Does my lawn or landscaping company need software?
To be honest I struggled with this for a very long time. A lot of modern software can run 10's of thousands of dollars annually. As a business owner or manager, we usually want to keep our marketing and sales budget at around 20% of our annual net. This for a smaller company could be as little as $10,000 or $12.000 dollars. No, it's not the time to run and hide, you can still succeed at this with no problem. I always recommend you look at all options and choose what is best for you.
In today's world, we need a few basic tools to keep up with our efforts and grow without pains. You need to think about production, tracking, marketing, accounting and customer service. We have to cover each of these topics with one sort of software or another. We will go through this one by one and give you some tips and even good software to use!
As a lawn care company, your profits stem from production. This means that even once you have the customer and the account you still have to keep track of what you are putting on the lawn and when. There are some really good CRM'S out there for the lawn care industry. Real Green is by far superior to any other service but it can be quite costly. There is also Service Auto Pilot, RazorSync, jobber, and Zoho that all do a good job. Of course, each has its perks but all of these have a free version you can start on up to a certain number of customers!
You need to keep in mind you would like to be able to route your technicians, maintain treatment schedules, and keep notes. This CRM will be the heart of your business and essentially your customer and marketing database. Collect as much information as possible from your customers, names , emails, and phone numbers are key even when giving a quote.
2. Truck Tracking
Truck tracking is essential. You as a business owner need to know that your employees are getting the job done! There are some of the CRM'S above that allow truck tracking and it can be quite costly and there are some free versions and apps as well. This all depends on how much information you want on your employees day to day activities. I hate to say it but as much as 40% of the time your employees are on the clock can be wasted stopping for fast food, drinks and even more. The two best I have seen yet were a truck tracked to a Lil Wayne concert and a truck tracked to an adult club. You could be the best boss in the world, this still does not mean you should not be informed. There are quite a few options including quite a few that are easy to use Mycartracks, Spireon, Followmee, and many others. You can also find a lot of other cheep and or free.
Ok so this whole book is on marketing but you still need software to market effectively. You have a lot of different options like scheduling software, analytics software, and even automated emailing and responding software! I would highly suggest that you use a software for analytics and automation at the least. There are some really great tools in this category. If you use one of the easier tools available such as HootSuite, you can create free landing pages, contact forms, while tracking analytics and auto responding. Or if you really have a budget that you can spend a little I would suggest checking out Hubspot, it is by far my favorite online marketing management system. I use this for everything. Marketing software will really help you to get your message across while still having time to maintain another task.
The use of marketing software in the lawn care industry has become more and more common in the lawn care industry. Marketing managers, sales managers, and company owners alike are finding these tools extremely useful. Imagine if you woke up on a Monday, you didn't sleep well and you had to go into the office at 5:30 am to get your blog post and social post done for the day. Or to even sit and schedule a week's worth of work out. Now take a step out of the old fashioned social posting and allow HootSuite or Hubspot help you plan for a month in advance or even 6 months in advance. Then you can get a few extra hrs of sleep or another task done with this time.
When you're taking in money you need to keep track. Yes, we would all love to jam our pockets with some cold hard cash, but we have responsibilities and the bill's to pay. It is always a good idea to use your CRM for these reasons. You want to keep track of each payment to ensure you have received the proper amount of payment through the season. You should also keep track of expenses and all other costs as well.
For taxes and many other reasons, it is good to keep a very accurate track of what you make and spend through lawn care season. It is highly important that you focus on the financials of your business. Even if someone else has the books be sure to review them every 6 weeks.
5. Customer Service
I don't care if you think your phone system is enough, sometimes it's not, to be honest. Sometimes you need to multiple ways for a customer to contact you. Yes even if you only have 100 customers having software that can help is essential. Here and for this specific category, we can count on 2 things we should already have. First our email. Yes, our emails can help us with customer service. Simply setting up a positive upbeat auto responder messages. I would also recommend doing the same on facebook as it will help your business greatly.
If you set up auto responders and even live chat on your business site, you are showing customers you are willing to go the extra mile! If you keep this mentality you will surely succeed over time! Remember you are only as good as your customer base, and every new customer is new cash flow for you and your business so keep your eyes peeled, and fix any customer service issues you may have!