The Greenery uses cost-based estimating and reporting to improve margins

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4 minutes


Oct 27, 2022

The Greenery uses cost-based estimating and reporting to improve margins

Building a system for growth transformed The Greenery Inc. from a mom-and-pop business to a $60 million company ranked among the top 30 landscape companies in the nation by Landscape Management.

The commercial and residential landscape installation and maintenance company based in Hilton Head Island, S.C., grew with Aspire business management software, which helped improve efficiency and increase the company’s gross margin.

The 100% employee-owned company employs more than 800 people at 12 branches throughout South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The company relies on a streamlined, efficient system to effectively scale and strategically grow. 

“We have to make sure our operating systems and our standardizations are in place, so we can bring in new people and new companies and enroll them into the way we do business,” says Ken Thomas, chief operating officer at The Greenery. Thomas looks for acquisitions and oversees business development to ensure the company grows organically at the right pace.

Berry and Ruthie Edwards started The Greenery in 1973 with a handful of employees and a few trucks. When Berry Edwards was ready to retire around 2003, the company converted from private ownership to an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan). 

The growing company implemented all-in-one Aspire software in 2019 for better efficiency and consistent workflows.

Setting a foundation for growth

The Greenery needed a streamlined, consistent system to sustain growth throughout its multiple branches.

“The Greenery had grown rather quickly into a large company, but the organization's infrastructure had not grown at the same pace,” says Thomas, who is also the principal of Envisor Consulting and has worked with Aspire since its inception. 

Before Aspire, The Greenery used an old software system with many spreadsheets and whiteboards. They needed modern software to streamline operations, provide real-time data, and improve communication in every location. Aspire was the right solution. 

“We really believed in its effectiveness as the industry’s best software solution,” Thomas says of Aspire. “If your workflow is inconsistent throughout the organization, automating it to a new accounting or software system is challenging. Redefining how we did business and applying that to our new software made a huge difference.”

Standardizing estimates and work-ticket management for more competitive bids and better workforce management

Aspire’s estimating features help landscape companies ensure proposals include proper profit margins—no matter who generates the estimate.

“Aspire’s template system is an excellent tool for standardizing the estimating process that can be implemented and leveraged by the entire organization,” Thomas says. “We can also measure the results in real time on how well we’re actually performing the work based on real-time data. Estimating is a great asset and advantage of Aspire.”

The Aspire platform allows landscaping companies to develop templates to combine commonly used services, pricing, and language to create proposals for specific work types. Management can set margins and markups for labor, materials and supplies, subcontractors, and other direct costs to ensure all estimates remain consistent and profitable.

A seamless work-ticket management system improves The Greenery’s project management and provides better insight into company performance.

“Real-time earned revenue recognition is something you can’t get unless you have a work-ticket management system,” Thomas says. “It’s been very helpful to know day by day, week by week, how we’re doing as an organization. Using that data makes us better managers and makes us more successful as an organization. 

Improving the company’s gross margin

The ability to track key data in real time allows landscaping companies to accurately measure performance and increase profit.

Thomas says that one of The Greenery’s KPIs (key performance indicators) is gross margin, which relates to how efficiently the company performs work. After implementing Aspire, The Greenery set a goal to increase gross margin considerably.

“We’ve been able to increase gross margin by 4 percentage points—even with today’s inflationary pressures coming against our industry,” Thomas says. “So while labor’s going up and materials are going up, the fact we have a tight handle on our numbers has still allowed us to increase our profit level at the job level.”

Enhancing operational excellence

The Greenery aims for continuous improvement and increased operational excellence, and counts on Aspire to make that happen.

“As an organization that’s focused on our operational excellence, we see the full utilization of Aspire as the most important factor moving forward with our organization,” Thomas says. “Many companies utilize Aspire, but they don't really get down to the nitty-gritty of fully utilizing the software.”

Aspire provides the data The Greenery needs to measure performance so they can become more efficient and profitable. That’s one of the reasons why Thomas recommends the software to others in the landscaping industry.

“When it comes to software solutions in our industry, we highly recommend Aspire as the absolute best solution,” Thomas says. “Our focus—our mission—is to fully utilize Aspire because we believe that’s the key to success as we move our company forward.”


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