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Implementing systems in your business is what helps you grow and scale your business. Systems will help you improve efficiency by taking the load off of your plate and to streamline processes in your business that take up a large portion of your time. You can reduce the time needed to perform tasks you would rather not be doing significantly if the right systems are put in place.
These systems can be a wide variety of things from hiring to training and quoting to customer relations. As your business grows, you need to be working on these in order to remain efficient and to identify areas in your business that need some improvement or even areas where you can further exploit to increase your bottom line.
The easiest way to implement a system in your business is to purchase a software that has been tested and implemented in businesses like yours to ensure that it can manage the tasks that are necessary for your business. For us in landscaping, there is one really great option with so many features that it will overwhelm you at first. There is also another option which is still a great choice with less features for less money and with our Budget and Estimate Spreadsheet you can have a great starting point with improving your business.
Choosing the Best Landscape Business Management Software
A landscape company software should take a lot off of your plate and allow you to work on your business rather than in your business. To often we work too hard on the same things over and over again in our businesses when these processes can really become streamlined for your business and create a much better experience for your customers allowing you to grow your business.
This does come at a price though, as landscaping business management software is a monthly paid investment. That being said, you should have this price built into your jobs as an overhead expense. Even if you are not yet paying for a monthly software, you should identify the software that you want for the next step in your business and begin incorporating that price into your quotes. This is a good practice to get used to in your business to prepare you for your growth.
There are several features that you should be looking for in a landscaping management software. Having the ability to create a budget and base your estimates from that is something that is unique to LMN software. Along with that, they have a variety of other features that are also available with the Jobber platform that we will be recommending throughout this post.
These features include: appointment scheduling, billing and invoicing, contract management, customer database, dispatch management, job management, sending quotes and estimates, time tracking, and work order management among several other features.
Through this post, we are going to be referring directly to LMN software as it is really a one-stop software for everything you would need in your landscaping business to run it effectively and efficiently. However, the downside to this is that it is not an inexpensive product. It has incredible features, but it does come at a cost.
For those looking to get started with their systems, we do have a great alternative before making the leap towards LMN. Our Budget and Estimate Spreadsheet and a subscription to Jobber will almost get you to all of the features that LMN provides at a much less expensive price point. That being said, LMN is still a worthwhile investment when that time comes for you and your landscaping business.
Let’s discuss some features that you should be looking for with any landscape management software.
Landscape Estimating Software
The first pain point that needs to be addressed with your business whether it is a landscaping business or any contracting business is how to properly price projects and how to implement a system that allows you to price these projects accurately from one to another. Pricing a project is a timely process and making sure that each quote or estimate takes into factor all of your costs is an extremely important task that should be undertaken by somebody who knows exactly what they are doing.
Or, you can create a system around your pricing where simple measurements can be inputted and a final number for that project will be the output based on several variables. These variables are not square footage pricing. These variables are directly related to production rates and being able to take notes in the field about how long it takes you to complete certain tasks. If you are still pricing by square foot, you are either leaving money on the table or less likely overcharging your customer. Both lead to a poorly run company because at the end of the day you do not know what you should be charging because you do not know your numbers.
A landscaping estimating software will allow you to input your Overhead Expenses, Labor Costs, Production Rates, Material Costs, and Profit with ease. Each project should be as simple as starting a new quote, entering the measurements, choosing the production rates that apply to that project based on the location of the project, and choosing the material based on a catalog of material and prices that you have created. With a system, the majority of the work is done upfront so that anybody in your business with limited training can step in and take over something like estimating.
What does this process look like?
Well the set up includes gathering your overhead costs and inputting them. These costs include any cost that your business incurs that is not related to any specific project. Things like vehicles, insurance, maintenance, rent, lawyer fees, accountant fees, etc. By doing this, you are able to set an amount that you need to make back per hour to recover these costs. The same thing goes for your labor costs. Inputting the employees in your business, including your own salary, and assigning them to projects in the quoting process or recouping their costs if they are salary.
