2020 will be a year to remember without a doubt! All areas of society have been impacted in some way by the arrival of COVID-19. We have experienced sudden changes to the way we socialize, the way that we shop, and the way that our children are educated, just to name a few.
DynaScape connected with Justin White, CEO of the very successful K&D Landscaping in Santa Cruz, California, to gain his perspective. He shared with us how he felt landscape companies could minimize the impact of COVID-19 on their business and build an even stronger future.
The main areas of focus were:
Employee culture and leadership
Remaining educated regarding changing regulations
Innovation and Technology
Employee Culture and Leadership
Justin White is certainly a big proponent of culture as a strong differentiator in his business. Maintaining a robust two-way communication system with employees proves to be extremely important. For example, he starts the day with a management team call, for 5 to 7 minutes to ensure that everyone is on the same page for the day in terms of priorities and how time is being spent, and also finds out how he can support them.
In addition, weekly meetings with each of his landscaping teams is an effective way that they all share feedback; this can include feedback regarding equipment, their health benefits, or trouble paying their rent.
“We want to make sure that we help our employees not only professionally, but also personally, and be that support team that they have to come to us with really any challenge they have,” said White. “The feedback is very important for us.”.
He provides a word of warning, however, about how critical employee communication is when salaries and wages are cut. It would be easy for employees to conclude that they are not as valued as they were previously if such changes are not communicated properly. Ensuring that timely communication that emphasizes the fact that “tough times require tough decisions and we’re in this together” is crucial.
Remaining educated regarding changing regulations
Not only are there changes within the landscaping industry, but now also frequent changes with respect to safety protocols from the CDC, and other local authorities. White has a few tips for managing this new barrage of information and implementing the protocols:
Wake up early to read new information on protocols to share with your team
Put one person in charge of monitoring safety protocols and implementation for the entire company
Have an additional person on each landscaping crew as a designated COVID supervisor
While White has outlined how he manages the information and implementation of protocols, he is keen to point out that the value that the safety of employees comes before anything else, including shareholder returns. To ensure that his employees remain safe, he suggests making their PPE as comfortable as possible. Which type of regulation face mask will be most comfortable for them, for example? He also ensures that hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray is readily available for all employees wherever they are working. He shares that “Our employees are excited to feel that they’re being supported, and they’re being provided the right PPE and we’re taking care of them”.
When it comes to interaction between crews and clients, White has some more great advice. He reflects that communicating with clients now typically entails maintaining a 6 to 10-foot distance while wearing a mask. He suggests calling clients a few days in advance of the crew arriving to ask if there is anything that the crew should know prior to arriving. Following this tip will enable any face-to-face interactions between clients and crew to be very short.
Innovation and Technology
As always, having a solid base of clients and good relationships with them is key. However, with changing times sure to come, it is more important now than ever to think out-of-the-box and look for new opportunities to additionally grow into. White cites outdoor sanitation (aka porter services) as a big opportunity for landscaping companies, as there is a significant focus on sanitizing handrails, shopping carts, door handles, and other items that people touch. As your existing clients already having a relationship with you, you can give your clients the opportunity to “add to cart” with these additional services as well.
According to White “I think technology is key to the success of our business”. White is a 5-year DynaScape client, and he shares that using Manage360 has stabilized their estimating process. During his time using Dynascape, his company K&D Landscaping has in fact scaled from $1 million to $10 million in revenue.
“So, technology is really important as we can leverage not only business management technology and estimating and design technology of the Dynascape platform, which offers the entire suite, but also technology to help run your financial side of your business and communicate with your team.”
White recommends that now is a good time to invest in technology, as with a bit of a slow down, there could be time to onboard a new technology that you need. This could be a design technology such as DS l Design to enable digital PDF designs for clients and end-to-end business management software such as Manage360, or even software to recognize employee achievements amongst peers.
Thank you again to Justin White, CEO of K&D Landscaping in Santa Cruz, California, for sharing these fantastic insights with us.
Ready to learn more about how DynaScape can help you build a stronger future for your landscaping business with our Design and Business Management software? Contact the DynaScape sales team to book a discovery call or demo. We can be reached by phone: 1.800.710.1900 x2 or by email.
While the months since March 2020 have been interesting, to say the least, few of us would immediately consider them to be positive. However, when we peel back the layers to take a closer look, there are certainly some wonderful side effects of the changes in the world such as:
A reduction in pollution due to decreased air travel and the use of cars. Dolphins in the canals of Venice!
