With any new business, the first few months are crucial in ensuring stability and long-term solvency by making the most efficient and intelligent decisions. Seeing how half of all small businesses fail within their first five years, having a game plan and an organised approach will help reduce the chances that your small business will falter. This approach is particularly important when dealing with landscaping businesses, since most operate only during select seasons. Thanks to technology, improvements in efficiency and communication can be achieved in a variety of ways. Below, we will discuss four apps that are helping landscaping businesses stay ahead of the competition and interact with clients and fellow employees more effectively.
Perhaps the only calculator you will ever need, the Landscape & Garden Calculators app – available on the Android Marketplace for $7.99 – includes more than forty unique calculators that help contractors calculate needed materials and costs for hardscapes, softscapes, lawns, gardens, walls and more. Building a pond in a client’s backyard? There’s a calculator for that, too. Virtually every aspect of home landscaping has a calculator within the app for quick assessments of each particular project. With an app like this, the amount of wasted materials for each job will be dramatically reduced (which is very important for any up-start landscaping business).
Processing payments in the field used to be virtually impossible: you would instead provide an invoice and the client would either pay cash or mail you a check. These days, however, mobile payment processing is all the rage thanks to Square. Simply sign up for an account and Square will send you a free card reader (or two) that conveniently fit into the headphone jack of any iOS or Android device. Once the app is downloaded, you canprocess credit cards via swipe or manual entry – with no monthly fees. One flat rate (2.75% for swiped, 3.75% for manual entry) is applied to all payments, making Square a reliable and convenient way to handle debit/credit transactions.
Tracking billable hours and expenses is a huge part of managing a landscaping business, but it does not have to be as frustrating or time-consuming as some would have you believe. Enter TimeClock, an app available on the Android Marketplace which allows supervisors and managers the option of entering in each job in real time for future record-keeping and analysis. When you need to evaluate a list of recent jobs, exporting the results to an Excel file is quick and can be sent via e-mail. Even if you lose your phone or tablet, don’t worry: all of your data is synced with TimeClock’s online service and can be restored if need be. For just $6.99, TimeClock can help your landscaping business be organised and paper-free in regards to tracking billable hours and generating expense reports.
Casual observations, brainstorming and other notes are common in the landscaping business, but being organised enough to keep all of these notes in one place rarely happens. With Evernote, employees will have access to a comprehensive audio and text-based note system that can be configured to allow sharing across mobile devices and desktop computers. Whether it’s a to-do list or a particular comment from a client, Evernote stores and syncs said information to the user’s account. Subsequently, any and all data can be shared via social media or email for quicker communication between employees. Available on the iTunes App Store, Evernote is a free application.
The author of this post Arnold Gregg, is a freelance app developer for smartphones and he lives in Scarborough. Apart from his interest in technology, he is also a landscaping enthusiast and has worked as a consultant for a few landscape design companies in Toronto.