LMN Blog

How To Quickly Connect With More Customers

Are you searching high and low for a new way to market your business and attract future customers? Every day, new online marketing tools are becoming available allow business owners – just like you – to connect more individuals than ever before. A great example of this is: http://www.thumbtack.com

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This website is basically classified as an online version of Yellow Pages. It offers numerous advantages; for example, it will advertise and broadcast your business to the online universe and it also encourages customers to contact you the second they find you. With this platform, convenience has never been an afterthought; forget about manually writing down numbers and using the telephone. Instead, the user simply has to click the “Contact Now” button that is posted on your listing.

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Interested and want to hear more?  

According to the Thumbtack’s ‘about’ page, this platform is free for users to enjoy. It’s a free-service that is primarily used to find new clients, while managing the ones you currently have. You simply post your listing once and that’s all you need to do! Your service will then be live, for the entire online world to see.

 

Features of Thumbtack:

  •  Users can enjoy a “personalized profile”, which is useful for personalization and allows you to post further information about your company and the services that you offer. You are welcome to include: photos, testimonials, videos, and specific details about your business such as your hours of operation, address, directions, etc.
  • An automatic posting on Craigslist.
  • And for an additional fee, the site will also show your “Trusted and Verified” merits to help boost your creditability.  This includes background checks, verification of your physical ID, name and address. How great is that?

What are the advantages of Thumbtack and what can it be used for?

  • Advertise without having to increase your advertising budget and costs.  Thumbtack is free! Therefore, it won’t put a dent in your allocated advertising budget.
  • Post pictures of your work and show off your talent and skill: In the landscape business, you know that pictures are one of the best ways to attract new customers. You can upload them for free, and you’re also able to do it with ease.
  • Stand out in your local area: Thumbtack is specifically focused on marketing local services. Even though the website broadcasts your listing to millions of people all over the globe, it will encourage local viewers to choose your services.

Bottom-line: The internet – and particularly Thumbtack – is a powerful advertising tool so take advantage of what it has to offer!

LMN offers the tools and education that contracts require for success, and to run great businesses. This can be achieved for less than the price of a monthly cable bill.   To transform your landscaping company into a business you’re proud of, please visit our website: www.golmn.com.

 

 

How To Establish A Good Lead Versus A Bad Lead

When you meet a potential client for this first time, it can be a daunting task. There is a lot of ground to cover in a short amount of time; for example, you will most likely feel the pressure to make a good impression and also, to land the job and secure the contract. But wait a second, stop and ask yourself the following: what if this meeting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? What if taking on this project is not in your company’s best interest?

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Before you take on a new project, you want to make sure that the job and the end result will be a success. You also want to ensure that it will be worth the dedicated effort of yourself and your team.

Unfortunately, bad leads can happen and they are inevitable. To ensure you’re not wasting your time with bad leads, you want to clearly define what it is your company does. We know it sounds pretty simple… but the problem is: it’s so easy to stretch the truth. It’s also easy to be fairly unrealistic when it comes to defining what type of services your company does. As a result of doing so, you can end up dealing with unfamiliar territory, causing your customer to be dissatisfied with the end result.

 

To avoid this problem, you must know your services inside and out, and clearly communicate what you’re selling. Being able to answer this question when it’s asked is the best way to become more efficient. It also allows you to avoid the jobs that don’t align with your past experience, expertise or existing services. Also, make sure your communicate all of this information with your sales team. Familiarize your entire team with the services your company specializes is – that way, everyone has a crystal clear interpretation of what it is you can and will be able to do for your customers.

Once you have determined the right type of services you will be offering, it’s time to turn your attention to finding the right geographical area to offer your established services. Setting a geographical zone or boundary is commonly defined as your service area; this is the best way to determine whether your company should or is willing to take on a job.

If you have an inquiry that falls outside of your service area, you should factor in the following: the amount of extra time it will take to travel there, the wear and tear on your vehicle and any other external factors that should affect pricing. Each project should be made based on your ability to meet or exceed your sales goals. Understandably, some jobs that fall outside of your service zone may be an exception to the rule. They might be worthwhile to take on – for example, if they will expand your portfolio, or if they are for a loyal customer who is giving you repeated business.

Furthermore, having an established service zone will also save you from wasting future time on your sales process. Instead wasting time to consider taking on a job (which in the long run would most likely not be profitable), you will know ahead of time – based on its location.

