Why we set out to create the best landscape business management software

Read Time

7 minutes


Kim Oswalt


Mar 16, 2022

Why we set out to create the best landscape business management software

When we launched Aspire, there were other landscape software solutions on the market already.

The problem was, none of them could be used on their own—especially for large operations. Many worked well, but they were incomplete.

That’s why we decided to create Aspire’s flagship business management system, a cloud-based platform that lets companies handle everything within a single solution.

It was an ambitious undertaking, but it worked. Aspire is now the tool of choice for contractors everywhere, with nearly 70,000 users in more than 1,500 locations managing over $4.5 billion in industry revenue.

TL;DR: Landscape businesses are held back by “frankensystems” that stunt growth, hurt profits, and suck time. We built Aspire to address these problems with a centralized system that yields actionable insights, enables proactive decisions, and frees business leaders to delegate fearlessly. (Read on to see how.)

Learn more about Aspire’s end-to-end business management system.

Landscape companies are held back by bad systems

Landscape business leaders don’t get enough credit. They have to manage a complex workforce, stay on top of narrow profit margins, make careful business decisions, and build strong customer relationships—all while dealing with variables like weather and market volatility that are outside of their control.

These demands are challenging to navigate on their own, but bad systems make the problem worse. Countless landscape companies have been forced to deal with bad systems for years, struggling to maintain consistent, accurate numbers and make informed decisions with paper-and-pen processes, whiteboards, mountains of spreadsheets, or an ever-growing list of subscription services.

We decided to fix that.

Aspire isn’t just another piece of software. It’s a one-stop shop that lets you get rid of the mess and keep all your data together in a single, centralized place. It was created by landscapers who understood three key challenges caused by bad systems:

  1. Landscape business growth is stunted by missing or inaccurate data.
  2. Companies lose money when they don’t know if a job is profitable until it’s too late.
  3. Business owners spend too much “in” the business and not enough “on” the business.

In the following sections, we’ll explore these problems further, and show how Aspire was designed to solve them.

Download our free ebook, Hidden barriers, to see how your systems could be inhibiting the growth of your landscape company.

Landscape business growth is stunted by missing or inaccurate data

When you don’t have a reliable way to collect and manage data, it’s hard to make good business decisions.

Despite knowing this, a surprising number of landscape companies still use paper-based systems. The risks and inefficiencies of doing things this way are clear—it’s easy for information to get lost, thrown in the trash, or filed away never to be seen again.

For those trying to go digital, it’s hard to balance finding a solution that’s simple to learn and use but has robust enough features to provide the ROI you need. That’s how landscapers end up with what we call “frankensystems.”

We can’t tell you how many contractors we’ve talked to who are suffering under the weight of a frankensystem. These cobbled-together sets of processes develop over time as businesses grow and new needs arise. No one sets out to use 10 different types of software in combination with dozens of spreadsheets, paper templates, and email processes, but many contractors find themselves there.

Without a system that can manage data effectively, valuable information goes unrecorded, undiscovered, and unused.

Companies lose money when they don’t know if a job is profitable until it’s too late

This is a big one. When landscape businesses struggle to keep track of job costs, they can’t tell whether they’re making or losing money and have to rely on guesstimates.

Instead of being able to review numbers at the end of the day, week, or month, contractors are in the dark until final numbers come in. And even those aren’t usually as complete or reliable as they need to be.

This uncertainty about how much is being spent compared to how much was quoted means contractors often end up losing money, or at least suffering from inconsistent margins.

While it’s important to be able to track job cost data no matter your growth goals, for companies interested in scaling their operation or improving efficiency, it’s an absolute necessity.

Business owners spend too much time “in” the business and not enough “on” the business

Passion and dedication are excellent qualities, but no one should have to work 15+ hours a day to run a successful business.

As landscape companies grow, the owner often continues working in the weeds—trying to be everywhere at the same time to keep things running smoothly. This isn’t just exhausting. It’s also bad for the business.

