Is your landscape company software savvy?

January 30, 2019 -  By
Software interface (Photo: PRO Landscape)

Photo: PRO Landscape

In the tight labor market, creating efficiencies and saving time is key. What better way than to use technology to do so?

Landscape software has come a long way, and it’s improving all the time. There are numerous options to help improve your designs and better plan your projects.

We spoke with a few experts — David Sloan, sales and marketing manager for Drafix/PRO Landscape; Mike St. Louis, director of marketing for Nearmap; Cameron Ashby, systems manager for Elite Grounds; and Jim and Billie Helms, owners of Helms Lawn Specialist — to learn what landscape pros should consider when choosing design software.

User-friendly

A functionality that’s easy to use and intuitive is crucial, especially for training crew members of all ages and at different points in their careers.

It’s important to identify team members who are eager and willing to learn how to use and implement new software properly. “Before choosing (software), make sure to consider the skill level of those using the software and how they might approach technology,” Sloan says.

“If a landscaping company has to hire a specialist just to use software, it adds to the bottom line,” St. Louis adds.

Aerial image (Photo: Nearmap)

Photo: Nearmap

Accuracy

St. Louis also says having an accurate base map is a good start to any design project.

Getting accurate measurements makes it easier to prepare quotes and bids for projects. For example, the location data on Nearmap’s aerial imagery has helped Ashby capture accurate measurements for Elite Grounds, which is based in Salt Lake City. “We can easily measure a property and calculate material costs to avoid extra inventory,” he says. “Using the oblique view, we can measure details such as fence and wall height, the linear feet of rooflines and even the degree at which the property slopes.”

Jim and Billie Helms use PRO Landscape at their Delphi, Ind.-based company to show customers what a design might look like five years into the future. “Homeowners really find out what they want at the beginning of the process. The design sells itself,” Jim Helms says. “We can even add snow and lighting to show what the landscape could look like.”

Integration

Keeping in mind the type of projects being designed will make it easier to determine how a software might integrate into current company processes. “Different pieces of software have different capabilities, so it’s important to choose the software that is right for a company’s exact situation,” Sloan says.

Customization can make integrating new software at a company easier and more effective long term. With PRO Landscape, the Helmses can set up the software with the specific location to ensure the correct plant is used the first time around. “We can choose plants from all zones of the U.S.,” Billie Helms says. “Or we can narrow it down to all of the plants that grow best in zone 5 — our region.”

Ashby says Elite Grounds’ local service area is growing with new homes and businesses, so designing installation projects has become easier with historical images and seeing the property as a blank slate before structures are built.

At the end of the day, Ashby says having integrated software will make his company more efficient. “It’s a software that I really enjoy,” he says. “And soon, it will go out to the full team making their jobs better.”

Danielle Pesta

About the Author:

Danielle Pesta is the associate editor of Landscape Management. She started writing for the green industry in 2014 and has won multiple awards from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA). She can be reached at dpesta@northcoastmedia.net.

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