If a lead doesn’t fit the criteria needed to complete or take on a project, no hard feelings. When one door closes, another one opens! Sometimes the most profitable word in any business is a flat out ‘No’. Make sure that you take on contracts or jobs that are closely aligned with your business values, style, location, or price.

You should never be scared to turn down work. In the long run, it could be the best decision you made! Remember: increased sales and less profit usually brings massive headaches down the road.

LMN is a collection of online training tools and systems that effectively help great contractors – just like you – build and manage great landscaping businesses. For more information, visit the LMN website.

How Twitter Can Help Your Business Grow

The power of Twitter should never be an afterthought for your business. This online platform offers a simple way to interact and make sure you’re up to date with the latest news in the landscaping industry. On top of this, there is also another way to use Twitter to your advantage: Twilert is another great online tool that allows you to keep a watchful “eye” on tweets of your subject choice. This can also be done within your local area.

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All you need to do is simply select the keyword(s) that you’re looking for (for example: you can use “lawn” or “garden”) and then, choose the proximity to receive these tweets (such as 15 miles from your home). When this done, Twitter will send you updates through email of tweets that fall under your search preferences

So, how exactly is this beneficial to your business? Well, first of all, you can use Twilert to receive notifications that relate to your brand, service or product(s). Or if you’re looking for new tips and articles or news to read, the latest information will be sent directly to your inbox. Also, feel free to use Twilert to stay connected to other landscaping companies – or your competitors – that reside in your area.

And don’t forget: it’s always a good idea to respond to other people’s tweets with your own tweets – full of ideas, comments and information! You can build your business by engaging other users with your voice. The possibilities and opportunities are endless.

To get started, be sure to visit: http://www.twilert.com/

Don’t have a Twitter account?  Sign up today and you’ll be well on your way to growing your business and your online audience.

LMN is a collection of systems, online tools, and training modules to help contractors just like you to build and manage a great landscaping business. To learn more, visit the LMN website.

 

The Power Of Facebook & Twitter For Your Landscaping Company

If you’re looking to improve your landscape business, then Facebook and Twitter are two powerful social media tools that can certainly do the trick.  If you are unfamiliar with both of these – we have included brief descriptions below and we have also provided a link at the bottom of this post to download free instructions on how to setup both platforms for your business!

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Facebook is a great online platform that allows you to connect with customers, potential employees and leads.  Firstly, your Facebook page is a way in which potential customers can learn more about your company. When they are searching on the Internet for contractors, you’re page will be shown in the search engine results.   Your Facebook page should stand out and it should attract future customers by showing them job specific images from before/after projects, landscape tips and tricks, company news and/or promotions, etc.  When you update your company Facebook page, the changes will automatically show up on your fans’ pages, notifying them of what has happened. In return, this will allow you to stress your services and strengthen customer relationships.

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Twitter is another popular tool that many businesses heavily rely on.  This social media platform allows you to post ‘Tweets’, which are restricted to 140 character messages:

  • Announces specials or limited time-only services
  • Link to pages on your company website
  • ‘Shout out’ company announcements
  • Post garden care tips and tricks
  • Announce job postings or that you’re hiring

With over 500 million people that use Facebook and 120 million Twitter users, it’s impossible to find a better marketing tool. The best part of all? Both of these platforms are free!

How do I create a Facebook page?

At LMN, we’re always here to help.  That’s why we created and posted a free guide to help you create a Facebook page for your company.  Just click the link below to get started:

Click here to learn how to create a Facebook page for your landscape company.

Want more?  Click here to download LMN’s free guide to setting up a Twitter account.

LMN helps landscapers just like you to build great landscape businesses.  For more information about LMN, visit www.golmn.com

 

LMN Customer Superhero Agents are Here!

Providing excellent customer service is how Superheros are made.

Next time you need support, whether its how to set up your crews in TIME, or help with Estimating + Job Costing, maybe you want to to customize your templates or you’re having trouble syncing with QB….the Superhero Agents are here to help!

Meet Superman   Superman                The Hulk   HulkChatIcon

                 and of course, The Flash  FlashChatIcon

You’ll find these three Superheroes on our Live Chat, Monday to Friday, 8am est to 6pm est waiting to save the day.  You can always  count on an LMN Customer Superhero Agent. They may not be faster than a speeding bullet, or be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but when you need help, our LMN Superhero Agents will go above and beyond to assist and hopefully

……..be your Superhero for the day.

