The push to go paperless is nothing new. It’s been touted as an eco-friendly choice for many years now. While saving trees might be the reason why a lot of companies make the leap to a digitized way of doing business, the truth is, there are other benefits that may be more important.
Does going paperless really save trees?
Actually, the idea that going paperless really saves the trees has been disputed in recent years.
For one, today’s paper is often made from recycled materials meaning trees don’t need to be cut down every time new paper is made.
Plus, the commercial value of forestry materials like paper has turned trees into a valuable renewable resource. That means, trees are well-cared for and frequently replanted in order to be used as needed. Needs like paper give forestland owners a reason to maintain their land. If that need goes away, they’re more likely to sell for non-forest uses like development.
Instead of going paperless for the trees, better reasons to consider a digital solution over paper are increased productivity and cost savings.
You’ll save more money than you might think
Nanette Seven, vice president of Include Software, says that when landscape business owners consider the potential cost savings of eliminating paper—they’re typically only thinking about the paper itself. And since a ream of paper really isn’t that expensive, it might not seem worth it.
“But a paper-run business has many added expenses beyond the paper like ink, postage, storage, and even associated labor costs,” Seven points out. “When you start to add up these costs, they can become a lot more expensive than people tend to realize.”
Seven says that there’s also the physical space to think about. A business run with paper spreadsheets and client files must have numerous filing cabinets to keep track of everything. There could be account files, financial files, employee files—and often more.
“Businesses that are paper-heavy, usually have a lot of dedicated space to use for filing,” Seven says. “That is space that could be freed up and much better used in a paper-free business.”
Landscape business owners often don’t realize how “freeing” letting go of paper can be.
Besides the cost associated with a paper-run business, there’s also the matter of accessibility. Being able to quickly pull up account information or client information is frustrating if paper files are still the primary source of organizing this data.
“Digitizing these files can make accessibility so much easier,” says Seven. “With landscape business software, you can pull up information anytime—and anywhere. There’s no more missing or misplaced information.”
The same is true for other purposes that you might use paper for—like invoicing customers or having employees submit their hours or various other paperwork.
“All of this is made much easier with technology,” Seven says. “By digitizing that information, you can now have easy access to it, no matter where you are.”
Clients prefer it too
Becoming a digital business is something that your clients will also appreciate, says Seven. In fact, many of them might expect it in this day and age. They want to be able to access their account information and pay their bills in an easy way.
But so often, many landscapers are still leaving paper invoices on the door.
Instead, Seven suggests integrating “customer portal technology” into your website, where clients can see all of their stored account information.
“With customer portal technology, you can give your clients access to their account and make it easier to pay bills,” Seven says. “Whereas a paper bill can get forgotten, with a portal, you’re more likely to get paid quickly. A customer portal might also give them a place to ask questions or request services.”
Research has pointed toward the fact that we’re in an era where customers prefer “self-service,” and this caters toward that trend.
Paper-free for the win
No matter what your initial reasons for going the paper-free route, there are definitely some key benefits that you can expect from the decision. While it will take some time to enter all of the data into a software system, once you do, you’ll likely never want to go back to paper again.