Whether you’re just starting a landscaping business or you’re celebrating your twentieth year, one thing is certain. It pays to be productive.
In today’s digital climate, there are a number of companies whose sole focus is helping small businesses like yours stay on task. There are chat apps, project management tools, customer service tools, and more. Seriously, the list could go on and on and on.
So how do you manage your business operations? How do you communicate with your customers? Your team? Which programs are you using to get work done?
We’re going to walk you through a list of the best productivity tools you can use to manage your landscaping business. With a few minor tweaks, this list could serve many other businesses as well.
In order to keep things organized, we’re going to segment our list today between first steps, internal communication software, and customer-oriented software.
Where to Start: A Google Business Account
We’re going to make two assumptions about your business, right off the bat. One is that you’ve already got a professional-looking website, and two, you’re already using a professional-sounding email address.
If you’re not familiar with the ways a website can drive business, and you’re still emailing clients from the address PartyDude90210@hotmail.com – you might be beyond saving.
For everyone else, if you haven’t done so already, start by claiming your Google Business account.
This is a free service offered by Google to business owners. It allows you to control what information appears when someone searches for your business. You can update operating hours, phone numbers, location on Google Maps, and special deals, as well as add photos and respond to customer reviews.
This is a free service offered by Google and allows you to control the critical pieces of information your customers will use to find you.
Internal Productivity Software and Apps
To properly manage internal productivity, you need to be able to answer 3 key questions.
- How do employees communicate with one another?
- How do employees know which tasks have been assigned to them?
- Where should employees hand in their work?
Clear communication between members of a team cannot be overstated. That’s why it is important to establish a single system in which employees have work-related conversations.
Many companies rely on employee cell phones, which are often the worst options. It is difficult to refer back to private conversations, since there is no record of them, and text messages are often ignored or not relayed to the correct people.
Email can be problematic as well since many employees work in the field and don’t check their email as often or you forget to CC the right person with the conversation.
While there are a lot of companies that believe they have solved this problem, we’re going to briefly mention two.
Google Hangouts is a chatroom style software built right into your Gmail account, so there’s nothing to install and you don’t even have to visit another site. In terms of access and ease of use, Hangouts is top. It works across devices, from anywhere, and you can receive notifications when messages are read.
Hangouts also allows you to create different ‘rooms’ for different conversations. Keep all your landscape techs in one place, and your office staff in another. Include everyone, company-wide, or make a room for just you and your accountant.
Slack is a communication platform that allows you to create different ‘channels’ for different subjects and conversations. Documents and attachments can be uploaded directly to each channel, and entire conversations are saved, logged, and searchable. If you decide to let that accountant go and hire someone else, the new replacement can search your slack channel for the information you might have already covered.
The downside to Slack is that it requires employees to learn and adapt to new software, which might be a difficult ask, depending on your office environment.
How do your employees know which tasks have been assigned to them? Confusion over responsibilities can lead to wasted work or things falling into cracks. To avoid this, many companies use project management software. Our favorite is Trello.
According to their website, the software equivalent of a whiteboard covered in sticky notes. Its simple design allows you to see at a glance who is working on what projects as well as what’s coming up in their pipeline.
Once your employees have completed their work, they need a place to turn it in. For us, nothing beats the ease of use and unlimited access of Google Drive. Google Drive combines an office productivity suite (documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.) with cloud-based storage (free until you reach a certain storage limit).
You can control levels of access between files and employees, and employees will be able to access what they need from anywhere.
Communicating with Customers
For any small business to succeed, it needs to be able to communicate with its customers. Better yet, it needs to classify their customers, sort them into groups, and communicate with each group in its own specific way.
Most companies accomplish this through a CRM: Customer Relationship Management software. If you’ve taken our advice through much of this article, chances are you are running many of your business operations through Google. If that’s the case, then we’ve got the perfect CRM for you.
Copper integrates seamlessly into your G Suite and stores customer information and email history automatically. It also allows you to classify each lead, determine their relationship with your company, and customize sales pipelines.
It might sound a bit complicated, but Copper is designed to be easy and seamless. Used correctly, Copper will absolutely help you convert more leads.
At this point, you might be asking how you go about getting those leads. That’s where marketing software becomes essential.
Mailchimp will help master your email communications at an affordable or even free price tag. HubSpot will improve your automations. With marketing software, marketing becomes easier, faster, and more effective.
Software Built for Landscaping Companies
Every industry has industry-specific needs, and many companies have emerged to meet those needs. Landscaping is no different.
Plans and takeoffs used to be done with paper and pencils. Estimating and bidding jobs was a long and inaccurate process. Not anymore.
Now, takeoff software is becoming the norm for landscaping companies, and for good reason. It makes the hardest part of our job easier. And no software does it better than LandOne Takeoff.
LandOne Takeoff has everything you need in one place. You can manage plans, share ideas with customers, and generate materials lists on the spot.
Imagine how many projects you’d win if you were able to give accurate estimates without leaving a customer’s home. With LandOne Takeoff, you can.
Software for Everything a Small Business Owner Needs
Whether you are in the landscaping industry or not, there are companies out there, working hard on the next piece of software that will make your life easier.
If you don’t adapt technologies to help you manage your day-to-day activities, you can bet your customers will notice. And in this climate, when options are seemingly limitless, often it’s the most nimble, quickest companies to react and adopt new technologies that will come out ahead.