The time is upon us. Landscaping is unquestionably a business conducted primarily outdoors to cut the grass, trim the hedges, and rake the leaves. However, like any small business owner, landscape contractors still must manage the business side of their companies.
In today’s business world, you must think digital first. From landscape business management software to the numerous mobile applications, there are numerous options to help make running a business easier. Apps are relatively inexpensive and for small contractors, it can help give them an edge in competing with larger corporations and lead to bigger profits.
“What we mean by digital first is that you now have to start thinking about your business in terms of software, hardware, as much as you are about designing your shop, or buying supplies,” says Bill Furlong, founder and CEO of SquareStack. “It is a central piece of how you go about doing business.”
The author of “Appify Your Business,” also says for example, that today most small business owners are consulting QuickBooks, or their bank account balances on their smartphone, before they start today with a cup of coffee. Many are using Ziprecruiter or Indeed to drive their recruitment efforts. With the latest apps available, Furlong says the morning review extends into project management, HR and beyond.
“Now it's very apparent to most small business owners, that if they're going to succeed, scale, or sustain their current business model that they need to embrace fully the software revolution,” he says.
While business apps are the new central platform for small business, with 3.8 million in the Google store alone, it’s daunting to decide which are best for your company. According to Local Search Association, Tech Adoption Index Survey, Wave III, October 2018, 48% of small businesses have shifted to or are considering cloud-based services to save time.
That trend only accelerated in 2020 amidst the pandemic.
“Certainly, part of this new world we're in is the transformation of business operations,” Furlong says. “When we say digital first, in the last six months, about 24 months of digital transformation has occurred. That is out of the necessity of working from home and the limitations of physical in-person meeting.” While those limitations drove the transformation, there are other trends at play as well, such as vendors now demanding owners do all their business online. “Your consumers, customers, your employees, it's just part of the ubiquitous nature of doing business,” he says.
“Green Apps' central purpose is to help the landscape contractor, to consolidate or aggregate all their existing tools, from QuickBooks to social media platforms, to HR tools into one system of record,” Furlong says. “This system will allow that small business owner through one single sign on, one username and password to get into all those tools.”
Recent surveys suggest that most landscapers are using at least 8 software tools or apps to operate their businesses. Just from that alone, they can become overwhelmed trying to sort out all the different passwords and usernames.
Furlong says that is the first feature that is central to GreenApps.
However, he says the most significant feature is the real time dashboard that allows contractors to see all the data from their systems such as bank balances, social media followers, expense reports and more. He says that allows the contractors, who he sees as craftsmen, to get out and do the business of landscaping and have less administrative pain around managing their business.
“It’s worth the commitment of small business owners in the landscape industry to embrace and engage with the software systems they have now,” Furlong says. “Within all of those tools, they are saving time through GreenApps as the centralized system, and they are able to tap into all of the important data points of their business so that they can lean forward and really build that business with more comfort and confidence.”