Let’s face it. Owning a lawn care company is tough. With large crews to manage, trucks going out daily, the paperwork, and multiple clients to handle, you don’t exactly have it easy!
When dealing with the requirements of a tough job, business software can make all the difference in the world. We get a lot of questions from lawn care companies that are starting out with software—Do I need it? How do I choose one? What features do I look for? Can I afford it?
So today, we are going to answer these questions once and for all to help you find the perfect business software solution for your lawn care business. For those of you who already have one, don’t worry, we’re sure this article will benefit you as well.
Do you actually need lawn care business software?
For the longest time, the old-style ledger book was the traditional way of taking care of accounts, jobs, scheduling, expenses, sales, etc. With technology and automation entering the green industry and helping make our lives easier, a lot of options are now available on the market.
So, what is the problem with the traditional method?
The traditional spreadsheet or pen and paper method comes with its own set of administrative headaches. These include handling records that are prone to getting lost or damaged, unexpected rescheduling due to bad weather, managing multiple clients, and consistently arriving at jobs on time. This can all get daunting.
Tracking hours, managing routes, managing payroll for employees, and everything that was traditionally done using offline accounting or the old pen and paper style can now be managed with one cloud-based, multiple-device-friendly software program.
Loaded with features like sales automation, job scheduling, routing, invoicing, marketing support, etc., modern-day software is critical to running your company efficiently and keeping up in these competitive times.
How do you choose the right software for your company?
So, you’ve decided to make the switch to business software for your lawn care company, but with all the options out there, where do you begin?
Standalone accounting software, for instance, would allow you to manage all your accounts but would not help you with scheduling your jobs. What you should be looking for in software is what your business requires the most.
Features that make lawn care business software absolutely essential
Let’s have a look at all the different features traditional business software should have:
Perhaps the most significant addition in the lawn care industry recently, sales automation looks something like this:
- Customers can book your services directly from your website via an online shop without any interaction with your sales team. They simply come to your website and click on “Get a Quote” like they normally would—but here’s where the magic begins:
- They are taken through a self-service experience where they enter their address, and the software automatically fetches their property data, such as lawn and bed area.
- Your service catalog and prices are then displayed based on the measurements provided, and the customer can choose the services required, make payments online, and schedule an appointment.
- Alternatively, sales automation can be utilized when a customer calls your office by phone. A sales representative enters the customer’s property address while they are on the phone, and the software pulls up the property data. Based on the data, the representative can provide a quote while on the phone and confirm the services that the customer requires.
This instant commerce experience is game-changing because it changes the way lawn care services have been purchased for decades, truly bringing the green industry into the online world.
Customer relationship management (CRM)
Using business software, a complete client database is at your fingertips, containing names, phone numbers, addresses, etc. Using this database, you can keep track of recurring jobs for long-term clients and offer seasonal jobs to short-term clients.
Built-in with an exceptional CRM system, the software should not only be focused on building great customer relationships, but it should also make your life easier.
A CRM system can offer you increased visibility of customer activity. Features should include sending notifications when customer take important actions, sending text and email reminders, and providing information on where customers are in the purchasing process.
Billing & invoicing
Previously, you had to sit down to generate invoices and bill all your clients separately for each service, often missing some if you had been asked to do additional tasks. Late billing also led to disputed invoices. You often had to wait upon the customer and suffer delayed payments for weeks or worse, months.
With lawn care business software, the billing & invoicing feature takes care of all payment-related tasks and offers smart billing practices. After each job, you can receive instant payment or you can set up monthly payments for regular clients. Your software should be able to track expenses, bill clients, create invoices, track your cash flow, and generate more business.
If you use software that provides sales automation as well, the invoicing can happen the moment a customer confirms your services in your online shop, making the process instantaneous as well as automated.
Scheduling your jobs becomes easy with lawn care business software. It can not only be done on your computer at home but also on your mobile when you are on the run.
