As the economy rebounds from the Great Recession of 2008, the landscaping service industry is experiencing a period of growth; Annual revenue in 2015 alone is expected to reach $76 billion. Even as demand for their services increases, landscaping businesses still face a unique set of challenges specific to their industry. Among these are managing customer relations, employees in the field, and rising overhead costs. In this post, we’ll discuss how companies can use a landscape management software to achieve success that will leave their competitors green with envy.
Enhancing Customer Relations
By providing exceptional customer service, landscape contractors can foster loyalty with their existing clients, as well as gain valuable referrals. Customer service is especially important, as clients’ opinion of the landscape company they are dealing with has a direct bearing on its bottom line. Today’s consumers expect more from lawn care companies, which is something businesses can tap into; offering the best possible service can help them gain an edge over illegitimate “fly-by-night” companies that pose a major threat within the industry. Luckily, the quality of service that landscape professionals offer, as well as their reputation, are within their control.
One way that landscape management software helps contractors delight their customers is with its client history feature. Within this simple, cloud-based CRM, employees in the field can look up key client data so that they arrive on-site with knowledge about specific customers. Types of information that can be stored in this system includes client status, regular services, preferences, among others. In addition to enhancing customer service, client histories can be utilized to execute more targeted marketing efforts. For example, if a customer regularly purchases fertilization services but not aeration, their service provider could send them special offers for aeration as a means of cross-selling.
Some software solutions let employees email invoices directly to customers from their mobile devices. They can also email “before” and “after” photos to customers as proof of service. Landscape management software equipped with visit scheduling ensures that crew members don’t arrive late or accidentally miss appointments, both of which can be highly irritating to customers. Employees can also use the custom digital forms available with certain software to provide customers with on-the-spot price estimates for various services.
One huge challenge for managers of landscapers is the inability to track their crews’ whereabouts and activities when they are out in the field. This is problematic for a number of reasons; team members could get off-task if they aren’t being monitored or they may be faced a problem that threatens their safety without their managers ever knowing. GPS tracking can solve both of these problems by reinforcing accountability and employee safety, the latter of which is a notable issue in the landscaping industry.
When managers are able to see where their crews are at any given time, they can reach out if team members aren’t where they need to be. Employees will be less likely to waste time if they know their managers can see where they are. On the flip side, they will feel more at ease knowing that managers can detect if they’ve run into a problem and are able to reach out or send backup. The custom forms within landscape management software can also be used to keep track of how employees unload and secure equipment, park their trucks, and clean-up after an appointment. Managers can require that certain fields be filled out within the forms they design to ensure that employees are taking proper measures to maintain the integrity of the company, as well as their own safety.
Another way that landscaping management software helps managers connect with their employees is with instant messaging and billboard announcements. Managers can post messages to the billboard so that employees will have the most up-to-date information they need to get the job done. Instant messaging can be used to administer feedback and recognition for good work. This is crucial for employee engagement and retention, especially in an industry where finding quality help is difficult.
Minimizing Overhead Costs
Another area of concern for landscaping businesses is operations costs, which only seem to be increasing. Green Industry Pros Editor-in-Chief Gregg Wartgow explains, “efficient systems and tight controls continue to be important tools in a landscape contractor's management toolbox.” To that point, technology consultant Tom Bandy proposes that scaling landscape companies must eventually make the switch from spreadsheets to databases for storing information. Enter landscape management software. Keeping track of usage costs is something within businesses’ control (whereas government regulations are not). Moreover, being able to cut operational costs helps companies to stay price-competitive.
Landscape professionals can use custom digital forms to keep track of how much chemical, fertilizer, fuel, and other products are being consumed to avoid wastage. Employees can also use a form to comply with water usage regulations set by the government. This data that crews collect can be passed on to outside entities such as suppliers, customers, and local municipalities. Companies that use GPS tracking can create more efficient routes for their crews to save money on fuel costs and reduce their carbon footprint.
Residential and commercial landscaping businesses alike are forced to deal with problems that lie outside their span of control. However, there are other challenges that they are able to overcome if they have the right tools at their disposal. Landscape management software assists companies with customer service, employee visibility, and cost control, but its potential expands far beyond those areas.
Victoria is a Marketing Associate at Repsly, where she leads the company's P.R. and social media efforts. You can also catch her prepping for slew of exciting industry events. A New England native, Victoria has spent time living in Italy and traveling throughout Europe before settling back in Boston. When she's not planning her next trip, V is probably tasting wine or brushing up on her Italian.