Quote[/b] ] Google Earth and The Lawn Care Business
In today's competitive world, small business owners should take every opportunity to cut costs and get a jump on their competition.
The lawn care business is no different from any other business. Professional lawn care businesses are faced with obstacles including: new competition, the dry weather this summer, and ever increasing gas prices.
Although lawn care can be hot and sweaty work, technology has not left us behind. You just have to know where to look for the benefits in today's high-tech world.
I have recently discovered a brand new way to search for new customers and give estimates on large grass cutting areas.
Both tips come in the form of Google Earth. (Download Google Earth for free at: http://earth.google.com/
One problem with conventional advertising is that you never know what type of customer will respond. If your company tries to focus on larger lawns, you do not want to spend your time giving estimates for 1/4 acre yards.
This is where Google Earth comes in.
Until Google Earth came along, there was no way to properly determine the size and layout of a lawn before actually visiting and viewing the customer's lawn. Once onsite, you would have to eyeball the property or measure it with a measuring wheel to get an idea of the exact size of the area.
Using Google Earth, I can survey an area online to get a rough idea of yard sizes on any particular street without actually driving down that street. Google Earth gives me a detailed picture of the size of the property. When I come across a yard that looks to be the right size I zoom in to get a better idea of the layout of the yard. Then, I make a note of the address and I will visit the property to give a quote to the customer. This way, I have not wasted time and gas driving around looking for suitable yards.
An additional function within Google Earth is particularly handy when bidding on larger jobs.
Several years ago, my lawn care company bid on its first large scale mowing contract. The area to be mowed was a water treatment plant. It was roughly a 90 acre job to be mowed twice per month. In addition to many large fields that had to be mowed, there were countless smaller patches of grass around buildings and water tanks. Additionally, the contract called for string trimming along all features that couldn't be mowed such as fence lines, roadways, and sidewalks.
When preparing for the bid, I spent an entire day with a survey wheel getting an idea of the acreage that would need to be cut as well as the total number of lineal feet that had to be handled with a string trimmer. In the end, I gave a successful and winning bid. The reason I was able to give a better bid than the other lawn care companies was that I had done my homework and I knew exactly how many man-hours it would take to perform the work.
If I was bidding that job today, I would not even have to leave my office to get a very good idea of the total acreage and lineal feet of the project.
This is how it works:
Once you install the Google Earth program, simply navigate your way to the desired destination. You can find the location by simply typing in the address in the Search box.
When you find the location, zoom in until the mowing area takes up the entire screen on your monitor. The picture returned by Google Earth gives a detailed view of the area you will have to mow. You will be able to see roadways and sidewalks. You will also be able to see any buildings on the property.
At the top of that window, click on "Tool" and scroll down to "Measure." Make sure that "Path" is selected. From this point on, simply use your mouse to trace all of the areas that will need to be trimmed. You will need to write down each different length of roadway, walkway, and the distance around each building. After you have learned the total number of lineal feet of trimming, you can measure all of the larger grassy areas.
Once you have all of the measurements from Google Earth, you can easily transfer those figures into our Lawn Care estimating calculator. It is very simple to input the trimming estimates in lineal feet as well as the estimates for the mowing areas. The estimating calculator then gives you an estimate of the total price needed to bid on the job. The calculator is designed to help lawn care companies take known calculations and compare those to a new property in order to give an estimated price that should be bid on the new property. Very straightforward and easy to use.
Of course we always suggest that you personally visit a job site before giving a final quote as there are numerous other factors to consider other than just size of the area.