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  #1  
Old 03-21-2012, 07:12 AM
grassmasterswilson grassmasterswilson is online now
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why use routing software?

I see guys asking and talking about routing software. I guess these products help keep track of the customers? What's the difference between a routing software and just using a spreadsheet/quickbooks?

I am up to around 70-80 app customers and have just used a spreadsheet to keep track of what and when I apply. It has the name, size, turf type, etc. For some of my applications I need to do all the fescue then move to bermuda or centipede. I usually just make my own route for the day and go down the list.

As I get bigger and want to spend less time in the office I'm wondering if a software program may be the next step. I use quickbooks for billing of all my services - apps, mowing, landscape, mulch, etc.

Tell me about these programs!
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  #2  
Old 03-21-2012, 07:41 AM
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RABBITMAN11 RABBITMAN11 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grassmasterswilson View Post
I see guys asking and talking about routing software. I guess these products help keep track of the customers? What's the difference between a routing software and just using a spreadsheet/quickbooks?

I am up to around 70-80 app customers and have just used a spreadsheet to keep track of what and when I apply. It has the name, size, turf type, etc. For some of my applications I need to do all the fescue then move to bermuda or centipede. I usually just make my own route for the day and go down the list.

As I get bigger and want to spend less time in the office I'm wondering if a software program may be the next step. I use quickbooks for billing of all my services - apps, mowing, landscape, mulch, etc.

Tell me about these programs!
I wouldn't buy software until your running several hundred. I used to to do it the way you are now. When you reach several hundred you will want something to keep track, and streamline your customer routes. Its worth it when your at that point.
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Old 03-21-2012, 10:35 AM
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inzane inzane is online now
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wondering if anyone uses gopher? I've used the demo. between lawn pro, and groundskeeper pro it seemed like a better fit for me. I more than likely will end up going with gopher. 200 bucks doesn't seem all that bad for it. i really like the chemical application tracking and reporting. runs great on my netbook too. my plan is to run gopher on my netbook and run off the invoices as i complete the applications. seems like a good idea, and could make things easier. i've used laptop in the truck with groundskeeper pro when i did just mowing, and it worked out pretty good.
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Old 03-21-2012, 05:12 PM
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James Cormier James Cormier is offline
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I use an old fashioned program...its called my brain

I pre print all invoices for round 1, all that left is date, time and dollar amount which is filled in after I do the treatment, then left on the door. They look like this..


The top section stays with me, it has all the customer info on it, as well as the last two years treatment dates. When I print out each round the date and material used for the previous treatment is printed on it.

Here is my whole customer base, almost 400 invoices separated by town, and in some towns I have a few zones. I carry this with me in the truck every day.



When I put rd 2's invoices in I will usually put them in order of who is due first..because this is with me every day I am always looking at who is due and when. I do have a master spreadsheet that is sorted by round date, and I will highlight the ones Ive done at the end of the day.
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Old 03-21-2012, 05:27 PM
grassmasterswilson grassmasterswilson is online now
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James,

where do you get the invoice forms and what program do you use to keep up with the info and transfer to the invoice.

I'm still in the quickbooks stage and my invoice just says "round 1 weed control treatment" on a line!
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Old 03-21-2012, 05:49 PM
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inzane inzane is online now
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i'd be interested in more details too, looks like a good system he has there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grassmasterswilson View Post
James,

where do you get the invoice forms and what program do you use to keep up with the info and transfer to the invoice.

I'm still in the quickbooks stage and my invoice just says "round 1 weed control treatment" on a line!
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Old 03-21-2012, 07:04 PM
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ted putnam ted putnam is offline
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[
Simple...yet very effective.

It reminds of my days at Chemlawn in the early 90's. We had "route boxes" Each box was filled with route cards. The cards were the "hard copy" from the original estimate that was done. The girls in the front office would run invoices and we would match them up to the corresponding route card in the box. Dates and notes were kept on the route card. The route was run from the front of the box to the back. As we ran the account, the card would be pulled from the front and placed at the back. when you came to the last customer, the first customer card was right there.

Of course, you have to manage skips, delays, call aheads and late starters and of course look ahead in the route to do all of this but the point is, it's simple and effective with minimal effort or use of computer. There was 11 techs and 6,000 customers we ran that way.

[
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Old 03-21-2012, 09:41 PM
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inzane inzane is online now
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when i worked at chemlawn, mid 90's they went to the penkey system. not sure if it was through out the u.s. or not.. but everything was on this little touch screen device, that ran off of a 486 processor, docking bay in the truck, with a huge dot matrix printer mounted in there. it lasted a few years before they went back to pre-printing our invoices. the major complaint from management was that we werent leaving the customers personal notes because there were some generic notes that were good enough. but hell, we were production machines, whatever got us through the most lawns in the quickest amount of time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ted putnam View Post
[
Simple...yet very effective.

