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Reducing Risk with Software

Reducing Risk with Software

As humans, we’re not very efficient at processing information. We’re forgetful, make mistakes, and usually feel like we get pulled in ten different directions. How do we know what to prioritize? This is where software comes into play. Business management software is one of the easiest ways to elevate your business and reduce your risk. The software can find blind spots you couldn’t see so that you can manage your business with clarity.

In this article, we’ll discuss how software reduces your risk and what items you should consider when searching for management software. 

How Software Reduces Risk

Industry-specific management software allows you to focus on what’s important. The key features we’ll discuss are how it improves your work orders, route planning, and business decisions. 

Proposals & Work Orders

Clear communication between you and your customers is vital to reducing risk. Software creates harmony between customer expectations and the crew’s orders. Digital proposals contain much more detail than paper versions. You can attach extra notes, optional add-ons, and images or videos of items. This saves time and answers customer questions before they arise, leading to higher proposal acceptance rates. When a proposal is accepted, the same information is transferred seamlessly into a work order. Crews save time by knowing what equipment they’ll need for each job, and they won’t forget important details because they can always refer to the digital copy. 

One of our favorite features included in work orders created within SingleOps is the ability to attach aerial Google Map images of the job site with markers clearly showing the exact areas that will be worked on. This reduces the risk of crews working on areas they shouldn’t or missing items meant to be worked on.  

Route Optimization 

Prior to software, drivers would need to predict the optimal route to take using their best judgment and their maps app. Since management software has route optimization features, the risk for human error is greatly reduced. Using route optimization takes control out of the driver’s hands and turns it over to the software, which can analyze all the inputs and calculate the most efficient route for a driver to take in seconds. This reduces the amount of fuel, downtime, and confusion drivers have so crews can get to the job site faster and more efficiently. 

If you have more questions about how route optimization works within SingleOps, you can read this help center article.

Business Decisions 

Running a business can feel like flying in the dark sometimes. There’s always the possibility that you’ll be given the wrong information or not have enough information when making a decision. Management software can help organize your data to ensure you have an accurate picture of your operations. 

Management software comes with reports and dashboards that allow you to analyze any aspect of your business. Some of the most helpful reports you can create are labor analysis and profitability reports. Analyzing your labor allows you to identify the most efficient and profitable crews, which you can then use to schedule your highest performing crews for the most important projects.

Besides knowing your labor profitability, the software makes it easier to calculate net-profit margins by segment. This can help you identify which segments of your business are the most profitable. Many businesses assume the segment that brings in the most revenue will also be their most profitable, but this isn’t always the case. You don’t want to run a business based on incomplete data or assumptions.  

What you should consider before buying management software

Searching for the right software can be a challenge because many people don’t know what to look for. Here are suggestions to consider when looking for the right one. 

What are my needs?

Each tree care company has different priorities. Likewise, different software caters to different types of companies. The important part is finding the right one for you. Identify your biggest challenges and search for software that can meet them. Once you know the direction you want to head in it will be much easier to narrow down your choices.

How easy is it to use the software?

Don’t confuse complexity with software capability. Two companies can offer software with the same features, but one can be highly technical and require many hours of training while the other gives you the same functionality but requires half the training. Software that is too complex can lead to burnout and abandonment of the project altogether. Finding the right balance between complexity and functionality is key to the value your team will get out of the software. 

Implementation/Customer Service

Does the software provider you’re considering partner with you every step of the way, or do they only send you self-starter guides and videos? Not every implementation team is built the same or offers the same amount of care. You’ll want to evaluate the kind of support you’ll receive during implementation and post-implementation. Look for a company that wants to partner with you and provides a high level of service. Remember, you are going to have bumps and glitches along the way, you’ll want a team dedicated to helping you solve those problems.

Price vs Value

ROI is one of the biggest factors for companies when selecting software of any kind. In addition to assessing management software, you’ll need to find out if you’ll have to purchase add-ons or third-party software to get the most out of the platform. You’ll also want to look at their pricing structure to identify your monthly and annual costs. You’ll also need to know how many licenses you’ll have to purchase for your teams.

Conclusion 

Finding the right software mitigates risk to your company by creating clear communication at all levels of the organization, reducing human error, and saving time. Landscape and tree care companies have learned that Excel and email are inefficient and error-prone methods that ultimately result in lost opportunities. Reduce your risk and propel your business forward by investing in smart, user-friendly software. To learn more about SingleOps and/or how their customers respond after implementation, please contact the SingleOps team at marketing@singleops.com.

