Lawn Care Software Buying Guide for Lawn Businesses
Why did we write this buying guide?
As a lawn care business owner, one of your main goals is to seek efficiency in everything you do. Be it:
- Trying to find a way to streamline your scheduling and routing.
- Ensuring timely customer communication and invoicing so you don’t fall behind on receivables.
- Knowing how much money you are making on each service.
- Knowing your business’s overall financial health.
When you are just starting, like many out there, you can choose to handle everything manually. However, you can grow only to a certain extent with the manual way.
To grow to the next level, you need a system that can help streamline processes for your business.
However, when it comes to choosing the right lawn care software, most of the lawn care business owners find it tough what to look for.
Not opting for a software solution because of a lack of knowledge would be a huge mistake. Doing it without proper research would be an even bigger mistake.
This is why we wrote this lawn care software buying guide.
The objective of this buying guide is to inform you of the ins and outs of buying lawn software.
Use this buying guide to choose which and when is the best choice for your lawn care business. Get insights on use cases for individual features and the most critical buying criteria to make informed purchasing decisions.
Then, after purchasing, sit back, and enjoy your new, efficient business!
Lawn Care Software Overview
A) What is lawn care software?
Lawn care software is a solution to help lawn care professionals manage and schedule lawn care jobs, track on-field time, manage equipment, optimize routes, provide estimates to customers, and send out invoices.
A good lawn maintenance software will have two aspects to it.
- An office side, and
- The field side.
These two are so important because these two parts of a lawn care business must be able to communicate and always be on the same page.
At GorillaDesk, the top challenges we hear from lawn care business owners are centered around scheduling, routing, and billing.
At its core, lawn care software should help to better manage and grow your lawn maintenance business. Beyond the core features, a few lawn care software differentiate themselves on breadth or depth of offering, such as:
- Generate reports to get business insights
- Collect customer reviews
- Customer Management
- E-signature capability
And much more!
B) How do you know it’s time for your lawn care business to look for lawn care software?
Here are a few leading indicators or clear signs that it’s time for you to start looking out for a lawn care software to grow your business to the next level. These are when:
- You start seeing jobs falling through the cracks.
- Customers start canceling on them because of the inconsistent service schedules.
- You start losing business or revenue because of customers canceling your services.
- You realize how much time you are spending after-hours handling things that could have been taken care of in the field.
- When you are using multiple tools for running the business and wasting a lot of time switching between those tools.
- When you realize the current processes and tools could be even more problematic as your business grows.
- When you need a one-place solution to handle things, such as invoicing, routing, scheduling, reporting, and more.
Benefits of a lawn care software
Using lawn care software has many benefits, a few of them are listed below:
A) Better customer management
Lawn care software helps businesses store and manage customer records in one place. This helps businesses cater to customers in an efficient way, ensuring nothing falls through the cracks.
B) Invoicing and billing automation
Lawn care software empowers businesses to generate automatic and recurring invoices. This frees up a lot of time for business owners that they can use for growing their business. Also, because the financial data is arranged and well maintained, it makes auditing easy.
C) Better Customer Communication
An advanced lawn care software makes it easy to communicate with your customers before, during, and after the job. Remind them about upcoming appointments, let them know when you’re on the way, and follow-up when the work is done.
Building a business case for lawn care software
A) Identify the business problems you’re trying to solve
Here is the list of the most common problems lawn care businesses face when they are managing everything manually.
- Low productivity & poor customer management: They manage everything using pen and paper and don’t have a system in place for scheduling, invoicing, and customer management.
- Poor customer communication: They drop the ball on customer communication to remind them when they are going to service the location.
- No follow-up process: They leave money on the table by not having any follow up cadence for customers with previously scheduled services.
- Poor time management: Need to free up the time they normally spend doing paperwork after their workday.
- Falling behind on their receivables.
- No way to add and manage customers and job information on-the-go. They need to wait until they get home to add new customers into the system which takes time after their workday.
If you are facing any of the challenges from the above list, note them down. Also, note down any other challenges you are facing in your lawn care business.
B) State goals you are trying to achieve for your lawn care business.
Here is the list of most common goals business owners try to achieve for their lawn care business:
- Schedule jobs and optimize routes more efficiently from the office or on-the-go.
- Manage their customer information more efficiently.
- Keep their customers informed at all times.
- Easily take payments in the field or allow customers to pay online.
- Have an idea of where their technicians are throughout their day.
- Cut back on redundant tasks and lighten the workload
- Streamline and grow their business.
C) Based on your business goals, create a feature list.
Once you are able to identify the problems and state the goals, the next step is to map them.
How do you do that?
Let’s look at an example to understand it.
|1.||Spending time after work hours to schedule jobs.||Able to schedule jobs on-the-go.||Mobile app|
|2.||Falling behind on the receivables||
Allow the customers to pay their invoices online
|Credit card processing|
This mapping exercise will help you come up with the list of must-have and good-to-have features.
And, there you have it.
D) Determine your budget
In this step, you are expected to come up with financial justification and return on investment for the fee you are ok to pay for the software.
When it comes to ROI, you can measure it using different qualitative and quantitative metrics. However, quantitative ones such as time saved or $ value of the time saved are the best one to assess the worth of a tool.
An advanced lawn care software will save you around 10-15 hours/week in scheduling, routing, invoicing, and follow-ups. That’s 40-60 hours a month.
According to Indeed, the average hourly rate of a lawn care specialist in the United States is $14.15.
So, 40-60 hours of your time = $565-850.
Not to forget that you get to work on the business, instead of working in it. Because the software takes care of all those manual things you would end up doing otherwise.
If you can save 40-60 hours or $565-850 every month, would you mind paying $49 for a software?
