Sponsored Content by Aspire SoftwareEliminate workarounds and guesswork with an integrated business management system

“Garbage in, garbage out,” is a common refrain among business owners and managers frustrated with their team’s use — or lack thereof — of a software system.

Do you feel like your ability to make good business decisions depends on whether or not your employees enter data correctly? Do you worry about a job or invoice falling through the cracks? In the landscape industry, you are not alone.

Brian Shedd

Bryan Shedd

Bryan Shedd has been there. “In the past, we’ve had clients call up and say, ‘Why aren’t you servicing my property?’” says the recurring team coordinator for Belknap Landscape Co. in Gilford, N.H. “Well, it’s because we forgot to send them a renewal. That’s embarrassing to say the least.”

Many companies in the landscape industry struggle with disconnected systems that hinder their ability to make good business decisions, estimate jobs accurately, and be more profitable.

Mark Tipton

Mark Tipton

“Inefficiency in your operations is a huge barrier to growing your landscape business,” says Mark Tipton, CEO of Aspire Software. The answer? An integrated landscape business management system, like Aspire Landscape, with end-to-end functionality.

“Aspire Landscape eliminates the workarounds and much of the data entry created by using multiple software solutions for tasks like estimating and job costing,” Tipton says. “An integrated system streamlines those processes and provides visibility into your business. This allows you and your team to be more efficient, act quickly to make decisions that generate more profit, and generate more revenue with the same amount of staff.”

No ticket left behind

Prior to implementing Aspire Landscape two and a half years ago, Belknap Landscape used Excel spreadsheets, daily paper timesheets and whiteboards to manage its operations. The full-service landscape company has 80 to 100 employees at peak season.

“We had walls and walls of information that could ever so easily be erased by someone leaning against the wall,” Shedd says, adding the company has multiple locations, so staff had to drive around every day to pick up paperwork and return it to the main office. Next, someone sorted through the paperwork; recorded each employee’s time in QuickBooks for payroll; then tracked job names, tasks and actual man hours/material for each job in another spreadsheet. Finally, the data was entered into the master spreadsheet, so the team could see how it was performing on each specific task.

“We would be handling the same data multiple times,” he explains. “It took days if not weeks to get the information we needed to effectively manage each job, and by then it was too late.”

Aspire Landscape Crew Mobile app

Simplified estimating. Aspire Landscape allows users to build unlimited estimating templates and production-rate kits to enable their teams to quickly, accurately and consistently bid large and/or complex jobs, simply by altering the takeoffs and quantities.

There was a lot of room for error. And there was no time to proactively make adjustments to improve a job. When the company’s growth flatlined a few years in a row, the Belknap team knew something had to change. After a nearly two-year software selection process, they chose Aspire Landscape.

Now, things run smoother for a variety of reasons. One of them being the job ticketing system, which ensures all jobs are captured from the moment they are entered as a lead into the system and tracked all the way through invoicing. “I like to use the term ‘no ticket left behind,’” Shedd says. “Whether you check it daily, weekly or monthly, every job is in there and it all gets scheduled and pushed through to invoicing at some point.”

Additionally, the ticketing system allows for more efficient crew communication. Any details the crew needs, including notes, photos, budgeted hours, materials needed, etc., are linked to their work tickets for the day, which they can easily access from their phone.

On the sales side, Belknap is seeing the benefit of Aspire Landscape’s scheduling capabilities. Before the landscape season, the company used the platform to schedule all of its contracted work for the entire year, which would have been impossible to do on whiteboards, Shedd notes. “(It) allowed us to see where we had holes and in turn gave the sales team an advantage when selling new work, being able to provide a more realistic timeline to clients,” he says.

Aspire Landscape Crew Mobile app

Seamless communication. In addition to tracking labor hours and materials used from the field, Aspire Landscape’s Crew Mobile app provides quick access to the information needed in the field and allows crews to create, assign or respond to issues as well as communicating these to their manager and then to the customer, if necessary.

