Setting a Strong Maintenance Schedule with Clients
By Evelyn Long
A landscaping company’s maintenance schedule is the backbone of its business model. An organized, efficient timetable leads to the optimal utilization of labor and resources. When these things are consistently in the right place, growth happens. Here are five tips to help landscaping business owners set a strong schedule with their clients.
1. Try out landscaping software platforms
Have trouble finding the ideal scheduling for multiple client needs? Route management can help. In theory, the closer the proximity of each client, the better. The similarity of each project also comes into play, since workers will need to coordinate expertise and tools for each unique job.
Putting together the most efficient maintenance route possible is no easy task, so business owners could consider using project management software to eliminate the guesswork and paperwork. Digitization can be a good step for a business with an expanding client base.
Some landscaping-specific software applications have routing features, too. Instead of spending hours calculating the time and distance for each stop, landscapers can simply enter their clients’ addresses into the software and get the most logical order in seconds. It will also estimate the travel time between each stop.
The landscaping industry has a high need to train up young labor, so businesses must put their new and untrained laborers in the right spots. Landscaping software can also help with this task, comparing the times of different crews and jobs to help business owners determine which group of employees is the most efficient for specific projects.
2. Take client feedback
Clients need to have a prominent say in the maintenance schedule. After all, they have every right to tell landscapers when they can or can’t work on their property. Gathering feedback through online surveys is the easiest way to hear questions and concerns, but asking them in person can get a more honest response and gain their trust.
Sometimes the clients’ wishes prevent companies from creating the most mathematically efficient route. For example, people often ask for specific seasonal preparationsthroughout the year. These requests might make the schedule less practical, but that’s okay. Making the client happy and building loyalty are often higher priorities when it comes to building trust and maintaining business relationships.
3. Start the day strong
The early morning is the most hectic time of the day for landscaping companies. If a crew gets on the road later than anticipated, the entire day’s schedule can get thrown off course. Business owners must ensure their employees arrive at the jobsite with a purpose. They should know what equipment they need and where it needs to go.
A simple strategy to ensure a strong start to each morning is to do some prep work the day before. When everyone returns to the yard at the end of the day, they should station the equipment and vehicles for tomorrow’s projects. Reserving a 30-minute window in the daily schedule for this task could make the morning routine much smoother.
Some teams find success running a brief “morning ops” meeting to lay out priorities and review the day’s schedule. Since communication can quickly be dispersed in landscaping, starting out with a group huddle can help align everyone’s expectations and address any high-priority issues.
4. Minimize downtime between stops
The time consumed between stops can also throw the day off schedule. Employees stop for bathroom breaks, use their phones and engage in small talk. How can business owners minimize this downtime to improve schedule efficiency?
For starters, every landscaping company should have gas pumps on-site to eliminate the need for random fill-ups throughout the day. They should also use GPS fleet tracking appsto ensure each crew keeps up with its assigned route.
Most importantly, there need to be clear expectations for downtime between stops. It’s unrealistic to expect crews to speed from one client to the next, but they shouldn’t be taking their time, either.
5. Offer additional services on-site
Landscaping companies share something in common with their clients: They want to save time. Offering additional services when on-site is a great opportunity for both parties. The company avoids the trouble of returning later on, while the customer gets to check multiple boxes off their landscaping list on the same day.
Offering extra services is also a great way to build brand loyalty. These offers make clients feel special, and they will appreciate that their landscaper is willing to go the extra mile. Appreciative clients are more likely to pay for more services in the future.
However, companies shouldn’t offer additional services on a whim. The key to making this strategy work is to plan ahead and fit the extra work into the existing maintenance schedule.
Landscaping is a fast-paced industry in which every minute counts. Creating an efficient maintenance schedule will contribute to growth and success, but business owners shouldn’t view it as a permanent solution. Timetable optimization is an ongoing process that changes with the seasons and clients’ needs. There’s always something to improve.
Evelyn Long is a writer and editor focused on home building and construction. She is the co-founder of Renovated, a web magazine for the home industry.