How Do You Compare Landscape Management Software?

You want to make an informed and complete decision before investing in landscape management software. Doing this requires a comparative analysis of the options.   It starts with…

Do You Know What You Should Really Be Comparing?

What you don’t know can undermine your landscape software and vendor analysis leading to a poor decision. Unless you’re an expert in landscaping business management software – and most of us are NOT because it’s not something we purchase every day – then having some guidelines to establish a comparative baseline can help.

The Devil Is In The Details

When evaluating landscape management software the devil is in the details… Because on the surface, many software systems appear the same.  But that’s like saying all cars are the same because they have engines, transmissions and doors.  Again, it’s what’s beyond the obvious common features that make all the difference to the actual people using the software in your landscape company. 

Take The Time To Do It Right

Since every software demonstration looks good, and because often you just want to make some decision and start implementing, there is a tendency to under-analyze.  So… SLOW DOWN!

  1.  Getting references is good.  But make certain you ask for “warts and all” references.  These are industry peers who will tell you the good and the bad about their software experience.  This is invaluable as there is no perfect software solution for all of your needs.  See “the questions to ask” from my blog series on “How to Buy Software.
  1.  Analyzing features, training, set-up, data conversion, support, documentation, growth plans, organization charts, ownership and pricing (inclusive one-price for all or a la carte pricing models) is not that hard if you know what to look for.  I have created a comparison checklist to help you.

Weight Your Analysis Toward The Vendor’s Software Deployment & Support

For my money, I would put half the weight of my selection on the deployment and support programs of the vendor.  

Why?  Because you are going to be living with this investment and these people for a long time…  and five years from today you want to:

  • Be using 100% of the software features.
  • Be using software that has NOT become obsolete because your vendor did not re-invest in the product.  

Remember, Price Is What You Pay.  Value Is What You Get

That’s why price – while important – is not the primary consideration when making this investment.  The strategic and tactical benefits, as well as BEST PARTNER are way more important than mere price.

A Spreadsheet To Compare Landscape Management Software

I’ve created a useful spreadsheet that makes it easy to compare landscape software vendors against the key areas, features and considerations for evaluating their business management software.

You can request my comparative features sheet by emailing me (kevin.kehoe@youraspire.com) with the subject line: “Landscape Software Comparision Spreadsheet”  In the body: include your name, company and a brief comment on what you want.  I’ll reply with a copy of the Excel spreadsheet.

Rally Cap Update:  Spring is a good time to assess software options and make plans for a June implementation start date.  This timeline allows you to be up and running for snow sales and green contract renewal seasons.  This plan also helps you to manage your Fall upsell season better.

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What Tactical Benefits Do You Get From Landscape Management Software?

Will investment in landscape management software really change things for your company?  The answer is…  yes.  

My last blog focused on the strategic benefits of an investment in landscape business management software.  This blog post focuses on day-to-day tactical benefits

What are tactical benefits?  Tactical benefits are defined in terms of “quality of life” and “productivity” enhancements delivered to landscape business management software users and clients.  My short list outlines important considerations and expectations for these “quality of life” and “productivity” enhancements.

Although any individual software cannot make every claim, it’s important you are aware of what is reasonable to expect as you work through your software selection process.  You can refer to some of my previous posts on “How to Buy Software” for more information too. 

Tactical Benefits Of Landscape Management Software:

Here’s the short list…

  • No more redundant data entry for transactions like contact info, estimate, work order, purchase order and invoicing.  Since these transactions are integrated you only enter it once and it is available at every step.  Life is easier!
  • No more waiting for reports until the end of the month.  Since the software is cloud-based, information is real-time.  You can make decisions before problems escalate and you can track details right on your phone or tablet.  You can address problems quickly.
  • No more running back to the office to change the schedule or do an estimate.  Since the software works anywhere and you have an app-like interface, your staff gets more done with less hassle and way fewer spreadsheets.
  • No more security risks with usernames and passwords.  Look for real security provided by device authorization to secure your company’s data and records.  You use a simple PIN number and you control access.
  • No more finger pointing amongst sales – operations –administration.  OK, that’s fantasy.  OK, LESS finger pointing.  A modern business management software has built-in workflow and best landscape practices linking and coordinating these people – from estimate to invoice.  That means less conflict and more action.
  • No more hiring IT consultants to write reports for you.  Business management software for landscape companies should have easy to use report writers and database queries which anyone can master – with some training.  You can do this without calling an expert and your people can handle things on their own.
  • No more customer folders with information spread across your X, Y, and Z drives.  True CRM (customer management) makes photos, word docs, spreadsheets, maps, designs, bids, site walks, budgets, measurements, production rates, estimates, emails, issues, and calendar appointments viewable (and actionable) in one place from one device and on one screen.  Life just got way easier.

TAspire Landscape Management Software Rally Capshere are more tactical benefits that come from using landscape management software.  But this is a good start.  “Quality of life” and “productivity” enhancements make everyone more productive.

Should you invest in business management software? Certainly.  Put on the Rally Cap and examine the investment and the benefits outlined here.  These kinds of enhancements are possible and real.

Also…  My next post will address comparisons among landscape business management software vendors. Subscribe below and we’ll deliver it right to your email.

