Business growing need advice on scheduling

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Kellie Alford, Jul 2, 2019.

  1. Kellie Alford

    Kellie Alford LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    We are in our 12th year as a business. My husband and I started out mowing lawns and tractor work. We now are a full service lawn, landscape and irrigation company offering services to both residential and commercial. My husband is over operations and schedules all the jobs for the crews. I manage the lawn side he manages the landscape. I use Verizon connect program which is pretty good and has a lot of options to really break everything down. My husband uses pen and paper. We've grown every year and it's getting harder and harder for him to manage that way. That is in between phone calls from contractors and new customers. Forget when it rains, that throws the schedule all out of wack. I am sure some of you have mastered this thing called scheduling for landscaping. Suggestions? He is willing to learn, but he is a creature of habit. Do you have a regular schedule and then a rain out schedule? Do you just improvise? Thank you!
    Tara Ann likes this.
  2. jonthepain

    jonthepain LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Raleigh
    Messages: 1,036

    We use arborgold for scheduling. Well, for everything else, too. This is our first season with arborgold. We use google mymaps for our master schedule and cluster map. With 500 customers we need to see where everyone and every route is, at a glance.

    Previously we used quickbooks and yardbook and mymaps. We wanted an all in one solution and so far arborgold has been adequate, with a couple of glaring exceptions.

    I can't imagine using pen and paper.

    In case of rain, we simply move the schedule out one day. We run a 4 day week in case of rain or holidays. We can't spray on July 4th, for example, with everyone out in their backyards that day. So the four day work week is our solution.
    Tara Ann, Kellie Alford and Dainius like this.
  3. Oxmow

    Oxmow LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,092

    I use Service Autopilot to do all my scheduling. If we need to move jobs to the next day, I can move all of them or just some of them with a couple of mouse clicks.
  4. Arvydas

    Arvydas LawnSite Member
    Messages: 143

    Service Autopilot, once learned, is invaluable. I wouldn't use anything else right now.
  5. Matthews Lawn Care

    Matthews Lawn Care LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,741

    I schedule everything as if the weather has no effect. As the weather comes I adjust the schedule accordingly. After a bid is approved I give a tentative start date(week of) and update if/when there are any changes. I use yardbook currently but will prob switch in the next few years. I’d have writers cramp if I used the pen and paper method. Any of the above mentioned programs would be a major upgrade over the pen and paper method. I know a few guys in town that are the sane way tho, pen and paper is all they know. When they got to the point where something had to change they used both a program and pen and paper until they were comfortable with the software and eventually phased the pen and paper method out. It’s a little more work that way but if it helps make the transition to a more efficient method, why not make a go of it?
  6. McFarland_Lawn_Care

    McFarland_Lawn_Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,512

    Are you servicing rural or city areas? that makes a big difference. We have used SA since 2012 which has helped a lot with scheduling. Like others have said you need to decide "weather" you're going to work rain days or not and then schedule accordingly. Here in the Northeast when we get rain the grass is so saturated we have to stop mowing but sometimes the landscaping crews can continue. I schedule 4 days 10 hrs each and shuffle accordingly but everything is on the cloud....anything on pen and paper gets quickly recorded in our system so we don't lose it.
    Kellie Alford likes this.
  7. South Hills Lawns

    South Hills Lawns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 75

    Yard Book. It's free. Can't beat free.
    Kellie Alford likes this.
  8. Where the Pavement Ends

    Where the Pavement Ends LawnSite Member
    Messages: 53

    Kelly, congrats on the continued growth. I can't imagine running any business with just pen and paper. You've come to the right place, as there are plenty of folks on this site with decades of experience. There's a Bible verse that says, "there's wisdom in the counsel of many." I've found that to be true. Since it's Saturday, I'll spend a little time with you on this and share what I have learned. We don't know what we don't know, right?

