To Grow, You Need to Know Your Score

How Does YOUR Landscape Business Stack Up?

Read on to see why it's important to benchmark your profits against peers and how the

7th Annual Landscape Industry Peer Benchmark Report will help you Know Your Score.

Get on the list for next year's report.

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Registration for the 7th Annual Report in 2021 is now CLOSED. Get on the list for next year's report.



That’s the theme of this year’s landscape industry benchmark report.  

Frankly, BrightView inspired the theme. More on BrightView and that theme in a minute. 

For those of you who are new to The Herring Group, we have produced a landscape industry benchmark reports for six years. Our report is unique in the industry and each one gets better.

One of the most powerful features is that we show the net profit margin of each participant – anonymously of course. 

You will also see what each company spends on key expenses as a percentage of revenue. But wait, that’s not all. (Sorry to sound like a salesman, but I really believe this report can be a powerful motivator for your team. More on that in a minute.) 

Compare with confidence.

If you are in the south, you don’t really want to compare your company to a company in the north with snow revenue. If you have construction, you don’t want to compare your company to one with just maintenance. Our report shows each company’s revenue mix – maintenance, enhancements, snow and construction. In the webinar that we host for participants, we will show you how to customize the benchmark report looking only at truly comparable companies.

Like all things at The Herring Group, we make participation easy. There are no forms to complete because we do the work for you. 

Let me get back to the importance of the theme: Know, Invest, Enjoy.

I was reviewing a BrightView presentation to Wall Street stock analysts a couple of months ago. Honestly, it made me angry - not because of the impact on me, but because of the impact on landscape business owners and their employees – people like you.

Here’s the short story: BrightView says it can buy landscape businesses “on the cheap” because most landscape business owners do not spend the money and energy to implement profit enhancing systems and processes which drive accountability down into the organization.

Accountability is just a fancy word for people being responsible for specific results – not “just getting it done.” 

People who want responsibility AND want to produce work efficiently are rare. BrightView knows this fact and knows that most landscape business owners will not offer great pay for great results. It is one of the reasons The Herring Group is a big proponent of incentive plans assuming the company and the plans meet five important criteria. We will save that topic for another day.

Big businesses invest in training.

BrightView knows that many landscape business owners do not invest in employee training. Why training? Big companies know it’s essential for quality, efficiency and safety. Greenius, excels at providing cost effective and valuable training. 

How do you train your employees? Have you developed a comprehensive program? Have you translated it into Spanish? Do you test the employees’ knowledge?  Did you design a system to track attendance and test results? Is your training program available on mobile devices? Turns out that there is a lot to do to create a “big business” training program. I suppose if you were looking for something else to manage, you could develop it yourself. Perhaps a more efficient alternative is to use Greenius.

Are you under-investing in technology?

We have learned from our friend Kevin Kehoe, founder of Aspire Software that landscape companies tend to “under invest” in technology. We have seen it as well, but do not understand why. Why would you want to hire, train, manage (and sometimes, fire) more people when you can buy software that makes existing employees far more efficient and effective. They understand the power of benchmarking.   

Did you know that if you wanted to create a software program like Aspire that you would have to spend more than $10 million? That’s what big companies do. But you don’t have to. You can just pay to use Aspire. Then you don’t have to manage the IT infrastructure, programmers, etc.

(It’s interesting: We still see people in the industry wanting to create their own software and thinking Excel spreadsheets are the answer. We scratch our heads. Aspire invests millions every year to keep it the most robust software in the landscape industry. Why would companies not want that functionality?)

Growth...without hiring.

If you are using Aspire, are you using IPS for Human Capital Management? IPS not only synchronizes payroll data with Aspire, but also consolidates a number of other functions like applicant tracking, electronic new hire tracking and benefits enrollment. What does that mean? Fewer systems to maintain and less work for your people – which means you can grow without hiring more people. IPS is another example of powerful software.  

Side note: Do you think your office employees really enjoy keying data in twice or doing the export/import routine? How much wasted time and rework happens when they move from system to system?  

It used to be true that only big companies like BrightView could invest in these things. With the power of the internet and low-cost, but powerful computers and mobile devices, even the smallest landscape companies have access.

What about financial talent?

BrightView also invests in financial talent – something near and dear to our hearts.

Did you know that the BrightView CFO made $1.5 million in 2019? And that’s just one financial person out of many in the company. Why would a company pay so much for financial talent? Because financial talent helps owners create more value in their companies. The good news is that you live in a time where you can get great financial talent without having to hire them – you can work with The Herring Group.