Written By: Joshua Lehto, SingleOps Marketing Associate & Ty Demeer

 

Knowledge Transfer to Better Your Business

Knowledge Transfer to Better your Business

According to a study from the Work Institute, the estimated costs of employee turnover ranges from 33% to as much as 200% of the departing employee’s salary. Costs include lost revenue from reduced human resource levels, project delays, accidents, recruiting, training and on-boarding new personnel. The range of cost is affected by the skills and experience (knowledge) lost with the employee. Consider the difference between losing a seasonal employee to the cost of replacing a long-term retiring employee with advanced skills and years of experience with the company and the profession. With the later, the loss to the company is not only an employee but the knowledge that employee provided to the success of the operation.

Understanding that knowledge loss is the major casualty of employee turnover is the first step towards better employee management.

Researchers began studying the impacts of knowledge loss in the early 1990’s. The concern was related to one generation retiring and the knowledge lost as retirements increased. From that research the concept of knowledge transfer developed. Knowledge transfer is a method of sharing information, abilities, and ideas across different areas of your business. It helps capture the knowledge before it leaves the organization and is then used to train replacements, expand service offering and or cross train employees to increase efficiency.

One of the major benefits of a structured knowledge transfer process is uncovering the ‘special sauce’. People who have mastered their job have skills and experience that make them more successful. In addition to having the knowledge, they know when, where, and how to use that knowledge to work effectively…the special sauce.

Googling ‘knowledge transfer’ will give you a whole host of resources, however, the Knowledge Maverick is a free web resource which can assist you with understanding the concept of knowledge transfer and how to implement it within your company. They have developed a series of questions to get you started. The questions were developed to be answered in a conversation between the person with the knowledge, and the person interested in receiving the knowledge. The conversations will help develop more questions and productive discussion. They are also a good framework for employee mentors.

Lastly, there are knowledge transfer professionals that can assist you in developing a transfer system. Because the loss of knowledge within your company represents a large risk to the health of the organization, ArboRisk has created a Knowledge Transfer portion of Thrive to lower this exposure. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the ArboRisk team to learn more.

Written by: Jim Skiera

Driver Training

Driver Training For Tree Care Companies

Let’s face it, one of the largest exposures to risk within your tree care company comes from your trucks being on the road. To lower that risk, you must look at managing your fleet and your drivers, with the latter being perhaps one of the most difficult tasks you face.

In the past we’ve discussed ways to test your drivers before they drive one of your trucks on their own. In case you missed that weekly tip, you can access it here (Driving Tests). The next step after you have a baseline of each driver’s skill is to develop a training program so they can continually improve their skills. A driver training program should be written down and contain clear progress goals that encompass training from both internal and external sources.

Internal Training – Most tree care companies deliver driver training to their employees directly and do so only during their tailgate safety meetings. While this is a great way to provide some training, the tailgate meetings may not always be planned out too far in advance and could miss some crucial driver training topics. So I encourage you to create a more systematic internal training program. Use these questions when developing it.

What driver training topics do you already cover within your tailgate safety meetings?

What are some of the most common near misses that your company has when it comes to operating vehicles?

Who in your company would be proficient in teaching the driver training?

External Training – You most likely will not be able to cover all driving training topics with in-house instructors. This is when you need to look outside of your organization. Including training programs put on by outside vendors offer many benefits to your company and can really help lower your driver exposure. Because there are many different options, use this list of questions to help select the proper training vendors.

What type of driver training topics are your current team members not capable of delivering, but are important to your company (think defensive driving, roadside emergency preparedness, etc.)?

Are there local driving schools in your area?

Can you take your vehicles to use during the class?

Bettering your driver’s skills on the road will help you dramatically reduce injuries and accidents, lower insurance premiums and increase your profits. For help with instituting a driver and fleet management program within your company, reach out to an ArboRisk team member today.

Also, we are hosting a Driver & Fleet Management webinar on October 2nd, 2020 along with Streamside Green and Victorian Gardens. To sign up visit this link. In case you read this after the webinar is over, contact us directly and we can set up a time to discuss this individually.

Written by: Eric Petersen

Easily Increase Your Social Media Engagement

Easily Increase Your Social Media Engagement

The number one question I am asked when consulting with different tree care companies is, “How do I increase engagement across our social media platforms?” It can be incredibly frustrating to work so hard to produce quality content and have your followers scroll past without taking the time to even LIKE your post. Fortunately, there are some quick and fairly simple ways to help your engagement increase across your platforms.

Tip #1: Earn engagement

The top piece of advice I can give to help increase your engagement is to earn it. What do you do on a daily basis to encourage your audience to engage with you? Are you commenting and engaging on their posts? Are you posting content beyond sales pitches? Are people seeing #BTS (Behind the Scenes) of your life and business?

