Scheduling. It’s probably one of the hardest things you do as the owner of a growing lawn care or landscaping company.
There’s just so much to consider, and the pieces you have to work with are always moving. Even if you’re fortunate enough to have wonderful, reliable crew members and a regular client base, there’s still plenty that can go wrong. Bad weather. Illness. Traffic delays. These issues are outside of your control, but they can have a serious impact on your ability to succeed—especially if you’re not prepared.
Scheduling is the backbone of your business. It determines how and when work gets done. Yet, for something so critical, many business owners regularly make mistakes that drain resources, upset clients and employees, and slow down progress.
As you create schedules for your crews, try to watch out for these common mistakes.
Forgetting to leave space for seasonal services
You probably review your client database and regular projects at least once a year to create a master schedule. When you do, don’t forget to leave room for seasonal services.
Things like irrigation startups and holiday decorating don’t happen at the exact same time every year. But if you leave enough buffer space on your calendar during seasons when those jobs are likely to occur, you won’t need to do as much adjusting when the time comes.
Once you see how much space you can afford to set aside, it will also help you know which last-minute jobs you can—or can’t—take on.
Using inefficient routes
The more efficient your schedule, the smoother your business will run—and the less money you’ll lose on wasted time and resources.
To make the most of your crews’ time, plan your annual and weekly schedules with geography and job duration in mind. Try to group customers from nearby neighborhoods into the same week when creating your master schedule. Then include as many of those clients on the same day as possible.
To do this effectively, you’ll also need to keep in mind how long each job is supposed to take. You can’t schedule four half-day jobs on a single day (of course) just because they’re within a few miles of each other.
Sending crews into the field without the right equipment
When crews make trips back to the shop to replace missing or broken equipment, it’s not just frustrating for them. The lost labor hours and extra fuel cost are a drain on your business and can cause problems for the remainder of that day’s scheduled jobs.
To prevent these interruptions, consider implementing a daily checklist for crews to use when loading the truck each morning. If a day’s job requires special equipment, make sure there’s a system in place to update the list accordingly.
If you can spare the inventory, it’s also a good idea to send crews with backup equipment in case something breaks down or dies in the field.
Packing schedules too tightly
If there’s not enough white space (free time) in your schedule, it’s hard to recover from even the slightest setback. Dealing with traffic or weather delays creates significant headaches, and when crews feel the need to rush jobs, you can end up with unhappy customers.
Prioritizing efficient scheduling allows you to create buffer space that can account for everyday delays and unanticipated obstacles. It also gives you an opportunity to respond to emergencies or last-minute service requests.
A quick and easy trick to add white space is frontloading your daily schedule with routine service appointments, leaving flexible time in the afternoons. You don’t necessarily need to do this every day of the week unless it makes sense for your business. If you receive lots of last-minute requests—or if weather delays often throw your week into chaos—consider creating this space more regularly.
Interrupting crews with messages that can wait
You want to maintain an open line of communicate with crews. They’re your eyes and ears in the field—and one of your most valuable assets in promoting customer satisfaction.
What you don’t want, though, is to constantly bombard crew leaders with information while they’re trying to work. Instead, evaluate which messages need to be shared immediately versus which can wait until the end of the day.
Even better, with a cloud-based system like Crew Control that syncs in real time, you can ensure your crews always have access to the latest schedule and task list—right from their phones. Plus, they can upload photo, video, and text memos so you stay up to date on a site’s issues or progress.
A good schedule provides a solid foundation for your business.
Avoiding these five mistakes is a great first step toward building that foundation. If you’re interested in learning more, download our free guide on scheduling best practices for residential lawn care and landscaping companies.