Without a system in place to accurately track the statuses of commercial maintenance accounts, Brandon Barker, commercial operations manager for J. Barker Landscaping Company in Bedford, Ohio, was struggling to keep all of the information straight. While he’d check on commercial properties by regularly visiting and walking the sites — and then following up with the account’s foreman or crew leader on anything missed — there was really no system in place to track that communication. It often happened via a quick call or text. Barker says if he forgot to jot down notes — or the account foreman or crew leader forgot — then items would continue to go unaddressed. Barker knew he had to come up with a solution.
Barker says the problem boiled down to “ineffective communication,” and it was becoming a frustration. Because the company manages some very large commercial properties, it could be difficult to keep track of all the little extras that might need to be done on a weekly basis. Barker says he needed to come up with an idea that would facilitate better communication on both ends of the spectrum.
“To solve the problem, I created ‘Property Status Reports,’ or PSRs, for our 2017 landscape season,” Barker explains. “I fill out a PSR for each commercial property that I visit during the week. And each of our commercial landscape maintenance crews receives at least two PSRs per week.”
The report explains the overall status of the property, what areas need attention, and even includes pictures of those areas. While Barker created the PSRs primarily as a solution to ensure all tasks were completed, he didn’t want the reports to come across as too negative. That’s why Barker also makes sure to use the PSRs to point out what is looking really good on the site.
“I have some talented employees and I am quick to compliment them on a job well done,” Barker says.
Barker reviews the reports with each account’s foreman or crew leader and works with them to come up with a plan of action on how to accomplish the tasks that need to be done. The foreman or crew leader also receives a copy of the report. Barker still does a follow up at each site the day after it is serviced in order to make sure everything is completed.
In order to really encourage follow-through, Barker also recently started offering an incentive that if crews get everything completed on a PSR for four weeks in a row, then each crew member will receive a gift card. With this new system in place, Barker says the properties are looking better than ever.
“Both my employees and myself have benefited from this new process of tracking the status of our sites,” he adds. “It allows me to properly hold them accountable while also providing them with a set list of items that need to be addressed. Working out our communication problems has substantially improved the way we get things accomplished on the job site.”
Our Like a Boss series highlights some common business challenges landscape professionals face and how they conquer them.