In order to see your engagement increase, you need to be an ACTIVE participant on your social media.

Tip #2: Create a trackable strategy

First and foremost, you should have a strategy when it comes to your social media accounts. Second of all, you should be able to track it in a way that makes sense to you. Take the time each month to analyze what you are doing. Which posts received the most likes? Which posts were saved the most? How many people viewed a particular story? How many DMs did you receive regarding your content? Which hashtags increased your exposure?

In order to up your engagement, use these numbers and create new content around what has already worked for you.

Tip #3: Likes does not equal reach

You never know who you are influencing. Just because someone doesn’t take the time to hit that “LIKE” button (even though it is literally the easiest thing on the planet to do), doesn’t mean they are not watching you. Something you post may trigger a sale or outreach 2, 4, or 6 months down the line. Do not give up simply because you are not seeing the “Likes” come in like you want. By continuing to show up with quality content, you are positioning yourself as the expert in your industry.

Even when you think you are not, you are making connections that will someday positively impact your business.

All in all, increasing your engagement does not need to be frustrating or defeating. Take the time to look at your strategy and Keep. Showing. Up. The more times you show up authentically, the better your engagement will continue to be.

Written by: Katie Petersen

Plant Health Care Safety Tips

Plant Health Care Safety Tips

It is always important to wear your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), however, working with chemicals in Plant Health Care (PHC), is another story. As a tree care owner, you must make sure your PHC team takes PPE’s seriously. Here are some helpful safety tips to pass onto your PHC team.

Change of Clothes Keep at least one change of clothes in the vehicle. A change of clothes can make a difference in having to wear the original clothing/shoes that you may have spilled chemicals on during the course of the day home. Place your change of clothing in a sealed plastic bag, when it is time to go home put your chemical residue clothing in the bag and wear the clean clothing/shoes home. Remember to wash your hands after touching your chemical residue clothing. Also wash your chemical residue clothing by itself, do not mix wash your chemical residue clothing with your spouse or children’s clothing.

Gloves – It is imperative, that you wear chemical resistant gloves. When you take them off be sure to wash your hands (a disinfectant wipe can be used for this if in the field). If you don’t wash your hands, popping a candy in your mouth, smoking a cigarette, eating lunch, etc. becomes a game of Russian Roulette – what chemical am I going to taste today. Above all after washing your hands, do not touch your clothing again. Clean your gloves every night – you don’t want to put the gloves on with chemicals from the day before on them. Make sure your gloves go up to at least mid-forearm. If a chemical spills and reaches over the top of the gloves – change your shirt.

Long Sleeve Shirt and Pants – Simply put wearing a long sleeve shirt and pants will protect you from chemical burns on your skin. However, those clothes must be changed right away if you spill any chemical onto your clothes, as the chemical will soak into the fabric and then your skin.

Safety Goggles and Helmet – No one wants to lose their vision due to a chemical splash. So wearing googles are another must wear when working with chemicals. Ensure they fit tightly around your eyes. Your safety helmets also is important in protecting your scalp from the chemical and from blunt trauma that may happen with a broken hose or a slip and fall on a hard surface.

Rubber Boots – Wearing rubber boots and keeping them for only plant health care work is smart. Your feet walk through the mist from spraying and they get chemicals spilled on them. Make sure they do not have any leaks. It is a good idea to take them off without using your hands – try to buy them the right size so you can slip them off.

Disinfectant Wipes – Since chemicals can be transferred to any surface that you touch, utilize disinfectant wipes while in the field and make note of any areas that need a thorough cleaning when you get back to the shop. It is a good idea to bring your lunch in metal container, that way you are sure that no chemicals are touching your food in transport. Wipe down the steering wheel and seats of your truck before you touch anything with your hands. Everything that you touch with your gloves on, or from spills gets contaminated with residue from the chemicals.

If we have learned just one thing from COVID19, it is that it is very difficult not to touch your face or other parts of your body – remember that everything you touch could be contaminated by chemicals – WIPE THE SURFACES DOWN WITH A DISINFECTANT WIPE!

These are just small ideas to think about when working with chemicals – sometimes they do not receive the warnings that they deserve. Whatever chemicals you are working with just be safe about it – think through all the scenarios that might come up during the day where you could have contaminated yourself. Maybe have a group safety meeting and think of all the ways that chemicals can contaminate your workspace. If you do not have anyone working with you, think about the chemical contacts you do during the course of the workday and how you can possibly do better in the future controlling the chemical contaminants.

Above all – be safe!

Written by: Dawn Thierbach