By Chris Woodard
Managing a landscape business can be quite similar to growing and maintaining lawns. It takes time to nurture it and needs a strong will to let it flourish, especially with the budget limitations and deadlines that you need to work around for your landscape projects. Unfortunately, there are times when a project gets hung up a few days longer than it should. Even brainstorming sessions and meetings with clients can drag on.
The best way to address these issues and carry out successful landscape projects is to improve the efficiency of your business operations. Boost your bottom line by adopting these strategies to improve efficiency on your landscape projects.
- Reduce non-optimal activities through effective decision-making
One of the biggest challenges in managing landscape projects is reducing non-productive activities. These non-optimal activities can build up and cost the business additional expenses and cause further delays. Non-optimal activities in a landscape business include looking for project information that was misplaced, solving disagreements with clients, and addressing any mistakes that were easily avoidable.
The first step in reducing these non-optimal activities is to review the flow of decision making. Starting from the time when your crew finds a work issue to the time it is resolved, identify any bottlenecks that can slow down and delay solutions. Many of these bottlenecks stem from a lack of an effective communication system, especially since key decision makers work in the office while employees work in the field. Reduce any delays by finding ways to communicate in real time. Set up a schedule where you meet with crewmembers to review a project’s progress and talk about work issues.
- Leverage project management apps to streamline the workflow
As part of the construction industry, the landscaping business sector lags behind other industries with regard to tech innovations. In fact, the construction industry is the second least digitized sector after agriculture, according to McKinsey. Granted, many tech innovations, especially automation, are a luxury for many landscaping businesses with minimal profit margins and cash flow problems. However, these new technologies provide a tremendous boost to efficiency and a competitive edge against other landscaping companies.
For example, getting project management software can streamline your workflow and reduce issues due to inaccessible project information. Some project management apps can let you access real-time progress data, worksite issue reports, and equipment usage information.
- Provide continuous training to crewmembers
Training is another huge factor that affects work efficiency. Work activities that are not done right can pile up and contribute to projects going beyond schedule. That is why it is important that landscaping business owners ensure that employees are trained specifically for the job. Crewmembers should know how to operate equipment in order to work without any hitch. Team leaders need to have management and communication skills that enable them to handle the crew. More importantly, employees need to be updated with the latest techniques, especially with regard to keeping the worksite safe.
- Listen to the suggestions and feedback of crewmembers
Crewmembers who work in the field can provide better insight into how to conduct worksite tasks efficiently than upper management who usually work in the office. Their experience with equipment and techniques allows them to offer valuable insight that you can use to your advantage. Conduct regular meetings to talk about work issues and brainstorm ideas for an efficient workflow. You may even include more experienced workers with you during meetings with clients so you can start planning ahead of time.
- Maximize equipment usage through regular maintenance
It is pretty much impossible to do any landscaping work without specialized tools and equipment. That is why it is important to conduct regular equipment maintenance to keep everything in working condition. Unmaintained pieces of equipment will cause worksite issues, especially if they break down, which further adds to repair and replacement expenses on top of the already costly delay.
Time is money in all types of businesses, particularly for the landscaping industry. Running landscape projects as efficiently as possible will free up more time for you to take advantage of business opportunities and nurture your business.
Chris Woodard is the Co-Founder of Handle.com, which builds software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers with late payments. Handle.com also provides funding for construction businesses in the form of invoice factoring, material supply trade credit, and mechanics lien purchasing.