April… When Daylight is Worth Saving
April 1. The spring production season is truly here, all across North America (Well maybe it’s still snowing in Colorado today, but you get the idea.) If you’re like many of our customers, you’re still near your peak of customer call volume. That means you need to be out there quoting and building your client list, but April is also peak production time, when you need to be working at full speed.
The 100 Days of Hell
As we talked about in 2013, we’re actually in the middle of the 100 Days of Hell, a time when you may be doing more work than at any other time of the year. For yearlong landscape maintenance contracts, for example, we estimate that during March-May, 50% of the total work in the contract gets done in just 33% of the year.
This creates big challenges for some companies. This is truly the time of year when there just aren’t enough hours in the day… and part of that is Literally true! Just when you need production hours to get your work done, there are fewer to be had, and they are at risk.
A Perfect Storm
Consider these factors that all gang up to deny you of productivity in April.
Where we are in Cincinnati, there’s about 13 hours of daylight at the start of April and about 14 hours of daylight by the end of the month. So if you work 6 days a week, you’ll have about 78 hours of daylight next week… In theory… But:
- It’s also the rainy season, so at least one of those days (maybe 3) will be washed out.
- Unless you start at 6:30 every morning, you’ll miss daylight at the start of each day.
- Unless you keep your crews out until 8:30 in the evening, you’ll miss daylight at the end.
- To get nearly 80 hours on your equipment per week, you’ll probably need to over-hire by up to 40% to keep fully-crewed.
- And even if you have employees willing to lay it out there for 70+ hours a week (Good luck finding enough of them), can you afford to pay their overtime and still be profitable?
All this comes together and tells you one thing… You’d better make the best possible use of the “Good” time you have in April, when you have daylight and good weather and enough workforce that’s not working for overtime.
2 simple Tips to keep April Rolling:
1. Leverage Rain Days (They WILL Happen)
As we talked about in our 12 Rain Day Activities for Landscapers, landscape companies have some good options to make the most of rain days. Some production work can still be done in the rain, including Bed Edging and Spring Clean ups. Sometimes you even have to water sod in the rain. Landscapers can also use rain days to pick up plant stock and haul away debris.
Companies in any industry can take time on a rain day to make sure they’ll be ready to roll and be efficient as soon as the weather is fit. Prepping machinery, fueling equipment, cleaning, organizing and scheduling can all help keep your crews productive.
2. Don’t be afraid of the dark:
Just because the sun went down (or isn’t up yet), doesn’t mean you can’t be productive. Lots of our customers, especially small businesses, use the evenings and early mornings to catch up on paperwork and run the financial sides of their businesses. This can range from balancing the books, to running payroll, to ordering supplies, billing, and producing quotes for service. Basically any administrative task can be done away from peak production time, so you can remain focused on production when the sun is shining.
Many prep tasks can also be done before or after the day by a dedicated support staff, so your production crews can focus on producing. Sharpen tools, gas up machines, fix breakage, replace broken tools… anything that can be done by a support employee that saves production time.
Don’t forget Go iLawn / Go iPave
And we might add that our software can help you save your April productivity in two ways.
- Go iLawn / Go iPave helps you be more efficient. You can assess more sites and do it faster than by visiting them all, and you can use our property maps to sell jobs and direct crews with less confusion and fewer time-consuming questions.
- You can use our software day or night, rain or shine. Even if you want to visit a customer site on a rainy day, you can show up with the assessment already done, leaving your time free to spend selling the job.
Give us a try; we’ll send you a free trial to show how we can help you save time this April. Contact us by email [email protected] or call 800.270.6782 and ask for your free trial.
For businesses dependent on seasonal work, April is kind of a make it or break it month for your year. By leveraging rainy days (& Mondays?) getting productivity after hours and freeing up production workers to do production work when they can, you can make sure you “Make it”.