Lessons in efficiency

August 17, 2020 -  By
Three gears (Photo: GLYPHstock/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Photo: GLYPHstock/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

As this summer begins to wind down, I’m amazed at the strides my team at Grunder Landscaping Co. (GLC) has made. In the spring, when the coronavirus pandemic first started to take hold and the governor of Ohio shut down most of our work, I braced myself for a serious downturn in revenue. But, despite some difficult spring weeks, the GLC team pulled together, found new ways to make and save money and hustled. The result? We are now having a successful summer.

If I had to attribute our success to one factor more than others this year, I would say it’s the gains we’ve made in efficiency. We have come in significantly and consistently under our budgeted hours, without sacrificing the quality of the service we deliver to our clients.

We have one maintenance client whose spring cleanup we do every year. In the past, this job has taken our team 85 hours to complete. This year, it only took 55. I personally did the quality check on this property and found no issues. My own sales team was astounded — how on earth, they asked, did the crew complete this job that quickly without cutting corners?

Spring in Ohio is typically pretty wet and rainy. At this property, our crews would have to take a longer route from the truck to the back of the job site when the ground was wet; each trip would add an extra 100-plus steps and significantly more time. Although our production team had known this for years, we had failed to take it into account when we did the schedule, and so we made the same mistake over and over again, sending crews to the site when the ground was still wet and wasting hours and hours of labor.

This year, we finally got smart and scheduled this job for when it was dry. It was a small change, but it made a big difference.

Here are the efficiency lessons we’ve learned this year:

  • Create a system for property notes At GLC, we began using Aspire Software last year. It helps us easily reference notes from the year before when we’re rebidding repeat work. Team leaders are now tasked with entering detailed notes about each property on their iPads. They include photos, ways to improve efficiency and even enhancement recommendations, and all of this is captured in Aspire to enable us to create more accurate proposals and budgets going forward.
  • Matchmake crews We paired our best team leaders with team members who needed the most training and guidance on a job site, while allowing our less experienced team leaders to run crews with those who need less supervision. This has improved our overall productivity and enabled people who need more training to get it on the job.
  • Get on properties I got back out on job sites to check on our crews. These visits have a double benefit: They help you see where efficiency could be improved, and they enable you to look for enhancements that can add revenue.
  • Crowdsource the answers Your crew members are on client properties every day and likely have their own suggestions about how to save time and money. Create an environment where they feel encouraged to make recommendations, and listen to what they have to say. There’s a wealth of information there if you take the time to ask for it.

At The Grow Group, the green-industry consultancy I run, we have a full schedule of virtual and in-person events planned to help your whole team develop the skills they need to win. Learn more at here.

Marty Grunder

About the Author:

Marty Grunder is president and CEO of Grunder Landscaping Co. and The Grow Group, based in Dayton, Ohio.

1 Comment on "Lessons in efficiency"

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  1. Jim Clayman says:

    Marty, it’s great to see how a well-run company like GLC operates efficiently while still maintaining a high level of customer service. Thanks for sharing.