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Real Contractor Stories – Over Here, the Grass is Greener

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Success Stories

O’Brien Landscape has a simple philosophy: that your favourite room in your house might very well be outside of it.

Founded in 1992 by owner-operator James O’Brien & his wife Lisa, the company has established itself with an impeccable reputation, offering custom designs, quality construction and extreme attention to detail. In a nutshell, creating beautiful outdoor spaces is what O’Brien and his team know best.

“We consider each project to be unique, and strive to create beautiful outdoor spaces that suit our client’s personalities and lifestyles. In Chicago, being able to comfortably enjoy time in the fresh air, surrounded by beauty, is truly a luxury,” he explains.

Relying on real-time technology, O’Brien Landscape has noticed an immense impact on their productivity, efficiency and sales. In fact, it has given the company a competitive awareness and advantage in the industry.

A Proud & Successful Road Travelled

O’Brien Landscape categorizes itself as a boutique landscape architecture/design/build/maintenance firm that serves Chicago and the North Shore suburbs. “We’re known for our custom designs, quality construction and attention to detail,” says O’Brien.

Since the company’s inception in 1992, O’Brien Landscape has grown from a ‘single crew, single architect’ company to a full staff of architects and designers. The company also has six full construction crews and two maintenance crews.

All staff members have the same goal in mind: to ensure gardens and lawns are healthy, lush and groomed in every season. As a result of this philosophy, the company has been recognized for their achievements with numerous awards for design excellence for historic preservation and compatibility.

Real Time, Real Results

Back in 2012, O’Brien and his team started using LMN – a popular landscape estimating software with thousands of active users across the globe. With a budgeting tool, estimating capabilities, rapid scheduling and a mobile timesheet application, LMN was able to provide O’Brien Landscape with the infrastructure to continue their already-established growth.

Since this software was implemented, the team no longer has to complete paperwork for payroll and job tracking. Furthermore, guesstimating jobs and overhead costs are both issues of the past.

“We are more organized than ever before – thanks to LMN.  We can find our proposals, costs, materials, contact information and profit information all in one place.  There is no duplication required – which cuts down on errors, and wasted time,” O’Brien said.

After sending two of their employees to Toronto for an LMN workshop over the winter, the team was able to learn firsthand all of the benefits of LMN. Those two members brought their knowledge back to the office – and since then, it’s been a smooth-sailing operation.

“We can communicate with our clients, and track our spending and time/materials allocated to each job. We have confidence in the proposals sent to our clients, and know the exact profit percentage on each job we complete,” said O’Brien.

According to O’Brien, the architects and designers on his team appreciate how easy it is to put together a comprehensive customized proposal for clients. “The time and material used for each job is clearly shown, and we can determine exactly what jobs are going to be smart for us to take!” he adds.

“I think that each employee from our company has a different favourite feature! We all love the new CRM tool and use it as an easy way to manage & reach our clients. Our Production Manager loves the LMN Time app, and has installed it on each of the crew foreman’s phones. The crews can accurately punch into each job, and we can track productivity with that information.”

Onwards & Upwards

In an industry that is constantly evolving and busy year-around, every business owner needs to ensure that they choose the correct project that can be completed to the highest of their capabilities. If it’s not a good fit – it shouldn’t be taken on.

This is the exact mindset that O’Brien continues to have. And according to him, ‘information is power,’ in order to remain profitable.

“I would almost say that every estimate, proposal, and bid that we use LMN for is a success story.  Sometimes, the pricing shows us that a specific job is NOT the right job for O’Brien Landscape and it’s just as important to know which jobs NOT to take as it is to know which jobs are going to be very profitable.  The estimating software shows us exactly how many crew hours we can schedule and still remain profitable.” 

For O’Brien Landscape, “We consider ourselves fortunate to have been early users with the LMN product and love that it was created and customized specifically for our wonderful industry!”


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