Chapter 3: Don't Be Afraid of Technology
In today's connected environment, more people are searching online for landscaping contractors. Your customers are ready for a technology-friendly landscaping business, but are you?
If you're a little techno-phobic, don't worry. Many landscapers know their way around a hardware store but don't have a clue when it comes to software and social media. Or maybe you're already using your Instagram account to post pictures of new landscaping installations.
Wherever your business falls on the spectrum, it's important to remember that technology is changing constantly and you'll need to be ready to adapt to new tech. Right now, there may be some timesaving technology options that will help you run your landscaping business and better connect with customers. So let's look at what's out there.
In this chapter, we'll talk with a tech-savvy landscaping pro and discuss tips that will help you…
- Upsell new landscaping services to your current customers.
- Communicate better with your employees.
- Avoid cash flow problems.
- Run your business more smoothly.
Landscaping Business Owners: Teach Yourself to be Tech Savvy
After running his own landscaping business for more than a decade,
thought he had it all figured out. Like many landscapers, Cantrelle was technology-phobic. So how did Cantrelle end up starting his own Internet-based plant supply company?
Over the years, he realized how much time he could save by embracing technology. Now his mantra is "Technology (used properly) is the heart of what makes us efficient."
He takes this attitude to
, an online supplier that connects 1,000 plant growers to landscapers and buyers. From tech-novice to e-commerce CEO, Cantrelle learned quite a few things that made his life as a landscaping business owner better.
Cantrelle admits, "Before I started Plantbid, I had an email but didn't really use it. I had an office staff tell me what it said."
“Technology, used properly, is the heart of what makes us efficient.” — Cameron Cantrelle, founder of PlantBid.com
3 Simple Technology Tips from a Landscaping CEO
Technology can improve your business's efficiency and help you save money in simple and subtle ways. Cantrelle suggests these tips for lawn care business owners:
- Use your smartphone's camera. Embracing technology doesn't have to mean investing in expensive software or new mobile apps. Cantrelle offers this scenario: You have a crew working on an irrigation fix, but the foreman isn't around. Cantrelle explains that you can have your employees "take a picture of the problem and send it to the foreman, and he can reply immediately with the best solution or most efficient fix." Landscapers may have to spread their crews around, which means workers with the right expertise won't always be available. Use your smartphones to connect your crew.
- There are better communications options than email. Cantrelle's business uses Slack , an email platform that allows businesses to add employees to "channels" so they can see word-for-word what a boss, foreman, or customer wants for a project. Spending time finding the right communication system can help you avoid mix-ups resulting in costly errors and wasted labor.
- You have to start somewhere. "Think of it like this," Cantrelle tells landscaping business owners. "When we were born, we didn't know how to walk. You watch and learn from everybody around you; you figure it out bit by bit. Start to crawl, then learn to walk. Using technology in a business is similar." Look what other landscaping businesses are doing and learn from them. If your competition is using Instagram to post pictures of landscaping, start there. If your competition has an email price quoting system on their website, you should follow suit.
3 Ways Tech Can Make Life Easier for a Landscaping Business Owner
Landscapers can also use technology to improve the day-to-day processes that run their business, helping save time and connect better with customers. Today's tech-savvy landscaping businesses are using technology to:
- Improve sales. The website Lawn Care Millionaire offers a great tip for upselling your customers on more lawn care. When your crew is working on a property, have them take pictures of areas where you notice the customer's property could use more work. For instance, say your crew notices that a client's trees are hanging over the garage and need to be trimmed. Have them take a picture of the trees and send it to you. You can email the picture to your customers and offer to do the work for them.
- Run more smoothly. If you don't know where to start with landscaping software, you can browse this list of lawn care business software compiled by Capterra with hundreds of reviews from other landscaping pros. You can see which software makes sense for your scheduling, billing, assessment, and general business needs.
- Improve cash flow. Lawn Care Millionaire points out that you can accept credit card payments or set up a billing system that automatically charges your regular clients for the work you do each week or month. Small-business owners can have problems with cash flow. Because of up-and-down fluctuations in work and payments, you need to do what you can to ensure you've got money in the bank. Faster payment processing systems make this easier for you.
Final Thoughts: How Do Your Customers Connect with You?
We began this chapter by saying that potential customers are searching right now for landscaping businesses. It's true. We should also spend at least a minute to talk about how you connect with customers online. You can do so by…
- Having a website.
- Making your website mobile-friendly (Search Engine Land reports that most searches now happen on mobile devices).
- Using social media to post pictures of landscaping work.
- Keeping an eye on your business's reviews on Yelp, Google+, and other venues. (See Listen, Listen, Listen (and Respond) to Customer Feedback for more on managing online customer reviews.)
It's easy to get overwhelmed with the prospect of changing your business to use new this technology. You're used things working one way, and you don't want the confusion and hassle that comes with a big change. But as Cantrelle says, you've got to start somewhere.
By adopting a few of the new technologies available to landscapers, you'll stay competitive with other crews in your areas — and you may even make your life easier.
Next: You've Planted the Seed, Now Grow Your Landscaping Business