It reminds of my days at Chemlawn in the early 90's. We had "route boxes" Each box was filled with route cards. The cards were the "hard copy" from the original estimate that was done. The girls in the front office would run invoices and we would match them up to the corresponding route card in the box. Dates and notes were kept on the route card. The route was run from the front of the box to the back. As we ran the account, the card would be pulled from the front and placed at the back. when you came to the last customer, the first customer card was right there.

Of course, you have to manage skips, delays, call aheads and late starters and of course look ahead in the route to do all of this but the point is, it's simple and effective with minimal effort or use of computer. There was 11 techs and 6,000 customers we ran that way.

[
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  #9  
Old 03-21-2012, 11:05 PM
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ted putnam ted putnam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by inzane View Post
when i worked at chemlawn, mid 90's they went to the penkey system. not sure if it was through out the u.s. or not.. but everything was on this little touch screen device, that ran off of a 486 processor, docking bay in the truck, with a huge dot matrix printer mounted in there. it lasted a few years before they went back to pre-printing our invoices. the major complaint from management was that we werent leaving the customers personal notes because there were some generic notes that were good enough. but hell, we were production machines, whatever got us through the most lawns in the quickest amount of time.
I worked for a Chemlawn franchise from 90-95. We drove the 1100 gal "Bob truck" tankers. They had already been phasing those out about the time you worked there. Every year I won the award for route growth and customer retention. My production numbers were not enough to win me any awards and I didn't care. I always believed in quality, not quantity. The owner and I clashed on that subject. I always loved my work (I still get great satisfaction from a job well done), I just hated who I worked for and the pressure for more $'s no matter what it took. In a branch meeting, our owner once said when he saw our faces, he saw dollar signs. He did not mean it in that context when he made the comment, but his statement rung true in more ways than one. After that, I couldn't wait to get out of there...and now I am where I am, my own boss in a much better position enjoying the fruits of my labor for myself.
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Last edited by ted putnam; 03-21-2012 at 11:11 PM.
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  #10  
Old 03-25-2012, 06:47 AM
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James Cormier James Cormier is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ted putnam View Post
[
Simple...yet very effective.

It reminds of my days at Chemlawn in the early 90's. We had "route boxes" Each box was filled with route cards. The cards were the "hard copy" from the original estimate that was done. The girls in the front office would run invoices and we would match them up to the corresponding route card in the box. Dates and notes were kept on the route card. The route was run from the front of the box to the back. As we ran the account, the card would be pulled from the front and placed at the back. when you came to the last customer, the first customer card was right there.

Of course, you have to manage skips, delays, call aheads and late starters and of course look ahead in the route to do all of this but the point is, it's simple and effective with minimal effort or use of computer. There was 11 techs and 6,000 customers we ran that way.

[
Still do it to this day!
However this year Im not doing the staple invoice to route cards with every treatment. Im finally trying something new

Im able to get everything I need printed on the invoice so my route box will only have invoices in it. I worry that old habits die hard..Ive been carrying route cards with me since 1986

Now this doesn't mean Im not computerized..I am...however I just don't need it to route/plan my day. At the end of the round I spend one full day entering the invoices into my database (I created that 15 years ago) and printing out the next rounds invoices. Everything I did gets entered, date time,weather and product used. All that info gets printed on the next round invoice on the top section, which stays with me, customer doesn't see it.

They are printed out by zone (some towns have more than one zone) then put into that route box. I also print out a simple spreadsheet with all customers sorted by the date of the last treatment. Again I just highlight the ones Ive done that day..any new customers that come on I just add them at the bottom of the list. I also carry blank invoices with me so I can hand write them a bill when I do the app. They get entered into computer when I do my end of round data entry.

I use a simple database that I put together so long ago,than MS word and mail merge all that info onto those invoices.

Because I work at a 85% prepay rate I don't spend much time chasing money, I have less than 100 customers I need to track payments for. Usually by round 3 I go back and see who owes for previous rounds. Its always the same customers year after year..they pay but just slow. I font even want to tell you the simple program I use for that...it cost me $49 about 10 years ago..its so simple and easy to use.

However I do pay someone to run my accounts payable, again because collect almost all my money in Jan/Feb I needed someone to manage my money. She also does a post office/bank run 2x's a week for me for those customers I am billing.

If I had 3,000 customers and 8 techs doing apps would this way work? Dont know, but for me with 400 customers and only me doing the apps it works just fine.
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