Independent garden centers come in all shapes and sizes, and many IGCs are expanding into a broad array of products and services to meet their customers’ demands. For many IGCs, landscape design, installation and maintenance are natural areas of expansion. However, most retail point-of-sale systems fall short when it comes to supporting landscaping services.
When considering a system’s ability to support landscape services, here are a few of the key functions that most landscape businesses require:
- Generating effective quotes/proposals/estimates;
- Tracking of inventory committed and consumed during a project’s life cycle;
- Managing delivery and installation;
- Project reconciliation; and
- Managing billing and payments.
Part 1: Generating effective quotes and proposals
Most landscaping design transactions start with a quote (aka proposal or estimate). A best-in-class retail system, such as Rapid Garden POS, will allow you to generate a quote that starts with one or more narrative descriptions of a project element — whether it’s a brief summary of the work to be completed or a description of the physical area to be addressed. Listed and priced below that description should be the specific tangible items to be installed, equipment to be utilized, and services to be performed (whether by your crew or by sub-contracted labor). For internal services or sub-contracted elements, your costs should be tracked within the transaction as well. With Rapid Garden POS, we accomplish this with defined labor costs associated with internal service items, and with definable costs associated with sub-contracted items. Also important is the capability to add internal notes to specific line items, allowing you to effectively communicate additional details to your team. Being able to generate a work order (a non-customer-facing version of the quote) that includes these notes can be especially helpful to a landscape operation.
A good quoting tool will allow you to present a fixed price or a time/materials proposal, and it will allow you to present unit and line item pricing or only present project totals. The best POS systems will let you customize the quote or proposal templates to include your logo and company branding (color palettes, etc.), standard terms and conditions, and any other aesthetic or substantive elements.
If you desire to generate quotes based on specified measures — for example, square footage/yardage of a flower bed or patio, or linear feet of a garden wall — a first-rate POS system will provide capabilities to “build” multi-line entries that can automatically add labor and materials based on these measures.
Lastly, a quote should include an expiration date that you can specify. It should be stored and tracked in your system and should be associated with the customer’s record and history. An effective quoting tool will allow editing and price adjustment, and ideally allow you to easily convert to an order in your system once it is approved by the customer.
Using a full-featured POS solution that includes effective quoting/proposal functionality has many added benefits: you’ll avoid double data entry that is inevitable when an externally generated quote transitions to an order in your system; you’ll easily commit and assess your available inventory and manage your replenishment as a natural part of the project’s lifecycle; you’ll enable effective project reconciliation for tangible and intangible items that better inform you of a transaction’s profitability and accuracy; and, you’ll be able to track landscaper performance in terms of revenue and margin, and generate reports to support commission schemes and other performance-based compensation models.
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