Landscaping business owners have incredible potential to build a successful business. The problem is, most landscapers are skilled technicians, not “technicians”. In other words, they’re good at working with their hands and creating beautiful landscapes, but they often avoid using the latest gadgets and apps that will grow their business (especially if they’re still using a 2009 flip phone. …You know who you are).
Adopting new technology can be stressful, especially when it comes to unfamiliar territory. However, there is a huge range of tools available to help business owners and their staff operate faster, easier, and more strategically. Whether you’re a landscaper, tech expert, or somewhere in between, you deserve the opportunity to take advantage of these breakthrough technologies to help your business run more efficiently and improve your bottom line.
This article describes programs and applications in five different categories: health and safety, personnel, operations, communication, and continuing education. Using at least one suggestion in each area can help take your business to the next level.
The Beginner’s Guide to Using Technology in the Landscape Industry:
HEALTH AND SECURITY
Greenius – www.gogreenius.com – Greenius is a suite of online tools for training, onboarding and performance excellence, with over 50 videos for crews and supervisors. There’s also an extensive library of ‘tailgate conversations’ to train your crew on gear and prepare for safety.
To jump – https://www.vaultintel.com/ – Vault is a way to manage your responsibilities for risk, health and safety. Cloud-based software offers a number of solutions to create a safer workplace.
Evernote – www.evernote.com – Evernote lets you capture and prioritize ideas, projects, and to-do lists so nothing falls through the cracks. It can be loaded on multiple devices and the program syncs seamlessly between devices when connected to the internet.
HR Downloads – https://www.hrdownloads.com/ – HR Downloads offers thousands of HR tools and document templates, legislative updates and management resources
Application sheet – www.appsheet.com – This app maker software is easy to use and can transform your workplace by helping you turn paper documents into an app on your employees’ phones (i.e. circular check form, an accident report, etc.)
Fleet – www.fleetio.com – This all-in-one fleet management app can help you track your fleet and its maintenance, all in one place, regardless of fleet size.
Tom’s agenda – www.tomsplanner.com – This free app allows you to plan your entire landscaping business. It can be used for design-build projects or to plan your maintenance business for the whole season. It gives you the option to share it with your team afterwards.
Landscape management network – www.golmn.com – This landscape-specific software helps with budgeting, customer relationship management, estimations, mobile time tracking and much more.
Come on iLawn – www.goilawn.com – This online property measurement service is a great tool that creates efficiency in your valuation process.
DOZR – www.dozr.com – DOZR is an online marketplace for the rental of heavy equipment. It’s like Airbnb for bulldozers and excavators. You can rent the equipment you need or offer your own equipment for hire. It is a perfect example of the new shared economy in which we live.
Voxer – www.voxer.com – This walkie-talkie app can replace the old push-to-talk cellphones we had. This app offers secure real-time communication that can be used with groups or individuals. It is a great tool for your snow operations.
what Application – www.whatsapp.com – This international messaging app works on all platforms and lets you text, send photos and voice memos, and make phone calls, all for free!
Soft – www.slack.com – SLACK stands for “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge”. This set of team collaboration tools and services allows you to communicate with groups or individuals. This results in fewer meetings, less internal email, and provides space to share documents and information with your team.
Skitch – https://www.evernote.com/products/skitch- – Skitch helps you visually communicate with your staff and customers by letting you take a photo, tag it with arrows, text and color, and then send. It is a considerable saving of time in your operations.
Hoot Suite – www.hootsuite.com – Hoot Suite manages your business and personal social media accounts. It makes social media planning, management and reporting as easy as laying sod!
Turn signal – www.blinkist.com – This app allows you to listen to educational material in the areas of personal growth, history, management, leadership, communication skills and motivation.
Grow the bench – www.growthbench.com – GTB is an online professional training development platform designed for landscaping and snow contractors. It offers courses on many topics ranging from time management to conflict management. New content is added regularly.
Beaten down – www.downcastapp.com – This one was a game-changer. It allows you to subscribe and listen to podcasts anywhere you go during the day, so you can always make the most of your time with a useful podcast.
This list is just the beginning – there are more and more apps and programs in the industry and the list just keeps growing. After reading this article, it’s important to take a step forward in integrating technology into your business strategy. See how even the smallest changes can improve efficiency, strategic planning, internal and external communication, and continuous learning for you and your teams.
New technologies will only be useful if they are implemented in a way that works for everyone. Make sure you follow these three steps before you get started:
- Choose the software as the management team, getting feedback from each division. Have each division create a list of technologies that would help them work more efficiently. Go through these lists, go back for additional information until you have a clear idea of what you need from your technology.
- Establish an implementation team that meets regularly to monitor the use of new technology and set clear goals and expectations for it. The management team should be committed to using the new app or program regularly so that the implementation process does not get stuck. Remember to track your team’s downtime or workshop time so you get a good idea of how much time is spent on implementation.
- Implement accountability standards with your staff to follow documented process and steps. For example, your sales teams may not want to put their leads into the CRM system because it takes too long. If so, the sales team does not understand why using this new software is essential for improving their own work and how it affects the business as a whole.
Learning new technologies takes time. Be patient with yourself and your staff, especially when mistakes and learning curves do occur (and you can be sure they will).
Too many owners are frustrated and impatient and abandon change for the sake of their usual routine. However, doing things the way you’ve always done them isn’t the way to grow your business. Hang on! As for your staff, they will need to be well trained to use it well and recognize its value.
A word of warning: you will experience a range of responses from early adopters and enthusiasts, to open but cautious individuals, to outright opposition groups. Take each step as it comes, knowing that it is an essential part of growing a sustainable business. It will be short term pain for long term gain.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written by Grant Harrison, founder of Nextra Consulting. Harrison has a unique combination of landscape experience and business knowledge. He can build a deck and build a budget. It includes Latin terms and financial terms. It can clear snow like a nobody’s business and it can help make yours more profitable.