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Ditch the Pen: Why You Need Software to Help Manage Your Business

March 2, 2022

Business management software has become part of the landscape (see what I did there?) for businesses in the last decade. 

Some businesses still stubbornly use paper and pen or even Excel spreadsheets. Why? There may be various legitimate reasons; small startup businesses find software confusing or cost-prohibitive, for example. I’m not talking to that crowd. 

If you’re running a business with more than one crew or four employees (including you), you should be using business management software. Full stop. 

Here are two good reasons you should ditch the pen and leverage the power of business management software to help you improve your business. 

Better Business Results

You’re in business to make money, right? Of course you are. You may enjoy landscaping, tree care, or lawn care and the challenges they present, but you still need to pay the bills. 

Having business management software to keep track of things so you don’t have to is necessary. There are several things software will do for you.

Transparent Reporting

There are tons of reports that solid business management software will provide. Everything from your basic profit and loss reports to outstanding jobs (so you know your backlogs) should be available. 

These reports are based on the information you enter into the software, so be sure you’re entering accurate information. If you do, you’ll be rewarded with great reports that you need to quickly check how profitable your business is, see your Sales rep’s closing percentage, and how far out you’re scheduling. 

Knowing these numbers with regularity is key to helping you make sound business decisions. Checking them weekly to ensure you’re on the right track is crucial to success. 

For example, if you don’t know your Sales rep’s closing rate, how will you know who’s under-performing and needs coaching to improve? How will you know who’s over-performing and should be given more territory? 

What about job profitability? You might have a salesperson that’s closing a TON of deals, but they’re all at really slim margins. Another representative selling less volume might be making better margins, so they’re generating more bottom-line money for the business. How would you know this if you’re not keeping track of your reports? 

What about man-hours on a job? Perhaps those jobs aren’t profitable because you’re underestimating the time needed on-site. 

Do you know where your backlogs are at presently? If not, how can you set a reasonable expectation for the customers you’re talking with each day about when their work might be completed? 

Knowing these types of metrics helps you make the right decisions. The reporting that business management software provides gives you this information in moments, saving you plenty of time and headache. 

Business Management Software Keeps Processes Consistent

Part of what’s frustrating to many growing businesses is that everyone has their way of doing things. Everyone seems to have figured out a slightly different way of accomplishing the same goals. 

While this might be good for a startup business, you need to know that you’re getting consistent results as you grow. You will begin (or you should start) to establish standard processes that everyone in the business follows. And I’m not just talking about your business management software here. I’m talking about your business

You should have standard, repeatable operations, sales, and billing processes. This is the most scalable way to grow your business. Positioning yourself for future growth is critical to sustainability. If you want to grow your business long-term, you need the processes. 

One of the beautiful things about business management software is that it forces you to standardize specific processes. Software requires specific inputs to function correctly, so people in your company have to follow a particular process. The program won’t let them take shortcuts or do it “my way.” 

If you want to standardize these processes for your business, you should look at a software solution to help you get started. Build out your new processes around the software’s functionality and your business needs, and you’re off on the right foot. 

Better Onboarding

We’ve talked about onboarding before, both in blog form and in our Recruiting and Retaining Guide. You must nail down your onboarding process. Doing this well could be the difference between being fully staffed or struggling to complete the work you’ve sold. 

Again, we see business management software lending you a helping hand. Because these programs require certain inputs (you have to enter specific information for every customer, for example), everyone has to do it the same way. 

This is critical for getting a new hire up to speed and contributing quickly. The sooner they “get it,” the better value you’ll get from their contributions. And when everyone on the team completes a task (any task) the same way, the sooner the new team member will adopt this way of doing things.

The reason for this is simple: everyone is telling them the same thing. When you tell the new team member how they should be performing a task, that instruction is reinforced by everyone. It’s a lot like parenting; when your child hears the same things consistently from both Mom and Dad, they “get it” faster than if each person is telling something different. 

Want to improve your onboarding experience and retain more of your new employees? Implement a business management software that will ensure everyone performs a process in the same way. 

