Type “landscape business software” into Google and in less than a second you’ll be buried in results claiming to assist with every aspect of a landscape company’s operations: scheduling, invoicing, estimates, design, timesheets, purchasing, customer management and more. (There’s only one landscape training software, and that's us.) With so many options to choose from, deciding on a particular software tool or suite of tools can feel overwhelming. Here are four tips to help you make the best software investments for your landscape company.
LANDSCAPER SOFTWARE TIP #1: FIGURE OUT WHERE IT HURTS
What do you most need help with? What routine tasks take too much time? What things seem to fall through the cracks? What paper-intensive work could be accomplished more effectively online? What would you like to streamline? What could you automate? What would you like to be able to do away from your desk? Answering these questions will help you identify the type of software you actually need, and steer you away from new shiny tools with lots of bells and whistles that could make your team less efficient in the end.
LANDSCAPER SOFTWARE TIP #2: ASK AROUND
Recommendations from peers in the landscape industry are excellent ways to narrow your choices and make a final decision. Even if you don’t have landscaper colleagues to ask in-person, you can post questions in online landscaper forums, consult online reviews and read articles about different types of software. Some companies provide testimonials. Others allow you to talk directly with their customers to get the real dirt. We invite landscape companies interested in our training software to ask two of our customers any question they like by email. There’s no better way to find out the pros and cons of a type of software than by talking to real customers.
LANDSCAPER SOFTWARE TIP #3: USE SOFTWARE BUILT FOR LANDSCAPERS
While there are many similarities between landscape companies and other businesses, software that has been built specifically for landscapers is more likely to meet your needs. It’ll use your lingo and include the types of business support you need, such as job costing, training and scheduling. Platforms built for landscapers should perform well on mobile devices and have mobile apps to make it easier to use them in the field, since owners and managers of landscaping businesses are rarely tied to a desk and will require on-the-go access to their software tools.
LANDSCAPER SOFTWARE TIP #4: TRY IT OUT
Most software companies offer some sort of free trial so you can get a sense of the platform. Is it easy to use? Does it do what it promises? Can you see your team benefiting from it? The best way to answer these questions is to try it out for yourself. Involve your team members who will need to use the software as well. Their early buy-in will help ensure the software’s successful integration into your day-to-day. If they don’t like the software, better to find out before you’ve made any investment. Use their feedback to help you when you go back to the drawing board.
In the end, let your choice of software be guided by your actual needs, the advice of colleagues you trust, the fact that the platform was built specifically for landscapers, and your experience with a free trial. You’ll be more likely to find software that works in your business and solves your problems, and less likely to invest in an online tool that no one ends up using.