

For example, rather than using your resources to hire additional administrative staff, you can invest in professional landscaping software that helps you stay organized and gives you more control over your business. Using a landscape business management software will equip you for better crew and job management. Right from assigning jobs to crew members to keeping track of the expenses and invoicing customers at each milestone. Auto-populate your proposals from the job order data

And have a faster turnaround. Further, improve the design aspects of your proposal by adding a 3D landscape design software to your suite. With 3D renders of your drawings, you can better market your design skills and ultimately win more clients.

Add Modern Marketing, Build a Social Media Presence

The interesting link between your landscape businesses and social media is visual appeal. You beautify people’s lawns, yards and gardens and attractive content fuels social media engagement. Share the before, and after images of your projects, they’ll speak for your performance. Share about your upcoming projects, so your audience knows what all kinds of services you provide. Let people see you in action. Take them through your ideas and impress them with your skills. So the next time they are thinking of upgrading their landscape, they think of you.

Social media gives you the ability to establish your reputation with a customer even before you have met them. To use social media to its full potential, add relevant hashtags and location tags. People establish a trust factor if they see that people in their area have trusted you with their job. Hashtags help people discover you. Many people use social media for ideation, so someone looking for a cabana design might find your work under #cabanadesigns and contact you directly to work for them.

Make Referral Programs a Win-Win Strategy

Boosting sales with referrals is a sure shot idea. For an effective referral programme, consider adding some referral incentives, such as a discounted service or merchandise. You can even add your branding to the merchandise.

Build your online review pile; social proof always works. A creative way to do that is by adding a review request to your invoices- “If you like our work, leave us a review” followed by your google business page name or Facebook handle.

Increase Community Engagement

Giving back to the community can reward you a lot in return. Consider volunteering to makeover a park/public space in your focus areas. Once the project is complete, you can add your yard sign to it, if permissions allow. This gives your business recognition, and people see your brand in a positive light. If your budget allows, you can get custom yard signs with positive quotes for people to enjoy and increase the visibility of your brand name. You can even host a public event in the area that you wish to target. Like a BBQ event or a fireworks show on a holiday, this will give you a chance to interact with your prospective customers and a space to showcase your branding.

Taking small steps to improve your marketing today will go a long way for your landscape business and add a sense of pride in you and your team.

Heat Wave Alerts: Landscaping Crew Management Essentials To Keep In Mind

Heat Wave Alerts: Landscaping Crew Management Essentials To Keep In Mind

landscape maintenance

Though summer is a flourishing season for landscape businesses, an extreme heatwave can drain your crew’s productivity and pose serious health concerns. Each crew member is acclimated to working in varied temperatures. A temperature that might be tolerable for one crew member might lead to a heat stroke for another. To protect your crew from a heat-triggered downtime, here are some landscaping crew management essentials to keep in mind for heatwaves. 

Ensure The Basics: A Heat-Friendly Attire 

Making a conscious decision on what your crew wears on the job can significantly impact their health and productivity. A combination of lighter colors and breathable fabrics are the best choices for summer. While many landscape businesses have polo t-shirts as the company uniform, it is a great idea to have a cotton company t-shirt alternative for the sweltering days. You can also opt for a long-sleeved uniform to add a protective layer for their arms and save them from possible sunburn.

A smart move to balance both functionality and environmental conditions is choosing a wide-brimmed hat over a baseball cap. The wider brim prevents the face from direct sunlight and usually provides more ventilation than a baseball cap. 

Encourage the use of sunscreenAlthough this is at the discretion of the crew member’s comfort level, explaining to them the benefits of making sunscreen a part of their work attire can save them from sun damage. 

Cooling Towels: How They Work 

Using cooling towels has been an age-old method to lower body temperature. Though many branded self-cooling towels are available in the market, usually made of either PVA or microfibre materials, you could choose to go for the regular weave dishtowel by dipping it in cold water. All cooling towels work on evaporative cooling fundamentals- using the moisture trapped in the towel to increase the cooling sensation on the skin by absorbing the body heat. This technique of using moisture to regulate body temperature particularly works better in a non-humid environment. In a humid climate, the towel’s cooling effect is slow and short-lived as the air already contains a lot of humidity, hence slowing the evaporation process. 