Get more profitable information and insights to grow your landscape company.

Subscribe to my “Aspiring Business”blog here…..

Should I Make A Landscape Business Software Investment?

It’s something of a tradition in baseball to put your hat on backward and maybe inside out when your team is behind and needing a rally to win. It’s called the rally cap.

The November election changes everything.  The question is…  should you expect more upside or downside?  If you believe like I do… expect more upside and invest in the coming “rally” for your landscape business.

So where do you invest in your landscape business?

Trucks? Equipment?  People?  Yes, of course…  but these are required investments necessary to operate a landscape business.

  • Trucks and equipment are a depreciating investment, with short life spans, high maintenance costs, and ultimately they have be to retired and repurchased.
  • People are an expense that have a relatively short lifespan (people come and go easily) and they are expensive.

Landscape Business Software Investment Should Do More Than Help You Operate.

What you really want is an investment that does more than help you operate, but helps you manage. Because it is management we lack… and most need.

What is that investment? ERP software.

ERP software is a high ROI investment that helps you manage your landscape company.

It appreciates in value, has a long life, low maintenance costs, and if you choose the right ERP partner, eliminates retirement and future re-purchase.

New technologies have made ERP Cloud and Mobility affordable for anyone in the Green Industry.

At the same time it provides “real-time” information, embeds best practices in the software, and puts it all on a smartphone or tablet so anyone can use it from anywhere – from the owner to the crew leader).

What Is ERP?

ERP:  Enterprise Resource Planning is the integrated management of business processes, often in real-time using software and technology.

For landscape companies, these business processes include:  marketing, sales, landscape estimating, scheduling, purchasing, time, payroll, invoicing, job costing and accounting in a seamless flow…

Where before these processes operated independently of one another (Think many spreadsheets and redundant data entry).  ERP brings them together.

 

How Your ERP Software Investment Pays Off

The result is greater personal productivity and better customer service…  while reducing the cost of doing business.   Just ask those who have made the ERP investment how much more productive people and equipment become when they are “managed” – not just “operated” – efficiently.

Aspire Landscape Software Rally HatThe Green Industry is entering into a new era where management is the real game changer.  Yes..  It’s time to put on the rally cap.

NOTE:  Every week from now on I will be publishing a blog discussing (1) what it is, (2) HOW TO BUY IT, (3) how to use it, and (4) how to avoid making mistakes and get the best ROI from your investment.

So if you are thinking about improving your top and bottom lines subscribe to my “Aspiring Business”blog here…..

What’s the payback for your investment in landscape management software?

If you’re reading this, you might be putting on the rally cap and deciding that you want to look deeper into, and even make an investment in landscape business management software.  Why?  The primary reason for investing is strategic – scaling revenues and improving profits.  Why else would you make the investment?  

And if you make the investment, you might wonder what you should expect in terms of strategic benefits.

The Strategic Benefits Of Landscape Management Software

In the last blog, I wrote about ERP software as an investment in landscape business management not just in landscape business operations.  This distinction is the key that enables you to unlock tremendous strategic benefits from the software.  

Strategic benefits affect landscape business KPI’s – (Key Performance Indicators).  There are two I like to focus on: 

  1. GROSS MARGIN (Gross Profit dollars divided by Revenue).  It’s the key to improving the profits of your landscape company.
  2. PEOPLE LEVERAGE  (Overhead Staffing Payroll divided by Revenue).   It’s the key to scaling (revenues) your landscape company.

How Landscape Management Software Improves Gross Margins

Landscape management software gives you tighter control on estimates (using templates to control pricing and quantities) and labor (using real time information supplied by integrated scheduling – mobile time apps) driving margin improvement.  Inconsistent estimating causes more profit loss every year than even mis-managed labor on jobs.

Key Strategic Benefit: With better control, comes better margins.  

How Landscape Management Software Improves People Leverage

Landscape management software increased staff productivity because everything they need is in one place to do the job.  Employees waste less time in administrative paperwork, hunting down information, and performing basic functions like estimating, scheduling and billing scattered among multiple spreadsheets and different types of software.  

Key Strategic Benefit:   When people are more productive, overhead grows slower than revenues without sacrificing SERVICE.

 

How To Use These KPI’s To Estimate The Payback Your Company Could Get From A Landscape Management Software Investment

Landscape_Management_Software_Strategic_Benefit_CalculatorWe created an Excel spreadsheet that connects KPI performance to gross margins.  It lets you calculate the impact Landscape Management Software can have on your business.

Let’s look at an example using a $5,000,000 company.  As you can see, incremental gains made in these two strategic KPI’s, translates into big dollars and better management.  

 The ROI with landscape management software can be significant year to year making the difference between good and great.

Want A Copy Of The Landscape Management Software ROI Spreadsheet Template?

We can send you a copy of the spreadsheet so you can perform your own calculations.  (Disclaimer:  You need to know how to use Excel and enter your data).

Just email me (kevin.kehoe@youraspire.com) with subject line: “ROI Estimation Sheet”  In the body: include your name, company and a brief comment on what you want.  I’ll reply with a copy of the Excel spreadsheet.

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