A live view

K&D Landscape in Watsonville, Calif., adopted Aspire Landscape earlier this year. The company previously used a landscape estimating software along with a time-tracking program and a few other tools. So far, the management team is thrilled with the ability to see how the company is performing on any job on a daily basis.

Shane White

Shane White

“Because time capture is all done within the system, it’s a live view,” says Shane White, maintenance department leader. “Whereas before, we may not see a job report for a week or two weeks. By that time, the job could be over. With Aspire Landscape, we have better visibility on which teams are doing good or what teams need to be pushed or maybe need more training from the management team or need to adjust things on the fly.”

The real-time data gives the management team the ability to have a discussion with the production manager or crew about whether they’re running into problems on-site and whether they need to do a change order for an additional scope of work.

“We can go to a client and say we ran into this problem (and ask), ‘Is this change order approved?’” he says. “It’s a lot more difficult to go to the client and negotiate an extra cost when we’re done with the job.”

On the maintenance side, more accurate data is helping K&D identify which jobs are profitable or not profitable, so the team can decide whether or not to retain the client in the future.

“A client will only spend so much, and if we’re not able to keep a client satisfied at the (agreed-upon) time or rate, maybe it’s not the client for us,” White says. “Before, it was a lot more guesswork to determine profitability per account. Now, it’s all in one place and we’re able to run reports weekly, monthly or quarterly and see which jobs are doing well and not so well so we can dive in and figure it out.”

Aspire Landscape Crew Mobile app

Real-time visibility. The job dashboard in Aspire Landscape provides a quick, at-a-glance comparison of actual vs. estimated costs, allowing users to manage projects in real time and make proactive decisions — before it’s too late — to ensure the profitability of every job.

Eliminates the guesswork

Bob McCurdy, regional director of operations for Brilar, joined the company a month before it implemented Aspire Landscape in November 2019. Before making the switch, the commercial maintenance company based in Oak Park, Mich., used a few different landscape industry software programs that were not working well for its operation.

The biggest benefits of Aspire Landscape McCurdy sees are the simplicity, the visual nature of the program and the continuity its use creates.

Bob McCurdy

Bob McCurdy

“With Aspire Landscape, the way the estimates are built, if you hit your hours and buy the right materials at the right prices, you pretty much guarantee your margins,” he says. He’s a fan of the system’s catalog of inventory items like sod, seed, trees, shrubs and more, and the fact that labor hours for installing each item are included. “It eliminates the guesswork. If we estimate 80 hours and we do it in 80 hours, we’re going to make money.”

Because Brilar has five branches, it’s helpful that Aspire Landscape allows for pricing templates with market-specific pricing. “We do a lot of snow, and salt prices can be different in Des Moines than in Detroit, so the ability to use the same template with different mark-ups is great. It’s consistent but customized by branch.”

McCurdy also favors Aspire Landscape’s ability to deliver timely information in an easy-to-read format. “On the schedule board, you get a green or red bar if you’re over or under production hours,” he says. “I don’t need to print out a spreadsheet; I can see it right in front of my face. The biggest benefit is the lack of paper on my desk. I can dig inside the system without the need to bury my desk in reports and paper.”

At a multibranch company, it’s imperative that everyone speaks the same language and uses the same system across the board, he says, and Aspire Landscape allows for that.

“It just makes you more efficient and connects the dots between departments, whether that’s finance and accounting, sales or our branch management operations,” he says. “I can only imagine what a disaster it would be if we’re all doing different things, especially with multiple branches.”

The Aspire Landscape business management platform offers the cloud-based, end-to-end functionality contractors need to gain full visibility into their business, make better decisions, and increase profit margins. Aspire is trusted by more than 51,000 users in over 1,200 locations to manage nearly $4 billion in industry revenue.

To learn more or to schedule a customized demo, visit youraspire.com.



Header Image: Aspire Software

This page was produced by North Coast Media’s content marketing staff in collaboration with Aspire. NCM Content Marketing connects marketers to audiences and delivers industry trends, business tips and product information. The Landscape Management editorial staff did not create this content.