Business Smarts: Five Ways to Improve Efficiency - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Business Smarts: Five Ways to Improve Efficiency

Operational efficiency can benefit your company in multiple ways. By streamlining your processes, you can eliminate time-consuming tasks, concentrate on your profit centers and save money.

Being more efficient can also protect your team from burnout and create a more enjoyable place to work as well. Check out some of the different methods to keep your business functioning at peak efficiency.

Keep Meetings Focused

You’ve all heard this quip before – “This meeting could have been an email.” This can be true in some cases, but at other times meetings are necessary. You can keep your meetings on the rails by providing an agenda and a mission statement for each one. Meetings should end with clear actions, owners and timelines.

The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) suggests having meetings with a start and end time. The structure of these meetings includes the sharing of good news, a review of the scorecard, a review of 90-day priorities, customer and employee headlines and the to-do list reporting.

Update Equipment Regularly

Nothing brings work to a grinding halt like a piece of equipment going down. If you have a strong relationship with your dealer, they might have a loaner they can provide to keep you running, but you might still be stuck waiting for a mechanic to repair your machine.

One solution is investing in an in-house mechanic. This team member can eliminate costly repair bills and help you stay on top of important preventative maintenance tasks.

“Our mechanic is our highest-paid employee, but he also saves the business the most money,” says Joe Holland, owner of Majestic Lawn Care & Landscape. “He saves us 75 percent on outside mechanics’ labor expenses.”

Other companies like Lawn Patrol Services opt to turn over their equipment frequently, so they don’t get those major breakdown phases.

“We’ve gone to an 80/20 lease to purchase strategy,” says Michael Conley, LIC, CFO and co-owner of Lawn Patrol Services, Inc. “We found we were keeping our equipment too long, so now that’s been a huge one where there’s probably $30,000-$40,000 a year that we were able to shave off of the equipment maintenance.”

Narrow Your Service Range

Windshield time is time not spent generating revenue, so tightening your geographic footprint can allow for more efficiency. This is also beneficial with gas prices trending upward.

Keep in mind that route density isn’t just about serving a lot of properties close to each other but properties that are the right fit for your company. Don’t be afraid to turn away business that is outside of your service area.

“It takes a lot more time and a lot more money to build these routes than you think when you first get going in a business like this,” says Adam Jackson, owner of Nature’s Turf. “So we ended up shrinking our service area almost every year for the last 10 years.”

Conduct Virtual Walkthroughs

Another way to save time is by utilizing a virtual sales system like Groundwork. It replaces in-person consultations with a virtual walkthrough. Leads are given a survey link that collects their address, project goals, budget, timeline, referral source and a walkthrough video.

Since implementing Groundwork, Shealy Langley, office manager for R&R Landscaping, says having a visual understanding of the client’s property and goals simplifies the scheduling process. She says she can have more personalized and productive conversations with the client. On the sales end, sometimes the initial consultation is eliminated altogether.

“If only one dead-end consultation is eliminated or weeded out each month, the opportunity cost breaks even with the Groundwork cost,” Langley says. “Finally, an unexpected perk of Groundwork has been how it has helped our administrative team connect the dots between the field and the office and to grow more acquainted with the work our team does every day.”

Add Business Software

Implementing different types of business software can also help streamline processes for your team and identify areas to improve, such as job costing or fleet routing. Landscape Workshop added Aspire to help their business scale up.

“It provides most of the essential information needed to make the decisions to run our business, such as job costing,” says Christianna Denelsbeck, CFO for Landscape Workshop. “It is also key for keeping our overhead costs down as the system allows for the business to scale without adding a disproportionate amount of staff.”

Tony Nasrallah, president and founder of Ground Works Land Design, utilizes Trello to keep track of his to-do lists.

“It’s a completely customizable cloud-based to-do list that I share with specific team members,” he says. “I’ve created swim lanes within Trello so that when I start working on a task, or complete one, I update the status. I can create multiple Trello boards for different verticals within my business. Best part – there’s a free version.”

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.