Monitor the Pulse of Your Seasonal Business

by New member JohnJanes on ‎02-16-2018 11:23 AM

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We recently caught up with Landscape Management Network (LMN) founder, Mark Bradley, to discuss the challenges many landscape business owners face when trying to budget and track the success of their companies. Although we can take the pulse of a lot of numbers, Bradley focused on two of the most important pulse points to measure:

 

  • Whether you’re on track to hit your end-of-year sales goal
  • Whether field productivity is improving, holding steady, or falling off.

 

 

 Tracking Sales Goals

 

One of the most important, and simplest, numbers to watch is your sales goal. With a few years of sales history, you can build a benchmarking spreadsheet that will help you know if you’re on track. Here’s a simple, yet effective method:

 

  • Create a spreadsheet using your accounting software to pull a sales history by month for last year, two years ago and three years ago. Next, enter your cumulative sales by month in the cells. By cumulative, we mean each month should equal its sales, plus the total of all months prior. For example, if your January sales were $50K, February sales were $60K and March sales were $100K, your spreadsheet should show $50K in January, $110K in February and $210K in March.
  • Next, copy that table, but instead of sales by month use a formula to calculate each month’s (cumulative) sales divided by the total sales for that year. This will show you, historically, what percentage of your total sales you have earned by the end of each calendar year. For example, January 5%, February 11%, March 21%, etc. If you’ve done it right, each year will hit 100 percent (your total sales) by the end of December.
  • Take an average of the last three years and you will know that, over history, you should have reached X % of your sales goal by the end of January, Y % by the end of February, Z % by the end of March, etc.

 

Once you have created this tracking tool, the benefit becomes very clear! For instance, if you know your business averages 35% of revenue by the end of April, then at the end of this April, you will want to ensure you have met 35% of your sales goal for the year.

 

Monitoring Field Productivity

 

Nothing will make (or hurt) profit quite like field productivity, so it’s a critical number to watch. You can ‘guess’ at staff productivity by seeing how fast they get out of the yard, or seeing jobs being completed on time, but the numbers can tell you a more accurate story without any guessing. Bradley advocates the importance of separating your field labor payroll from your overhead payroll expenses into different accounts. This allows you to quickly identify how much wages you’ve paid your crews, and it makes the following kind of management much faster and easier. Here’s how you can monitor the pulse of your productivity:

  • Using the format of your sales goal tracking spreadsheet, enter your total field wages (no overhead staff), cumulatively by month. You’re doing exactly what you did for sales, but this time you’re entering wages for your field staff. By the time you hit December, that number should equal your total field payroll for that year.
  • Copy this table again, but this time, use a formula to divide last January’s field payroll by last January’s sales. This way, you will see what percent of January sales were spent on field staff payroll. Same for February, except February is going to show you the cumulative total of January and February payroll, divided by the total of January and February sales. Repeat this for all 12 months for the past three years. Unlike the cumulative sales table, these percentages won’t (and shouldn’t) add up to 100 percent by December.
  • Now simply average each month over your last three years to see the average amount of sales you spend on wages by the end of each month.

This shows you something you already know… but with hard numbers. Here’s a common scenario: In January, you likely have more unbillable time, giving the crews some hours around the shop to give them some income. Therefore, you spend a higher percentage of your sales on wages. By April, that percentage has dropped dramatically, as you’ve now invoiced a bunch of work on jobs you haven’t spent a lot of hours on yet. That percentage climbs back up in May when crews are pulling a lot of hours getting out of the gates, then it starts to normalize again as the year continues.

 

This exercise will help you spot any issues with productivity and begin fixing those inefficiencies now, before it is too late. To learn more about LMN, visit https://golmn.com/. And to learn more about the Cat® equipment that can bring value to your landscape business, visit Cat.com or contact your local Cat dealer.

 

We’d like to hear about your landscaping business and the challenges and/or solutions you have discovered with tracking progress.

 

  • How do you currently track your sales and productivity? Have you found your methods to be effective and/or useful?
  • What worked well for your business in 2017? Are there things you plan to change about your business in 2018 to improve efficiencies and drive profit?

Comments
by New member carlm21
on ‎07-09-2018 06:48 AM

Landscape business is a huge business that is generating millions of dollars per
year. It is providing the country with many opportunities and people are getting
proper employement. It is the best source of development in the country.

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by New member kiarawillson92
on ‎07-30-2018 07:05 AM

Really? :O I wasn't aware of this seriously! I never thought this could be a million dollar industry, thanks for sharing your thoughts and information. Would love to hear more by you on this.

PennySaviour

by New member Angelahammer
on ‎08-04-2018 04:32 AM

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by New member mlsar
on ‎08-10-2018 06:29 PM

I'm trying to gather information regarding the replacement of starter switch on D8R Caterpillar.

How much time is required ? Cost of starter siwtch and labour cost.   I need an estimate of some sort. Your inputs are highly appreciated. Thank you.

