Hitting The Target: Material Forecasting vs Actuals
"Hey, John - I need to call the nursery and confirm Maintenance Division's final materials list for fall annuals, pots, and tulips. Can you run that report again?"
Many of us feel skeptical toward imagining a world where it could be that easy. But what if? What if instead of dozens of papers or hundreds of Excel sheets your numbers could be instantly available - and correct?
The secret is in the (dis-)connection between your sales and operations systems. Sales works hard to balance realistic labor and material budgets with customer expectations and profitable prices. Shouldn't we be careful their hard work arrives at Operations intact? Yet too often if we ask business owners to draw their standard process between a closed sale and starting service it's a messy sight.
BOSS helps by aligning your company to a single integrated business management platform, connecting every team from prospecting to payroll. With BOSS, jobs flow seamlessly from sales to operations because it's all one connected system. There's no lag time, no lost paperwork, and no human error. What does it take for Sales to confirm a job is sold and pass it through?
As a result, every detail for every job is at management's fingertips. Whether it’s the "10,000 foot view" of establishing your master operating budget, the ground level view of weekly scheduling, or somewhere in the middle, this means a new era of visibility in your company. Just imagine all the questions you've stopped asking because you knew you couldn't find the answer.
"How many customers get mowing services but haven't signed on for turf treatments?" Click. "And how hard is it to turn that into a targeted marketing campaign?" Click.
"We could save huge dollars if we knew how much mulch we need in Q3 for fall mulches and pot refreshes and bulk purchased it with money down. Can we look that up?" Click.
"Our nursery vendor is reporting a run on materials and needs to hurry up and secure enough flowers for us since they know we're a big buyer. Do I need to stall? I mean, to guess how many per color, size, and type each client wants, then add that up… Won't that take us several days?"
The equally great part? Your budget-to-actual ratio gets remarkably secure. Those same jobs now drop onto field teams' schedules for their day - literally, drag-and-drop - with no human error. Team leaders open BOSS - click - and can quickly scroll through their assigned jobs for the day, tallying the exact materials they need to load up in the truck. No coming back to the shop because they guessed from memory, took too little, and ran out. No wondering where a multi-day mulch job is compared to budget as they go way over. No driving back to dig up the wrong planters and redo them in a costly loss.
And best of all? All that data flows back into your reporting. Upon an authorized manager's review and - click - approval of daily timesheets, BOSS stores the actual job performance data. When is your next burst of annual contract renewals? Do you need to know not just the estimated gross margin but the actualized gross margin you achieved, per service, per job, and exactly where it went high or low? Guess what replaces a week's worth of Excel sheets and hand calculations? A fully automated job profitability report comparing forecast budget to actual.
Maybe it's time to think about making your world a little easier and your quality of life running a landscape company a little better - and a little more profitable. Want to learn more?
David Rempfer is a veteran operations leader of multimillion snow operations and one of less than 300 professionals in North America to be both ASCA Certified and SIMA Executive CSP certified. He now consults landscape and snow industry executives in their pursuits of business improvement and quality-of-life.