To scale efficiently, landscape business owners need to be able to step back from the daily operational work to focus on strategic management decisions that further the company’s future and goals.

Unfortunately, letting go isn’t easy, especially when the systems in place don’t allow the owner to delegate effectively.

Helping landscaping companies build better systems

The root of the problem is poor infrastructure, systems that aren’t equipped to support the processes necessary for running a growing business.

To scale efficiently, landscape business owners need a platform that provides a solid, reliable foundation for growth.

This is what we set out to create with Aspire, and how we’ve helped countless businesses achieve higher profits, open new branches, improve employee and customer satisfaction, and—our favorite—get hours back in their day to spend with loved ones.

A single, centralized system yields specific, actionable insights

You’ll hear us describe Aspire as an “end-to-end” business management system. And when we say end-to-end, we mean it.

With Aspire, you can manage your landscaping business in a single location—building estimates, creating purchasing lists, scheduling crews, tracking job costs, sending invoices, reporting financial data, and more.

What does that look like? First, properties and contacts are added to the CRM, then account managers create estimates for those properties using templates and bidding kits to ensure consistency. Then, when a bid is won, it’s automatically sent to the purchasing assistant. You can then create work tickets directly from the estimate data and invoices directly from the work ticket data—building custom reports at every step of the way.

This connectivity improves efficiency and removes the disconnect that often exists between sales and operations.

With data freed from siloes, you can easily see where you might be losing money and adjust, as Allen Sweeney from Aphix did when he decided to part ways with a $2 million client after reviewing the client’s gross margins in Aspire.

Robust job costing features provide real-time updates that enable informed, proactive decisions

If you watched the testimonial from CareScape’s Tim McCabe, you’ll know one of the features in Aspire clients love most is job costing.

The ability to see numbers updated in real time on custom reports and dashboards means business leaders don’t have to wait until months after a job is finished (or worse, the end of the year) to find out if they turned a profit. Plus, insights can be broken down by division, service type, property, manager, crew leader, job, or work ticket to answer any question you might have about performance.

“The closer in time you are to an event, the easier it is to accurately understand what happened and make any required changes,” says Ross McAlpine of Monarch Landscape Management. “If you wait and try to ask what happened a week or month ago, too much time has passed and the information isn’t as accurate.”

See how Monarch and others have used Aspire’s job costing features to stay under budget, get ahead of market fluctuations, and increase profits in the stories below:

Templates, bidding kits, and standardized processes empower business owners to delegate fearlessly

To scale, success can’t depend on the skills or knowledge of a single employee, or small team of employees. Thankfully, with Aspire, you can delegate with confidence.

Aspire lets landscape leaders standardize their operation, making it easy to train and trust employees across the business to manage their piece of the pie effectively.

During implementation, you’ll work with a consultant (each one has at least 10 years of landscape industry experience) to create a customized system that makes sense for your business. You can create templates for everything from work tickets to invoices and build bidding kits that allow account managers to quickly and easily produce consistent estimates.

Before they started using Aspire, Cole Landscaping lacked standardization in their estimating process, sending bids as many as 13 different ways. Now, they have a single, streamlined process.

HubSpot Video

And while using Aspire, Kasel Rocks Landscape has grown over 400%, allowing Scott Lesak to make the transition from owner-operator to CEO overseeing a large, thriving team.

“We buy into these businesses as an investment,” he says. “We buy into them to financially free ourselves, and so many people get caught up in the day-to-day only to find they’ve bought themselves a job. Over the next five years, I really want to transfer this into an investment instead of just a job.”

Find out if Aspire is right for you

Bottom line: When we started Aspire Software in 2013, we weren’t interested in doing things halfway. We took the time to create a single system that makes life easier for our customers, and that’s still our motivation. We’re always working to make the platform even better tomorrow than it is today.

If you think Aspire might be a good fit for your company, request a free personalized demo.


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