Do you notice a trend here? The Herring Group and the sponsors of the Benchmark Report have a common goal. We want to see landscape companies become more valuable.  It is good for the owner and it is good for the employees. We want them to know where big companies invest. We want them to enjoy the benefits of those investments.

Do you think BrightView benchmarks? You bet they do. Their regions compete. Their branches compete. (Actually, we don’t really know this fact from first-hand knowledge, but any CFO who gets paid $1.5 million will benchmark regions and branches. It would be foolish not to do so.)

Here’s why benchmarking is such a powerful tool. It shows people what is possible. Last year, 15% of the participants had a net profit margin greater than 10%. The rest of the companies averaged 4.4%.

Do you invest like BrightView? 

Great! Now you can see how your results compare with others – all the way down to the bottom line.

Are you missing some of these things? No problem. Everyone was at some point. We hope you will take a step to know what is possible – just how much profit improvement is possible for your company. The Benchmark Report and related webinar will show you and help you find places to start.

Obviously, we would like for your company to participate in the 2020 Landscape Industry Peer Benchmark Report. But one thing is even more important to us. 

We hope this information resonates with you and encourages you to think about and operate your business as a “big business.” We want you to enjoy the financial rewards of doing so.

Simply put, we want BrightView or others to pay full price. In a recent webinar that Kevin Kehoe and we did, we estimated that the average $5 million landscape company that sells to BrightView is leaving $2.6 million on the table. If that number doesn’t grab your attention, then let us speak to your spouse!

One more thing.

The same big company processes and systems that you can implement to increase the value of your company will also increase your life margin. Life margin is the time and energy that you do not have to invest in the company...unless you want to.  

That’s part of the “Enjoy” in our theme.

Discover How The Benchmark Report Helps You Know Your Score

In business, the income statement is like a scorecard — a report that tells you and your team how the company did that month. 

We get so excited about seeing the score; it is like opening a gift at Christmas when we were kids.

First, we wonder what’s there.

Will it be something we expect or a surprise?

Will we like it?

An Important Question

You and your team have worked hard, and you hope it will be good news.

Sometimes it is, and sometimes it’s not.  Even for the business owners who regularly see good results, there is often a seed of doubt.

A curiosity.  A question.

Is my business really performing at its best?

Or do we have some room for improvement?

How good could my business' profitability really be?

If you are like us, you wonder how your results compare with others in the landscape industry.

Proof Gives You Power

You may think your company is performing great, but you need proof.

Maybe you suspect that the company’s performance is weak, but you don’t know why.

Or you may hear numbers from industry experts, and wonder how realistic those numbers are in your situation.

As a business owner, you live and work in a highly competitive world.  

You need to know the answers to these questions to survive and to thrive.

When you show proof to your team, it starts a conversation. 

Imagine being able to point to hard data and say, “here’s where we can improve, and by how much.”

Data has the power to make your conversations straightforward.

"This Benchmark Report is unique.  You see each company's data—revenue mix as well as expenses and net income as a percentage of revenue—and it's anonymous.  I use it each year to see how my company is performing.  I love it!"

-Nick DiBenedetto, ND Landscape Inc.

Learn from Past Years' Reports

In past years, up to 15% of the companies participating have reported net income that was more than 10% of revenue.

A handful of companies usually report that they lost money...

And the average net profit margins are typically less than 5%, which is not nearly enough.

Wouldn’t you like to see what the most profitable companies spent on labor, equipment, and overhead? Wouldn't it be nice to know how much enhancements were as a percentage of maintenance revenue — often a key factor in profitability?

These numbers can drive conversations with key members of your sales and management teams. As business owners, we want our people to perform “better” year over year. 

Numbers give everyone clarity on what “better” really means.

Other Benchmark Reports 

Numbers without context can harm you instead of help you.

You may have participated in other landscape industry benchmark reports — the ones where they give you long forms to complete, and then you see the results as simple averages without any context.

It's unclear about the mix of services or sizes of the companies.

Worse, it’s unclear about what you and your team should do with the information. 

When you look at the results, you have to wonder whether everyone made the same assumptions you did about where to put their numbers on the form in the first place.

Because you know that if they don't, then the numbers are meaningless.

It’s apples and oranges.

The Landscape Industry Benchmark Report by The Herring Group eliminates this problem.

We make sure that you get the context you need so that the numbers are meaningful and actionable for you and your team.

So here’s how it works

When you sign up, you get simple instructions about how to upload your income statement and balance sheet directly from your accounting software to a secure server. We make it easy.

No forms, no complication, no wondering if you did it right.

