The Spring Rush of Landscaping: Don’t Forget to Sharpen Your Axe
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” –
For most of North America, spring is in the air and has come earlier than expected. Landscaping jobs are starting earlier, customers are calling earlier and its easy to get caught up in the action… especially if your snow revenues were down from the mild winter.
But take a minute to remember Lincoln’s great quote (see above). Your work might be well underway already, but just remember – if your business is a ‘dull axe’, you’ll spend a lot of time and effort swinging with frustrating results. Far better to sharpen the axe. Better still – turn your business into a whirling chainsaw.
Here are some Spring ideas to ‘sharpen the axe’ in your landscape business….
- Work Your Company’s Budget… have a plan for what its going to cost to get the work done (labor, equipment, materials, and subs) and what you’re going to spend on overhead. Set sales goals based on the budget, communicate the goals to your company, and go out and make it happen.
- Recalculate your Pricing – Are you charging too much? Are you charging too little? Price your work accurately and you’ll win more of the profitable jobs and less of unprofitable work. Your budget will tell you how to price your estimates. Never done it before? Take a free online course here: http://www.landscapemanagementnetwork.com/index.php/virtualworkshop/
- Organize Your Shop and Yard – make places for things. Label these places with signs. You don’t need it all done at once, but start with little things in important areas. Like a set of stairs, small steps will get you where you want to go too… and they’re far easier than trying to climb the face of the mountain. Start with designated areas for broken tools and equipment, common tools and parts, and common materials. 80% of your inefficiencies come from 20% of your problems. Find that 20% and fix it… you’ll have much more time to solve the rest when 80% of your problems disappear.
- Organize Your Trailers - create a space for everything, and label it. Get your staff involved. Work a Saturday or some evenings if you have to. Invest the time to ‘sharpen your trailer’ and your crews will work faster and more efficiently for the rest of the year.
- Organize Your Paperwork - Do your trucks have a spot where crews can keep paperwork until they hand it in? Does all your paperwork have a clearly marked place where it must be submitted? How often do you expect the paperwork to be handed in (daily, weekly)? Communicate these expectations and enforce these rules. Stay on top of it for a few months ruthlessly… once it becomes “the norm”, it will manage itself.
- New Tools and Equipment - What did we do last year that could be done faster and better this year? Could tools or equipment help get repetitive tasks done faster? How much opportunity (billable hours) could you add by doing what you faster and better? Would the added opportunity outweigh the cost of the investment?
- New Technology - In the world of technology – things change a lot in just one season! Can you streamline your office or field staff with a few systems?
- Staff Training – what could your company do better by the end of the year? Are you going to hope it just comes naturally or are you going to teach your people how to do it, then make sure it happens?
- Company Improvements – “Tell me how you measure me and I’ll tell you how I behave.” People work to how their measured. If your company isn’t measuring how much better its getting, then you’re likely the only one who is working to make it better. Post a bulletin board, a whiteboard, an online forum, group emails (firstname.lastname@example.org), YouTube videos – anything to track and show your company’s improvements and the people that implemented them.