Business Management Software Creates a Better Customer Experience

I know some of you reading this are skeptical about “customer experience.” You either have no frame of reference for what this means, or you aren’t convinced it matters. Before we do anything else, let’s look at the research on this topic. 

Research on Customer Experience

There are several good reasons to begin to leverage business management software, starting with the fact that your customers expect you to use it. Research shows that 75% of consumers expect a business to leverage technology for a better customer experience. This means that three out of every four customer appointments you’ll make this Spring will have the expectation that you’re using software, tablets, email, and digital invoicing and payment options. 

Why? Because it’s better for them

Don’t believe me? Okay, how about this: 77% of consumers report that inefficient customer experiences “detract from their quality of life.” And yes, that’s in quotes because I’m quoting the research. Failing to make yourself easy to do business with (i.e., leveraging software, giving them the ability to pay digitally, etc.) means three out of four customers feel that doing business with you makes their lives worse. 

News Bulletin: you don’t want your customers saying that buying your services makes their lives worse. That’s a bad thing. 

And lastly, there’s a direct benefit to your bottom line in all of this. One study found that 84% of businesses that work to improve their customer experience saw an increase in revenue. Having a great customer experience benefits your customer, yes. But it also helps your profitability. 

It turns out that being easy to work with is good for business. 

Better Scheduling

Brilliant people still forget things. Or, someone accidentally brushes up against the whiteboard and erases the schedule you’ve carefully crafted for the last half of the month. In either event, it’s easy to miss something. 

You know this pain if you’ve ever forgotten to schedule a customer’s job. Or just as bad, if you’ve ever double-booked a crew or a piece of equipment, you understand the feeling I’m talking about. 

A good business management software will have the tools to keep track of your scheduling. You won’t have to worry about forgetting a job or some accident wiping it out. You’ll keep track of who (and what) is going where and when they’re supposed to be there. And you won’t have to do it all in your head or on a wall calendar. 

This also saves you a lot of time. If you’ve ever had a customer call and ask to reschedule a job after you’ve spent hours working out the schedule, you know what I’m describing. 

Improve your ability to deliver exceptional service to your customers, save yourself time, and reduce the stress of scheduling. Find a business management software that improves your ability to schedule work.

Improved Communication

There are many benefits to using business management software, one of those benefits is improved communication. And there are two types of communication every business needs to manage: internal and external. 

Internal Communication

Internal communication is critical to your ability to deliver on the promises you’ve made to your customers. We just discussed how vital scheduling is, and that’s one form of internal communication. But there are other moving parts to your business as well.

How does your procurement department know what plant material to order or how much mulch, soil, or stone they need for a particular project? How can they look at this for upcoming projects to ensure enough material is available when the job is ready to go?

What happens with your routing? Will your scheduler be able to capture the most efficient route if everything is on paper or a giant map on the wall? 

How will your billing department know when a job has been completed and send the invoice? 

If you’re not offering digital payment options, how long until you get paid on work completed? Days? Weeks? If it’s commercial work, perhaps months? What does that do to your cash flow? 

These internal communications are critical to the success or failure of your business. 

External Communications

Now, you’ve also got to think about the customer. When they call for an estimate, how are you scheduling time for your Sales team to give a proposal?

How are they getting proposals? If it’s hand-written, can the customer read the proposal?

How are you communicating with your customer about when their job is scheduled? How are they notified when payment is due?

There’s a myriad of touchpoints that you need to contact your customer. You need that communication to be regular, consistent, and documented (you’ll thank me for that one the next time there’s a dispute). 

Failing to communicate with a customer at each of these touchpoints properly will lead to missed expectations for both of you. Take those frustrations out of the equation by having business management software to help you with each part. 

Conclusion

If you’re still using a pen (or maybe even an Excel spreadsheet) to manage your business, you’re leaving a ton of money on the table and spending more time managing your business than is necessary. 

Improve your customer’s experience and business results by implementing software to help.