You’ve got the best go-to-market plan. You also have highly competent sales reps, account managers, and state-of-the-art equipment. But the only problem is… your landscaping crew is average.
Do you still win? No, because an average crew will only get you one-time business. You need a brilliant crew delivering on time—so you can get regular, repeat customers over and over.
Recruiting the right people and tackling the labor shortage has been a perennial challenge in the landscaping industry. Even if you have the right team, effectively managing them and building them into a force of nature takes time.
Before we figure out the blueprint for creating the most efficient landscaping crew, let’s have a look at why this should be an important point of focus for your company.
Table of Contents:
- Why is Crew Management Important?
- The Secret Sauce for Maximum Efficiency
- Its Important to Have Fun
Why is Crew Management Important?
Smaller companies—starting off with crews of 10-20 people have scaled into big million-dollar businesses while others, starting with far more resources, faced trouble growing. What makes the difference?
Is your crew working on the right jobs and clocking in the necessary hours? Are clients being served well without any complaints?
The success of your landscaping company depends on the quality of your crew and how fast you are able to add quality members. As companies grow, the team gets difficult to manage. The responsibility falls on you to mold them into the best crew.
So how do you ensure your crew is optimized to work at its peak efficiency?
The Secret Sauce for Maximum Efficiency
Let’s get straight to it! The key here is to create efficient systems for your crew. By building better systems, you can create operational efficiencies that will pay for themselves not just now, but long into the future.
Be it time management, equipment operations, scheduling, estimating, purchasing, or inventories, create a separate system for each. In each area, set benchmarks and define a path to achieve them. Then, guide your crew on how to get there. This will involve answering questions like:
- Did your crew hit the numbers for the week?
- Were there any client complaints?
- Did the crew finish the work in the allotted time?
- Did they engage in overtime?
Keep track of this data either on your own or by using landscaping business software.
To maximize efficiency, set up effective systems before you need them. Keep everything manageable for yourself and your crew. Remember, you don’t have to do everything alone. To reduce the burden on yourself, utilize landscaping business and estimation software well.
Let’s have a look at a few ways landscaping software can help your business.
Hiring the Right Crew
The least amount of management is required when you already have a great crew. The approach to hiring the right crew is looking for workers who can become the best leaders in the future. But how do you pick the right people from the beginning?
Finding individuals who would make good crew leaders or foremen is a major challenge. You want people who are not only good at their jobs but also show potential to grow. You need a team of like-minded people who mesh well together.
A good crew member will have the following skills that will also make him a great leader in the future:
- Excellent and well-versed in equipment operation
- Someone who cares more about operational efficiency
- Great work-ethic
- A growth-mindset
- Someone who leads by example
Always be on the lookout for good talent. Constant recruiting is the only way to find the best of the best employees.
Having a proper hiring process means recording the best practices into a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for hiring. Different seasons will require different kinds of crews. The approach will remain the same but adapt the SOP according to the needs of the season.
Time Management is the Key
Less is more
Sometimes one crew is better than two! The point is to limit the number of people to optimum levels and cut down on unproductive channels. That also means more accountability.
If a job requires six-man-hours with a three-person crew, then do it. Don’t be afraid to take a small-team approach. Larger teams on small work-sites can lead to mistakes. Sites requiring more work can have a four-membered crew or bigger.
Another important aspect is to reduce the downtime, especially the time spent traveling. This can be accomplished easily by organizing your crew based on geography.
Routing will help you schedule services based on location. Optimize routes for different crews and reduce their driving time. Focusing on just one area on a particular day will also help create predictability for your crew.
Scheduling quick one-on-one meetings
In the early stages of a landscaping maintenance company, most of the things are on pen and paper. It’s crucial to set up a routine to help your crew do their jobs efficiently.
Supervisors should use meetings to meet with the people who report to them. Meetings are also an opportunity to connect with workers and get to know what’s going on.
You can follow a 3-quick-meetings approach. For example, a 9 am – 2 pm – 6 pm pattern for your internal meetings with the crew leader. The timings can differ, but it’s important to have a system in place. Each meeting can last for 10-15 meetings instead of having a long one at the end of the day. Your crew leaders should also follow the same approach with the squad.
The morning meeting can be for checking in and setting a schedule for the day. In the afternoon meeting, you can review goals and make sure your crew is on track and the final meeting in the evening can record the work completed for the day.
At the end of the day, check if your crew has hit their goals and set the agenda for the next day. Recognize hard work and give constructive criticism at the end of the day. Use these meetings to coach and develop them as future leaders.
Unpredictable weather changes
Weather can make or break a landscaper’s day. Your crew can be working hard, but bad weather can be a major setback for any landscaping job.
Keep an eye out for extreme weather conditions like rainstorms, strong winds, lightning, and blizzards, and schedule your crew’s jobs accordingly. For example, installing a fire pit may not be ideal if it’s about to rain outside. But rain doesn’t have to stop your crew from trimming shrubs or doing other small jobs.
Open Communication Makes Everything Simpler
One thing to remember is that supervisors once started out as crew members themselves. And as a supervisor, your job is to guide and teach your crew.
Engage with them from the beginning. Don’t shy away from giving them responsibilities, but let them know they are accountable for their actions. This way, you set a standard of excellence from the start. They won’t know everything, so don’t expect them to. You need to tell them what you want until they get a hang of it on their own.
Ensure there are no hiccups when it comes to communication. Update them with the information which directly affects their jobs. They need to be informed right away about any schedule changes, emergency calls, any particular delays, and any specific information about the customer beforehand.
Holding meetings, seminars, quick weekly check-ins, one-on-one interactions are all some great ways to bring your crew together.
Incentivize Your Landscape Workers Well
You’ve set the benchmarks and the standards. Your crew has set to work, but the fresh enthusiasm needs to sustain itself.
You can start an incentive program where you reward different achievements like meeting deadlines, handling customer queries well on-site, or finishing a critical task.
You can even hold a ‘Best Crew of the Week or Month’ contest where they win prizes. As they compete towards a common goal, it unites the team together and also pushes them to perform together.
Employee incentives are a great way to keep your crews motivated. Research shows that incentives increase performance by 22%, while team incentives can increase performance by 44%.
Access to Equipment at All Times
Having the right tools at the right time is landscaping 101. It gets the job done much more efficiently and faster. Maintain whatever equipment you have, keep them clean, and make them available to your crew at the right time.
You can make use of the latest software and apps to keep track of your landscaping tools and equipment. There are tool inventory systems like ToolHound and ShareMyToolbox, with which you can track your tools.
More Importantly, Have Fun
Sounds obvious, but we often forget to enjoy the process. Your crew loves being outdoors. Landscaping jobs can get overwhelming and your crew can get stressed. It’s not just activities that reinforce a culture, but also cultivate empathy for your crew and your people.
At the same time don’t forget to take some time out and enjoy a sunny day and the greenery around you! You can even schedule some timeout with your crew so the entire team can bond with each other, rejuvenate and return to work with a fresh mindset.
Which of these landscaping crew management tips will you try first? Let us know in the comments section below.