What do QuickBooks, Excel, Word, email, whiteboards, manila folders, a time-tracking app, and maybe a landscape industry estimating software have in common? They are all frequently cited as tools landscape professionals use to operate their businesses in lieu of an integrated, comprehensive landscape business management platform.
The problem with using a variety of solutions? Information is siloed and hard to access, and you can’t generate reliable reports in a timely manner to determine your profitability and efficiency.
“What some landscape company owners might not realize is that these disconnected solutions aren’t good enough to run their businesses day-to-day,” says Mark Tipton, CEO of Aspire Software. “The collection of all these software apps often clouds their ability to see their business clearly—and even small variances in labor and material costs can add up to tens of thousands in lost revenue.”
Making invisible information visible through a software’s reporting capabilities can have a significant impact on a company’s success, allowing its leaders to make better business decisions and act quickly to improve their bottom line. Here are three things landscape businesses can see more clearly (and act on) with an integrated software system like Aspire Landscape, according to one landscape professional who’s been using the software since 2017.
Which crews and jobs are most profitable
Because Aspire Landscape tracks job costs and revenue in real time, it gives you true gross margins. “Now you can dive into which crews are making the most money and which aren’t,” says Kevin Kollmann, president/owner of Estate Landscaping & Lawn Management in Fort Myers, Fla.
The next step, he says, is rewarding successful crews through an incentive program, coaching less successful crews to help them improve, or otherwise making changes to a crew, route or account.
“You can go to work to see if you can get (the account) into the area you need to be, re-estimate it or potentially drop them as a customer in this climate,” he says. “There’s only so many hours in a day and so many people, so you have to have the highest margin work on that fixed number of hours, which makes your company much more profitable.”
Prior to adopting Aspire Landscape four years ago, Kollmann’s company used a landscape industry software program that only tracked revenue.
“When bidding, if you had to get more aggressive on pricing because of negotiations, you didn’t have a great idea of where your breakeven point was,” he says. “With Aspire Landscape, you know exactly where you are on that because you’ve entered information for labor, materials, subcontractors, etc. You have a lot more information, and that allows you to run your business more effectively."
Outstanding issues your team needs to resolve
Without an integrated landscape business management system, client requests and issues may come in through a variety of channels—phone calls, emails, text messages, and more. In many companies, it’s impossible track or provide companywide visibility into these client requests. They often stop at whichever employee notes the complaint. Managers may never know what issues exist, let alone if they’ve been fixed.
“We use Aspire Landscape’s issues module extensively,” Kollmann says, adding the progress tracking and time stamping of client issues is a big benefit. “Our upper management can monitor the issues and help middle managers with problem resolution and track how quickly we’re getting back to clients.”
In fact, Estate Landscaping uses this feature as a selling point. “Our clients always tell us their frustration with contractors is not knowing what’s going on and not getting things resolved,” he says. “The issues management system in Aspire Landscape gives us a leg up. (Clients) come in through a portal on their side and can enter issues, see the issues, and we can show them how things are getting resolved."
The status of every department, companywide
Because Aspire Landscape is a cloud-based, integrated system, including estimating, scheduling, invoicing, and more, it ensures the entire team is on the same page, which ultimately leads to better decision making, Kollmann says.
For example, managers can track jobs live or see what the following day’s schedule looks like with just a few clicks.
“It also provides a system for everybody to be using the same terminology, the same thought process, and the same practices,” Kollmann says. “By everybody using that platform, all the team members have more visibility into what’s going on. Because of the additional transparency, the team can make better and quicker decisions, which of course equates to higher profits.”