Choose Your Technologies Like You Choose Your Tools… Carefully

Equipment… we hear about it all the time.

Everyone seems to have their own favorite brands and models, and some people can get really serious about it… fanatical even.

What’s Your Brand?

We all know guys who are adamantly Ford drivers and others who are equally passionate about their Chevy or their Ram. We’ve heard them quote torque, horsepower and payload numbers like they’re reading off the back of a baseball card, and some guys seem willing to argue about who’s truck is best until we really just don’t care anymore.  And this passion for tools goes far beyond the trucks we drive.

Gear for Pros

In the Service Industry businesses where most of our customers work, having quality equipment is a big part of the job. Even if they’re not passionate about the brand of trucks they buy, our customers’ passion for their tools can extend down to the simplest of gear. We’ve seen adamant brand loyalty to everything ranging from trucks and loaders to mowers and blowers to plows, shovels, rakes and hand tools.

We’ve seen arborists who carry $75 pruners in a holster on their belts, and we know pavers who won’t think twice about shelling out $125 for a specialty asphalt rake, even though someone else could do the same jobs with inferior equipment that costs half the price. But these professionals choose their gear carefully because they believe using this equipment gives them an advantage.

They might think they get a better end result using a better tool or that they can be more efficient when doing the work. It may be just a matter of reducing fatigue or making their work a more pleasant experience for themselves. But whatever the justification, these professionals have decided that it’s worth a premium to them to have the best tools they can get… because they’re the pros, and pros need professional quality gear.

Do you have a passion for your tools? Which ones and Why?

Is Technology in Your Toolkit?

When you think about using software or other technologies to help you drive your business, do you think about them as tools? Are you driving your business forward using technology or is technology driving you to distraction?

Modern business software can offer powerful tools to help your business be more informed, more effective and more efficient, but only if you’re ready to embrace it. So the big question becomes how technology is viewed in your company. Is technology a trusted partner that helps you get things done, or do you think about it as something foreign, maybe even as a risk or a burden?

What is Real?

We hear about this friction all the time too. Our customers’ businesses are very tangible. They can do their work with their own hands and can see their work get done with their own eyes. It can feel like a big difference to place your trust and resources into a technology solution that keeps vital aspects of your business stored away in memory where you can only access it if you have the right passwords and know-how.

Risks at Both Ends

I’ve talked to Service Industry business owners that run multi-million dollar operations with the same tools and techniques they (or their fathers) used 25 years ago. It doesn’t seem to prevent them from succeeding, so they soldier on like it’s still 1990. These guys are missing out on the advances and efficiencies they could be gaining if they used more technology, but they probably don’t even feel the pain of the money they’re losing by not updating their processes.

I’ve also talked to people who’ve adopted technology before they were ready and faced unnecessary challenges before it made sense. They may have been limited by size if their business hadn’t grown enough to make use of the technology yet. Or maybe they chose the wrong technology, and the tools they tried to use weren’t mature yet. Or maybe their company culture just wasn’t equipped to make use of it yet. Whatever the cause, these guys have definitely felt the pain of their failure and may be resistant to trying again, even if the causes of their past problems have been fixed.

So Pick Your Battles

We recognize that jumping into a complex, business automation software system like a dedicated ERP or an integrated CRM system can mean a big investment of time and effort from your company. Don’t get us wrong, we think this kind of technology can help any business. And these kinds of tools are a great way to grow your business, but only if your company can afford to invest lots of one precious resource into them: your own time and effort. Simply put, you have to be ready to commit, long-term, to making them work for you… and not every business is.

But even if your company isn’t ready for this kind of commitment, you can still use technology to get ahead. You just have to pick the places in your business where standalone technology can help you most.

Places to Start

When we look at places to get started with technology, we see two obvious choices; fleet management and the pre-sales process.

Fleet Management

The travel of your company’s vehicles has long been a source of risk and liability. Modern fleet management solutions can work independently of your other business systems and provide you with added security, indemnity and control of your company’s vital road assets.

There are multiple vendors that provide solutions that do many of the same things. They provide fleet tracking that can tell you where your vehicles are at any time and how they are being operated. You can monitor them in real-time or look back at a history of where they’ve been, how long they stayed at a location, how fast they traveled, and many other factors that will impact your company’s bottom line.

While these tools can be integrated with other software technologies, they also have the ability to stand alone, so your company can benefit from them, even if you don;t use other software. There are generic GPS apps that could provide some of this functionality but dedicated fleet management software, designed for your industry, provides more value with less customization. Remember, pros need professional quality gear, so choose wisely.

The Pre-Sales Process

Lots of companies still sell with a hand-made estimate based on an in-person meeting with each client on their worksite. To get more scale, you either have to put more salesmen out there or figure out how to cover more ground with the salespeople you have.

If you want to reach more customers with your existing sales team, we think our Go iLawn/Go iPave software is the best pre-sales tool available to Landscaping and Pavement Maintenance contractors. With Go iLawn / Go iPave, you can evaluate worksites anywhere in North America from your own office. One person can quote dozens of customers in a day without adding to your indirect costs and running all over town. And you can use our software day or night, adding vital hours to your workday!

Our software is just another tool. You can use it as another piece of equipment that helps you do your work better and makes your job a little more pleasant. And you can either integrate it with other software or use it on its own. Again, there are generic alternatives that provide some functionality, but our dedicated property assessment software, designed for your industry, provides more value with less customization. Remember, pros need professional quality gear, so choose wisely.

Check out the links below for more information on Go iLawn / Go iPave and some Fleet Management software options:

Links:

www.goilawn.com

www.goipave.com

http://www.lawnandlandscape.com/products/category/fleet-management-software/

http://landscapemanagement.net/tag/fleet-management/

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