8 tips for lawn business route efficiency
If you've started a business on the lawn care rounds or you're getting ready to do so, you're joining a great party.
But to make your business survive, grow and thrive, you'll also need lawn care smarts, all the right paperwork and a bit of cash and support behind you. And there's something very important you might not have considered at all: Your actual route.
When it comes to lawn mowing business profitability, you can't afford to fly by the seat of your pants. Your accountant will expect efficiency, and so will your clients. They care about emissions, waste and climate change, and they demand that you get to their place on time.
So when it comes to scheduling jobs, you'll need some planning smarts. You don't want to head to one side of town for that 9am job, drive an hour to the other side and then finish the day right back where you started. It wastes petrol, wears out your vehicle, and blows precious time that could be spent either relaxing or mowing more lawns.
Need more efficient routes for your lawn mowing business? Here's how to achieve that:
1. Collect information
Before you can put together an effective schedule, you'll need to go into information-gathering mode.
You're looking at anything that could affect travelling time, expenses, quality and efficiency - because information is power, especially when it comes to routing and scheduling.
2. Think deeper
You might not think that planning an efficient route is more complex than just looking at all the booking locations and joining the dots with the shortest possible transit time between them.
But you also need to consider how long each job will take, what the flow of traffic will be like at the proposed times, and what the road conditions and weather are likely to be.
3. Use technology
To get really efficient in this 21st century, you're going to have to go beyond mere scheduling. You're going to need to use technology.
In 2018, there's plenty out there - even highly specialist online services designed just for lawn mowing route efficiency. Others use GPS or cloud technology to combine satellite with local information to boost your travel times and optimise your routes.
4. Know the tricks
As we suggested, it's not just about joining the dots between the locations on the map to determine the shortest possible route.
It's also about knowing what to avoid. For instance, try to avoid right turns. Even normal road users sometimes avoid waiting for traffic to clear so you can make that right turn onto a busy road, because it burns petrol, time and personal serenity. Simply by scheduling mainly left turns, you can save petrol, get there more safely, and save time and reduce stress.
If you communicate well with your loyal clients, they won't be too upset when things don't quite go to plan.
Of course, every plan should be designed not only so it's efficient, but so it will work out. But especially in the lawn care industry, sometimes things happen - like terrible weather. There's also jobs that take longer than expected or technology breakdowns, so it's crucial that you have a good relationship with your client base.
6. Map for efficiency
It might sound obvious, but make sure you design that route for maximum efficiency.
That's because it's surprising how many businesses do have a route planning routine, but it might prioritise based on the type of job, a preference for certain clients, or availability. But if you plan based primarily on location, everyone will get a prompt and efficient service, and you'll have a rep for being on time and stress-free.
7. Map for each day
One simple method used by lawn mowing businesses is to schedule jobs for each day focused on one particular area.
That way, if the mower knows they will be staying in that particular area for an entire day of business, they will be able to cram a lot of jobs into that day of service without worrying about blowing a lot of time or fuel on transit.
8. Strive for local jobs
To achieve #7, you'll have to put some effort into drumming up interest in that one particular area. Because imagine how easy route planning would be if, on a Monday, half of your jobs were all in the exact same street or immediate area?
You'll need to make it happen. Once you've finished your job in a new area, knock on a few doors or drop a few leaflets. Offer discounts to other households on the street who might also want to sign up for some lawn mowing - and save mowing time, petrol costs and planning time as a bonus.
The final word: Take scheduling seriously
It might seem less important than your lawn mower or your bulging list of clients, but never forget - you only make money for the hours you can bill. And you can't bill for time wasted between jobs because you didn't take your route planning seriously enough.
Not just that, every minute stuck in traffic is another minute of wasted fuel, and another minute closer to when that vehicle breaks down or needs its regular service. In short: lawn mowing entrepreneurs need to treat their route scheduling with just as much importance as they treat any other aspect of their business - because it could be the difference between a failing, surviving or thriving lawn mowing operation.