Plan Well for an Early Start 

A well-planned schedule can save you significant time in the dayMonitor the weather so that you know which days need an earlier start. Make the most of the morning shifts by scheduling your first job for the day as early as possible. This strategy can be executed if planned in advance, as you have to coordinate the shift times with your customers. An early start to the day leaves you with plenty of time to either end the day early or accommodate for breaks and delays because of the harsh weather. 

Know When To Call It A Day 

A hardworking crew does push limits, but you should know when to call it a day.  

Landscaping crew management comes with responsibility for productivity and safety. At any time if you feel the heat is becoming a productivity or safety hazard, it is better to plan a break or end the day. In this planning, it is crucial to keep open communication with your crew members. Keep a constant check on how they feel, if any crew member feels overheated or disoriented, seek immediate medical help. Meanwhile, try cooling off remedies like shifting the person under the shade or a low-temperature area, spraying water mist or placing a wet towel on the head. 

Adopt a Collaborative Style of Landscaping Crew Management: Be the Boss That Cares 

Working on days with heat warnings can take a toll on your team. Creating a culture that allows your crew to adjust their work and breaks keeping their well-being in mind goes a long way. Training them in advance to take care of their safety is essential. Making them well aware of a heatwave’s warning signs and how they can protect and recover themselves from heatstroke is integral to landscaping crew management. Most importantly, ensuring they always have access to enough water and stay hydrated. Just as grass thrives when watered, your crew strides when well hydrated. 

Achieve More with Landscape Routing Software

Achieve More with Landscape Routing Software

Properly routing your landscape crews is often like putting a puzzle together. Ensuring crew members are assigned tasks, optimizing the routes they will be taking, and accommodating any sick leaves and/or delays are all a part of solving the landscape business management puzzle. Putting these tasks together manually using whiteboards, sticky notes, or online calendars can be exhaustive and result in business inefficiencies.

By using a landscape routing software, these processes are streamlined for you. You no longer have to jump from one whiteboard to another to route your crews or worry about adjusting for unforeseen changes in your teams’ schedules. Here are the top three benefits of upgrading to a landscape routing software:

Organized Service Tasks and Increased Service Capacity

You can never know how much your crews can achieve until they are well-routed.

A routing software works to accomplish the fundamental need of every landscaping business — maximizing service capacity. Begin the process by grouping similar service types; for example, all trim & mow tasks can be grouped together and scheduled for the same day of the week. By grouping a service type, your crew carries only the equipment specific to their day’s task.

They perform the same task throughout the day without switching to other job types, helping them achieve work efficiency and be more productive throughout the day. This feature of routing works especially well if you provide maintenance, weekly services, or service contracts as your routing calendar is easily streamlined to achieve more.

The second phase of grouping is by location. All the similar service types in close by areas are routed together, creating an efficient route for your crew; instead of losing valuable time driving around the city, they can provide more billable services in the same time frame and maximize service capacity.

Cost Savings Through Optimized Routes

A landscape routing software acts as the smart assistant who plans it all for you. The automated system shortlists and presents you with the targeted work orders for the day, along with the optimized route each of your crew members can take. The suggested plan is created to meet all your service calls in the least possible travel time, helping you to keep your overhead costs in check, saving unnecessary gas consumption and added vehicle maintenance costs.

Here’s another way a route optimizer saves you from wasteful expenditure: if any of your crew members are not able to reach the client’s location on a bad weather day, the routing software suggests the next best alternative route for the nearby team. This way, your service orders are fulfilled without additional spending on sending out crew members from the office location. By efficiently utilizing nearby crews to cover the empty slots, you save on additional fuel and travel expenses.

Have Eyes on the Field

For efficient remote management, you need to have eyes on the field. Mobile crew tracking gives you the power to have visibility over your crew and equipment. Your team can easily clock in and out of jobs throughout the day, making it easy for you to audit your crew’s performance and identify any weak links using comprehensive timesheets.

