Scheduling Is Key to Streamlining Your Business and Improving Efficiency - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Scheduling Is Key to Streamlining Your Business and Improving Efficiency

Guest post by Gage Roberts, a sales director for Aspire Software.

In the green industry, a tight, busy schedule often aligns with long-term profitability and growth. However, if managed ineffectively, it can negatively impact the quality of your crew’s work and overall team morale – especially during the busy landscaping season.

A well-defined scheduling strategy doesn’t just make going from one job to another easier, it can also improve efficiency across all areas of your business. The first step to streamlining the scheduling process is understanding how the right tools and technologies come into play.

Optimizing the Scheduling Processes

When managing a high volume of jobs, various nuances can disrupt workflows if not addressed effectively –  which is why optimizing the process is an essential place to start when refreshing your scheduling strategy. It’s critical to move away from manual tasks and outdated methods like whiteboards or spreadsheets. Replacing these methods with the latest scheduling tools and technology offer:

  • Visualized capacity: Software enables professionals to better understand their current capabilities at a glance, allowing for more informed decisions when booking new contracts and managing existing ones.
  • Book more contracts: With a grasp of their capability, landscapers can efficiently manage a higher number of incoming jobs and identify scheduled openings for new work tickets, ultimately increasing revenue.
  • Quickly adapt to client needs: By incorporating job estimates into a calendar, businesses can also ensure their schedule reflects crucial information such as crew allocation, required equipment and materials. 

Optimization allows companies to quickly adapt to client needs, improves client relationships and ensures companies can maintain a consistent workflow. It also improves efficiency for the business by providing better tracking and updating for routes, consistency with recurring services and cutting out inefficacies for field crews.

How To Create a Landscaping Business Schedule

Knowing the benefits of well-defined scheduling software, once implemented, how do you put this enhanced schedule into practice? Think of your landscaping schedule as an assortment of building blocks, with each scheduling block as a different size and shape – they don’t always build on each other. If your foundation isn’t built from the largest and sturdiest pieces, you’ll never be able to scale your landscaping business to more complex and niche projects.

When building the foundation for a scheduling strategy, consider the following criteria:

  • Project importance: Establish a ranking system to prioritize projects based on their profitability, size, growth potential and viability. Using a methodology similar to the Eisenhower Matrix can help track tasks based on their importance and urgency.
  • Current bandwidth: While software will help landscapers understand their capacity, they must first grasp their team’s current workload. For every job blocked on your calendar, the number of labor hours, supplies and equipment available and required for each job should be blocked, as well. 
  • Improving routes: Understanding how landscaping teams get to and from projects can make or break a scheduling strategy. Companies should seek landscape management software that provides scheduling visibility to ensure fleet efficiency by balancing and maximizing existing teams to their highest capacity.

Visibility needs to go beyond your team leads. You want your crews to have just as much insight into their upcoming workload. To ensure visibility from top to bottom, make sure your schedule system includes:

  • Shared accessibility between teams
  • Communication features that alert upcoming crews to jobs
  • Time management features for progress updates

What To Look For in a Scheduling Software

After understanding the benefits of scheduling software, it’s time to weigh your options before making a final decision. When choosing the right scheduling software, it’s important to ensure this new piece of technology will not overload management teams at the expense of setting up a fully enhanced scheduling system. 

The software should be flexible and easy to adapt to while providing the right tools and management functionally that’s a fit for your crew. The right software will deliver insight into when there is a risk of overbooking or when sudden issues arise without warning. 

The right software must be a good fit for your team. Consider asking the following questions::

  • Will there be notifications if deadlines are met or missed? 
  • Is there access to the amount of time spent on a project?
  • What resources were utilized to complete a job? Is this tracked?
  • How quickly will teams meet an expected timeline? Is this tracked?

Landscaping software that records and visualizes historical performance data can address these questions and improve overall business profitability by ensuring work is priced accordingly, allowing your crew to take on more work without sacrificing your bottom line. 

At the end of the day, the right landscaping software will go far beyond simply improving scheduling. From making daily tasks easier, improving team morale to streamlining business areas more productively and efficiently, the right software will be a game changer for your company.