Freedom Lawn & Landscapes: Refocused and cleaned up

Freedom Lawn & Landscapes: Refocused and cleaned up

The Dirksens made commercial business a primary focus moving forward and updated their shop.

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December 4, 2017
Brian Horn
Turnaround Tour
Photo courtesy of Freedom Lawn & Landscapes

The Harvesters, Bill Arman and Ed Laflamme, wrapped up a year-long process with the Turnaround Tour winners, including Freedom Lawn & Landscapes. They are ready to report back final numbers. The process started with two-day visits from the Harvesters in November and December of 2016, when an initial analysis was done. That was followed by monthly reviews and accountability meetings to keep the owners focused and encouraged. Here is a look at where Freedom Lawn & Landscapes is now:

Marketing and sales: The Dirksens and the Harvesters decided commercial business would be the primary focus moving forward. Freedom implemented Laflamme’s “Be No. 2 for 200.” The practice called for Freedom to find 200 prospective clients in their area, touch base with them and inquire about their landscaping situation. If the client was happy with their current contractor, the company at least got on their radar in case they ever want to change contractors, which resulted in some new jobs.

Shop and vehicles: The shop was cleaned up and organized, and older, poor-looking vehicles were replaced. Freedom gave the duty of shop cleanup to one employee who took ownership of the job, and his overall work and attitude improved greatly. The Dirksens also upgraded their equipment, including a new irrigation truck, spray truck and mower. The increase in profitability made the Dirksens more comfortable investing in more efficient and better-looking equipment.

People: Several positions turned over and higher quality performers are in place. They also promoted James Emmons to field operations manager, which allows Jeremy to spend more time “on” the business instead of “in” the business. The company instituted a referral bonus plan where if a new employee stays six months, the worker who referred that employee gets $500. For every year that employee is with the company, the employee who referred them gets $1,000.

Safety program: While their safety record was very good overall, there was no program in place. Freedom used a safety program template from the National Association of Landscape Professionals and tailored it to their company. One change was having a weekly tailgate meeting every Monday morning. NALP provides 52 different safety topics, which Freedom uses at the meetings.

Quality of work: The quality of work was inconsistent and needed some focused attention. The company adopted the Harvesters Quality Counts Program and reviews and scores jobs regularly. Having the field operations manager walk through properties, really helped Freedom identify the areas employees need more training in. One key advantage of the program is that by inspecting the properties, Freedom was able to increase sales by reaching out to clients to remedy problems such as irrigation, plant health care or replacement and even enhancements, enabling the company to increase its overall gross profit margin.

Facts and figures

Management team: Heather Dirksen, CEO; Jeremy Dirksen, director of operations

Location: Yukon, Oklahoma

2016

Revenue: $658,487

Service mix: Maintenance, design/build, lawn care, irrigation

Customer mix: Residential 73%, commercial 20%, HOA 7%

Employees: 2 full-time, 4 seasonal, 1 part-time

Gross profit margin: 40%

2017

Revenue: $615,000

Services: Increased maintenance and irrigation and decreased design/build and lawn care

Customer mix: Residential 62%, commercial 33%, HOA 5%

Employees: 5 full-time, 1 seasonal, 1 part-time

Gross profit margin: 52%

Overall result: Revenue decreased from dropping unprofitable jobs, but GPM increased and NPM tripled.

2020 goal: Revenue of $1.65 million with a 50% gross margin