View Full Version : So, I decided to write my own billing and scheduling software

06-03-2010, 11:24 PM
I haven't gotten as many calls for lawncare this year as I was hoping for, so I've had a fair bit of time to sit around and play with my computer. Probably about 95% of my business is mowing, so I figured that this might be interesting to others who primarily do the same thing.

Iíve been using commercial software pretty much since I started my landscaping/lawn mowing business back in 2007. Recently, I started to notice a few idiosyncrasies that I just didnít like to deal with. For the past month or so, I had been keeping track of my customers and jobs in a spreadsheet as well as the dedicated software as a way of cross-checking my numbers. Needless to say, this became rather tedious, so, a couple of weeks back I decided to start writing my own dedicated software for this purpose.

From the beginning, there were a couple key features that I wanted to incorporate:

I wanted the ability to access my software from any internet browser, including the one on my smartphone.
I wanted to be able to instantly see how much money I collected in any given year, and how much sales tax I owed.

With these two goals in mind, I went to work writing a new system. Roughly 3,000+ lines of PHP-code later, this is what I have come up with. I present to you the Briardale Management System. :rolleyes:

http://www.briardalelandscape.com/bms/mainscreen-small.jpg (http://www.briardalelandscape.com/bms/mainscreen.jpg)

Once you open the main page in a web browser, you have, among others, options to view the current dayís jobs, a calendar of jobs, list of customers, list of customers with outstanding balances, and a list of payments. Going to these pages presents you with links to other associated tasks. I found a great customizable calendar function online and edited it so that it color-codes jobs by their completion status and whether or not they are past due.

http://www.briardalelandscape.com/bms/calendar-small.jpg (http://www.briardalelandscape.com/bms/calendar.jpg)

Clicking on the job calendar shows a calendar of the current month, as well as which days have scheduled or past-due jobs. From there, you can click on a day to add a new job to that day, or view a list of jobs scheduled for that day.

http://www.briardalelandscape.com/bms/todaysjobs-small.jpg (http://www.briardalelandscape.com/bms/todaysjobs.jpg)

Once you have the list of jobs for a given day up, you are presented with options to edit or delete those jobs. However, the really neat feature of this page is that it allows you to timestamp the job as either started or completed by simply clicking on a link. This becomes particularly useful when you remember that, because this is a web-based application, I am able to access it from my smartphone.

http://www.briardalelandscape.com/bms/todaysjobs-phone-small.jpg (http://www.briardalelandscape.com/bms/todaysjobs-phone.jpg)

Using this feature, I can get an accurate accounting down to the minute of when I begin a job, and when that job is completed. The job list page is instantly updated with the timestamps so that I can see at a glance which jobs are still open, and which jobs are already completed.

Once a job is marked as completed in the database, it will show up when you request a customer statement be generated.

http://www.briardalelandscape.com/bms/statement-small.jpg (http://www.briardalelandscape.com/bms/statement.jpg)

A particularly neat feature of the generated statements is the ďQR CodeĒ shown on the bottom left. I found a great php script online for generating these on the fly. The customer is requested to return the bottom portion of the statement with their payment. Once received, using a free barcode scanner app on the phone, I am able to instantly pull up the customer page for this particular customer and enter the payment details without ever needing to login to my computer.

http://www.briardalelandscape.com/bms/qrcode-phone-small.jpg (http://www.briardalelandscape.com/bms/qrcode-phone.jpg)

At the end of the year, by simply clicking the link to see a list of my payments from the main page, I can instantly see the gross amount of payments, the sales tax due, and the net amount after sales tax has been taken out.

http://www.briardalelandscape.com/bms/payments-small.jpg (http://www.briardalelandscape.com/bms/payments.jpg)

What do you guys think? Kinda neat? Complete waste of time? A little of both?;)

06-03-2010, 11:32 PM
How much are you selling for?

That is amazing that you could write the script for all of this, SUPER neat!

The barcode idea is amazing and I'm sure it's really handy.

Having the program automatically put the service on the invoice for you is a HUGE plus for me!

You should seriously consider selling this, $50x10 people=500 dollars $100x10 people=1000 dollars, it could really pay off.


I'm not sure how you'd sell the program though since it is more webpage based, maybe you could find a way to make a separate page for each company or a different login.

06-03-2010, 11:57 PM
Hey, thanks for the kind words, it's really encouraging. I really figured that it could go either way, either people would think it was cool, or I would be laughed off the site for wasting my time!

I have a couple of features that I want to add to version 2.0, LOL. Most notably, I think it should have a built-in way to backup the database to a local file. This isn't a real concern for me as I have it running on an old computer in my laundry room and I can do manual backups whenever, but I think it would be handy, especially if I had it hosted at a remote datacenter, to have a way to back it up easily and remotely.

The other cool feature that I thought of was to have it customize the job list based on the username that you use to login to it. This would allow multiple crews to each login with their own username and only have access to their individual jobs, while for instance, only those in management would have access to payment info and invoices.

To think, I started mowing yards to escape the computer industry, and now I'm using it as an excuse to keep doing it in my spare time. :dizzy:

06-04-2010, 12:01 AM
Now make it sync with quickbooks and I'll buy it!

