Scheduling landscaping work can be one of the most tedious and time-consuming aspects of running a business. It can also be an area where efficiency can be lost if smart decisions aren’t made.
Losing 10 minutes here or there might not sound like a big deal but it can really start to add up over the course of a week. And as you know, when it comes to the landscaping industry, time is money.
In order to help you make smarter scheduling decisions and improve your overall efficiency, we’ve rounded 6 tips on everything from routing to keeping operations moving swiftly on routes.
1. Aim for Route Density and Crew & Equipment Optimization
This is the golden rule in landscape scheduling so you are likely already well aware of its importance. One of the best ways to save time when it comes to your routes is “route density,” that is, grouping your clients as geographically close as possible to minimize drive time. This can make a tremendous difference in profitability.
Of course, optimal route density requires looking at more than just geographic locations. Ideal route density also means grouping “like projects together.” That would be properties of similar size that require similar services (and therefore similar crew sizes and equipment). In an ideal world, crews can move swiftly from job to job to job with an optimized route density.
There’s no doubt the more clients you have, the more complicated route density can get. But taking the time to pay attention to not only the geographic location of your customers but also the specifics of each job can definitely pay off.
2. Use Landscaping Business Software to Optimize Routes
Going a step further from tip one, we would suggest using software if you truly want to optimize your routes. Putting service stops in the optimal order is difficult to do without all of the data at your fingertips.
But landscaping business software can take the guesswork out of making sure that routes are in the best possible order.
Beginning in July (2019) route optimization from Google will be built into Asset making for a seamless processing experience. You can enter your service addresses and it will optimize them in the best possible order, boosting your efficiency. It will also figure out the travel time between each stop so that you can truly maximize your day.
3. Optimize the Order of Services, Too
Another important aspect of scheduling landscaping projects is to optimize the order in which you want tasks performed. It’s not just the stops that you need to order appropriately but also the services they’re performing while they’re there. For a lot of landscape companies, this has proven to be an effective way to keep jobs moving efficiently.
Some landscape business owners say that they have benefited from teaching their crews to trim first and then mow. That’s because when you trim first, you don’t have to try to mow so close to everything, as the trimming already took care of it. That should allow you to mow faster. Of course, every company has to determine what works best for their specific crews.
No matter what, have a plan. Discuss with your crews ahead of time which order you’d like them to perform services in and why, if you think it will save time. Be willing to listen to their input as they’re in the field regularly and often have great ideas.
However, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t allow your crews to adapt to situations as needed. You’ll also need to trust them to switch up the order if certain circumstances warrant a change of schedule.
4. Consider Downtime at the Pump (And Other Unwanted Stops)
The gas station can quickly turn into a time drain when crews use that refueling stop to also grab snacks, talk on their phones, and take long breaks. In order to combat this, some companies have installed gas pumps at their operations site. Vehicles can be fueled every morning before leaving the yard or every evening upon return, in order to prevent unplanned stops.
Others have combated it by making refueling part of their mechanic or maintenance person’s job. They’re resembling for refueling all of the trucks at the start (or end) of the day so that crews never have to stop.
Utilizing real-time data that allows you to track GPS locations can also be helpful in saving time with unplanned pit stops. Landscaping business software that has a mobile component can help you keep track of this information.
You’ll be able to see where your landscaping crews are at any point and recognize if they’ve gotten off track.
Of course, if you don’t want crews making unplanned stops, then you must take steps to prevent them by ensuring the vehicles are always fueled. In addition, creating some policy surrounding this is also important. You must be clear with crews about what you expect. You can then use GPS tracking to see whether crews are upholding and supporting your policies.
5. Get the Day Off on the Right Foot
When looking at optimal efficiency in your day, it’s also important to ensure no time is being wasted at its start. This requires some forethought and planning. Crews should arrive at the yard, know exactly what they’re doing for the day and what equipment they need, be able to load the truck quickly and get going.
When the morning is used to get coffee, chat with other crews, and stand around while figuring out where they’re supposed to be for the day, time is wasted and it sets things off on the wrong foot. This doesn’t set a great precedent for the rest of the day. Instead, show your crews that you value efficiency right from the very start and hopefully, they will, too.
6. Use Landscaping Business Reporting Software to Save More Time Overall
Whether you’ve been using spreadsheets, whiteboards, or even multiple software systems (that aren’t integrated and don’t communicate with one another) in order to schedule landscaping services, the fact is, there’s a better way. Paperwork can get shuffled around and even lost and whiteboards can get accidentally erased. On top of that, when it comes to planning a new season, you have to start from scratch. The data isn’t automatically rolled over into a new year—but with landscaping business reporting software it is, and this can save you a tremendous amount of time.
Landscaping business software can also help boost efficiency from year-to-year with your crews because you can confidentially ensure that the same people are on the same jobs (or at least the same foremen are). This improves efficiency because they know the route and they know the job.
It also creates consistency with the work, which clients appreciate. They like to see the same crews again and again and maybe even get to know the people working on their property. You can ensure that crews wind up on the same jobs when they’re automatically assigned that work through landscape scheduling software.
Making Smart Choices with Data at Your Fingertips
The simplest way to sum up the benefits of landscaping business software is that it puts data at your fingertips. Whether you’re scheduling crews and trying to plan for optimal route density, you want to take a real-time look at jobs and see where improvements or changes need to be made, or you’re pulling reports in landscaping to make better decisions for your future, software can allow you to do all of that. You’ll be able to make the best possible decisions with the data available to you anytime.
Of course, not all software is created equal and it’s important that you find the right solution for your business. If you’ve done any research, you already know that there are a lot of options out there. You want a solution that is all-inclusive and that integrates with your business as a whole, with one facet communicating with the next.
Asset is that comprehensive solution that will help you to save time and reduce frustration when it comes to scheduling (and many other tasks as well). It is a complex system that connects multiple departments throughout your company. With Asset, you’ll be able to feel confident that you’re putting daily routes in the best order and that you’re keeping up-to-date on exactly how the day is going. This will pay off with increased efficiencies and ultimately increased profit.
Ready to improve routing and overall efficiency with landscaping business software? Let’s explore and see what Asset could do for your landscaping company.
Watch this Video to Learn How Asset Can Improve Efficiency and Productivity at your Landscape Company
Image Sources: Walnut Hill Landscape