Your landscaping crew is the best in the biz. They’re experts in the art and science of landscaping. They’re punctual, polite, and a perfect fit for your company.
However, even the best employees need excellent leadership. Field service industries like lawn care pose unique management challenges. After all, most of your workforce spend their days away from you, working on projects you might not see directly.
Even if you’re a landscaping pro, you might feel confused about landscaping crew management. Fortunately, field management (including landscaping management) is usually straightforward. It involves a combination of old-fashioned communication and modern computer software. Here’s a closer look:
How to Manage Your Lawn Care Crew Efficiently
When learning how to run a lawn care business, focus on maximizing efficiency. Lawn care requires lots of downtime where you’re paying employees to drive from location to location. Less time spent on the road means more time spent performing services for customers.
The process of organizing your crews based on geography is called routing or dispatching. You’re looking for the densest route possible. Ideally, you want each crew to go from client to client quickly within the smallest area possible.
Generally, you want to schedule services based around location. For example, every Monday, your teams target the northern part of your service area; every Tuesday, they focus on the western half, and so on.
Organizing Different Types of Crews
When creating work schedules, consider the type of job and type of crew.
The most significant difference between types of jobs is whether they’re residential or commercial. Usually, you can’t send one crew for both types. You’ll want a larger, athletic team to handle commercial areas but a smaller, more experienced crew for residential work requiring plant care, ornamental trimming, and other specialized services.
Additionally, you’ll want to build-in some scheduling flexibility by frontloading your services. Frontloading is a technique where you schedule your routine service appointments early in the day. The idea is to leave your afternoon as free as possible for emergencies and same-day service.
The Secret to Training for Maximum Efficiency
The systems you developed when your lawn care business first started aren’t necessarily the most efficient now that you have large groups of techs in the field. You want to maximize jobsite efficiency, but be careful. No two landscapes are the same, so give your crew the freedom to create solutions specific to each job.
The larger your business grows, the less time you’ll spend at each client’s location. However, you should visit every new job to help develop a work strategy. Bring along the crew you plan to use on the site, as their input is valuable, too.
Different jobs require different strategies. For example, many crews mow the lawn before trimming but trimming before mowing is often more efficient, especially in residential areas. The mower doesn’t have to waste time trying to reach small areas that the trimmer can handle quicker.
Additionally, keep your crews consistent across locations. Once a crew learns the care details of a specific yard, they’ll move faster. You don’t want to introduce new teams who have to learn the ropes each week. Plus, homeowners almost always prefer seeing the same people every time.
Adjust crew size as dictated by the job. Sometimes, you’re better off putting most of your staff on a large job, and finishing it in a day, then using a smaller crew and stretching the job out across several days. In many cases, multi-day jobs waste time. Crews often work slowly on the first day, knowing they’ll return tomorrow, anyway.
Finally, don’t underestimate a two-person crew. Although that might seem small, it’s often highly efficient. With crews of three people or more, you typically find one person who doesn’t work as hard as the other two.
The Importance of Communication
When managing your field teams, focus on two types of communication:
- Communication between management and employees in the field
- Communication with customers
Communicating with Employees in the Field
Communication with your employees is a bit of a balancing act. You want to make sure your employees stay up-to-date with the information they need but aren’t bothered during the workday with messages that can wait until later.
Generally, here’s what employees need to know right away:
- Schedule changes for the current workday
- Additions to the schedule such as emergency calls
- Any information regarding delays
- Any changes regarding specific services provided to a customer
All other information can usually be conveyed in an email, meeting, or in other ways that don’t interfere with the workday.
Communicating with Customers
Staying up-to-date with the latest information regarding customers is key to delivering top-quality service. Your customers will communicate with you in one of two ways:
- They’ll send an email or make a phone call to your office
- They’ll talk with your on-site crew
In the first scenario, the office will need to relay the information to the crew. Usually, it’s helpful to send a reminder to your crew as well on the day of service.
If the customer talks to a member of your crew, you want them to relay that information back to you quickly and accurately.
The Importance of Field Management Software
Field service management software allows you to remain in reliable, but unobtrusive, contact with your techs all day long. You’ll want software specifically made for a lawn care company, such as Lawn Care Business Software from WorkWave.
Lawn care management software allows you to optimize the workday of your team for maximum efficiency. You can reduce drive times by up to 25% and gas consumption by 10%.
Additionally, customer information can easily be updated and accessed by both your office and field teams. In short, field management software helps every employee stay on the same page at all times.
Field service management software also helps handle:
- And more
Lawn care business software might seem too fancy or complicated, but it’s designed for easy operation, even if you’ve never used anything like it before. To check it out yourself, contact WorkWave today to schedule a free demonstration.