There are many ways to grow a business - and in the lawn care industry, referrals are a common way to gain new customers. Today, these referrals come from social networks just as often as from noticing a lawn care truck at a neighbor's house. But you can't depend on referrals alone because sometimes they come from across town. Sure, these sales might be easy to close, but do you already have a route established in the area?
Less time in a vehicle + more time servicing properties = more revenue and profit. It's a simple equation.
Route density improves efficiency because it reduces your windshield time. The benefits of route density go beyond the ability to deliver service faster. You can be more responsive to service calls when your lawn specialists are close by. And, you can leverage supervisors and maximize their time when they can oversee accounts that are in the same geographic location. Managers can more easily visit properties and monitor quality without the lost time of traveling to disparate properties all over town.
Target desirable work by customer type, customer profitability, and density. If you get a referral that doesn't fit that criteria, take the time to consider if it's the right job for you. If you decide to take the opportunity, think about how you can build density around that job.
Route density is ultimately a function of assertive marketing strategies, solid sales efforts, and sustained by excelled customer service.
Track It, Tame It - Minimize Travel Time
This speaks to the time suck that is windshield time. This is why you need to build route density so you can put your labor hours to work. Start by assessing your existing customer base. Where are you losing them? How can you build density? Use your GPS monitoring system to really focus in on how much time is wasted behind the wheel vs. in the field. You might be surprised to find out how long your lawn specialists are in vehicles rather than servicing properties. Take advantage of the software and systems you have to evaluate and improve route density.
Develop Tighter Routes - Routing Pointers
Here are some guidelines to consider when building route density. Be patient - density doesn't increase over night, and it takes planning and lots of diligence. You've got to focus on the plan to tighten up routes and stick to it.
>>TIP: Density First. Make this your top priority when acquiring new customers. With less travel time, you'll reduce mileage and related expenses, while improving supervision quality and maximizing efficiency.
Balancing efficiency and customer satisfaction isn't easy. Some customers prefer a certain day for services; others want services delivered during a certain time of day. Many customers appreciate continuity: they want the same people working on their properties from one round to the next - and year after year, in many cases. When your routes are dense, accommodating these preferences is much easier. When it comes to customer retention, it is much easier to fire the company than it is to fire the lawn specialist that has developed a good working relationship with the customer.
>>TIP: These are restrictive forces. You can't possible honor all these preferences and maintain profitability, so instead, focus on excellent communication with customers and close supervision of jobs. The overarching goal should be to do the best job for the most customers possible.
Here are some ways to improve routing while doing the best you can to meet customer preferences:
- Beat the traffic. Understand traffic patterns near the office for morning and evening commutes, and organize routes to travel against traffic whenever possible.
- Utilize routing features contained within lawn care software. "Prior planning prevents poor performance," so having a plan of where each lawn specialist will be working days in advance allows customers to anticipate your service visit. Routes can be optimized to minimize the amount of travel between stops.
- Have a production goal matrix that considers multiple criteria for a days' worth of work. Urban areas typically have tighter routes filled with smaller lawns, while suburban areas are just the opposite. Tailoring routes based on stops, lawn square footage, and revenue is encouraged.