Production rates will take time. This requires accurate note taking on the job site from your crews to be able to track each task, how long it takes, and what the conditions were to complete that task. For example, if we were recording the time it took us to excavate a backyard patio I would note the run from the front of the house to the back patio, what equipment is being used for that excavation, and how many people we have working. This is enough information that we can apply this to our next backyard patio excavation with a similar run, equipment, and people on the site or at least use this as an average.
Material costs inputting will be a catalog where you save certain products that you use regularly and the price associated with that product so when you are completing a quote you are just choosing that product and the quantity being used rather than constantly looking up this information from your supplier. The profit point is one that is up to you to input. Ultimately all of this upfront set up creates a system where you can hand off estimating to anyone on your team as long as they know the measurements and the materials being used.
If you are looking for a landscape bidding software because you are in a bidding war with a lot of your projects because the are commercial jobs, this software will help you know your numbers and tighten up your final quote so that you can know that you are making money while providing the right number to your client to win the project.
Included in the LMN software is a landscaping estimate software that takes all of this information into its accounting when creating an estimate. It starts with creating a budget as outlined above which allows you to base your estimates off of along with production rates to decide how long a job will take you, material costs from a catalog, and your profit margin.
The best part is that you can create a budget using LMN’s free account and even create a couple estimates if you want to understand further about how this system would work for your business. This is really just the start of how powerful this software is.
If you are not quite ready for the other features that are involved with LMN, we have a spreadsheet that allows you to create a budget and estimate from that to ensure your prices on every project are accurate. Pair this along with Jobber’s landscaping business software and you almost cover everything you need from LMN.
Landscaping CRM Software
A CRM is a Customer Relationship Management software that allows you to complete a variety of tasks all relating to the customer or client that you are servicing. These tasks include being able to enter and file customer information. This can be valuable for keeping information on that customer on file for future use including any job notes, materials used, contracts, and much more.
This beats any paper method or storing all of the information in notes and emails then trying to back trace everything. Whether it is a customer that you are creating a quote for or a customer that is contacting you from a previous year, all of that information is easily searched in your CRM and recalled without having to go through physical files that you may have stored somewhere.
You can even keep your customer informed by sending notifications through Jobber or LMN which is especially helpful if your schedule has changed or if you want to ensure that they know you will be there at a specific time. In both Jobber and LMN there are also customer portals where they can log on and see what you want to keep them updated on, if they want to request more work, or approve work.
Besides saving you time, these features also set you apart from your competition who may not be using a CRM software like LMN or Jobber to manage their companies. If you are able to send notification to your customer or a portal where they can log on and see updates, it sets a professional standard for your company and leaves your customer impressed.
Landscape Invoice Software
Invoicing should be the most enjoyable part of owning and operating a business. At the end of the project, or sometimes part way through if you are doing installments, you are getting paid for the work you have put in. Money comes in, hopefully, and you can move on to the next project to get paid.
However, this is not the case. Invoicing can be incredibly tedious and boring, especially if you need to bill numerous clients a week. This is where a software really comes in handy. It is processes like invoicing that when they are automated will become a breeze. And not just automated, but they look good because of designed templates that are included with the software.
Both LMN and Jobber have excellent invoicing invoice and billing features available that look professional. That is really the key here. Invoicing is fairly straight forward a task for a software to complete for you. Though it is such a crucial part of your business that you do want it to look professional to your customer, especially when it typically comes at the end of the project.
Landscape Scheduling Software
Nothing is more important to the growth of a business than the management of that business. As your business hopefully continues to grow, it will become increasingly difficult to manage it all. This is where a landscape management software comes in to help with things like scheduling and managing your crews.
This is where LMN software really rises to the top in terms of what it can do for your business with efficiency and identifying areas in your business where you can improve. All of this starts with your budget at the beginning of the year and being able to hit certain goals within that budget.
You can set goals for your sales people and your foremen in the field to ensure that they are staying on schedule and hitting their goals from time-to-time. You can identify areas of waste like being at the shop in the morning and preparing for the day. Crews can receive detailed notes and instructions for scheduled jobs. This is what makes LMN such a powerful software in managing your business and ensuring its growth by setting goals in your business and getting everyone in the business on the same page to reach those goals together.
