If you weren’t able to make it to the 2021 Aspire IGNITE! client conference in Columbus, Ohio, you’re in luck—we’ve created a rundown of some of the key topics from speakers and some of the conversations we heard in the user sessions and workshops.
Here are some of the big ideas from a jam-packed three days at Aspire IGNITE!
Using grit, vision, and mindset to achieve your goals
Motivational speaker Scott Burrows encouraged the landscape professionals attending the conference to have “unshakeable belief in yourself, your ability and skill. Get curious, adventurous and vulnerable.”
Scott was a star athlete in golf, track, football, and kickboxing until a catastrophic car accident in 1984 brought his athletic career to a halt. He was paralyzed from the chest down with two broken vertebrae in his neck and diagnosed as a quadriplegic.
His grit and unshakeable belief in himself propelled him to do something doctors didn’t think he’d ever be able to do—walk again.
As Scott walked around the stage aided by a cane, he challenged the attendees to stretch themselves a bit further in their businesses and ask, “What professional mindset do I need to be in to do what scares me?”
But it’s not just about doing what scares you, he said.
“You can have the most thought-provoking vision for your life and your company, to drive revenue, value, and growth,” Scott explained, “but it takes grit to build, sustain, and ignite a world-class construction, landscape, or snow and ice company. And it takes grit to stay relevant and competitive in a marketplace that refuses to stay the same.”
As a closing thought, he advised the landscape professionals present to never think they know everything and to ask better questions of themselves, like, “What don’t I know? What am I missing? What can I practice next?” In short, to never lose the ability to play the part of the student, especially as it relates to their businesses.
4 pillars of success with Marty Grunder
Marty Grunder had some advice for those companies who came to IGNITE! in search of ways to improve the ways they use software and run their businesses: “The best systems are the ones that are used.”
The president and CEO of Grunder Landscaping Co. and consulting group The Grow Group explained in addition to embracing Aspire as his company’s operating system, there have been four pillars of success he uses to guide his business and his teams.
Platform, which includes your foundation, vision, mission, core values, and unique value proposition. Without clearly defining these for your business, you’ll have no idea where you’re trying to go or how you’ll get here, Marty said.
People, or your team. “People want responsibility,” Marty explained. “Identify those with potential and develop a plan.” And don’t just stop there—focus on continual improvement, he added.
Processes, or your systems. Marty explained that you need to outline several things for a successful system: What’s the purpose of the system? What does a winning process look like? Who will own the process? What does the process owner need to accomplish this? What’s the way we’re going to get this done?
As an example, Marty used the process of implementing Aspire Landscape, which resulted in the office going paperless, significantly streamlining their past paper-heavy operations, and fully embracing the software.
Profits, or your financial success and how you reinvest it. “Profitability is about more than money—it’s the basis for your business,” he said. According to Marty, in order to maximize your profits, you’ll have to grow the right way; keep your cash flow predictable; reinvest in new equipment, facilities, and your team; and give back to the community.
Drilling down on the KPIs in your business with your team and finding the correct reports and reporting rhythms are also key to higher profits, and they tell you about where you are financially.
“Success leaves clues about where we need to go and what we need to do,” he said. “Talk about profitability and drill this in your one-on-ones with direct reports.”
Robotic mowers continue to improve
The robotic mower panel introduced representatives from autonomous mower companies, including Charles Brian Quinn, CEO of Greenzie; Keith Vickery, owner of Zapt; Isaac Roberts, co-founder of Scythe Robotics; and John Vlay, CEO of Graze Mowing. Each discussed their company’s approach to building autonomous mowers and how they’re being received in today’s market.
For those landscape company users who are open to the technology, the experts explained that safety is their top concern, followed by durability. John mentioned that his team at Graze Mowing is going to commercial job sites and testing autonomous mowers with engineers until the equipment is fully UL- and OPEI-certified. He estimates that the mowers will be certified in 2022.
Many of the companies are using autonomous technology on 52- and 60-inch mowers, with Zapt also using 30-inch mowers and Greenzie adapting their technology to 48-inch mowers.
Isaac at Scythe Robotics said he’s been hearing from clients, “Don’t save me a dollar, save me a man hour—that’s more important.” But, he advised, the technology is not at the point where you can just drop off the mower and go to the next property.
An additional concern that attendees raised was internet connectivity while operating autonomous mowers. The panelists explained that if internet goes down on these autonomous machines, operators aren’t stuck with a useless mower, they still have the option of running the mowers manually as they ordinarily would.
The panel also advised attendees that they are dealing with supply chain concerns as they work on fulfilling mower preorders for the 2022 landscape season.
The future of Aspire Software
In a well-attended user session, Aspire Software’s Chief Technology Officer Dan Blake and Director of Product Management Brian Brinkworth presented the Aspire’s product roadmap and where we’re focusing efforts in the next 18 months.
Dan and Brian addressed questions about ServiceTitan’s acquisition of Aspire Software, and announced that with ServiceTitan’s support, Aspire is tripling the investment in the product and engineering teams over the next 6-12 months. The additional resources will focus on user interface and user experience improvements, increasing roadmap speed and addressing broad-impact customer requests.
Speaking of customer requests, in August 2021, Aspire is launching a new initiative: the ideas voting portal. Each Aspire company will have the opportunity to vote on features they want to see included in the Aspire Landscape platform, and the top three will become a part of the system.
Keep an eye on the Resource Center on the website for more information on the voting portal.
To close the conference, Mark Tipton introduced Connor Theilmann, vice president of business operations at ServiceTitan, and addressed the crowd of Aspire Software users.
“We want to thank you first and foremost for putting your trust in us and giving us the opportunity to serve you and support your needs,” Mark said. “It's a privilege that we get to work with companies like you.
“You heard Connor mention the ServiceTitan mission that they're focused on changing lives—that's our mission and has been since day one,” he added. “We are humbled that you give us that opportunity to do that and we don't take it for granted. We work hard to serve you, to make our product better and improve our services.”