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Aspire Software’s Ignite conference demonstrates value of peer networking

August 3, 2021 -  By

 

 

Economists, inspirational speakers and software engineers offered expert advice, but the best information for landscapers at Aspire Software’s Ignite user’s group in Columbus, Ohio, last week came from each other, attendees said.

“The more (snow removal) route prep ahead of time when you can plan and it’s nice outside, the better shape you’ll be in when the weather turns bad,” Mike Farris, vice president of Elevate Landscapes in Colorado Springs, Colo., told his peers during a session on snow season planning at the event last week. “You can poke holes in your system and see where you’re going to have trouble.”

Mike Farris, vice president of Elevate Landscapes, talks about snow removal at Aspire Software's users conference (Photo: LM Staff)

Mike Farris, vice president of Elevate Landscapes, talks about snow removal at Aspire Software’s users conference (Photo: LM Staff)

Several attendees seconded his recommendation with suggestions such as sending account reps during planning runs to try to sell services to more homes along the route or pairing the practices with snow-stake placement.

Throughout the three-day conference, Aspire’s experts and invited speakers discussed how to boost profitability, what’s in upcoming software updates and how to use new tools. Conference goers said those experts were helpful, but talking to each other during sessions and networking events provided more hands-on expertise in how landscapers can use software to improve operations.

During a session for account managers, one landscaper asked how many people in the room conducted site audits in Aspire after finishing a job. Only a few hands went up, with several attendees saying it was one step too many — crews might take a few pictures and makes some notes about what they did, but most would forget to enter those notes into the system at the end of the day

Cheryl Crabtree, an account manager at Jay Crew Landscape in Muncie, Ind., said her company had that problem until it issued iPads to crew leaders. Having keyboards that allowed on-site crews to enter that information in the field was critical.

Yellowstone Landscape Director of Business Optimization Christina Franzen talks to Aspire Software Chief Product and Technology Officer Dan Blake (Photo:LM Staff)

Yellowstone Landscape Director of Business Optimization Christina Franzen talks to Aspire Software Chief Product and Technology Officer Dan Blake (Photo: LM Staff)

“It’s great because we have a record of everything we’ve done,” Crabtree said. She later added that when some big clients have come back for contract renewals, mentioning lower bids from competitors, showing exactly how much her crews have done on every site kept customers loyal.

Productivity and profit-improving tips are critical to landscapers, said Aspire founder and LM columnist Kevin Kehoe. Addressing the conference via video, he said surveys of Aspire users show that profit margins for the industry remain thin for many companies. The top 15 percent users of the company’s software reported 16 percent margins, but the rest average 4 percent margins. Size and location had little to do with the differences.

“The companies that make the most money have more production supervisors” not more executive management, Kehoe said. Those supervisors, he added tend to make everyone on their teams aware of budgets, and they work with customers to make sure crews are meeting quality expectations.

Kehoe and others urged landscapers to use financial and performance data to understand where their companies are spending their money to make sure they’re making the best use of resources.

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Robert Schoenberger

About the Author:

Robert Schoenberger is Landscape Management's senior editor. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from University of Houston. He has worked in magazines and newspapers since the late 1990s. Robert can be reached at rschoenberger@northcoastmedia.net.

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