    If you haven't already done so, perhaps you and your husband should build a list of tasks that you expect/want a software program to do for you. The ability to systematize jobs is what helps to companies grow to the next level and beyond. Some things that may come to mind are:

    Data Migration/Transition:
    How will we migrate all of our current data into this system? How long will that take? What will be the cost in terms of lost time? Who will complete this task and the who will be responsible for keeping the database current. There are whole curricula in colleges about "Change Management". Do we know and understand the process that will need to be implemented?

    Will it make routing easier by creating and maintaining route lists for me? Can I assign a route number, subdivision or geographic area to each property and sort them by route numbers? When it rains or there is a holiday, can I move/reschedule a property or groups of properties with a simple "click and drag"? When I record the jobs/work we did today, will it automatically schedule the next due dates for me? Does it have the ability to show me a calendar with all jobs scheduled for that day, week, etc.? Can it do the same for any one job for an individual customer? If, you sold the customer a set number of services per year, will it count those down for you? Can you put a customer or job "on hold", or input a start/stop date?

    Will this software give us visibility to our production? Can easily see revenue generated, man-hour production rates (more important if you have more than one crew)? Can it tell us if we are behind our goals or in front of them? Can we create custom reports based on datapoints we designate? How much information do we need, and will this program give it to us in a format that we can utilize? We look at production from several points of view. Dollars produced daily, monthly, quarterly and annually compared to previous periods. We look at dollars per man hour, dollars per clock hour. You may not need these right now, but these tools can show you your business like you've never seen it before. Someone once said, the best way to get where you want to be, is to first understand how you got to where you are. I want as much data as I can get.

    Customer files:
    Will this software allow us to to adequately record, retain and access every customer datapoint they we consider vital in order to achieve and maintain our standard of customer service? Can we manage all customer contact simply, like email addresses, and sending email blasts out?

    Are you satisfied with how you currently bill? If not, does this software have a billing feature? How detailed is it? This aspect is obviously critical and has to work right every time. Does this software interface with financial programs like QuickBooks, should we want to move in that direction?

    User Friendly:
    Is this going to be easy to use with icons and menus, or will we have to keep clicking, endlessly to get to datapoint we want to access? Are they constantly updating and up grading their code? Keeping the software current, with protective patches, and fixes can actually be a lifesaver. With so much malware on the internet, you want peace of mind that your program won't crash or disappear into cyberspace.

    You can't beat free, unless free doesn't work for you. A good expenditure is one that either helps you make (more) money, or frees up make more money.

    Once you understand every aspect of what you need, there are plenty of vendors that will be happy to schedule a demo with you or even give you a free trial. For what it's worth, we use CLIP. I inherited it when I bought the company and with an upgrade to QCLIP (QuickBooks interface), it has been adequate for us. Is it perfect? No! There are still some glitches. It costs us $100 per month and they are responsive when we need help.

    Read every related post you can, get the best points, and you and your husband will be more informed to make the best decision for your company!

    Praying that God blesses you beyond belief!
  9. Oxmow

    Oxmow LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,092

    Do you use QuickBooks for the numbers or does the Verizon program do that? I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with connect.

    Also for what it's worth we use Service Autopilot. We also pay around 100.00 per month for the service, and have credit card billing integrated into it. Finally did that this year after using another merchant service for the last 13 years. It covers all of what Pavement said in his last post. We do chems and Snow as well and there are provisions for that in there too.
  10. Where the Pavement Ends

    Where the Pavement Ends LawnSite Member
    Messages: 53

    Great point about the provisions in softwares that you hit on OxMow. As the business grows to the point you need employees and have to provide work comp insurance, each service may have a different "code" with the insurance companies. Maintenance has a code, and Landscaping has a different code. Each has a rate applied to it, as does Chemicals and Snow Plowing, etc.. We found out the hard way that Tree Service, is a reason to cancel coverage. And we don't even do that. It ended up in our file because we sub-contracted some work.

    The benefit of a financial program is that it will give you industry standard financial reports like a P&L, a Balance Sheet, Payroll Summaries and is easy for accountants and insurance auditors to access when needed.
    Tara Ann and Kellie Alford like this.

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