Grasshopper Lawns: Celebrating 51 Years
From an aluminum awning company to a high-tech lawn care and marketing powerhouse – Grasshopper Lawns continues to evolve and grow – embodying its humble namesake’s symbolization of longevity, happiness, good luck, wealth, and abundance.
Today, Grasshopper Lawns operates out of a single location in Larksville, PA with just over 20 employees. However, they have the efficiency to serve thousands of customers with reliable, quality lawn care services. How? Through innovation, operational automation, and a love for the business.
Owner, Michael Kravitsky IV isn’t afraid of change. He recounts the early days when the business operated out of a home basement. All shipments were unloaded and stacked by hand and meeting payroll in the off-season wasn’t always an easy thing. He knew that when he stepped in, after 36 years of the business that he wanted to do what he could to carry out the family legacy and help the business thrive. Michael attributes much of his success to three things: streamlined operations, marketing, and a strong team.
Streamlined Operations Leads to Business Growth
After trying multiple solutions, Michael settled on Real Green Systems for all of his lawn care software needs. That was 18 years ago. Looking back, he admits that as with most software systems in beta, there were a few issues. However, he was appreciative of the support team and how quickly everyone worked to resolve any bugs he reported. He knew that the investment in business operations software was well worth the adjustment period. Michael recalls,“When we got the handhelds, we were king of the hill... They changed our business. They were key in getting our production entered fast. Mobile Live™ has been another major game changer.”
In addition to having the ability to keep up with his technicians at any time on any device, Michael also recognizes that Real Green’s lawn care estimating software and routing management software has helped make his business more efficient. Measurement Assistant™ speeds up the time it takes his CSR's to generate accurate estimates for each job while Routing Assistant™ eliminates the hassle of manually calculating the most efficient driving routes for his technicians. In addition to saving time, Grasshopper can:
- Focus more on growing their business and less on running it
- Give existing customers the attention they deserve by using a customer relationship management system to record notes of previous services and client preferences
- Save money on administrative work and fuel costs
Market Your Business Like It's Already a Multi-Million Dollar Company
You already know what you’re capable of. But do your potential customers? Are you conveying your professionalism and expertise online? Do your trucks reflect the services you have to offer? Do you send after-service emails thanking your customers for choosing your business over a competitor? If your answer to these questions is ‘no,’ it might be time to adjust your marketing strategy. According to Michael, “Everyone thinks Grasshopper is a franchise due to our marketing. We’re only one location.” Even with their tagline ‘a local private family business,’ customers still have a hard time believing the professional truck wrap came from a family-owned operation. Once people learn they’re getting the best of both worlds: a local experience and a professional service, they become customers for life.
Grasshopper Lawns advertising includes both inbound and outbound strategies. Last year, inbound web sales experienced a substantial increase over 2012 and ties in closely to their social media. They also use traditional media such as newspaper ads, radio, billboards and upsell postcards, which they print in-house. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have occasional national exposure on prime-time TV – which happened in 2011, when one of their signs appeared on an episode of “The Office.”
Hire People Who Root for Your Business to Succeed
We hear this question all of the time in the lawn care industry: ‘How do you hire motivated individuals who want to stick around and do good work?’ Michael answers the question simply: “My brother, Shawn, and I were raised with a good work ethic and understanding the value of a dollar. We carry that over into our business,” In other words they have established a culture for Grasshopper that values hard work and dedication. That’s one reason they decided to operate year round. Grasshopper employees understand that if they want a job year-round, they have the opportunity if they think like owners and work to constantly improve the business.
Michael also emphasizes the importance of creating a system for onboarding. “Get a system. Document the system. Follow the system. Take everything into account. How you fertilize, how you look, answer the phone, manage hours, do payroll. Write it all down and then communicate it to all your employees. Let them know this is how we do our jobs.” After all, one of the most frustrating things for new employees is to not really know what they are supposed to do on the job. You want to eliminate this uncertainty for three reasons:
- Enabling your employees leads to higher retention
- Training your team leads to higher quality service and lower business risks
- Everything is more efficient when there’s some sort of process in place
When we spoke with Michael, he was passionate about his team. He said, “Our associates make it happen and we are fortunate to have built loyalty and a good rapport with them. I’ve watched many of our team grow in the business – some started working here as teenagers and they’re still here 10, 15, even 25 years later. It’s the old adage, treat people the way you want to be treated.”
There are plenty of people management, training, and development tools out there, you just have to choose one that fits best with your company and your industry.
In summary, adopt software solutions that will simplify your lawn care business, implement marketing strategies that make you seem bigger than you are, and invest in a team you can count on to go above and beyond to grow with your business.