Along with the crew, track the whereabouts of your equipment, materials, and subcontractors in the field. Any changes in the crew’s route/roster can be done almost instantly through your mobile app.  A mobile landscape routing software gives your supervisor a leg up over conventional methods of crew tracking and management.

Embrace the Benefits of Landscape Routing Software

The tools you use today to manage your team have a significant impact on the levels of their productivity, workflow, and communication. Streamlining your biggest asset, your crew, rewards your business directly. Reduce administrative stress and focus on providing more billable services.

Connect with one of DynaSCAPE’s account executives today to learn more about how our landscape routing software can help you optimize your routes and save on overhead costs.

Challenges of Learning a 3D Landscape Design Software

Challenges of Learning a 3D Landscape Design Software

Challenges of Learning a 3D Landscape Design Software

When you work in the landscape industry, you’re making your clients’ green dreams come true. The problem is, not everyone can look at a 2D drawing and visualize what it’ll look like after it’s been installed. Including a 3D-rendering of your landscape design in your proposal/presentation can be the difference between closing that deal or not. This doesn’t mean you won’t still need traditional 2D drawings; your crews/contractors will still need a detailed plan with dimensions they can reference while installing. Rather, anything you can include in your presentation to the client to enhance their visualization of the finished product will not only add an extra layer of professionalism but will also get them excited to see the space after it’s been transformed. While the concept of presenting your designs in 3D may not be new, it has transitioned from being a competitive advantage to an essential element in getting more clients. That being said, moving into the 3D-modelling side of the industry does pose its own unique set of challenges.

The Learning Curve of a 3D Landscape Design Software

Learning any new skill set can be challenging without the right support. This statement holds true for learning a 3D landscape design software. When adding 3D landscape software to your toolkit, you need to keep an objective in mind- upscaling your presentation and being the first to win the project, but if learning the software takes ages, your purpose is defeated.

The solution: view demos before you purchase. Do the transition steps seem easy to apply? Do the terms of the software tools seem relatable and apply to your industry? You can even request/schedule a 1:1 walkthrough of the software, if available. Discuss your concerns and objectives with the software provider and analyze how willing they are to resolve any issues you may have. Also, keep in mind that everyone’s learning curve is different and cannot be generalized; at this stage, you can gauge the level of support offered by the software provider, and evaluate your understanding after viewing the demo.

landscape design software

Most 3D Software is Not Exclusive to the Landscape Industry

The current market is saturated with 3D software options, but you’ll want to choose one that fulfills your landscape design needs. For a long time, the green industry struggled with a lack of 3D design software that also had access to landscape-specific components. For example: if your client wanted to see a different style of paver on a pathway or patio, you would have to create the new paver using the tools available in your generalized 3D design software; doing this could take hours! The more time it takes for you to get those revisions back to the client is the more time they have to consider choosing another landscaping company for the job.

Luckily there are landscape-specific applications and comprehensive component libraries available to add on to your existing 3D software, making it significantly easier to render or make changes to your design. With these libraries you can choose from over 1,000 components including real plants, ponds, pools, rose arbors, cabanas, pergolas, and more. Having access to landscape-specific 3D components significantly reduces your time spent on creating your design and provides your client with a stunning visual representation of the finished space.

POOL AREA Landscape Design By Cedar Springs Landscape Group - Created in DS|Design, exported to SketchUp, rendered with Shaderlight Pro

Consider the Cleanup Time

When you convert your drawing from a 2D software that is not well-built for 3D landscape designs, it can blur out or misrepresent the details. Cleaning up such a drawing can be a very daunting task. Anyone who has spent time converting a 2D drawing to a 3D rendering has, at one time or another, found that the 3D representation of his/her 2D drawing did not turn out the way they had envisioned. The plant details are lost, 3D textures look blurred, and structures like patios appear as poorly drawn wireframes.

Using the right 3D landscape design software with appropriate plugins can save you time on the cleanup process. A custom plugin can automatically fix CAD drawings in a single step. Once you’ve imported your 2D file, you can scan it through the plugin to fix common 2D drawing/CAD geometry issues. The shorter the cleanup time, the quicker your turnaround time for proposals.

