Whether you’ve got a team of five or 500, when you manage a landscaping business, there’s a lot to remember. From overseeing a crew to navigating business challenges, you have many tasks to juggle — and that’s why finding ways to better manage your operations is so important.
So with that in mind, here are six of the top tips to try:
1. Take advantage of key management systems. When you’re a one-person operation, it’s easy to track bids, inventory, expenses and paychecks through good old-fashioned pen and paper. But when you’re growing as a business, these old-school systems won’t work so well. This is why it’s smart to take advantage of efficiency-boosting systems like an invoicing system, routing software and other tools that can streamline your paperwork and still track everything accurately. The sooner you establish these for your operations, the better.
2. Find good help. Maybe you’ve heard it said that a company is only as good as its workers — and when it comes to landscaping jobs, it’s true. Your employees will often be the face of your business and the people your customers meet when they’re hiring your company to do a job. Because of how important these first impressions can be, make sure that you select workers you can trust. You want solid, reliable people with references and commitment. Even just a few bad hires can drastically damage your brand, so take time to thoroughly vet candidates and give new hires some kind of trial period in which they can prove themselves and grow.
3. Provide proper training to crew: Employees who don’t know what to do will often end up wasting time and waiting for direction. Avoid the lost hours that can result from this inefficiency by properly training each new crew member when he or she is hired. Training should include thorough instruction on how to use equipment, how to complete job-related tasks and any landscaping-related knowledge (e.g., types of plants) that will be necessary.
4. Give your employees a reason to work hard. It’s as true in landscaping as it is in an office job: motivated employees are more productive employees. What this means for your company is that when you can find a way to inspire and incentivize work, your team members will want to do a good job. Here are some tips for having happy workers who want to do what you need them to: Communicate clearly and regularly so that everyone knows what is expected. Reward jobs well done, and make it obvious to your employees that you do so. Likewise, stick to company policies consistently so there isn’t room for misunderstanding or slacking off.
5. Use GPS tracking for your vehicles. There are a lot of reasons why GPS tracking is a good idea for landscaping companies, from greater intelligence in operations to reduced spending on padded timesheets, inefficient routes and overall vehicle use. Install GPS tracking on all the landscaping vehicles in your fleet and you gain a way to monitor routes, track employee time on jobs, reduce fuel consumption and boost productivity.
6. Implement preventive maintenance. As in a lot of industries, the equipment you use as a landscape business will likely be your greatest expense — and, thus, one of your greatest assets. Protect your investment by implementing a solid preventative maintenance plan and sticking to it. Get the brakes checked and the oil changed on your vehicles regularly, and take your equipment in as soon as you notice something’s breaking down. The faster you nip problems in the bud, the less damaging repairs will be to your bottom line.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written by Robert Hall. Hall is the president of Track Your Truck.