Implement Aspire during the busy season? North by Northwest did, and it paid off immediately

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PublishedMay 24, 2024

Implement Aspire during the busy season? North by Northwest did, and it paid off immediately

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Tiffany Martin Peters spent the days after the birth of her second child in 2020 sending emails and checking into the happenings at North by Northwest Landscaping in Austin, Texas.

“As soon as that baby was born, she was like, ‘Where’s Crew 4? Where’s Crew 4?’” said Jordan Martin, Tiffany’s brother and the company Vice President.

Tiffany had planned her maternity leave, but a resignation right before her due date forced her to postpone her time off and return to management of the business from her hospital bed.

That was before North by Northwest implemented Aspire, the all-in-one, cloud-based software for landscaping and commercial cleaning businesses. It’s a process the company took on during the summer busy season.

Thanks to the efficiencies Aspire provides, the business of almost 80 team members now operates more smoothly and profitably.

“I’m pregnant again,” said Tiffany, the Vice President of Operations. “But now that I have these processes and programs in place, I can actually go on maternity leave and not stress out every second of the day.”

But during the busy season? Why?

“Every day you waste or delay (not using Aspire), you’re wasting money,” Jordan said.

A family business born in lawn mowing

North by Northwest is a family-owned and family-run commercial landscaping business in Travis County (Texas). Tiffany and Jordan’s father, Jay, used to drive his son to mow lawns to raise money for missionaries. When Jay lost his job, Dad took over the mowing – and gradually built a customer base.

“I got into it when I was about 18,” Jordan said. “It was just me and my Dad mowing grass for God knows how long.”

Jay formalized the work by founding North by Northwest in 2003, and Jay and Jordan ran the business from their home. After graduating from Texas State University in 2013, Tiffany took over the office side of the business. In 2017, NXNW (as they refer to it) moved to its current property in Austin.

However, until 2018, the business ran with pen, paper, and Excel. They added software, which helped, but they needed one that was more adaptable to construction. A new hire pointed the family toward Aspire, but they wondered if the benefits were worth the cost.

They quickly found out that it would be money well spent when a consultant showed them how money was going out and what NXNW was missing in terms of KPIs and billing efficiency. Revenue was fine; profit was missing.

They learned what they were missing during implementation (with the help of Daniel Humphrey of Aspire). The whole process, they said, made them wish they had simply gone with Aspire a year earlier and saved the money they had spent on a consultant.

“I was like, this is a …” Tiffany said.

“Game-changer,” Jordan finished.

Extra work, but well worth it

Aspire’s all-in-one offering allowed North by Northwest to handle what was missing and more under one CRM umbrella. Onboarding occurred in May, at the height of landscaping season in Texas. That brought challenges and extra hours on top of the regular work, but the more Tiffany and Jordan waded into what Aspire could offer, the more they realized what could be done. 

“We weren’t stressed because of Aspire,” Jordan said.

The results were fast and eye-opening, starting with the reality that the business had a negative variance of 600 hours, sending teams to jobs but budgeting and charging for less time than was being used.

“We weren't watching the hours per job site,” Jordan said. “Immediately, that changed. Within two or three weeks, that (variance) was closer to zero. It made us realize the importance of time. We needed to start paying attention to time and how to make our people more efficient.

“(Aspire) has opened our eyes to that; every manager can see it, not just me.”

Aspire software surfaced those 600 hours, which added up to $18,000 of lost revenue per week, or $936,000 annually. The knowledge gave North by Northwest the data it needed to coach field leaders on efficiency, charge customers correctly, and protect and expand its profit margin.

That “found” revenue made all the time and expense of adding Aspire worthwhile.

“Once you get rolling and make the software fit your needs as a company, it's invaluable,” Tiffany said.

The immediate payoff

For North by Northwest, here’s the bottom line: When the company started implementing Aspire, the profit margin wasn’t where it could be. Seven months later, by the end of 2020, they had a $1.2 million profit.

Revenue has grown. The business set a goal of $15 million in revenue in 2023 and topped that by almost 4%. The goal for 2024: $18.4 million. But profit, the real measure of success, has been the biggest win. In 2023, net profit at North by Northwest was 7%, up from 2% the year prior.

PropertyIntel, an add-on to Aspire, helped by making it easier for North by Northwest’ to bid on jobs. Jordan recently surveyed a soccer field, zooming in and out to calculate important data virtually rather than in person, saving time and expense.

“I didn't have to go measure it on site; that's the beauty,” he said. “And then, it all talks to Aspire. You just click a couple of buttons, and square footage translates to your proposal.”

That, and the fact that Aspire allows the entire team to see the growth with an every-oar-pulling-in-the-same-direction collegiality, have improved the business immensely.

“The babysitting and the micromanaging isn’t needed,” Tiffany said. “Because the system has everything in place.”

And that shows up on the bottom line. 

“Aspire streamlines everything,” Jordan said, “and makes the processes uniform—and much more efficient.”

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