This blog post has one goal: to make your landscaping business more efficient using technology.
How? By covering how to reduce the number of tasks in any landscapers’s to-do list, and by explaining how to automate any repeatable tasks.
Any one of these tips, all making use of modern technology, will save any landscaper hours a week that could be better spent generating revenue. So let’s dive in.
Order Landscaping Supplies from a Digital Catalogue
Ordering supplies for your landscaping business takes forever, and usually has to be done multiple times within any single landscaping project – in the quote stage, procurement stage and again in the ordering stage.
Even when you think you’re done, problems often surface in the project delivery stage, from client changes-of-mind to unforeseen terrain issues.
This is a wonderful opportunity for any landscaping business to become radically more efficient: by using a digital catalogue of your landscaping supplies that is relevant to your business
How can a digital catalogue software save you so much time on every landscaping project?
First, there’s a good chance that you regularly order similar supplies from a small number of suppliers. Smart construction technology builds up your database of your suppliers products, including all their prices, so you can easily request pricing to ensure you have the most up to date pricing information.
Enter your requirements, choose the product, and voilá – you’ve got your project materials procured with multiple replies, and at todays price.
Second, construction accounting software can convert those materials into line-items inside a Purchase Order, and order the materials directly from within the software.
Compared to trying to ring around a long list of suppliers of different landscaping materials, or digging up old quotes from your archive of Excel spreadsheets, there’s no competition – using modern technology will save your business dozens of hours on this one aspect of your landscaping project alone.
Read on to learn how to use Purchase Orders to save time and money.
Manage Purchase Orders
Purchase Orders are great – until you have to manage them in Excel or in an accounting software with no construction context. Excel was never designed with your landscaping business in mind.
The backbone of the accounting side of any landscaping business, the Purchase Order is your best vehicle for ensuring traceability, transparency, and project efficiency.
But, when your system for managing Purchase Orders gets neglected, tracking all the different steps involved across multiple projects can get muddy quickly and can cost your landscaping business money.
Is it for materials, or equipment? Is the equipment purchased, or rented? If rented, for how long? If materials, what’s the rate? Is the rate fixed? And all tracked in Excel.
A great system for managing your landscaping business’s Purchase Orders will save you hours in every project to producing, tracking, and managing them.
That’s where modern technology can free up your precious time.
Purchase Orders Keep A Record
Not every landscaping business uses Purchases Orders – but they should. To many, they’re a hassle that eats up time that could be spent working directly on the project at hand.
But the truth is that skipping the Purchase Order stage of any landscaping project is costing you time, not saving it.
Not using Purchase Orders costs you more time than it saves when there’s a misunderstanding or a dispute. When a bill arrives for more than you agreed to pay on your telephone conversation, or the materials delivered don’t match the quantity or quality you ordered, that’s when you’ll wish you had a paper trail. Because now your project is delayed.
A proper Purchase Order tracks 6 things:
- Accurate description of the product or materials
- Price (including VAT details)
- Payment Terms
- Shipping method and delivery dates
- Order Reference Number
Use Purchase Order Software
Using Purchase Orders, while more efficient than not using them, still does take time. And that’s where you can make your landscaping business more efficient by using Purchase Order software.
Instead of a paper trail, stored in large binders that take an afternoon to find and thumb through, accounting software can populated and track your Purchase Orders automatically.
Avoid Duplicate Payments
Another advantage of using software over paper is that the software will surface duplicate payments.
A duplicate order or payment means that either a staff member bought something twice, or your suppliers charged you twice for the same item. Either way, you’re looking at 30 to 60 days before that mistaken charge is proved, and then refunded.
For smaller landscaper businesses, that extra charge can seriously affect cashflow, and prevent from beginning new projects.
Keeps Staff Accountable
Hopefully your landscaping business is growing every year, and that means more staff. As you have more to manage, you start to delegate some of the financial aspects of your business.
When you have staff that are making orders for projects on your behalf, you need transparency and accountability.
Accounting software, particularly accounting software geared towards the construction industry, tells you not just what’s on a Purchase Order, but exactly who made the order, and when.
Furthermore – and nobody wants to say it, but it happens – this makes it much more difficult for any employee to commit fraud.
One of the bigger time bandits in any landscaping project is getting the materials that you need, in the quantity that you need them, delivered to the project on time.
If your crew are standing around waiting for an item to be delivered to the site, or only part of what you ordered has been delivered, then that’s dead time that your landscaping business is paying for.
Smart construction-costs management software can record deliveries as they are happening on site with a direct link to the original order.
Track Deliveries On-Site With A Smartphone App
One of the most-loved features of modern project-management software is that it allows businesses to connect the office to the site in real time, usually via a smartphone app.
These apps can be used by the staff on-site to tell your crew exactly what’s due to be delivered to their site, when, and in what quantities.
This means that if only half of what you ordered arrived, or the item has been substituted, they can see this at the point of delivery. And, if it’s wrong, reject it and alert whomever is responsible for ordering the supplies so they can take action instantly.
In addition, deliveries can be logged the minute they arrive to the site, so your office can see what has arrived and what’s outstanding in real time.
This prevents the wrong order hanging around on site for days, and gives your landscaping business full transparency around your materials costs and any potential overcharges on incoming invoices.
Auto-Update Purchase Orders
Every time part of an order is delivered, the software will automatically update the original Purchase Order as complete. If you manage your business’s accounting according to the 3-way match – and you should – then Step 2 in that process is being done for you by LiveCosts.
How To Use Time-Tracking Software for Construction
A smartphone app that tracks labour costs in real time is a silver bullet for any landscaping business that wants to become more efficient.
How? By accurately recording the correct costs for the correct amount of time spent by any contractor on a project, and then recording that information digitally.
Construction cost-management software lets you connect the landscaping site to your business’s office via a smartphone app, so contractors – or whomever is supervising the site – can directly log hours spent by any individual contractor or company on a project, or even on specific phases of a project.
This lets you track and predict overtime, prevent fraud, and export that information to a report so you can see exactly how much your labour cost you at the end of a project – all without ever opening Excel.
Few things eat up more office staff time than preparing, sending, and recording invoices. It’s slow, repetitive, and prone to human error.
But what if technology could make it fast, automated, and correct?
That’s where technology can make your landscaping business 10x more efficient.
Automatic Invoice Extraction Instead of Manual Data Entry
Typically when a landscaping business gets an invoice, a member of staff manually inputs the details of that invoice into an Excel spreadsheet.
LiveCosts uses Full-Scan technology to digitally read that invoice, log the details of that invoice automatically, and record those details against a project. This feature alone can save dozens of hours of manually entering data.
Sound cool? See a video of how it works, here.
Check Against The Agreed Price and Delivery
As part of its scan, LiveCosts digitally checks the line-items in the invoice you’ve received against the price you agreed with the supplier at the outset. It also checks against the agreed delivery date, to ensure that you received the items when you needed them.
This means no more manually poring over Invoices, Delivery Dockets, and Purchase Orders, comparing the three.