I am sure you wouldn’t if you are a business owner with a growth mindset.
Explore Your Options (How to properly evaluate)
A) Have your questions ready!
Once you have clarity on:
- Business problems you’re trying to solve,
- Goals you want to achieve,
Must-have and good-to-have features, and
- Budget for the software;
The next important step is to list all the possible questions you have – be it about features offered, service and support, or pricing of the software.
Here is how you can go about each of them:
1) Featured offered
Here are a few questions you must ask before committing to anything.
a) Is the solution scalable?
You may be a small lawn care business today. However, you will grow with time. As you grow, your requirements from the software may change from what it is today.
Can the software or the solution meet your requirements?
As you grow, the last thing you would want is to look for alternatives because your existing software is not able to meet your requirements.
How can you judge whether a solution is scalable?
The easiest way is to ask for the different types of lawn care companies that use the software you are considering.
b) What other software does it integrate with?
A good lawn care software will handle most of your job. However, you will still have to use other software for different things, such as lead generation, managing finances, sending promotional emails, etc.
Ideally, you would want the lawn care solution to have an integration with other major software you use in your business. (Not necessarily with all, but surely with the main ones like email- marketing and accounting software.)
2) Service & Support
A lot of lawn care software providers claim to provide 24/7 support via phone, email, or chat. However, the reality is a bit different.
Among other things, a few of them do not mention whether the support is free or not. Potential customers often miss it and assume it comes free with the subscription.
When it comes to the support & service, here are the possible questions you should ask:
a) What are your support hours?
Do not always go by what you see or read on the business website. It is recommended to clarify the support hours.
b) What type of support do you offer?
If a company offers all four types of support – phone, email, chat, and tickets – the first you should be asking is:
- Is it included in the monthly subscription cost or charged separately?
- What’s the primary support channel – Chat? Tickets? Email?
- The response time for a chat, ticket, and email support.
- Does phone support come up with all the plans or only available of the higher ones?
c) Will I have a dedicated account manager or support engineer?
If you are a lawn care company managing ten or more routes, it does make sense to ask for a dedicated account manager or support engineer.
However, it shouldn’t be an influencing factor as it is unrealistic to ask for a dedicated account manager if you have five or fewer routes.
A lot of pest control software companies offer a no-questions-asked refund guarantee.
But as they, the devil is in the details.
Please do not take any such claim on the face of it. Let’s admit, getting a refund is never as easy as it is made out to be. So, you would want to be dead sure about everything before you take the next step.
Here are a few questions you can ask about pricing:
a) Do you offer a free trial? Do I get access to all the features in the free trial?
A free trial with access to all the features allows you to try a product thoroughly. But then not all companies offer a free trial.
Even if some of them offer a free trial, you only get access to certain features. So, we recommend getting clarity on that. Among other questions, you can ask:
- Does the refund guarantee apply to both monthly and annual subscriptions?
- Is there an upfront set up fee? If yes, will that be refunded?
- Can I cancel the subscription at any time during the first month and still get a full refund?
c) What happens to my customer and business data if I decide to cancel?
This is the most important one. Your business’ data is the most critical asset. You can’t afford to risk it at any cost.
So, you should be asking, will all my data be deleted if I cancel my subscription? Or, can I export it to the other tool I plan to move to?
B) Top-rated Lawn Care Software for Lawn Care Companies
C) Shortlist the top-2 or 3 that match your requirements.
Once you have compared the features, mapped them with your requirements, and accounted for the associated cost, narrow down your choices to top 2-3 that seem to be the best fit.
The next step is to get a feel of the product either by starting a trial or scheduling a demo.
D) Try before you buy – experience the products first hand and evaluate which one is the closest to meeting your needs.
A free trial is a good way to see what a particular software can do and also reduces your risk as a customer.
A few lawn care software companies offer free trials and there are a few offering a completely free plan. As a potential buyer, you should understand the difference between the two:
1) Free Trial:
Free trials are usually offered in the following two ways:
a) Limited-time trial:
In a limited-time trial, you get access to all the available features of software but for a short period of time. The trial period varies from company to company.
For example, GorillaDesk’s lawn care software comes with a 14-day free trial.
b) Limited-features trial
In a limited features trial, you get access to only a few/basic features of a tool. To access the advanced features, you will need to upgrade to a pricing plan.
2) Forever Free or completely free plan:
It is somewhat similar to a limited-features trial. You get access to only a few features of the software.
The main difference between the two is, the Forever Free plan doesn’t have a time limit. You can use it for as long as you want.
Among the three different types, a limited-time free trial gives you the best option to assess a software. It allows you to evaluate:
- How easy it is to set up.
- How easy it is to use.
- Does it meet your requirements
- Customer support quality.
Once you thoroughly use and understand the product, you will be able to decide the fit and whether you want to continue using the product.
Make The Final Decision
Once you test all the different software you have on your shortlist, you will have more clarity on a lawn care software that:
- Is easy to set up
- Easy to use
- Meets all or most of your requirements
- Fits in your budget
- Provides high-quality customer service
By this time, you will be able to decide on the one lawn care software on which you would like to place your bet.
Congratulations and Good Luck!
Conclusion: Summing it up!
New age lawn care solutions have made it very easy for lawn care companies of all sizes to automate and streamline their operations.
By streamlining the operations, you can increase your productivity, customer satisfaction, revenue, and overall profitability of the business.
By understanding the goals and objectives of your business, you’ll have a better idea of the right software. It will ultimately set you & the company up for success.
All you have to do is ask the right questions to the software vendors and you’ll be confident with your final decision.
Started in 2013, GorillaDesk is the #1 lawn care software trusted by over 2000 field service businesses in the US and beyond. We help lawn care owners streamline their operations and grow faster.
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