Efficient Route Planning for Lawn Care Jobs
While you and your crews are out there mowing lawns or providing other services to your clients you are making money. Unfortunately it is close to impossible to be 'on the job' all day. The day of a lawn care business operator and their employees is also taken up by loading time and the time that it takes to get between jobs. If you can reduce loading time, unloading time and travelling time you can be much more productive with your day and therefore run a more profitable business. This is where the concept of efficient route planning comes in.
With fuel prices rising it is more important than ever to think about how you can be spending more time in the yards of your clients and less time out there on the road. Here are some ideas on how you can arrange, set out and schedule lawn care routes that are efficient and profitable for your business.
Understanding Your Route
It is important that you first come to understand your route visually. Take a large map of the areas that you service and then place a pin to represent each of your accounts. You may be able to find a software program to do this for you. Then you will be able to see how the areas can be divided into smaller routes for each of the employees or teams that you send out. These areas can then be divided into smaller areas again depending on the day of the week that you will be servicing them. You will also start to get an idea of the best way to drive between jobs and can start thinking about daily scheduling.
Keep Routes Tight
To maximize efficiency it is best if you or your lawn care company employees each service a smaller area. Driving time and gasoline costs can quickly add up so the best way to use your business time and resources is to have a schedule that minimizes traveling time.
Push to get Lawn Accounts within Close Proximity
The Holy Grail in lawn care is to have multiple accounts in the one street. If you are mowing lawns for a couple of neighbors then you will have no drive time between these two jobs if you schedule one after the other. Ideally you won't even have to load and unload if the two accounts are close enough and require similar equipment.
Offer discounts for multiple jobs on the same street. Get word out in your flyers or through your customers that if three or more families sign up for your services then all customers in the street will get significant discounts. What a great way to spread the word about your services as your customers tell their neighbors about your services and the discounts possible. It's a win-win situation all round as you also save a fortune on traveling time, loading time and gasoline if you are servicing multiple accounts in the same street.
Choose a street where you have a few accounts and set out to 'own it'. Make it your territory and set out to pick up as many accounts on that street as you can. If you can drive to one street in the morning and work there until lunch time or even all day, you will be in lawn care heaven.
Swap Customers to Improve Your Route
If you have customers that are located far away consider swapping them with one of your competitors who is working that area. Your competitors may have the odd customer in your area that is too far away to travel to and be prepared to make a trade.
Get to know other lawn care business owners and send business their way if you get enquiries that are going to mess up your route planning. If they reciprocate then you will be helping each other to maintain tight and efficient routes.
Many areas have periods throughout the day when traffic is heavier or lighter than usual. Take note of times when the traffic is light and aim to do most of your travelling then. Likewise, when traffic is heavy you are better off being at work on a client's lawn.
Route Planning Software
You can buy specialized software like Microsoft Streets and Trips that can plan out routes in a way that minimizes drive time and fuel consumption. Once you have grown to the point where you have several hundred accounts, software like this becomes essential and it can really save you a lot of time. If you are just starting out in business though you can get away with doing your own route planning with maps and a GPS.
Route planning plays a key role in the running of a lawn care business that is productive and profitable. Once you know how to bring in new accounts you have to know how to service them efficiently if you are to maximize your income.
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