Bluegrass Landscaping & Maintenance chose Asset to improve job costing.
What motivated you to look for a new software solution?
Job costing was our driving force behind our search for a new software program. We really needed to know which jobs were making money. Our first attempt at a solution was to create our own software program, but trying to build and maintain it quickly became cumbersome. Our executive team decided that it would be better to focus our energy and attention on what we do best — landscaping and snow removal — and adopt a system developed by software experts doing what they do best.
What was your process for selecting new software candidates?
We went down several avenues before selecting Asset by Include Software. We knew we wanted to have one program with everything we needed to run our business and make the job costing easy. Ideally it would include CRM, estimating, accounting, scheduling, purchasing and a hand-held application to run our field operations.
We attended trade shows, did research on the internet, met with a local software company that produced an industry product, and another software developer to discuss enhancing our in-house software program.
How did you decide on Asset?
After comparing the features, scalability, reputation and pricing of our top contenders, we determined that the Asset engine had a lot more going on. The price point was a major factor that influenced our decision to choose Asset instead of another program which had GL built in.
What was the implementation process like?
During the worst snow year we ever had, we successfully made it through the implementation process while still taking care of our customers. We credit this to the commitment and open-mindedness of both our own and Include Software’s teams.
Because Asset can do so much more than QuickBooks, Excel and our in-house program combined, we had a lot more to learn; but Include’s implementation and training team made it as foolproof as possible. We received extensive directions, training sessions and videos. Even better, we were able to provide information on our company’s unique needs and business model, which Include then incorporated into Asset’s structure so that it would produce the results we were looking for.
Our team attended the on-line training sessions on schedule, made sure we were prepared for upcoming sessions by completing necessary data entry, then tested what we had done in a duplicated version of our “real” Asset program. This enabled us to stay focused and make sure we were getting what we wanted from the software. The implementation plan’s checks and balances were also helpful in achieving our training goals. One thing we questioned in the beginning — but in hindsight are very glad that we didn’t try to do — was run two systems at the same time.
Asset was new and different and required some deep changes in the way we handled daily operations, but we knew it would take us much farther than we could go with our current systems.
How has Asset made a difference for your company?
We are now able to identify job cost immediately. To give one example, we saw a job that crews were taking twice the estimated time to perform, and realized that we would either have to double the price of the contract or walk away from the job. In the end we decided to walk away.
In addition, we have metrics to evaluate crew performance based on budget versus actual from the estimating/contract. An example of this would be the crew that was continually exceeding its budgeted hours. We needed to determine whether this was due to the salesman’s incorrect job estimating, inaccurate production rates, inefficient routing or crew performance. Asset made it easy for us to recognize that the problem lay with the crew, and we were able to take the right action to stop the money drain.
Since implementing Asset, we have begun posting performance reports in the production room for crews to review. They know the data is good and we have found that it challenges them to work more efficiently.
We made a company decision that our culture would completely convert to the new software, processes and procedures that we had put in place. To make this happen, it was sometimes necessary to bring in or replace people. But the end result has been an 11.1% increase in profitability, so Asset is well on the way to paying for itself.
This integrated software gives us the tools to analyze sales, identify jobs that are not profitable and make more money!