Record Keeping through out the day

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by howardsells2000, Apr 8, 2006.

  1. howardsells2000

    howardsells2000 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 355

    From reading different threads it seems I should be tracking my start and stop times, mileage, income and costs per day. I was wondering if anyone has a form or ideas on how I should keep track. I'm new to the business and seem to have trouble remembering this stuff. How do you guys do it?
  2. mow2nd

    mow2nd LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 603

    I use my Works Program that came with my computer. I have a customer list which when I print it up shows me all my customers, addresses and prices. I also have a schedule Mon-Fri I print up and shows me what yards I cut each day. When I get a new customer I added to the list or when I lose one I delete it. It's very simple, no special program needed, just use the WORKS program in your WINDOWS, great little tool there. I use Quickbooks to do invoices and check deposits. There are tons of things u can do with Quickbooks I just dont get into all of it. I keep all my receipts in a file and at the end of the year I do TURBO TAX.
  3. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,923

    You don't say how many customers, but if you are starting out, you may be solo and only have a few customers. I am solo, and typically am able to mow up to eight lawns per day.

    I have a Palm and use the Task Manager to schedule customers. A simple Palm PDA will do this task easily. It has a 'repeat' feature and DOW designation. So, each day has the list of customers scheduled for that day, and when done, they get a 'done' tag, and the next scheduled mowing is calculated for you. Also, the 'contact' feature enables you to keep all customer's information.

    For the dialy route, I simply use a 3X5 spiral bound pad. I jot the customer, the mower settings (height), number of bags (if bagged), and the elapsed time. I keep a cheap Timex Expedition wrapped on the hand assist post at the pickup door - then use the 'stop watch' feature to start when I get out of the door, and stop when getting in the door.

    At day's end, I tear off the sheet on the pad (these pads are dirty cheap), take it to my PC and enter all invoice information into QuickBooks. I run a quick report for today's work to be sure all records are consistent with what I have on my pad.

    I then use the 'memo' feature in the Palm to jot a few lines for each customer. Part of the info is taken from the sheet off the pad, mower settings, bag count, time, and the rest is what I found (heavy growth, light growth, app put down two days ago, customer discussion, problems I had, things to remember for next visit, or .....). The info is hot-synced to the Palm, so it is with me for the next visit, or following ones, if needed.

    As a variation, the Palm has a 'handwritten' page, so I could write the same information on the screen as I write on the pad. The page is hot-synced to the PC for reference when making the journal entry on 'memo' page.

    Without technology, I formerly used a simple three ringed notebook to write down the journal entries. I had alpha-tabs and a page(s) for each customer. I just wrote the info into the journal page when I finished each job. This takes valuable work time, however. Doing the task in the evening, and having it available on the Palm at all times is helpful.

    As a side note (and a concern I had before starting with the Palm), an entire year's worth of journal entires (about 1,200 mowings and other tasks), took only about 5MB of memory. In other words, a 32MB Palm is adequate for a couple of year's worth of journals.

    I'm sure everybody has their own ways, but this works for me.
  4. garth1967

    garth1967 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 640

    take it from somebody who was terrible at bookwork from the exactly what you are thinking jot down anything you think maybe important,it will only haunt you in the the end.use pen and paper until you find something that suits you.good luck with your knew business
  5. tinman

    tinman LawnSite Bronze Member
    from ga
    Posts: 1,348

    get gopher program $200 for basic. and enter your times for each job on the program when you get home . That way at the end of the year u can tally up the total amout of hours u worked on each property. OF course you can do this without the program, but it is much easier with it IMHO.
    Now durng the day use a stopwatch on each job, and mark the time u left your house \ shop and and mark the time u return home. Subtract your total job times from the time u were gone from home and u have your drive time.
    A voice recorder lets u do this without writing everything down, like when u are driving. Big time saver. Also u can record yourself while on the phone while driving so u do not have to call back for directions etc.
  6. J&L-lawncare

    J&L-lawncare LawnSite Member
    Posts: 20

    went to a seminar last year in Ga. sponsored by Turf magazine. Learned alot.
    Jack Mattingly was the speaker. VERY informative. he's got all the forms and computor software you could ever hope for when it comes to lawn care.
    His e-mai is
  7. cwlawley

    cwlawley LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 470

    I print a schedule in outlook every morning. During the day I check off what I have done. Also, if anyone calls and schedules an estimate or a one time job I can memo it and enter it in the computer that night when I do invoices.
  8. howardsells2000

    howardsells2000 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 355

    I signed up for the 30 day free trial of Gopher but I haven't really figured it out yet. I have all my customers in but haven't figured out scheduling or billing yet.
  9. Freddy_Kruger

    Freddy_Kruger LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,064

    I use outlook, today I bought Quickbooks 2006 it looks very complicated.
  10. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,923

    Freddy -- I bought QB in late December and spent much time over January and February getting it set up. I think I have run ever situation I can think of, and am now just starting to record daily transactions. I made a few invoices for odd Winter work, but now am ready to use full scale for mowing transactions.

    The capabilities are immense. This is the good news, and the bad news! It takes time to set up. During the Winter, I posted some threads, questions and comments in the business section. I conclude that many on LS use it and like the ease of use, the reporting and tracking functions. However, I've also concluded that few have started with QB from the box and got it up and running very well. I have done so, but not without a struggle.

    I wish I had time to develop some sample landscape and lawn service companies and make the data files available for LS members. But, now my work schedule is outside -- time to make money!! The time for experimenting and learning is over and it is time to make USE of QB! If some sample files for companies that are typical for LS members was available, it would save time (or so I think).

    However, having said that, and being unable to help at this time, my suggestion is to work with your accountant, or another person familiar with QB. I investigated the Pro-Advisor program that Intuit offers -- these are people (probably in CPA offices) who have registered themselves as QB consultants. I spent a little time with one, but opted to work through it myself because I had the time. I don't know how a consultant becomes qualified to sign up for their program, so the quality of help might be in question. Go to Intuit web site and search for the Pro-Advisor program. Provide your zip, and you will be given a list of those near you.

    Since I have been nearly up and running, I found a woman in my church who was a CPA and is not starting her own consulting firm aimed at small business startups. During her work as an accountant, she used QB extensively and is highly experienced. During the past two weeks, she has been a wealth of information for me to answer questions. She is not part of the Pro-Advisor program --- just helping me as a friend. Thank you to her!!!

    In my discussions with her, I understand how she could have taken my business model, description of how I work, etc, and made an initial setup in a short time. Based upon what I have learned from her, I suggest you find somebody to work with you for the intial setup and for some ongoing Q/A after you get started (questions will be inevitable). She makes everthing so easy. I make this suggestion if you don't have the time to work with the setup process. I don't think you can plan on spending an evening to get up and running. Knowing what I know now, I would be able to get a good skeleton running in an evening, but when I started, no way. That is why I bought my copy in December. I had January and February to work with it because I had no work.

    ... my thoughts on your question; others will undoubtedly have other thoughts.

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