Run, don’t walk

Employee of the Year - Cover Story: Employee of the Year

Lisa Anderson came into Country Club Lawn & Tree Specialists with a mission and she has no plans to stop.

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June 12, 2017
Kate Spirgen
Lisa Anderson and Sales Associate Steve Hess work together to provide no-pressure service to their clients.
Photo courtesy of Country Club Lawn & Tree Specialists

Lisa Anderson isn’t an owner at Country Club Lawn & Tree Specialists, but you’d never know it if you’ve seen her at work.

In the nine years since Anderson joined the team, she has worked tirelessly to build relationships, meet with clients, market the business and grow the customer base, more than tripling it from 1,734 to 5,400 – a number she knows off the top of her head.

Anderson, sales and marketing manager of the South Roxana, Illinois, company, says she’s frequently asked if she’s an owner or one of their wives when she’s out on the job, but she says she’s just an employee who gets a paycheck.

“But I take ownership in this company because for me, not only do we have sales goals every single month, but I’ve watched this company grow over the years and it’s rewarding in that aspect. But it’s rewarding in so many ways for me in that I’ve built so many friendships,” she says.

Down to business.

In 2008, budget cuts at Walgreens left Anderson with the option to take a lower level position or move on. So she made the difficult decision to move on from her job.

At the same time, Mark Black and Matt Brooks, owners of Country Club, were pulling the trigger on creating a sales manager position. Black and Anderson had been friends for decades, and when he heard about Anderson’s situation, he brought her in for an interview.

“Ever since day one, she hit the ground not walking, but hit the ground running,” Black says. “

Black and Brooks were trying to manage the business, make sales, handle marketing and everything else a small business owner does. But when they brought on Anderson, they could focus on the big picture.

“It allows me to manage my business,” Black says. “The farthest thing from my mind I have to worry about now is sales and marketing. Period.”

And Anderson has no plans to stop anytime soon. Two years ago, she set the 5,000-customer goal and now that she and her team have passed that, she wants to get to 6,500 by 2020.

Building relationships.

Anderson set up the sales and marketing structure of Country Club and has since hired an additional salesperson. And she’s looking for another to keep up with the company’s growth. But even though the company is growing by about a route a year, the personal touch is still there. She makes sure that someone from the sales team walks every single lawn, and she really knows her stuff. Coming into the industry knowing nothing about lawn care, she’s now impressing customers with her know-how.

“Her drive makes her not want to stop until she’s mastered something 100 percent,” Black says. “That’s why anytime a cancel comes through or anytime something happens, she takes it personally. That’s a quality you can’t find in everybody.”

Ken Lickenbrock, a Country Club Lawn & Tree Specialists customer, says that’s what impressed him when he met her eight years ago. He was having some trouble with his lawn care provider and when he switched to Country Club, he could immediately tell the difference.

Anderson walked the lawn with him, explained how the service would work and followed up with him to make sure everything was going well. And whenever he calls her with a question, she’s ready to do whatever she can to help.

For example, when he called with concerns about his neighbor’s clover creeping onto his lawn, the company came right out to spray. Lickenbrock, a financial advisor, now refers his clients to Anderson with glowing reviews.

“She’s just a real positive for the industry that’s so overrun with so many people that are Chuck-with-a-truck kind of guys,” he says.

That customer service is important since 33 percent of the company’s business comes from referrals. And about 12 percent of business each year comes from referrals from other contractors who offer different services.

And even though she’s a “workaholic,” as Lickenbrock says, Anderson still finds time to make it to every one of her 13-year-old son Alex’s football and baseball games, and gets out on the Harley with her husband Dan.

But Anderson loves her job and says she can’t imagine doing anything else. Even though it’s not a typical 9 to 5 and the hours are long, she doesn’t want to be anywhere else.

“You couldn’t find a better job than you come to work in khakis and a polo and tennis shoes and you’re in the outdoors all day long,” she says.