Family-Owned Landscape Company Gets Budget Control and Reduces AR by $1M+ With NetSuite

Mike Stiles, NetSuite Contributor

May 11, 2023


  • Gachina Landscape Management is a family-owned landscaping business with a 35-year history.
  • Painstaking budgeting with Great Plains and Excel fueled the company’s search for a new ERP.
  • The team chose NetSuite over Microsoft, Sage, and Acumatica for its breadth of functionality.
  • Gachina now runs a rolling budget with NetSuite Planning and Budgeting for constant profitability control.
  • NetSuite Dunning Letters helped decrease outstanding invoices by more than $1 million.
  • Gachina will save at least one hire with NetSuite AP Automation, even amid projected growth.

About Gachina Landscape Management

John Gachina and his wife Jackie started Gachina Landscape Management(opens in new tab) in their garage 35 years ago. Headquartered in Menlo Park, California, the company now has five branches and two satellite offices serving the Greater San Francisco Bay Area.

Gachina quickly grew beyond a single office landscape operation to a regional provider specializing in large commercial businesses. It offers a level of employee training and expertise that is a true differentiator in its industry. Gachina has a plant health care division and a water management division with irrigation specialists that use geographic information system (GIS) mapping. The company’s work is about 60% landscape maintenance and 40% enhancement and water management solutions. 

Gachina has about 400 employees and revenues of about $40 million per year. When John passed away about seven years ago, Jackie took over the business as CEO and president. With her background in executive recruiting, ability to think on her feet, and exceptional communication skills, she continues to lead Gachina in new directions.

Get an overview of the Gachina story from IT Director Dan Wolf:

Microsoft and Spreadsheets Make Budgeting ‘Painstaking’

When John was running the company, he realized the need to regularly review and transition to better business processes and technology. Even before his passing, Gachina had started to look at new ERP systems.

When Jackie took over, she conferred with IT consultants and then hired an IT director, Dan Wolf. At the time, Gachina handled accounting and budgeting with Microsoft Great Plains and Excel. Each budget season, the team flew in a high-level consultant to spend a week fixing its Excel equations and fine-tuning, troubleshooting, and merging various spreadsheets. Getting to a completed budget was “painstaking and took forever,” according to Wolf. He immediately recognized the need for an upgrade.

Microsoft had announced that it was phasing out Great Plains, so Gachina considered solutions including Microsoft Dynamics 365, Acumatica, and Sage. The team wanted a system that was compatible with landscape business software Aspire and provided easier budgeting, better reporting, and more control over accounts receivable aging(opens in new tab). They also wanted a scalable system, as Gachina was aiming for more growth. Eventually, solutions from Microsoft and Sage were ruled out, Wolf said.

“Microsoft Dynamics 365 didn’t have the robustness we were looking for. Then we looked at Sage, which was also a night-and-day difference from NetSuite. Sage just didn't have the capabilities NetSuite did.”


Gachina Landscape Management
Gachina's experienced teams work on job sites across the San Francisco Bay Area.

Smooth Implementation and Quick Ramp-Up

While evaluating systems, the Gachina team realized it needed more certainty around which ERP modules it actually needed. The NetSuite team, along with NetSuite partner Caravel, exhibited a true understanding of Gachina’s business, including its pain points and which NetSuite modules(opens in new tab) would best address them.

As a result, implementing NetSuite was a genuinely positive experience for the company, Wolf said. 

“I've been a part of several ERP implementations, and this is the first one that stayed on time all the way through. The overall process was very smooth.”  

Gachina’s accounting team adapted quickly, expressing no negativity about transitioning from Great Plains to NetSuite ERP(opens in new tab). To lower the learning curve, Gachina enlisted NetSuite Learning Cloud Support(opens in new tab). This training tool provides online courses that teach employees exactly what they need to know to optimize use of NetSuite for their particular roles. With plenty of go-live training, teams were fluent enough in NetSuite to start running processes in the system right away, Wolf said. Within a month or two, nearly everyone was operating within the ERP at full capacity.

“Learning Cloud Support significantly helped teams get up to speed on NetSuite. They did their training in advance, so once the system went live, they were able to work in it right away.”

Rolling Budgets Offer Mid-Month Insights

Gachina used NetSuite to completely overhaul its budgeting process. Instead of Excel, Gachina’s five branch managers create their annual budgets in NetSuite Planning and Budgeting(opens in new tab). Then, throughout each month, they modify those budgets to reflect a more accurate forecast of actuals. This rolling forecast(opens in new tab) means they can gauge how profitability is shaping up mid-month instead of waiting for a report at month-end — and make any operational adjustments before it’s too late. Day-to-day, reporting dashboards allow them to understand performance in areas like budget versus actual variances, with up-to-date data.

From the first year Gachina did its budgeting in NetSuite, it no longer flew in that consultant — saving not only money but also the opportunity cost of spending an entire week working on the budget. And each year since, the team simply pulls in historical data and makes updates to create a new annual budget, a far more efficient process.

Gachina Landscape Management
Gachina specializes in commercial landscaping for high-end retail spaces, offices, and more.

Outstanding Invoices Decrease by $1 Million

Gachina also refined its accounting processes with NetSuite. It achieved its initial goal of improving invoice aging with NetSuite Dunning Letters(opens in new tab), which sends automated payment reminders to customers and keeps track of each one’s status. The simple move helped Gachina decrease its outstanding invoices by more than $1 million, Wolf said.

The team also established an official PO workflow for the first time, moving the process off of paper and into NetSuite. The system automatically routes purchase orders up to various approval levels as needed, offering confidence that only necessary purchases are made. And Wolf and other leaders can check any vendor’s transaction history in a few clicks.

As a next step, Gachina is implementing NetSuite AP Automation(opens in new tab). The accounts payable department is enthused about what it’s seen from the solution thus far. For example, instead of writing and mailing checks, the team will soon initiate vendor payments right in NetSuite, and its bank, HSBC, will handle the check. It will also be able to batch vendors and process multiple payments at once, with everything reconciled in NetSuite.

The efficiencies mean that Gachina won’t need to hire more accounting staff, even as it grows, Wolf said. And with an automated process, the company’s current AP clerk will have newfound free time to spend working in other areas.

Workforce Planning Tools Encourage Employee Retention

During the annual budgeting process, Gachina’s controller updates the company’s workforce plan using NetSuite Smart View(opens in new tab), which allows for easy data transfer between NetSuite and Excel. Working in the tool helps Gachina more closely manage headcount and associated costs, ensuring they’re allocated correctly.

NetSuite also helps leadership manage compensation increases. Managers run scenarios to model how compensation changes will affect Gachina’s overall profitability. For example, they recently wanted to gauge how much of an average wage increase they could enact this year without risking profitability. Could it be 3%? 5%? The team can treat each employee as their own line item, modeling the effects of various raises on the company’s overall financials for the year. Running these analyses in advance prevents Gachina from giving out raises one year, only to “pull back” later, Wolf said.

Overall, instead of pulling back, Gachina is now equipped with the business systems it needs to proactively invest in its employees and customers ‪— for another 35 years ‪and beyond.

See how YOUR business can use rolling forecasts(opens in new tab) to keep up with a changing market.

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