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on ‎10-12-2018 02:29 AM

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About the Author
  • I’m an Attachments Product Application & Sales Support Specialist for Caterpillar in North America. I have been with Caterpillar for five years including roles in the field as a dealer sales support representative and marketing support in the skid steer and small wheel loader product groups. I graduated from Iowa State University with degrees in Agricultural Business and Economics. Our goal is to provide a full portfolio of attachments for our customers to be more productive and versatile with their machines.
  • I am an Industry and Application Rep for Caterpillar. I graduated from NC State with a dual degree in Agriculture Business Management and Agriculture Science, concentrating in Leadership and Environmental Technologies. I focus primarily on the relationships between customers, dealers, and the product specialists for the Building Construction Products division. Growing up on a tobacco and beef cattle farm, I have several years of machine operation experience and agricultural knowledge. Thomas Jefferson said it best in that, "Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness."
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  • I’m a Compact Wheel Loader Product Application Specialist for Caterpillar in North America. I have 11 years of experience, including roles in the field as a dealer technical support representative, and as a distributor business model consultant.  I graduated from North Carolina State University with a Mechanical Engineering Degree, and wanted a job where I didn't have to sit in front of a computer all day.  This job allows me to get out and get my hands dirty, with the goal of providing solutions to customers’ machine needs.
  • I am a Marketing Communications Specialist for Caterpillar with over twelve years of experience marketing the Cat brand to customers in Latin and North America. My goal is to arm customers with the information needed to make well informed purchase decisions; to maximize the value of Cat machines by using an array of Cat Work Tool attachments; and to minimize the total cost of ownership by using Cat parts and Cat Dealer service.
  • I am an expert Operator and Application Specialist for Caterpillar concentrating on products used in the construction trades industry. I operate, evaluate and train on Cat machines and Work Tool Attachments worldwide. I have a Degree in Agricultural Engineering, Craftsman Certified and was named Apprentice of the Year 1981 at the University of East Anglia, UK.
  • I am the National Association Manager for Caterpillar and have responsibility for customer associations and partnerships in multiple industries for Caterpillar. I have 12 years of experience at Caterpillar, and have spent most of those years in the field with dealers and customers around North America. I have always had a passion for equipment and find myself fortunate to be able to work with dealers and customers almost every day.
  • I am a Product Application Specialist with 16 years of experience in the industry. As a Building Construction Products Global Trainer, I focus on training dealers and customers on machines, attachments and applications as it relates to the construction, agriculture and landscaping segments.
  • I have been with Caterpillar for more than eight years, working in various roles including a materials engineer, a filters product manager and my current position as a parts consultant. My job allows me the opportunity to work with Cat dealers and customers providing insight on how the use of quality filters and fluids results in better equipment performance and lower owning and operating costs.
  • I am a marketing and sales support professional for Caterpillar. In this role, I work with our marketing and customer service teams to support or dealers and customers, concentrating on our Small Wheel Loader, Skid Steer Loader, Mini Excavator and Dozer product groups. The exchange of ideas, information and opinions about equipment and how it’s used in various industries on forums such as this blog helps me fulfill my role at Caterpillar to the best of my ability.
  • I am the commercial/market consulting expert for all Caterpillar tires and rims with 14 years of experience. I provide guidance in the harsher work environments of mining and industrial/waste applications. Our goal is to turn our dealers and customers into knowledgeable and trusted resources with respect to tires and rims. Our group offers training, technical support and resources to develop a level of expertise within the Caterpillar value stream that is ordinarily reserved for tire companies and local tire service providers. Ultimately, we want to provide our customers with a total Cat solution from the ground up.
  • I am a Sales Support Manager for Cat Financial and have responsibility for ensuring that the right financial products are available to Cat customers who purchase, lease or rent to own. 8 of my 10 years with Caterpillar Financial have allowed customer and/or dealer interaction as part of my daily responsibilities including over 3.5 years as a Territory Manager. I take personal satisfaction in finding financial solutions that work for our customers and CAT dealers.
  • I’m a Telehandler Product Application Specialist for Caterpillar in North and South America. I have 13 years of experience, including roles in the field as a dealer service operations and technical support representative, and as a distributor business model consultant. My telehandler passion and focus is working with dealers and customers to maximize the versatility of the product through machine and operator training.
  • I am a Product and Application Specialist with over 35 years experience at Caterpillar. I focus on helping you to determine the best Cat machines, work tool attachments, and services for you to use in the building and general construction, landscaping, specialty trades, and agricultural industries.
  • I am a Senior Regional Insurance Marketing Manager with 16 years’ experience at Caterpillar Financial Insurance Services. I have the opportunity to work with 18 North American dealers providing risk management products and services that helps the Caterpillar Enterprise ( Caterpillar, Dealers and Customers) manage their business risk. Caterpillar Financial Insurance Services offers Extended Protection Plans for machines and engines, Physical Damage Insurance, Inventory Protection Plans, Dealer Property and Casualty, Risk Management, Marine Transit Insurance and Dealer Bonds.
  • Jeff Brown is a marketing professional for Caterpillar Skid Steer, Multi Terrain and Compact Track Loaders. Over Jeff's 12 years in the industry, he has visited with and studied the needs of customers across landscaping, construction, and agriculture segments. Delivering innovative solutions that solve customer's problems is Jeff's main focus.
  • I am a North American Product and Application Specialist for Caterpillar. In this role, I have had the opportunity to represent Caterpillar at various trade shows and train customers on new Small Wheel Loader content. I graduated from Purdue University in 2001 with a Mechanical Engineering degree and have spent the past 15 years with Caterpillar in various engineering roles. Growing up in the Mid-West, I have always loved the cold and the unique activities winter enables. Unfortunately, I had to give those up when I moved to North Carolina. I don't care what people say, you never get used to a hot climate.
  • I am a Filter and Fluid Marketing Consultant with over 14 years experience working at Caterpillar. My focus is to ensure customers understand the importance of using superior filtration and lubrication products in their equipment.
  • I am a Sales Support Manager with over nine years of experience in a variety of roles with Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation. Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to gain experience in matching financial products and tailoring funding strategies to the specific needs of customers. This includes more than three years as a Territory Manager in Seattle partnered with N C Machinery, an authorized Cat dealer covering the states of Washington and Alaska.
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