“Our property management division manager is pretty hands-on,” Robbins adds. “He stays in touch with clients and is very accessible. We have about 100 properties right now, and 90-95% bring us back year after year. When we do lose a customer, it’s usually not performance-related.”
Communication is the key to retention. “Sometimes it’s as simple as a phone call from the account manager just to see how things have been going, or the team leader taking time to say ‘hi’ to the client while on the property,” Robbins points out. Robbins Landscaping also sends out a bi-monthly newsletter containing helpful information and special offers.
Consistency is a second key. “It’s important that the same guys show up every time,” Robbins says. “You have to be professional. We have beautiful Super Lawn Trucks, clean equipment, and crews that wear uniforms and hats.”
Part of the Robbins 13-point guarantee says employees will treat clients with respect and integrity—and will do what they promise. To keep everyone motivated and focused on this ultimate goal, Robbins works hard to get the best out of his people.
“We have staff meetings every Tuesday,” Robbins says. “We share the comments and compliments we’ve gotten from clients with our crews, because they’re the ones helping make it happen. It’s important to tell your people when they’re doing a good job.”
To help retain employees and maintain consistency, Robbins offers incentives to employees who’ve been with the company for at least one year. “Of course,” he adds, “some employees are going to do what they’re going to do. But our incentive program does help us hang onto people.”
BETTER JOBS, BETTER CUSTOMERS
Adding a property management division five years ago has also helped Robbins Landscaping hang onto their best customers. Plus, it’s led to more installation business.
“Before, when we were 100% installation, we did a job and we were gone,” Robbins tells. “Now that we’re doing maintenance and mulch on an ongoing basis, the customer immediately thinks of us when considering an update to their patio, for instance. We’ve definitely gotten better install jobs since adding maintenance in 2003. Nice homes where we’re doing maintenance and lawn care often end up asking for hardscapes and retaining walls, intensive tree care and elaborate plantings.”
As stated at the company’s website (robbinscaping.com), “The professionals at Robbins Landscaping strive to create outdoor living spaces that respond to (the client’s) individual needs and values.” Now that they’re also maintaining those living spaces with an equal degree of professionalism, growth has driven this company to purchase a new facility to accommodate future expansion.
“In the past, a lot of our installation work came from home builders,” Robbins relates. “These days, our property management accounts are feeding us a lot of our install work.” Given everything going on with the housing market, that’s a pretty good place to be.
Robbins Landscaping Inc.
Owner: Doug Robbins
Year founded: 1989, full-time since 1994
Business breakdown: 70% installation and irrigation, 30% maintenance and lawn care
Customer Breakdown: 90% residential, 10% commercial
Employees: 12 year round, 16 peak season
Key Managers: Tom Stuart - lead designer, Chris Edwards - property management leader, Kathryn Jacoby - office manager
Fleet includes (1) Caterpillar skid steer, (1) Toro Dingo Power System, (2) Exmark zero-turns, (4) Toro walk-behinds, (2) Little Wonder walk-behind blowers, (8) Shindaiwa backpack blowers, (8) Shindaiwa string trimmers, (1) Husqvarna chainsaw, (3) GMC Super Lawn Trucks, (2) Ford F-350 pickups, (1) Ford F-150 pickup, (1) Dodge Durango, (1) dump trailer, (4) utility trailers