In terms of scheduling projects, both LMN and Jobber have excellent features to schedule certain crews to different jobs and checking in on progress. You can simply drag and drop the schedule around to rearrange for those rain days or if something unexpected occurs. These features of scheduling are important to ensure that you are staying on top of your schedule and not getting behind and crucial to any landscaping management software.
LMN Software Reviews
LMN really is a heavy duty option for those businesses that are moving to the next level, and the price reflects that. It is definitely not an inexpensive option, but there is a valid reason for that.
Though we would say it is best to start your business off the right way and implement those systems you intend to use on day one, which would mean getting this software, it is not always the most viable decision. When you are first starting off, you should be proving the concept of your business, choosing a business plan, hustling to get customers, and spending what money you do have on the equipment that you NEED in order to keep your overhead expenses as low as possible. In this case, this is a tool that is a want.
LMN will take care of everything in your business from budgeting and estimating, employees, time tracking, scheduling and dispatching, tracking and routing, production rate tracking, and so much more to take your business to the next level. In addition to all of this, they have numerous resources available to users from contracts and other file types that can be adapted into your own business.
For this reason, LMN is a definite choice for a certain step in your business. You need to find what step your business is at and implement this system when you are ready for it. If you want to learn more about the three different steps we recommend you follow in your business, check out our recommendations below.
LMN prices start at $199 / month for the basic plan covering budgeting and estimating, managing crews, and invoicing. The next and only step up is $299 / month which is everything you would need to operate a high performing landscaping business.
Jobber Software Reviews
Jobber is a CRM software complete with numerous powerful features. It is the best choice for those recurring maintenance driven businesses. For example, it is the perfect fit as a lawn care management software or any other home service provider that does recurring work for their clients. This is because of the many features based around creating and maintaining a customer relationship while also processing bill payments automatically if needed.
Though not as powerful as LMN, it is definitely much more affordable and provides an excellent amount of resources for users to take advantage of to get started with a software that will help streamline quite a few time consuming tasks in their business. At the very least, it will keep you organized and looking professional to your customers if you take advantage of the different features that it offers.
Jobber starts at $29 / month for their Core plan which is great to get started with especially as a small crew wanting to quote, schedule, and invoice your clients all in one place, though you will likely outgrow this fast or you may even want to jump right into their Connect plan which starts at $99 / month.
LMN vs Jobber
It really depends on the size of your business, but for our recommendations on what software you should be considering in your business we have broken it down from starting up your business to having a prospering landscaping business.
Our Recommendation for Landscape Management Software
- Step One
- Step Two
- Step Three
Get yourself the Budget and Estimate Spreadsheet that we offer, along with the Bookkeeping Spreadsheet. This is an inexpensive one-time price that provides you with a great starting point to budget your season appropriately and to create accurate estimates and quotes to ensure that you are growing your business the right way. The price is the equivalent of one year’s worth of a monthly subscription software at the lowest price point which does not even include a budget and estimating tool. So even if you are only going to use this for a year before moving on to what we recommend in Step Three, it is a worthwhile investment into your business.
With this step, your business is at the point of start up where you NEED to know your numbers in order to survive, but you are not at the stage yet where you need to alleviate some of the stress of dealing with clients and customers through a CRM. At this point, your client list is still fairly small.
Along with the Budget and Estimate Spreadsheet, get yourself a subscription to Jobber. These two tools combined will really cover your business as it grows to the next stage and almost includes everything that would be available in an LMN subscription at a fraction of the price.
At this point in your business, your client list is growing to a point where a subscription price for Jobber is worth the time it will free up in your schedule dealing with various client management tasks as well as time tracking and project management.
At this point in your business, you have a large client list and are really wanting to take your business to the next level. It no longer makes sense to have two separate tools for your budgeting, estimating, and other business management tasks. You want everything in one place and to have a powerful tool that is a one-stop software with rich features that no other software offers.
An LMN monthly subscription comes at a cost compared to step two, but it is a worthwhile investment. Not to mention that the monthly subscription price should be priced into every project anyways.
If you follow these steps through your business’ growth, you can ensure that you are putting the steps into working on your business rather than in your business. You wont overextend yourself in your business’ growth and you can ensure that the systems are being put in place at every step of the way to grow responsibly.