Can Landscapers Trust Their Numbers? Part Three.

This is the last post in a three part series on business process and financial management for landscape contractors. (Read Part One.  Read Part Two.)

Stop mismanaging your paper workflow by abdicating all paperwork management to your Administrative staff.

You must have Sales and Operations staff involved in managing the key business transactions: 

  1. Estimate
  2. Work order/ticket
  3. Purchase
  4. Time-sheet
  5. Invoice   

You Just Can’t Leave This To The Administrative Staff.

Here’s why.  Your Administrative staff has very little to do with the creation and execution of any of these transactions.  There is so much information they DON’T have that it almost impossible for them to manage the numbers without responsible Sales and Operations staff involved daily.

It Takes A Team.

Salesmen and Account Managers initiate the estimate and create the work ticket.  Operations Managers make the purchases and manage the time sheets.  Sales and Operations people usually must cooperate to get the invoicing right.  What does the Administrative staff know, except that which they are given?

Yes, I’m saying your Administrative staff needs more respect and the best way to give them that is for Sales and Operations to manage the paperwork for these transactions.  I think just made some friends (Administration) and some enemies too (Sales and Operations)!

It’s Not Complicated But You’ve Got To Execute To Get Trusted Numbers

Aspire_Financial_Systems_For_Landscape_Flow

Click to enlarge

When you think about it …  it’s a pretty simple process.  

  1. For each transaction someone must initiate it (with proper and complete information),
  2. Someone must review it while it is in progress (with real-time reporting on transaction/ticket status), and
  3. Someone must correct, complete, approve and finalize it (by producing accurate estimates, work tickets, purchase orders, time-sheets, and invoices).  

Who?  Together both Administration and Sales / Operations must every day to keep the numbers right through IN PROGRESS reporting on ticket status…  or else you will have a mess at the end of the month.

What Happens If You Don’t Have A Trusted System For This Work?

Transactions won’t be corrected and financial reports will suffer accordingly because their is no time to do all the research to fix all the mistakes that naturally get made every day and if not corrected within 2 – 3 days they often become permanent.

Put Down The Bucket.  Pick Up More Profit.

Yeah, I want to throw up too…  so much work to get it right…  and people say landscaping is an easy business…  But managing transactions is essential to good numbers…  and yes it costs money.  But if you don’t do it, the cost of “bad numbers” is reduced Gross Profit.  So get everyone involved in managing the paperwork flow as outlined here.

 

Can Landscapers Trust Their Numbers? Part Two.

This is the second post in a three part series on business process and financial management for landscape contractors.

Your “Ticket” To True Numbers.

The only way to get true financial accuracy is to adopt a “ticketing” system.  You can manage a ticketing system with spreadsheets but it is time consuming and prone to human error as data must often be re-entered from one spreadsheet to another.

The other problem with this approach is timing as to when transactions are recorded to the job and when they are recorded to the financials.  This means…  yes job cost and financial numbers may not match at any point in time.

Remember, The System Is The Solution.

Aspire_Financial_Systems_For_Landscape_Flow

Click to enlarge

A ticketing system manages revenue and costs on a TICKET.  A job might have one or multiple tickets, but the basic concept remains…  no ticket, no work and revenue is earned as the actual costs are incurred – not as the revenue is invoiced and the labor and materials are paid.  

If your system cannot do this then your financials will provide a distorted picture of Gross Profit and provide ripe ground for internal arguments about expense “allocation”.  (This explains why your people keep track of their own numbers.)  

The Ticket Works So You Don’t Have To

The ticket originates at the Estimate/Contract.  It is slotted on the Schedule Board.  The crew puts time to it on the Time-Sheet, and buyers apply materials though a Purchase Order or allocation from Inventory.  At the end of every day every ticket unless it is complete is IN PROGRESS and only has earned revenue to the extent that costs were incurred.

No More Assumptions

In a ticket system there are no expense assumptions about what labor and which materials get “allocated” to the profit center. So instead of hiring people to manipulate spreadsheets, let the ticket do the work.  If you do this, you can trust your job cost numbers completely and they can be easily reconciled with the “accounting numbers” using an Over/Under revenue account and labor and material Holding accounts.

Make Sense?

Yes, you need a ticket based software system…  there are just too many transactions every month to be tracked any other way without making assumptions.  Stop making assumptions and your numbers will be accurate.

In the third and last part of this series, I’ll tackle dealing with paper.  Stay tuned…

New Aspire Website Redesign

The Aspire Software Company happily announces the launch of our new youraspire.com website redesign. We worked with our strategic web development partner on enhancements that make it easier for landscape contractors to discover and evaluate the Aspire solution. Here’s some info about the new additions:  (Click on any of the images to see them enlarged.)