More time with our children and family members in our home as they are not rushing to sports and classes
Saving money on vacations which may have been planned
The same philosophy can be applied to some positive outcomes within industries. While it may be easy to assume that all industries have had a downturn, it is not necessarily the case. Here we will look at the positive effects on the landscaping industry. Primarily through the adoption and use of landscape business software.
In a mid-year 2020 survey conducted by the National Association of Landscaping Professionals, 60 percent of residential landscaping contractors found that their revenues were ahead of expectations for this year. Eighty percent of residential companies reported increases in spending on enhancements. Clearly, it is not all doom and gloom.
Key benefits to the landscaping industry in 2020 so far:
Shorter timeline to winning proposals
With the lockdown commencing in March 2020, meeting in person with customers was no longer an option. Face-to-face landscape proposals and presentations were suddenly a thing of the past, yet many homeowners were wishing to upgrade their outdoor spaces, especially as they were spending so much more time both living and working from home.
Technology to the rescue. Email, phone, and video calls became the norm for both presenting and making amendments to landscaping proposals. This new way of working also provided a faster way to get proposals presented and amended, and ultimately a potential “superhighway” to a signed contract.
How Landscaping Software Helps
Landscaping companies who had already made the change to landscape design software such as DSIDesign, were a step ahead, as they were accustomed to creating their landscape designs electronically. They were able to get to work faster as they were using technology as opposed to hand drawings, saving approximately 20-25% timewise vs hand sketches.
According to Patrick DuChene, of DuChene Design solutions “The world is 1000 miles an hour. It was 100 miles an hour five years ago. So the quicker you’re able to do your job effectively and accurately, the more you’re going to succeed. As times change, the world evolves into where people are realizing that they need to communicate well with clients, be interactive, and they keep up. If you don’t, you’re not going to be busy.”
Benefits to the environment
The dolphins in the canals of Venice were not the only ones to benefit from the side effects of the global crisis. Landscape business owners have been driving less. With proposals and designs being shared electronically, both time and gas have been saved. Additionally, there has certainly been less paper being produced, due to designs being emailed vs printed on large scale color printers.
Landscape companies have had to get even more creative, quickly. Instead of a walk around a client’s property before quoting a job, solutions such as looking at Google Earth to get an outline of a property were used or asking a client to send photos of their space.
Design sign-offs have also been more efficient. Again, no driving required, just an excellent quality design and proposal. Using full-color landscape design software such as DSIColor, for example, could help a client truly picture the final job. Walking a client through the emailed design over the phone or video, perhaps some amendments, and then a signed-off project. Work could be scheduled and commence.
Efficient, professional, and free from fossil fuels.
Reflect and Redirect
The additional office time and need for amending existing processes to fit within new protocols have provided landscaping companies with a chance to look further at their existing systems. They have had the time to reflect upon what is working well and see where some processes might be better redirected in other ways.
For example, while going door-to-door with flyers may no longer be socially acceptable, adapting and improving social media presence and strategy has been an opportunity. How is a business providing free content of value to its customers for example? Which marketing channels are the most effective? Additional tips on marketing landscaping businesses can be found in our blog 5 Tips for Marketing Your Landscape Business.
Secondly, when preparing electronic proposals for customers, many landscaping businesses find that they are quoting on similar projects multiple times. Companies who already are employing landscaping business software, such as Manage360, enjoy the benefits of using templates and repurposing content for similar jobs with their software. These business management systems can potentially tie into a landscape design software as well, which is precisely how accurate bids are created. The person creating estimates benefits from having their suppliers at their fingertips to figure out exactly how much it’s going to cost.
Ultimately as businesses, we need profit to be able to operate. As noted above, even in these changing times, there are ways to increase your profit, while embracing new ways of working and provide benefits to the environment as well.
Ready to learn more about how DynaScape can help you increase your margins? Visit our online store, or contact the DynaScape sales team to purchase or discuss our Design software, or end-to-end Landscape Business software, Manage360. We can be reached by phone: 1.800.710.1900 x2 or by email: email@example.com.
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
Referrals & Leads
To maximize the revenue and profitability of your business, it is critical to have each of these 5 elements organized, and easily accessible.
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.
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.
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?
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 sunscreen. Although 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 day. Monitor 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 forproductivity 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.
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.