With the right software to support your 3D proposals, you can start winning more clients, building a portfolio of models to showcase your work, and charging a premium design fee for your 3D services.

To learn more about how DS Sketch3D, our comprehensive 3D component library, can take your proposals/presentations to the next level, get in touch with one of our account executives today.

How the Right Leadership Can Help Businesses Come Out Bigger and Stronger

How the Right Leadership Can Help Businesses Come Out Bigger and Stronger

maturity level of landscape business
 

Let me start by saying these times are not unique. Yes, I am sure this will generate some constructive feedback, but hear me out.

In our lifetimes we have seen significant change, especially in the digital era. New technologies and tools have had a remarkable impact on the business world. Just ask any video rental store or taxi company if their businesses have recently been threatened or challenged. Some businesses have come out stronger while others have struggled to survive. So, we’ve seen widespread impact in industries before, and it will be the companies with strong leadership that will come out in front.

(side note: yes, COVID-19 has a broader impact across most industries; my point is that change is all around us)

 

What does strong leadership look like?

First let me say, I am and always will be a student of leadership.  It does not matter at which stage of your career you’re in or your level of responsibility, businesses need better leaders, especially now! “Never stop learning” is what my 90-year-old father-in-law says, and he just retired from practicing medicine at 84!

 

The more I learn about business, the more I know it is about people

The more I learn about business, the more I know it is about people. Any leader must recognize that technology helps to enable and streamline your business, but it is the people using the technology, and the systems and processes led by people that really make a difference.

I would like to share some thoughts from an author I admire and respect. Vince Molinaro wrote the book The Leadership Contract (2013) and it is fundamentally a core staple in how leadership should operate. He touches on many aspects, but narrows it down to 4 key principals:

Leadership is a Decision – Make It
Leadership is an Obligation – Step Up
Leadership is Hard Work – Get Tough
Leadership is a Community – Connect
I want to focus on ‘Leadership is a Community.’  Fundamentally, leadership is not an individual sport anymore.  The world is too complex/competitive, and decisions must be made quickly.  No one leader has all the answers, and if they say they do then that is a clear sign they are misguided.

 

How and where do I start to build leadership communities?

The obvious place to start is to build a community of leaders within your organization to share ideas, brainstorm solutions, and solve your complex challenges.  This is simple and most leaders are good at this, or at a minimum have a few select coworkers they can rely on, regardless of their degree of influence within the organization.

 

The real opportunity lies in creating a community of leaders outside of your organization.

During the COVID-19 situation, I have been fortunate enough to be included in a few external leadership communities that have been extremely valuable.

One group is lead by a progressive leadership development organization that, free of charge, has set up a weekly meeting for like-minded leaders to connect on how each leader is navigating in these challenging times.  We meet weekly with each meeting lasting only 45 minutes, and I come out after every meeting with several leadership strategies and tactics that I can then share with my organization.

The second group I belong to is a group of senior business technology leaders who have similar business challenges to mine, but they operate in different industry verticals.  We meet bi-weekly to share our challenges and learnings, and recently we’ve been communicating several times per week to help each other to be our best in our respective leadership responsibilities. Each of our challenges, solutions, and the media content over the previous 2 weeks are all shared, making all of us more aware of how we’re showing up as leaders in our respective companies.  Sometimes we just need to cheer each other on during tough moments, and that is a priceless gift.

So, what are you waiting for?  Get out there and start building your leadership communities. Just remember the purpose is not only for your own growth but for the growth of every leader with whom you interact.  Better leadership everywhere is what drives the company’s overall health and success. Being connected to a leadership community will help all of us to better navigate the good and challenging times.

This blog was written by Brad Furtney, President of DynaSCAPE. Brad has led the general management and revenue generating functions for high profile companies including Twitter, Juice Mobile, Bell Sympatico.ca and Labatt. He has been responsible for driving revenue results, strategic business alignment, margin improvement, people leadership, culture enablement, compensation design and strategic partnerships for more than 15 years.

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