Many successful landscape contractors share a similar story. They start out mowing a few yards, add a few more customers one season, then a few more the next. Soon they begin branching into other services. Robbins Landscaping did just the reverse—and they’re sure glad they did because revenue, cash flow, profits and customer satisfaction have all increased as a result.
Founded in 1989 and full-time in the business since 1994, Robbins Landscaping has a rich history of providing landscape design and installation services in and around Richmond, VA. In 2003, after fielding requests from customers and encouragement from business adviser Tony Bass, owner Doug Robbins decided to expand his service offering to include lawn maintenance. Using satisfied clients from past installation projects, Robbins has quickly grown his “property management” division to roughly $450,000 a year. Installation services continue to generate more than a million.
THE EXPERT ON EVERYTHING
One of the main reasons Robbins decided to branch into maintenance was to create a department that would generate recurring revenue. He knew he could do it without having to put together an elaborate, expensive marketing plan. With a substantial list of existing install clients, maintenance business was there for the taking if the professionalism the company had been projecting since 1989 could be matched by a newly created maintenance department.
Right off the bat, Robbins drafted a 13-point guarantee to put prospects at ease. The guarantee touches on things such as employee training, crew appearance and timeliness, equipment and truck appearance and quality, property inspections and workmanship, billing procedures and more.
The guarantee also says Robbins Landscaping will be prepared to provide a wide range of services from landscape and irrigation design to follow-up installation and maintenance. That’s why Robbins prefers to call his maintenance division his “property management” division.
Robbins Landscaping’s complete landscape management package includes mowing, edging, weeding, shrub care, trash removal and clean-up, mulch, fertilization and integrated pest management, floriculture, and just about anything else a valued client might ask for.
“We want the client to view us as the expert who can handle just about anything on the exterior of their property, even if it’s siding or waterproofing,” Robbins explains. “Customers appreciate us being a one-stop shop. In some instances, we use sub-contractors. But the goal is to provide an easier time for our customers and keep other landscape companies away from an account.”
Robbins runs all lawn care services through his property management division. Irrigation, because it’s still pretty new to the company, currently goes through the design/build division. “We do perform some irrigation repairs, but sub-out installation work,” Robbins points out.
RETAINING CLIENTS IS ONGOING
As thorough as Robbins and his staff are about everything else they do, it should come as no surprise that they carefully scrutinize the subcontractors they partner with. Those subcontractors must deliver to the same high level Robbins Landscaping strives to maintain. In design/build, a business largely driven by word of mouth, customer satisfaction is everything. Robbins has found the same to be true in maintenance—or should we say, property management.
Customers are surveyed after every install job to determine if expectations have been met. “Our current overall customer satisfaction rating stands at 98%,” Robbins says.
To gauge satisfaction with the property management division, monthly invoices also include three questions for the customer:
1. Are you happy with the service you’re getting?
2. Do you have any questions about the service you’re getting?
3. Do you have any special projects in mind we could help with?