LMN Customer ‘Superhero’ Agents Are Coming!

customer-support-superhero Excellent customer service agents are like Superheroes.  They use their powers for good, they live by a strong moral code and they have a motivation that has led them to be who they are.

What if the LMN Customer Support Team had actual superheroes to solve real problems?  By day they are mild mannered individuals handling customer support cases and by night they are solving the most monstrous customer service situations.   Our Superheros have the knowledge, technical expertise and problem solving skills to help you quickly and honestly so that you can continue to run your landscape business efficiently and make a profit.

Stay tuned for when our Superheroes land tomorrow to save the day!

The Power Behind A Great Website

When it comes to growing your business, a great website is a valuable component that should never be an afterthought.  A professionally designed website that features a gallery of your work is a powerful tool, which can attract future and potential customers when they’re online.

Websites have become one of the most powerful tools of this century. Why have they become so powerful? Because they allow you to reach a wide audience in a minimal amount of time.

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Websites for Great Customers

To attract the best landscaping jobs on the market, you’re simply going to need the best website. Here are the most important components that you should focus on:

  • Make the name of your website as memorable and easy-to-spell as possible. Tricky spelling can confuse customers and cause them to forget the name of your website.
  • Include a gallery that shows your best work. The images that you use on your website should be high quality, clear and crisp. Avoid blurry images that are hard to make out and make sure that they show your best landscaping projects to date.  First impressions are everything, and when someone stumbles onto your website, you have about 30 seconds to make a lasting impression. If you don’t impress them, they’ll be going onto your competitor’s website instead.  Consider hiring a professional, or even an aspiring professional (such as a photography student) to take pictures, which can be added to your portfolio. It is an investment that will be well spent!
  • Include an overview of your services.  Always make sure that you clearly state what type of services your business specializes in.  For example: if you only do commercial maintenance and snow, then make sure you state this on your website (this will avoid giving people false impressions).
  • Talk about your company in a way that’s persuasive and unique.  Sometimes it can be difficult to talk about yourself or your business. If you’re having trouble, start by brainstorming compelling reasons that would make a customer choose your company over anyone else’s.  By using these ideas, you can put together a short paragraph that explains what your company is about. Here is an example: “We integrate environmental innovation to create sustainable landscape resolutions for our clients.”  This is a unique and powerful statement that involves not your services, but your clients’ values as well.
  • Maximize your website’s exposure by using Search Engine Optimization.  If you’re not acquainted with SEO (Search Engine Optimization), then you can easily find various resources online that will give you more information. In simple terms though: SEO is a powerful marketing tool that involves keywords. When these keywords are placed into your content, it will ‘agree’ with search engines and as a result, your website will be ranked higher in future Google searches.

Websites for Great Employees

Your employees are the most important aspect of your business. Over and above anything else, these individuals will be the driving force behind your company’s success as a profitable and sustainable business.  The more great people you find, the better your company will be!  Now put yourself in the shoes of two potential employees. Both of these individuals are looking to find work in as landscape contractor during the spring season:

Employee A

This employee is a young professional.  He/she has apprenticed for 5 years at one of the top firms in your area and is looking for a fresh start. This person is looking for the perfect opportunity to work for a new company and to lead their own crew.  In the end, they get two offers for interviews.

  1. Green Apple Landscaping calls the candidate. They want to meet with this Thursday. Beforehand, they recommend that you visit their website at www.greenapple.ca to learn what their company is about.
  2. F+G Landscaping calls the candidate.  Unfortunately, they don’t have a website. However, you can see their phone number on yellowpages.com.

Out of the two companies’ listed above, which one do you think Employee A is going to want to work for?

Employee B

This employee unfortunately hasn’t been able to keep a job for more than 6 months.  This person has a substance abuse problem, are never on time, they hate being told ‘what to do’ and they also want to get paid ‘under-the-table’.

Which company do you think this employee assumes is a better fit for their needs?

In a nutshell: a great website is your ticket to success; it will offer you better customers AND better employees.  Don’t overlook the importance of this marketing tool in your company.

LMN specializes in professional education and systems for landscape contractors across North America.  For more information on LMN, visit our website at www.golmn.com.

 

New Updates for LMN Time (Mar 2015)

Update Released Tonight for LMN’s Timetracking Software

Tonight we went live with a small improvement update to LMN Time.  Here, we’ve implemented some of the most frequent user suggestions over the last quarter.

