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Landscapers must plan carefully to maximize billable hours
Jill Odom | August 7, 2015

nonbillable time - pixabayNon-billable time, whether for equipment maintenance or safety training, planning or administrative work, can be time well spent. But, while it may help your business in many respects, non-billable time could also be sucking away much-needed cash.

In short, you may want to use some of it to figure out how to keep it to a minimum.

Needless to say, some non-billable time is devoted to necessary, everyday parts of the job: driving to and from jobs, for example, or loading and unloading equipment. However, because those activities are routine, chances are you’ve never thought of tracking them.

The first step to reducing non-billable time is to track it. You can’t strategize about how to eliminate waste until you know where the waste is coming from. There are plenty of products to help you keep track of your crews’ time, from apps to QuickBooks software.

Once you’ve seen the results, it’s time to respond. For instance, if the tracking you’ve done shows that significant chunks of time are being consumed by loading and unloading, then consider adding prescribed processes for the mornings and evenings. Maybe the last 30 minutes of the day should be spent making sure trucks and equipment are fueled and loaded for the next day’s assignments.

When your trucks are ready to roll out quickly, you can use the morning for any final preparations and instructions for the day. What’s more, a little extra efficiency at the start of the workday creates momentum your crews may carry through the entire day.

Enclosed trailers are another method of cutting down on load and unload time. They can be packed with the right equipment for the job the evening before, with the advantage that tools are less likely to be lost – or left back at the shop – when they’re stored in a trailer that has been packed specifically for the next day’s work.

As a bonus, of course, the trailer can serve as a giant billboard for your landscaping company.

In addition to making sure everyone leaves with the right equipment, schedule jobs that are the farthest out at the beginning of the day, then work back to your location.

Another way to improve efficiency is by helping your crews see the big picture. Create visuals so they can see what projects are coming up and begin to plan accordingly.

True, none of these suggestions are likely to make a huge difference for your company’s bottom line, but making a habit of thinking about efficiency just might.

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