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Answers to LCOs’ most pressing questions

February 17, 2021 -  By
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3. Regulation roundup

Bob Mann

Director of state and local government relations, National Association of Landscape Professionals
[Shared in Professional Lawn Care Applicators group]

“Head’s up for you guys in New York: A new law signed by the governor earlier this week will require lawn care signs and notifications to be in both English and Spanish. The law still has to go through the regulatory process with (the Department of Environmental Conservation), but you should know now so you can plan accordingly for 2021.”

Changes to regulations in the lawn and landscape industry are constant, mostly on the state and local level, according to Bob Mann, director of state and local government relations for the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP).

“It’s imperative as a lawn care and landscape professional that you seek out opportunities to be a champion for our industry in the political world and to find good sources of information so you’ll be abreast of changes that affect you and your business,” he says. “Much of our work involves shining a light on our industry standards and the professionalism of our people.”

As for now, Mann says NALP is monitoring multiple pieces of fertilizer- and pesticide-related legislation in multiple states and interacting with the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as state pesticide regulatory agencies, on all issues surrounding the green industry.

Having been a member of his own state lawn care association for 30 years, Mann says the best way to stay on top of state and local changes is to become involved in state lawn care, landscape and nursery associations.

“For far too long, our industry has been reactionary in the political realm, waiting until something truly awful is proposed by people who do not like the services that we provide,” he says. “At that point, it’s too late to persuade the decision-makers since you’ll only have three minutes at a committee hearing to make your case. You need to be a known quantity in your community long before that happens.”

Mann adds that social media groups also can provide ways for lawn care operators to stay on top of prevalent issues and regulations.

“Most of social media these days is fatally toxic, but it would be a mistake to miss out on the opportunities to interact with your peers in (social media groups),” he says.

As far as the future of regulation goes, Mann says NALP is cautiously optimistic as the Biden administration announces its nominees.

“NALP staff and our allies purposefully cultivate relationships across the political spectrum because the pendulum swings in both directions over time, and you need to advocate for industry issues regardless of which party is in power,” he says. “It remains to be seen exactly what issues will be priorities since it’s so early in the administration.”

Crew member using software in the field (Photo: SingleOps)

Take time Most CRM software requires time upfront to learn how
it functions. (Photo: SingleOps)

4. Software search

Elizabeth Elliott

Owner, Himmel’s Landscape & Garden Center, Pasadena, Md.
[Posted in NALP Women in Landscape Network]

“I have a retail garden center, with a (quickly growing) full-service landscape division. I have to move away from paper and find the right system to manage my landscape clientele. Any suggestions for a CRM or other approach I may not be thinking of?! I have already hired someone to do this job, I just need to figure out what the job is.”

Implementing customer relationship management (CRM) software into a lawn care business can help LCOs with their labor forecasting, materials, budgeting, estimating, job management, scheduling and routing, just to name a few, according to Sean McCormick, CEO of SingleOps.

Specific to turf care, McCormick says the ability to optimize scheduling provides huge gains.

“If you’re able to just schedule one or two more stops a day for your team, whether it be by optimizing the scheduling, improving your estimating, giving your crews better data so they can get jobs done faster, that is a game-changer for that side of the business,” he says.

Compiling a company’s data under one roof is another key benefit of CRM software, according to Donna Garner, chief marketing officer for Arborgold.

“It helps to have it all in one system instead of multiple platforms,” Garner says. “They can grow their revenue with features like automation for follow-ups and renewals. It even helps when analyzing how profitable they are, too, and knowing which customers they should increase prices for and which customers they should let go if they’re not profitable.”

So, what factors should lawn care companies consider when choosing a CRM software?

“When folks are evaluating software, it’s important to make sure the functionality matches what they’re trying to achieve with their business,” McCormick says. “There are a handful of systems out there that go feature by feature, but you really need to think about how you’re going to take the most advantage of this software.”

The software’s ease of use, intuitiveness and customer support should also be considered, according to Garner.

“After you buy, you’re going to need help,” she says. “It’s about having a company working with you as your company is growing and adapting to the way technology is changing.”

McCormick agrees.

“It’s a misconception that you can sign up for a software, and, after a weekend, go live on Monday,” McCormick says. “The reality is companies need to budget their internal time so they can implement the system, but it doesn’t take some crazy effort. It’s more of, ‘Hey, you need to budget X hours per week. You need to assign a single person who is responsible for the success of this project.’ Oftentimes, someone will sign up, but they just don’t budget any of their own time to spend on implementing it, and that’s not going to succeed.”

Sarah Webb

About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's associate editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at LM, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor.

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