Hey Clippers! Dave Tucker here to talk about lawn maintenance business data. And today’s lesson comes down to this: You manage what you measure. All you have to do is start keeping track of something, and you’ll see almost immediate improvement. But we’re not going to stop there.
Let’s talk a little bit about the structure of a business. In the simplest terms, it has three parts:
- Employees: People who are willing to sell their time or expertise for money.
- Customers: People who are willing to buy time or expertise for money.
- Business: The organizing entity between them. One easy example is eBay. eBay doesn’t actually buy or sell products. It just connects people who are buying and selling products. This is where you fit into this equation.
In order for you to make money as that organizing entity, you need to track everything so you can cut out unnecessary expenses and wasted resources.
Four important lawn maintenance business data metrics
One aggravation unique to the lawn maintenance business is hauling a piece of equipment out to a job site only to discover that it’s not working. You then have to haul it back to home base for a repair or make do with what you have. No matter what, you’re losing time—and money.
When you keep track of what’s going on with your equipment, you can save yourself from this heartache and its associated frustrations. I recommend making a report for each piece of equipment so your teams can log:
When they used it and for how many productive hours.
Whether it’s in good condition, will need maintenance soon, or needs an immediate repair.
Notes about possible malfunctions so it’s easier to diagnose and fix.
There are a few specific benefits of tracking. First, you can save yourself from the annoyance of discovering your equipment is busted at the job site. Second, you can get a sense of how many billable hours you can get out of a piece of equipment, which makes it easier to price jobs. And third, you can see which pieces of equipment are being used and what’s collecting dust. This can save you from the temptation of buying a cool gadget that never sees any action.
The #1 most important thing you sell is time. More specifically, your employees’ time. Good timesheets can help you track how efficient each of your employees is. At a glance, you should be able to tell how many hours they work and how many jobs they get done in that time. Keep in mind that there’s some nuance to how you measure value here. You might think a highly efficient employee is always your best asset, but don’t discredit the guy who’s willing to put in a lot more hours. They both bring value in their own way, and you’d be wise to pay attention to that.
You should also keep track of compliments and complaints. My philosophy is that a compliment carries ten times more weight than a complaint, since they’re harder to extract from people. Compliments can show you which of your employees really shine.
I recommend tracking two things related to your customers. First, you should track how much you’re earning per job. You need to know what they’re paying you, what your costs are, and what’s left over. This will help you determine how many customers you need in order to be sustainable—and to grow.
Second, you should keep track of customer retention. CLIP has a feature that makes this easy. If you lose ten customers in one month and don’t notice, you might take a big hit before you can make up for that loss. If you know exactly when people leave, you can start working right away to bring in new business and meet your goals.
Management is simply the system that connects employees and customers. To some degree, that’s you, but it also refers to the different tools and systems that keep everything running smoothly when you step away.
Here’s my #1 recommendation in this category: Create clear manuals for everything. And I mean everything. Spend a year documenting all your procedures. Don’t think about it like writing a whole entire book. It’s more like a series of articles that are stored in a database. Just tackle it topic by topic.
When you’ve got everything written down, your employees can find the answers they need easily without having to bug you every time. Of course, you want to be available to them if they need you, but you don’t want to waste your time discussing little details that can easily be communicated in a short article. Having everything documented will save time and frustration for everyone.
Every dollar counts.
Every dollar you spend on management is a dollar you’re not spending on production. With clear tracking systems, you can make informed decisions faster without having to chase down data. This means you can focus more energy on growing your business—or stepping back to spend time with your family.