06-04-2010, 12:03 AM
Now make it sync with quickbooks and I'll buy it!

LOL, I'm afraid that I have just about zero experience with quickbooks. To tell the truth, I thought that quickbooks already did most of the same things? Again, I know pretty much nothing about it. *trucewhiteflag*

06-04-2010, 12:09 AM
Actually you can do that with a spreadsheet as well then fit the file onto a thumb drive,
however I am amazed someone out there knows how to code and now it's not
dependent on someone else's program to function (like a spreadsheet is).

So, assuming...
ASSUMING the code is standardized according to w3c specifications :laughing:
I guess that assumes a bit much.

Nice job nonetheless.

06-04-2010, 12:39 AM
droid does! el33t stuff, man. very ingenious.

06-04-2010, 12:42 AM
And your doing landscaping why? BTW, I used to do networking/security engineering for about 14 years. Good to see another NIX head around.

06-04-2010, 01:41 AM
I like and would be willing to test it out for ya, assuming you are wanting to sell it, im also a member of the state L&L association, with alot of guys who need help with there scheduling and billing, alot still use 3x5 cards or worse hand billing........send a pm if ya wanna talk cheses, very interested, i like the simplicity of it, yet the fact it does it all.....very nice. Currently use clip....very expensive.

06-04-2010, 02:44 AM
I also have been looking for a program like that. I would love to try it out as QB is kind of a pain in the @ss and being able to use my droid for work purposes would make my wife get off my back about buying a $300 phone. (i think shes jealous but who knows.)

06-04-2010, 02:54 AM
And your doing landscaping why? BTW, I used to do networking/security engineering for about 14 years. Good to see another NIX head around.

Lot of smart guys on here have chosen to do yard work.

06-04-2010, 02:55 AM
It's one thing to know how to code, it's quite another getting a job lined up.

This. I tried to find a job coding, and all I could ever find was help desk, and for a time, I got SERIOUSLY burnt out on doing help desk... :(

06-04-2010, 09:17 AM
Have been and still am a network administrator for the last 14 years. Getting to where I dread going to work anymore just sitting around waiting for hard drives to die or the next big user who lost their icon. Its not the tech is mainly the people. Just lock me in my net closet next to the 48U and I am a happy man. Something about grass and my machine that is nice and peaceful, though I am doing both still right now I would like to make the mowing go, but the computer money is way to much to quit :/

I thought this was going to be another ad post, suprised me to see this and nice work man, the barcode scanning is a nice touch,

06-04-2010, 12:28 PM
I really like this, I use the iPhone calendar for my scheduling and then have to go an create an invoice after the job is done. I would be interested in using this if you have a way to share it. Will you open this up to the market?

06-04-2010, 12:51 PM
I have been looking for program like that for awhile. If you are intrested in selling it, give me a PM.

06-04-2010, 02:40 PM
you could build it up , sell the software, advertise and promote it for 2 years , then sell it to quikbooks for 45 Million dollars.
I will need 1 million for this nifty bit of advice

06-04-2010, 11:29 PM
you could build it up , sell the software, advertise and promote it for 2 years , then sell it to quikbooks for 45 Million dollars.
I will need 1 million for this nifty bit of advice

What are you thinking???? I could have told him that for only $500,000. :laugh:

If you are interested in getting our opinion on anything in the software, I'm sure there would be plenty of people on here willing to give you their opinion on what's good and what needs to be changed. I'm sure almost anyone on Lawn Site would be glad to try out some new software :)

06-04-2010, 11:39 PM
I was working on something similar but I got busy with fertilizing and mowing and put it on the back burner. I may break it out again in the winter. I enjoy coding but if I had to do it for a job again I'd probably hang myself. :p

I work in ASP.NET (mostly MVC now) using C#.

06-06-2010, 12:48 AM
I for one would be interested in testing out the beta version and letting you know my thoughts on it.

06-06-2010, 03:57 AM
This. I tried to find a job coding, and all I could ever find was help desk, and for a time, I got SERIOUSLY burnt out on doing help desk... :(

Best thing I have found in all the years is freelance work, I never did get into it
but did check out this one place in case winter ever got seriously bad, name's
Odesk (not sure if that's a zero or an oh) as in odesk.com (might be 0desk.com).

Basically it's a bunch of folks looking for people to do computer-type work remotely, all sorts of things,
anything from simple word processing and data entry to system administration and of course coding and web site design,
all sorts of things in between, you name it, both linux and windows stuff and probably mac as well, who knows what else.

It's not a work from home scam, I promise, years ago when I leased a server I had someone do some
administrative nonsense to do with sendmail for me, so I know it works and it is active.

You'd set yourself up an account and I would highly recommend taking the tests so as to 'qualify' yourself,
the first few jobs will be the most difficult to obtain until you get a 'reputation,' after jobs are completed
the folks who had the work done are asked to fill out this thing, much like ebay etc, etc....

The jobs are posted and get put up for bid, then folks bid it and who knows, but it seems successful,
obviously the pay rate varies per type of job but usually starts around minimum wage for data entry
and then goes up to 10, 15, and maybe 18-20 an hour for coding / system admin stuff.
Not sure exactly what the top pay rate is but it didn't look shabby considering one would do most of it right from home.

You might check it out.