For the past 20 years, Reinhart Grounds Maintenance has built up a $2 million-plus business in the relatively small market of Bloomington, IL, population roughly 150,000. Todd Reinhart, a co-owner and vice president of the company, says they've done it with professionalism, innovation, sheer determination and an increased focus on systems. Most importantly, they've done it with the right people.
"Our biggest competitive advantage is our employees," Todd says. "We invest a significant amount of time and money in training and leadership development. We have learned over the years that developing employees is probably the fastest way to see a return on your investment in a company."
With a customer retention rate of 85%, Reinhart Grounds Maintenance goes "above and beyond" by making "above and beyond" an integral part of the company culture. It all starts with hiring the right people in the first place.
"We have very strict criteria when hiring, and we hold ourselves and our employees to extremely high standards in all areas, especially customer service," Todd says. Employees of Reinhart Grounds Maintenance go through a structured training program that introduces them to their particular job, in addition to the company culture.
Katie Altrichter, general manager of Eastland Mall in Bloomington, attests to that. "These boys get it," she says. "Their respectful, hard-working employees, the quality and upkeep of the landscaping, the hardiness of the flowers, the prompt and effective snow removal, along with everything else they do to make our lives easier, is truly unmatched in this day and age."
Loyal customers like this are the reason why Reinhart Grounds Maintenance has been growing at a steady 12-18% annual clip, despite the fact that the company is somewhat conservative when it comes to chasing business. This year they added their first full-time commercial salesperson to accelerate growth even more. He is focused on selling maintenance, snow removal and lawn care services. "It's gone so well that we're already projecting at least a 28% increase for gross sales in 2008," Todd points out.
FRANCHISE SPURS GROWTH AND SYSTEMS
Lawn care services have played a huge role in the company's growth since 2001 when it purchased a Weed Man franchise. "That has probably been the single best business decision we've ever made," Todd relates. "We've gone from no revenue in fertilizer and weed control in 2001 to more than $700,000 projected in 2007."
Aside from the substantial revenue stream Weed Man has created for Reinhart Grounds Maintenance, the franchise's systematic approach to business has helped Reinhart's other divisions. "Over the past 18 months, we have begun to systematize all of our business processes and build robust, repeatable systems similar to our Weed Man franchise," Todd points out. "We want to focus on the numbers. This will allow us to continue to follow our long-term strategy of expansion into other geographic markets."
Reinhart's now has a finely tuned budgeting process—right down to how many reams of paper the office will use. The brothers scrutinize the budget twice a year to make sure things are staying on track.
"We had a mid-year review this past June," Todd tells. "We take a look at where we are as far as sales and expenses, and can then project, usually within a percent or two, where we'll finish the year. We can identify any cutbacks in expenses we have to make, or maybe if we need to put on a sales push in the fall to finish the year strong. We're constantly tweaking our budget and sales efforts as conditions change throughout the year, as they always do."
Many of the operational systems currently in place at Reinhart Grounds Maintenance were primarily designed by Todd and Chad. They include:
Scheduling – The Reinharts designed a magnetic picture system attached to boards in the production room. This allows them to visually manage jobs, equipment and crews.