A Fresh Homepage

The Aspire Software Company has grown and matured tremendously since its 2014 launch.  We wanted a redesigned homepage to represent this and better communicate how we help landscape contractors focus on what they do best.  Below is a top of the fold comparison…

Old Homepage


New Homepage


The new homepage also uses call out sections below the fold to make it easier for contractors to see how Aspire provides them with far more than just software.  Plus, it pulls in and displays the latest posts from the Aspiring Business Blog.

The New Aspire Product Tour

The goal of our tour is to help visitors learn just how powerful and comprehensive Aspire software is, in an easy to understand way.  So we broke out our product tour experience into nine modules.  Then we added:Aspire Software Tour

  • Enhanced Tour Navigation – Let’s you easily switch between modules.  Visitors can take the product tour in order or quickly jump between sections.
  • Video Demos – Each module has an explainer video that lets landscape contractor’s see how that module helps streamline their business.
  • At-A-Glance Feature Details – The module features and benefits are provided in tabs.  You can easily scan all the capabilities of each module and if desired, instantly get more detailed information.

The AspireCare™ Service System Tour

Aspire provides customers with multiple levels of service and support through our proprietary AspireCare™ Service System. The redesigned website now gives you an interactive peek behind the AspireCare™ curtain.  (Only Aspire customers can access it live).  It shows you:AspireCare Software Service System

  • The Quick Search Knowledge Base – This self-education center let’s you quickly find answers.  It pulls up documentation, archived webinars, spreadsheets, video’s, customer forum posts and other content related to our customer’s search or query.  Customers can also rate the helpfulness of all our knowledge base items which allows us to constantly improve them.
  •  Customer Community Support Forums – Learn how other Aspire customers are leveraging the software in their business.  Connect with an Aspire moderated community of your peers to learn best practices, ask questions and join business building conversations.
  • Dynamic Support Ticketing – Our user friendly, ticketing system let’s you get fast, direct response from the Aspire support team and your personal account manager. Everything is documented and organized so getting support is an efficient, hassle free experience.
  • Best At-A-Glance Info – The AspireCare™ Support System analytics engine surfaces the best voted support documents, most popular customer forum information and latest discussions so you can quickly keep up to date with the latest and greatest developments of the software and community.

The Aspire Team Pages

Aspire Software TeamWe thought it was time to share more info about the growing team behind Aspire software.  Clicking on a team member takes you to their personal bio page. And yes, we’ve been getting some compliments on the motorcycle photo…

Deployment And Other New Pages

The new software deployment page provides an overview of the roadmap and smooth managed process we use to get customers up and running on the software.

You’ll also see new additions for the “Why Aspire“, “Aspire University” pages with more to come…

This website redesign is just one of the many things happening at Aspire right now. This includes the release of Aspire Software Version 2.5 and the roll-out of our GIE Business Breakthrough Conference on October 19th in Louisville.  Look for information to signup in the coming months.

Contact Kevin:  kevin.kehoe@yourasppire.com for more information.

Can Landscapers Trust Their Numbers? Part One

This is the first of a three part series on business process and financial management for landscape contractors.

Can you trust your numbers?  Maybe you can…  but maybe you shouldn’t.

I suggest you check.  Drill into the numbers in your Accounting software.  I bet you will find at least a few areas where they are not accurate… that lack of accuracy is usually a function of assumptions or mismanaged transactions in your system and work-flow.

Assumption – method by which numbers are handled.  For instance, tracking all crew time to a profit center regardless of where they work or using some percentage to charge a profit center.

Transaction – step in the process where numbers are created, entered, reviewed, and approved.  There are five major transactions areas in a landscape business:

1) Estimate

2) Work order/ticket

3) Purchase

4) Time sheet

5) Invoice

In simple terms. your numbers are only as good as your assumptions and the way you manage these key transactions.

The best way to get consistent and trustworthy numbers is:

MINIMIZE the number and type of assumptions and MONITOR transactions at the source.

I spoke to this idea at the GIE 2015.  The response was, “It’s scary to see how wrong my numbers might be!”

The System Is The Solution

To get things right you start with a system overview (See the chart).  This shows how things should work.  Looking at the chart, it is easy to see that your Sales and Operations people have as much to say as the Administrative people do about the accuracy of your numbers.  Sloppy assumptions and transactions must be removed to make the system work.

In the next two blog posts of this series, I will outline the proper approach.