The objective is hassle-free scheduling of your day. Booking appointments in minutes, assigning crews according to the job, maximizing employee capacity and efficiency, and making sure your crew arrives at jobs on time are all things you should look for in this feature.
You can plan and time your jobs well in advance and more efficiently optimize routes to job locations. Your workers will be well prepared with the schedule right there on their mobile devices. The aim is to be able to schedule jobs and manage your crew on the fly.
If you are running a big lawn care company with a lot of crews to manage and multiple trucks going out every day, software with a routing feature will certainly make your life easier.
With a client database in place and job scheduling done, the software makes building tighter routes for your crews super-easy. Using Google Maps, it will automatically do the routing and find the best route for your crew, so that minimum time is spent on the road
Job Cards & Tracking
Delivering high production rates is necessary to keep your costs under control. You need tools that help your crews track deliverables better and to get in and get out faster. Job cards give a checklist of tasks to be accomplished on the site and record observations right away. Not only does this help the crews to plan jobs better, but it also minimizes the time spent per site.
With tracking, you can check in on your crews in real-time. See where they are, what time they checked in on a site when they checked out. You can even see which of your trucks over-sped, and at which location!
For maximum efficiency, we have an article on how to better manage your crew.
A neat feature of business software is the ability to offer you a customer report each month. Here’s an example of how it can work:
Every week, all jobs are scheduled and you receive a notification for each job. Let’s take one job for example—your client Rob has requested for his lawn to be mown every Tuesday. You will receive a weekly notification alert for that job, and you can schedule it.
Using this feature, the software will generate a weekly and monthly calendar that you can print out. You can use that calendar to manage your crew and multiple jobs at the same.
At the end of the day, you can use this calendar to bill your clients depending on whether that job was completed or not. These reports make managing jobs hassle-free and help you bill your clients correctly.
The software will also generate profit & loss reports for you along with separate tax statements. The reports show both your expenses and how much tax was collected from your clients. These tax reports make it easy to do your income tax at the end of the year.
Marketing, especially digital marketing, is indispensable for building a healthy sales funnel. Your ideal business software should be able to run and monitor paid advertising campaigns on Google and Facebook and help you with search engine optimization (SEO). Thus, making it easy for your potential online customers to find you.
Enabling content creation that helps your potential customers find you is a critical component of what lawn care software should be able to do for you. Whether it is creating attractive emails or writing blogs for your customers, the sky’s the limit with what you can do with your software.
Price is always a consideration
It’s always better if the cost of the software is in line with the value it offers.
For example, an online shop that helps your customers book your services and generates sales for you should charge a commission on the sales made. That way, you only end up paying for the value generated by the software.
It is not always possible to align the cost of the software with the value it generates, which is why it becomes important to understand the return-on-investment (ROI) generated. The business selling you the software can help you understand this if you are not clear on how to calculate the ROI.
If you are unsure, start out with the base plan offered by the software company. This will make it easy to change plans or software later if you don’t like it, and you won’t burn a hole in your pocket simply trying out the software.
Looking for the perfect software
With so many options available, choosing the right software can be confusing.
One thing you need to understand is that your business might not require all the features mentioned here. If you are a new business owner, you might not need a lot of scheduling and routing assistance because you may have a smaller crew to manage.
As mentioned in the pricing section, start with a basic plan of the software program to familiarize yourself with its usability. The first piece of software you choose might not be the best one for you, and if you start with lower-tier software you will minimize your expenses. You can also start with only individual features of the software, and once you’ve scaled your business, you can add more advanced features.
You might find yourself using multiple software packages at once, which can increase complexity if different data is being managed with different software. To resolve that, you can get a fully integrated software package that comes equipped with everything you need.
We’re proud to share with you that we recently launched a sales automation platform, equipped with a first-of-its-kind online shop, allowing your customers to instantly book your services online. Our customers that have already adopted this platform have benefited from three times higher conversion rates on their websites.
Curious to know more? You can schedule a call with us and we’ll be happy to show you what we can do.
What else do you think should be included in lawn care business software? Let us know in the comment section below.