Marketplace Intro: Fear not

Business or bookkeeping software is a huge timesaver in the landscaping industry. Yet for many landscapers, technology is right up there with snakes, germs and public speaking – something to be feared. Dave May, marketing manager of Adkad Technologies, says he frequently talks to landscapers who still do things by hand. Many fear what a computer can do, and some don’t even own a computer.

“Software is simply another tool,” May says. He compares it with a new mower. Imagine the creation of a mower that runs on water and mows five times faster – landscapers would rush to buy one. “Software does exactly that,” he adds. “It saves that much time.”

Another fear associated with using software in the landscaping industry is the worth of the investment. Donna Garner, lead sales and marketing manager with Tree Management Systems, says some landscapers are afraid to buy software because they fear they won’t be able to integrate it successfully into their businesses.

When it comes to any new technology in the industry, Corbin Snow, president of Snow’s Garden and Landscape Center, offers this advice: “Research it, find out what it is and adapt.”

“It’s the wave of the future,” Snow says. “You can either get behind it and learn new things or continue doing things the way you are now. You won’t be as efficient and your results won’t be as good as they could be.”

What can it do?
Business software saves landscapers time in several areas. While bookkeeping software programs differ by company, most offer some of the same features such as billing, creating invoices, routing and scheduling. Tree Management Systems’ ArborGold software has a synchronizable database option that allows users to have the database with them in the field.

“They can do estimates and schedule work, then use an Internet connection to synchronize it once in the office,” Garner says.

ArborGold also has a Web portal option for users to update work orders on their cell phones.

May says a huge timesaver with business software is the ability to enter charges for multiple customers at once, rather than individually. He also likes the job routing option, allowing landscapers to schedule customers based on geographic location. Users won’t forget a customer or waste time and gas driving back and forth.

May points to other advantages of using business software. When doing things by hand, accuracy becomes an issue. A computer won’t have the mathematical errors humans tend to commit.

Misinterpretation is another issue in hand writing invoices. May says not only can landscapers not read their writing at times, customers will misinterpret handwritten invoices as well. When this happens, time and money is wasted discussing discrepancies and may lead to ill will with customers. This translates to lost revenue down the road.

One final advantage to software is the quick access to information.

“A customer calls and asks what you did three years ago – you can look it up in the archives,” May says.

Buying In
Garner and May offer these pieces of advice when searching for the right business software:

  • Ask yourself which areas of your business you spend the most time on. If it’s billing, software can help you reduce that time.
  • Determine which features are important to your business and then find the software package that offers them.
  • Make sure the software company has a good return policy as well as an ongoing training program. This eliminates a fear of implementation.
The Attachments Idea Book
Landscapers use a variety of attachments for doing everything from snow removal to jobsite cleanup, and regardless of how often they are used, every landscaper has a favorite attachment.
Attachments Idea Book Cover