We all get the same number of hours in a day. So how is it that some people seem to squeeze so much more out of those 1,440 minutes than others do?
You might be tempted to think it’s because of working longer hours, but research has shown the total time spent on tasks has little correlation to productivity. Staying busy doesn’t necessarily translate to getting things done.
Instead, the key to productivity is good time management.
This is true for individuals looking to maximize time in their day—and for businesses looking to maximize billable hours.
For landscaping businesses, higher productivity means higher profits
As a lawn care or landscaping business, getting the most out of your labor hours is critical.
The services you provide in grounds maintenance, construction, or snow and ice removal are all accomplished by crews spending set amounts of time in the field. You schedule jobs and make pricing decisions based on the number of hours it takes to provide those landscaping services.
By maximizing billable hours for your landscaping crews—and making those hours as productive as possible—you can increase profit margins and scale your business responsibly.
While increasing efficiency to maximize productivity is important across your entire business, crew scheduling is one place where better time management can make the greatest impact.
The benefits of landscape management software
User-friendly project management software like Aspire (for companies with more than $1 million to $3 million in revenue) or Crew Control (for growing businesses) can make a significant difference in productivity for lawn care and landscaping companies.
By offering robust functionality in pricing, scheduling, time tracking, invoicing, job costing, GPS location, credit card processing, and more, these solutions help you spend less time at your desk struggling with spreadsheets and whiteboards, and more time doing the work you enjoy.
Not all landscape business software is created equal, so it’s important to choose a platform that actually helps streamline the scheduling process with real-time insights and flexible, intuitive tools.
You don’t need just another program to manage—you need a solution that eliminates the hassles of crew scheduling and paves the way to greater profitability.
While software is an important tool in your time management arsenal, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. To use it well, it helps to have a firm grasp on principles of effective time management.
No matter how you choose to manage your work, though, understanding how to better manage your time as a business owner—and the time your landscaping crews spend on the job—can help you get more out of each day.
What landscaping businesses can learn from time management principles
Time management is a topic that receives lots of attention, particularly around New Year’s resolution time.
After all, who doesn’t want to find ways to get more out of our scarcest resource? Thankfully, that research can be applied on a larger scale as well.
Let’s take a look at some tips and tricks in three time management categories that can help you get a handle on your landscaping jobs.
Maximizing productivity in landscape management
The key to better time management is understanding and addressing all three major phases, as identified by DePaul University professor Erich C. Dierdorff.
Most productivity hacks focus on a basic list of tactics that feel unnatural, are quickly forgotten, or require more effort than they’re worth. That’s usually because they deal with only one category of time management, ignoring the others.
For your new processes to stick, your strategy has to involve all of Dierdorff’s stages:
Dierdorff found that each of these buckets is equally important in determining productivity, but most people’s attempts to be more efficient fall under “assignment.” That’s why they don’t stick.
If you’ve tried software or systems in the past and they haven’t worked, it could be because the solution was lacking—or it could be because you didn’t have the right foundation and follow-up processes in place.
Not to fear, though. We’ve compiled some actionable strategies for each of the phases below to show how landscape professionals can use time management skills to boost productivity and profitability in scheduling new jobs.
Awareness is the first stage of time management, and probably the most neglected. It involves finding out how much time you currently spend on tasks, understanding your resources, and coming up with realistic goals.
Practicing awareness strategies for your landscape business could look like:
- Tracking time data on average job duration by season, property, region, service type, etc.
- Identifying your highest-performing crew members
- Planning around the most productive times of day
- Taking inventory regularly
- Prioritizing activities
- Setting realistic expectations for yourself and your team members
It can be tempting to skip some of these steps (or assume you know the answers already), but taking the time to reflect helps you make better, more informed decisions when it’s time to plan.
Start by collecting data from timesheets, work orders, and GPS tracking to learn more about how your crews are performing on job sites—and what they might need to be more successful.
Assignment is what people typically think of when they think of time management. It involves using the self-aware insights you discovered in phase one to create plans that maximize available time and resources.
Practicing assignment strategies for your landscape business could look like:
- Setting time blocks when scheduling jobs
- Optimizing daily and weekly routes to minimize traffic delays
- Placing high-performing employees on crews that require greatest efficiency
- Using equipment checklists and regular maintenance to reduce shop time
While possible to a certain extent, incorporating these tips into your regular workflow is extremely challenging without scheduling software.
In the lawn care and landscaping world, things are constantly changing. Flexibility and adaptability are key to maintaining efficient schedules, and anyone who has worked with a paper- or whiteboard-based system knows just how difficult that can be.
Adaptation is the final stage of good time management. It involves preparing for and responding to inevitable interruptions or changes as they arise.
Practicing adaptation strategies for your landscape business could look like:
- Planning buffer days in case of bad weather
- Communicating frequently with clients and crews
- Creating a running task list to make the most of rain days
- Regularly reviewing performance, meeting with crew leaders, and making changes as needed
In an ideal world, everything would always go according to plan. Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually work out that way.
Planning for those frustrating changes won’t make them any more fun, but it can help prevent losing valuable hours in the process.
Using scheduling software to practice better time management
In the landscaping industry, getting the most out of any time management advice means having the patience to think through broader scheduling processes instead of just looking for a quick fix.
For what’s still a minimal investment of time and resources, you can increase your landscape company’s productivity and boost profits by implementing awareness, assignment, and adaptation best practices.
To save even more time and unleash your company’s full potential, check out Aspire’s flagship business management platform or Crew Control, the solution for growing contractors that Capterra named “Best for Ease of Use” and “Best Value.”
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