 

New Screen:  Job History (Jobs Menu)

If you need a really quick way to view, real time, a history of work done, crew notes, supervisor and more for any of your sites, then check out the new Job History screen under the Jobs menu.

  • Search for a specific job, task or by a specific job group
  • Select a date range
  • Choose the job and task you want to view
  • Get date-by-date information of exactly who was there, when they were there, what they did, and what notes they entered

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Improvement: Added Ability to Track Qty for Activities, but charge a Fixed Amount

We added a new billing type for job Activities.  There are 2 ways to bill a per-application charge.

Per App (Fixed Price):  will bill a fixed charge for the activity, no matter what the foremen enters as the quantity.  The billing will always be for a fixed amount.

Per App (Variable Price):  LMN Time will use the quantity to dictate how much to bill… this way, you can have a per application price, but charge for half an application or 2 applications in one visit.

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Improvement: Apply a Custom Sort Order to Job Activities

We had a few users ask to be able to put activities in a specific order for crews (most often used activities first, least often used activities towards the bottom).  Now, you can use the up and down arrows to the right of each activity name to set a custom order for the ways a job’s activities will show up on crew timesheets.

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New Feature: Deactivate Job Activities

Another popular request was the ability to deactivate activities so that activities that are completed no longer show up on crew timesheets. We’ve added the ability to deactivate activities on jobs. Deactivated activities will no longer show up as available options on timesheets, but will still continue to show up on all reports for tracking, billing, etc.

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New Feature: Crew Crew Schedule (Daily Whiteboard)

We just made changes to the Daily Whiteboard far easier with the new Clear Crew button. You’ll find this button in the bottom ‘action’ bar on the Daily Whiteboard screen. Using this button, you can select a specific crew and do any of the following:

  • Clear their schedule  (this will delete any/all scheduled visits for that day)
  • Move their schedule (pick a new date and all scheduled visits will move to the new date)
  • Move to unassigned (move a crew’s daily schedule to the Unassigned column for reassignment later)

 

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New Feature: Jobsite History

A live, real-time history of every visit for jobsite tasks, including start time, supervisor who did the work, crew notes, and billable activities performed is now active on the job screen.  To view this information, go to Jobs, then click History in the task sidebar.  Click the INFO button beside the task activity you wish to view.

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Improvement: Job Review Screen – Total Hours

Previously, the job review screen showed a live report of estimated vs. actual hours for each task on a job, but not the job totals.  We added total job progress at the top of this report, now showing total estimated vs. actual hours as well.

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Improvement: Latest Activity – Own Screen and Added Search Capability

The Latest Activity screen, added in the last update to LMN Time, shows live, real-time clock in and out events as they happen.  To make this activity more readable, we created its own screen for it, and we added a search capability so you can filter results by foreman, by job, or by task name.   You can find this screen under the Timesheets section and using the Latest Activity tab on the left side.

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New Addition:  More Reports Added!

 

Activity Report (Billing Summary)

This new  report  shows a summarized history of all the billable activities by job, by date.  You can use the report options to hide unbillable activities, hide quantities for unbillable activities, or summarize a total number of activities by date.   [Shown under the Billing reports]

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Job Summary (Tasks and Activities) – Added ability to show total pricing.

Added the ability to show pricing on the Job Summary (Tasks + Activities) report for any date range.

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Change Audit Report (by Supervisor)

Run a report showing a complete history of every changed clock in/clock out time for your supervisors.  [Found under the Payroll reports, Supervisor Edit – Audit]

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New Screen:  Unscheduled Work  (Schedule Menu)

The Unscheduled Jobs screen gives you an instant view of all:

  • Unscheduled Jobs – shows all jobs where no hours have been scheduled for ANY of the job’s tasks
  • Unscheduled Tasks – shows a list of any/all jobs and tasks with no work scheduled

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Improvement: Added Crew Notes to Payroll Export (Excel)

Several users had requested that the Payroll Export to Excel (detailed version) includes the Crew Notes entered for each task.  Now each time record in the Excel export contains the task notes for the crew.

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New Feature: Added support for ADP Payroll Export file(Excel)

Some versions of ADP payroll support importing time records from .csv files (import files). LMN can now export time records in a format that’s supported by ADP. Go to the Reports menu, then choose Export and then select the ADP Export option.

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Improvement:  Performance on Where Are They? screen

We eliminated clocked-out employees from the Where Are They screen to improve page speed and performance.