Landscape pros share when to go low-tech

Technology can help manage efficiencies, but some owners say there are good reasons to retain old-school workflows
There are good reasons to go old school, some pros say. (Photo: Anutr Yossundara, Dreamstime)

Technology is rapidly changing our industry and how we work. Just over a decade removed from the launch of the first-generation iPhone and Android devices, we find ourselves constantly connected to our business through our phone. We’re able to manage our accounting, update our marketing, see the locations of our field employees, send video messages to clients, and create virtual reality and 3D designs in minutes. These examples are a fraction of what is being done on mobile devices in order to make our day more efficient and keep up with the demands of our clients.

With the adoption of technology into our business practices, there’s still the human element to take into consideration. A tablet or a smartphone may not always be the best tool to pull from the bag in order to convey your message or capture the moment. Old school techniques still have their place among our industry leaders.

[Related: What’s the No. 1 reason landscapers struggle with sales?]

Jake Leman, construction division manager at Singing Hills Landscape, Inc. in Aurora, talked about how they’re able to effectively schedule upcoming projects. “We utilize dry erase schedule boards. We appreciate their extreme flexibility, the ease of changes and the visibility for all invested parties.”

This technique is also popular with Jake Harris, president of Jake’s Designs in Colorado Springs. His staff utilizes the dry erase board for scheduling at their weekly production meeting with all team leaders, and to outline important notes from discovery conversations.

Harris also noted that they use pen and paper with their field personnel. “We have PMs record how much actual material the job took so that it can be compared to what was estimated on the job planner.”

Harris also employs pen and paper for tracking tools and equipment. “We have incorporated an equipment check in/out and maintenance log for each piece of our equipment.”

Alan Flynn, service manager at HomeStyle Landscaping, Inc. in Littleton, uses a similar strategy. “I use tool sign-out sheets for tools leaving the office warehouse, and then have the employees sign them back in upon return. We’ve tried electronic inventory tracking systems that cost thousands, but nothing has worked as well as paper, pen and eyes on the situation.”

In addition to daily practices, Flynn talked about business development and how much his business relies on word of mouth advertising, probably the oldest form of promotion. Flynn commented, “Word of mouth advertising is the best. When you get neighbors asking your clients, ‘Who did this? Where did you get that?’ that’s the best form of promotion you can have.”

With many technically advanced ways to target and attract our clients, it still comes down to a few tried and true habits, according to John Lane, owner of Castle Rock Sprinkler Service, in Castle Rock. “Being reliable, on time—good old-fashioned values. Who you are is more important than what you do. Your most valuable business asset is your reputation.”

Lane added that knowing the business end of a shovel doesn’t hurt. “Dig a trench by hand!”

Can’t get anymore old school than that.

Dan Farley is president and strategic planner at Confluence Strategy, and the founder and former owner of Renovations Landscaping, Inc. in Castle Rock. He can be reached at [email protected].



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *