Hundreds of landscape companies have participated in the Working Smarter Training Challenge. Through this year-long training series, each has found ways to improve systems and processes—in the shop, in the field, and even in the office.
Maps save time. JLS Landscape & Sprinkler in Sedalia, CO, has adopted a new appreciation for organization. “We looked at everything, from our shop to our trucks, and mapped everything out,” says owner John Reffel. “Doing so has helped us save a ton of time in the morning and evening.” Maintenance crews are now on the road 60% faster in the morning, according to Reffel.
Maintenance crews have also been able to shave time off of jobsites—by 15% in many cases. “We’ve put a lot of time into improving our equipment training,” Reffel says. “We’ve also spent time mapping out each property, looking for better and more efficient ways to service them.” Crew leaders have played an integral role in identifying these process improvements and creating this standard work.
TLC - The Landscape Company in Mesa, AZ, develops color-coded maps which highlight the most efficient mowing patterns on a property. David Spector, company owner, says the maps have helped to reduce man-hours by a third in some cases.
For JLS, mapping and creating standard work has also been key in snow removal. More detailed site instructions are given to each crew, and trucks/plows are inspected before and after each snow event to make sure they remain in good working order. “Now we’re training our sub-contractors on standard work, hoping that if we can pass onto them what we have learned, they will also become more profitable, and in turn, make us even more profitable.”
Perfect stripes vs. too much turning. Carpenter & Costin in Rutland, VT, naturally wants to do as good a job as possible on maintenance accounts, but has made some hard decisions when it comes to striping. “When striping our lawns, we always went for the most visual impact from the road,” says president Russ Marsan. “But we were having to turn around all the time, sometimes 50 times on a property. Now we’ve altered our mowing patterns and only have to turn around, say, five times. This is a huge efficiency gain and the lawns still look great.”