which software?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by LHSlawnman86, Nov 16, 2004.

  1. LHSlawnman86

    LHSlawnman86 LawnSite Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 153

    this will be my first full year going into the business and i was wondering if a billing a scheduling software would be worth it and if so which one. by the looks of it i like the gopher
  2. fga

    fga LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,449

    i would keep it as simple as possible at this stage in your life, and business. for seven years now i have a looseleaf binder with all my information for each year. I just use the computer to save bill forms, route sheets, flyers, etc. also mailing labels and such. did you try this easy method first, before buying an exspensive software. also, how do you know if the software is set up the way you want to do you paper work? my bills are desinged by me, everytime i'v elooked for a template somewhere for my bills, or contracts, they are not at all what i want, just alot of nothing on the paper. just my opinion though.
  3. lsylvain

    lsylvain LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 779

    I checked out a lot of the industry specific programs and didn't find any that were really worth the money. They are either good for scheduling but bad for billing, good for billing bad for scheduling I don't really think anyone has gotten it right yet. Maybe one day a computer geek turned grass geek will make a better program.

    The best all around program I have found is Quickbooks Pro. You can customize your forms, create customer letters which is really handy. The only thing it doesn't do is scheduling.

    What I did was created an Excel spreadsheet that kept up with when I last mowed accounts and when they were due again. When you put a date into excel it reads it as a number like say today is 11/16/2004 excel reads that as 38307. So if you mowed a job today and you need to mow it again in seven days you just tell excel to add seven to todays date 38314 = 11/23/2004. Then you can set it up so that the day before a job is due the date turns a certain color to let you know you need to mow it. You can also set up different colors for past due, I made red be you better go mow this one right now, I don't care if it is dark. I always had trouble with rain days. It never failed that I would forget a job that got rained out. Or I would have to re figure what day it was due every time a job got skipped or done early etc. This way every morning I knew what had to be done, what should be done, and if we had extra time what we could get away with doing.

    Another thing I did was assigned a number to every job that corresponded to it's cut sequence. In other words if I was going to cut every job all at once I would mow this house first so it was #1 then second #2 and so on. When I added a job that was between two I just gave it 1.1 for example.

    Now you just print up the list and mow the lowest numbered jobs first and of course those that need immediate attention. You can also use some sort functions so that the list prints in the order you want to mow them.

    It worked really good. Most of these programs they try to sell you for $500 are based on Excel and Access anyway they just change the look of the screen.
  4. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    there are a lot out there and I would suggest to go to each website, try their demo's if you can and ask questions to the reps.

    Quickbooks, Gopher, Groundskeeper, Real Green, and many more.

    I have personally used Quickbooks for the past 5 years and I love it. Yes, there are things that I love and hate about it. And yes since those 5 years I have tried demos of other software as well, but still found nothing that I liked. I just ordered an add on program to go with quickbooks for customer managing. Can't wait to get it
  5. LHSlawnman86

    LHSlawnman86 LawnSite Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 153

  6. Frontier-Lawn

    Frontier-Lawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,956

    with my irs refund in 2005 im buying gopher.... i used the demo and love it

    UNISCAPER LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,426

    Before you buy any software, just as with any tool of piece of equipment, you first must ask yourself what you will achieve or try to achieve by adding it to your arsenal.

    If you want something that will save you time, forget any of them (softwares) if your operation has less than 10 employees. You can easily use index cards and a hand written ticket book, and run all your invoices through QB. Bill at the first of each month, making the invoice due by the 30th day of that month, and send extra bills for additional work the day you do that work, making it due net 15.
    If you run any software to schedule and bill, none of them will simulataniously update your accounting program without clicking into it and entering things manually, so plan on alot of double entering. (time taken) When your software decides to fart the battle hymn of the republic laughing at you while you try yo open it to get your work done, it will and does hold you hostage, then you have to call tech support and get help, and, you get to pay for this. (time taken) Some manufacturers offer annual service maintenance agreements, where by paying for service you might use, you get a certain amount of help and preferncial treament when you call. But if you think for a second that adding software to your computer will fix all the little quirks you have, and that the $1,000.00 to $2,000.00 plus that you might pay will end there, guess again, you will pay for service once a year, at bare minimum. The most frustrating part about this whole thing is I came from the time when we never needed a computer, and, for the most part, we don't use one now and do over $1,000,000.00 in gross sales. We only needed the computer when some very rich genious marekted the things heavily and they took off. Basically, you can run your business without the use of the computer and software. Well, maybe without the software, the computer, simply because of all those who operate with one, is a must. Software for scheduling is not.

    They were sold to us as tools that will save us time and money, and for that, they fail misreably, because they really don't do either. In my estimation, having computer toys is an extension of thier ego, like filling your shop with machines that you don't really run much, but are cool to have. I could easily be one of those folks myself, (with machinery) but for the computer, when someone mentions adding software, adding a netowrk when there is only 5 people in your operation, buying a lap top, or yuppifiying their schedule with a Palm pilot, I know for a fact you don't need what you are endeavoring into.

    Could that money be best spent adding a machine to cut labor, which, is the root of all business evil. Anytime you can cut labor and produce the same effect, you are gaining. The computer/software will not do this for you as effectively as a machine that you can bill for using.

    Now, when your company grows, or if it is already over 5-8 employees, software can save you some time. So, for right now, as I would do, I make write a list on a steno pad. One side falls under the heading of makes money, the other, under takes money.

    Things that make money would be mowers, skid steers, dozers, trucks, and shovels, two way radios.

    Things that take money, on the top of the list, computers, software, cell phones, rents, etc etc.

    The sqles people are going to tell you how much time you are going to save using thier products. Some folks who have the time to use the computer might even argue they are saving them time. That maybe, but where are your talents used in your operations? Are you the geek from Alcatraz, or do you go out and get your hands dirty like most LCO company owners do?

    If you have that bleeding hole you can't figure out where you are loosing money at, until you find that and stop it BEFORE adding another toy to the desk top screen.

    How much money do you want to make? And, how much money are you willing to have taken before you realize some things could really go to optimize your profits? Enough said. It's your choice, I hope you make it wisely.
  8. Team Gopher

    Team Gopher LawnSite Platinum Member
    from -
    Messages: 4,040

    Hi LHSlawnman86,

    Thanks for considering us.

    tiedeman and icc1701a, thank you as well for thinking of us.

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