What do you get when you cross a seasoned landscape contractor and an experienced property manager? A professional landscape management company that has more than doubled in size over the past four years.
Kevin Robinson and Matthew Johnson joined forces in August 2005 to form the new Asset Landscaping in Phoenix, AZ. As a landscape contractor, Kevin knew Matthew, a property manager, for several years. Kevin’s brother Keith rounds out the management team as the company’s controller. Dave Londen and Matt Whitson serve as customer service managers.
This trio has a lot to control these days. Sales have grown 20-25% annually to a current level of $3.6 million. The number of maintenance crews has tripled (12 year round, 14 peak season). Despite the downturned economy, the new partners have remained focused on their objectives:
- Recommit to investing in the company
- Re-establish a high level of pride among employees
- Become the premier maintenance contractor for homeowner associations (HOAs).
Step 1 – The first thing Kevin and Matthew did when taking over the company was invest in eight new trucks. New equipment investments soon followed. “Guys will not take pride in what they do if you give them broken-down equipment,” Kevin relates. One of Kevin’s frustrations with his previous partners was their lack of desire to invest in the company.
Step 2 – A detailed training and safety program was put in place. In the case of standard personnel, each employee is given the following safety information and instruction as soon as they are hired and e-verified:
- Safety manual
- Safety videos
- Training conducted by foreman, reviews overseen by supervisor
- Weekly in-house safety and training meetings
- Annual safety and training workshop conducted on-site
In the case of drivers:
- License verification happens immediately upon hire, and then annually through the insurance company. Motor Vehicle Registration reports are verified intermittently.
- Driver safety test is completed online.
- When a vehicle or injury incident happens, any medical issues are handled immediately. An incident report is then completed and reviewed. Additional training follows, such as safety video reviews and driver training and/or re-testing.
Step 3 – A balance score card was drafted to help management measure company performance. The score card includes items that dramatically affect a company’s financial health, yet aren’t included on a profit and loss statement.
- Growth goal for the month (for example, “pick up two new commercial customers this month”)
- Account turnover
- Top 2 customers – Asset Landscaping doesn’t want their top two accounts to represent more than 40% of total revenue; that way a lost account will not break the company
- HOA growth – since this is the company’s bread and butter, management wants to keep close tabs on trends in this area
- Kill ratio (bids earned/bids submitted)
- Driving incidents – includes accidents, customer complaints for careless driving, etc.
- Employee turnover
- Gross margin
- Net profit
- Cash reserves
- Debt reduction
- Labor costs (are we staying within budget without degrading quality?)
- Customer complaints
- Service requests
A key objective of the balance score card is to attain buy-in from all employees. “Everybody in the company knows their goals,” states Keith the controller. Management meets with the company’s two account reps and three supervisors twice each month to review progress. Supervisors then disseminate information to their foremen and crews.
Step 4 – Tuesday staff meetings also keep everybody up to date on how the company is doing. The meetings include timely safety tips, along with what Kevin refers to as “atta boy” moments.