If you’ve been in the landscaping industry as long as we have, you can probably think of a time when the idea of going paperless sounded a bit like the automotive industry going full electric.
For decades, paper has been as essential to our business as sod or flowers. It was how we drew up plans, wrote invoices, made materials lists. The office was full of paper. It sat on our desks like mountains and we found a stray invoice every time we cleaned out our work trucks.
Even now, the idea that there might be a better way forward doesn’t resonate with some people. It just feels wrong. Landscaping without paper? It isn’t possible.
Except the times have changed, and not only is it possible to conduct business in the landscaping industry without paper, but it’s also preferable.
Let us tell you why.
Paper is Messy
On big jobs, you have a lot to keep track of.
You’ll need materials lists, job cost estimates, drawings. On top of that, you’ll need to keep track of customer changes, which means more lists, more drawings, more estimates.
What happens when half your team starts the job with one drawing and the other half uses another? What happens when the updated materials list your project supervisor drew up falls under the seat of his truck with his big soda cup?
Paper, being a physical thing, can only be in one place at a time. If it’s not in the exact place where you need it, there’s a good chance you’ll never see it again. According to the Gartner Group (an IT service management company), 15% of documents are misplaced and 7.5% are lost altogether.
What would happen if 7.5% of your revenue disappeared? Would you get on a ship that was missing 7.5% of its hull?
When paper goes missing, your results suffer. Best case scenario is that you notice and your reports have to be remade, same with the drawings and materials lists, which takes time and costs money.
Worst case, you don’t notice until you’re already on the job site when an old version of the plan has you digging a pool where the roses were supposed to go.
The Digital Solution
Many companies are turning to digital to solve their paper dilemmas. By creating shareable documents and uploading them to the cloud, anyone in the company can access and edit the same document from anywhere. Since the document is in cyberspace, it won’t be exposed to the same kinds of risks that affect paper, i.e. messy handwriting, smudges, coffee stains, and worst of all, documents getting lost altogether.
But with so many digital options to choose from, how do you know which is the best path forward for your business?
Landscape Takeoff Software
Landscape takeoff software is designed with industry professionals in mind. That means there’s no better solution to digital paperwork and recordkeeping. Aside from drawings and estimates, takeoff software allows landscaping professionals to keep detailed materials lists, write invoices, and calculate accurate job costs.
Takeoff software is accessible from any device, including mobile and tablets in the field, which allows crew leaders the same access on a job site that you have at the office.
Plans can be drawn and altered on the job site and materials lists are automatically calculated, saving time (and trips to the store) for your crew leaders.
Of course, it might be a challenge to introduce a paperless landscape to your crew who might not have much technical experience. It takes a lot of skill and technical knowledge to be a landscaper, and many of us prefer to do things the way we’ve always done them.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
As we’ve talked about, relying on paper is outdated. If we want to compete, we’ve got to be able to move faster than our competition and give the most accurate estimates we can, and that means embracing the paperless landscape.
Yes, it might be a challenge to get your old-school crew on board with new technology, but in terms of time and energy saved down the line, it is absolutely worth it.