Above & Beyond

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."

SYSTEMS APPROACH

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.

Fleet maintenance – Most of the company's fleet maintenance is done in-house, and is tracked via Fleet Maintenance Pro software. All vehicles are tracked using Shadow Tracker passive GPS.

The Reinharts have an on-site fuel depot they are now budgeting to upgrade. This will allow them to track gallons (cost) per vehicle and equipment.

Overhead recovery – To advance their estimating and bidding process, the Reinharts enlisted the help of Jerry Gaeta of Vander Kooi & Associates to implement MORS (multiple overhead recovery system). They now keep detailed time and material records from each job. They put the data in Excel and base new bids on it.

Lean production – The Reinharts have been working with consultant Jim Paluch to eliminate waste, measure key processes and begin working smarter throughout their organization. "We believe that by striving to become lean, we will have a huge competitive advantage for years to come," Todd says. "Additionally, we have worked extensively with our customers to establish value from their point of view, and are focusing on the elimination or reduction of all non-valued aspects of our services."

The Reinharts have also implemented several ideas from consultant Jack Mattingly to track daily times. In addition, the brothers are implementing QXpress scheduling software to manage all the data. QuickBooks is utilized for accounting and budgeting, and is set up to correspond with a chart of accounts developed by another industry consultant, Frank Ross. "This allows us to benchmark against the best contractors in the industry," Todd points out.

As Reinhart Grounds Maintenance continues to grow, comparing itself to other leading contractors is helping it stay on track. "The biggest benefit of purchasing a Weed Man franchise has been our exposure to such a high level of professionalism," Todd relates. The brothers have learned how to sell, budget and produce better. Most importantly, they remain inspired to keep wanting more.

Reinhart Grounds Maintenance Inc.
Bloomington, IL
Owners: Chad and Todd Reinhart, Josh Fromme (Weed Man only)
Business founded: 1986
Estimated annual sales: $2.25 mil.
Business breakdown: 38% maintenance, 24% construction, 28% lawn care, 10% snow removal
Business mix: 100% commercial for maintenance, construction and snow removal; 98% residential for lawn care
Employees: 4 full time year round, 8 full time peak season, 14 total peak season 

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