Once we have all the data, we take every company’s revenue and expenses and make consistent classifications so that you can compare the results with confidence.

Then we convert all the major expenses to percentages of total revenue, and we make the results anonymous by deleting the names and showing each company’s results in a separate column from greatest revenue to least revenue.

And every year, we do a live webinar to review the report findings, answer questions, and show you how you can use the report in your company.

We make this report as simple and actionable as possible for you.

Who is Greg Herring?

When I see numbers, I see a story. 

That ability comes from how I am designed and from my years of experience as a CFO — a Chief Financial Officer. I have also been a Chief Operating Officer, so my focus is on actions — actions that produce results to change the story.  

When I produce reports, they are actionable. 

The Landscape Industry Peer Benchmark Report is an important tool for my success, for the success of the team here at The Herring Group, and for the success of our clients.

  • Please note:

  • If you are a current client of The Herring Group and your company is already on The Path to 12%, you will receive the 2020 Benchmark Report and an invitation to the webinar as part of your consulting package.

For more than 20 years, benchmark reports have helped me optimize profitability for companies in all types of industries, including the landscape industry. When properly constructed and used, this report is powerful.

This report helps management teams understand what is possible. 

Most managers think they do a great job and if the profits are not there, then it just cannot be better.

The 2020 Landscape Industry Peer Benchmark Report shows them clearly how much other companies are making and what expense ratios need to be present in order to make it happen. The report shows the results of each company (anonymously) in percentage terms to make the profitability and ratios easy to see.

If you show the right people the right data, they will respond with actions that will improve the results.

And that is what I have been doing for more than 20 years!

Also seen on: 

NALP logo
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How Does It Work?

  1. After you check out, you will receive an email with instructions on how to upload your financial statements to a secure server.
  2. We will carefully review the numbers and make them comparable across all companies. We will arrange all of the companies in an Excel spreadsheet from largest to smallest so that you can compare to companies close to your size or see how larger companies perform. We will distribute the report in PDF form immediately before the webinar. You can see an example from last year above.
  3. You will also receive an Excel file with the data. You can use this spreadsheet to customize your analysis—getting rid of companies that are not comparable to your situation. As you eliminate these companies from your analysis, the Excel spreadsheet will automatically recompute the average, best and worst numbers for each line item including overall profitability. It's a great tool and one of the things that makes this benchmark report the best one in the landscape industry.
  4. PLUS you will be invited to a private webinar. Greg will help you make the best use of your report and understand the next steps that you need to take toward growing your profit and your business.

Questions or concerns?

Frequently Asked Questions


Question: Do I need to be on Aspire in order to participate in the Benchmark Report?

Answer: No. The Benchmark Report is platform agnostic. All you need in order to participate is to upload two (2) financial statements generated from QuickBooks (or your financial software of choice) formatted as an Excel sheet. We provide detailed instructions on how to generate these reports.


Question: I want to purchase the report, but my team is still working on closing out the last month. Do I need to submit my financials immediately?

Answer: No. You can purchase the report now and you will have time to submit your financials.


Question: Does my company need to be a certain size to benefit from participating in the report?

Answer: Your size should not keep you from participating. One of the best things about the report is that the data is sortable so that you can get clear comparisons with companies like yours (both in terms of size and revenue mix). Every year, we see companies ranging from $1mm up to nearly $40mm per year in revenue participate. We see great performance from companies of all sizes.


Question: How will the report be delivered to me?

Answer: A link to server folder with your copy of the report will be provided to you by email on the day the report is released. You will get copies of the report as a PDF, as an Excel file, and a copy of our webinar presentation.


Question: I am unable to attend the post-report webinar. Is it recorded?

Answer: The post-report webinar where I explain both how to use the report and point out some of the interesting findings from the year’s report is recorded and will be available for you and your team to view after the fact.


Question: I am currently a Herring Group consulting client. Do I need to purchase the report?

Answer: All current clients of The Herring Group will receive the Benchmark Report and an invitation to the webinar as a part of your consulting package.


Question: Can you buy the report without participating?

Answer: No. The report is only available to participants. We work diligently to make sure each participating company's numbers are comparable to the other companies. 


Question: How secure are my numbers? Do you share them with anyone?

Answer: You upload the numbers into a secure Dropbox.  Your company’s dollars are converted to a % of revenue. Then your company is assigned an ID number and your “percentages” are displayed in a column in Excel. Each company’s numbers is in a separate column.


We take this approach to make the data more comparable and to make it easier for people to participate. Participants and sponsors will see the report with anonymous data, only. We use overall statistics to help inform the industry.