Level Up: Everyone Rows the Boat at GreenSweep, LLC - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Level Up: Everyone Rows the Boat at GreenSweep, LLC

Our Level Up series shares the strategies that help landscape and lawn care companies get to the next level.

Kyle Narsavage, president and owner of GreenSweep, LLC, based in Silver Spring, Maryland, started mowing when he was seven years old.

“By middle school, I knew I wasn’t going to work for anyone else and this is what I wanted to do,” he says.

He decided to attend college because he wanted to take his business to a different level.

Photo: GreenSweep, LLC

“I knew that in the long term, I needed more formal training, not only on the horticultural practices, landscape best practices, but I got a minor in business,” Narsavage says. “I knew that this was what I was going to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just a good technician, that I was a good business owner.”  

GreenSweep’s main customer base is commercial clients like apartment complexes, HOAs and schools. Narsavage says their bread and butter is landscape maintenance services, but they also do landscape enhancements and design-build work.

The company’s current annual revenue is $10 million and Narsavage says their goal is to get to $15 million.

“We’re not trying to be the biggest, but we always want quality over quantity,” he says. “Our team is set. Our structure is set and we’re ready to get to $15 million. We just have to work on business development trying to get there but our structure and our org chart is locked and loaded ready to go to get there and we’ll get there in two to three years.”

GreenSweep’s Residential Division

The company did mostly residential work until 2012, when they started shifting to commercial maintenance. Narsavage says this was an intentional decision.

“I just cold called and sent out letters to people, sent out email blasts,” Narsavage says. “One or two management companies took a chance on me and that spiraled from there because of the relationships of those people. We still have those customers today.”

Photo: GreenSweep, LLC

Around 20 percent of GreenSweep’s work is residential and they acquired Garden Gate in 2020. Garden Gate is strictly a residential design-build firm with some maintenance. He says the company has been around since 1964 and he wanted to keep that brand because they are known in the DC area for their quality work.

Starting in 2024, GreenSweep will become 100% commercial and their residential work will transition to Garden Gate. Narsavage says they are trying to build two separate brands.

“It’s two different brands; GreenSweep owns Garden Gate,” he says. “Garden Gate is a division of GreenSweep. When you think of commercial, you think GreenSweep. When you think of residential, you think of Garden Gate. It’s like Toyota and Lexus. It’s the same company but two different brands and two different customers.”

Narsavage says they decided to go this route with the two separate brands because it is hard to excel at both commercial and residential because the customer bases are totally different with different expectations. He oversees both brands, while an operations manager runs the day-to-day operations for Garden Gate.

Keys to Success

Narsavage says there are a number of things that have contributed to their growth, but one of the main elements is their SOPs and making sure they have a repeatable system that they can train on and are structured the GreenSweep way.

“As the team grows, and we’ve got 115-120 team members here,” Narsavage says. “There might be 120 different ways to do it. If we systemize it, there’s one way to do it and there’s a standard. We put a big emphasis on the last couple years of our SOPs and following those and that’s a big part of our culture.”

He says they’ve created their SOPs by learning from their failures.

Photo: GreenSweep, LLC

“Failure is needed to grow,” Narsavage says. “We look at failure as an opportunity to learn and reset and say, ‘Okay, what’s the right way to do this?’”

GreenSweep’s culture is another key to their success. Narsavage says they have an internal mantra of ‘Row the boat,’ which serves as a rallying cry. It’s on signage around the shop and on their uniforms.

“Everyone’s rowing the boat in the same direction,” he says. “Doesn’t matter who you are on the org chart, whether you’re way at the top or way at the bottom, we hold each other accountable. No job is too big or too small for anyone on the org chart to pitch in.”

GreenSweep empowers their team to make the best decisions possible and Narsavage says as he’s grown as a leader, he’s realized he can’t be everywhere at all times.

“I know they were hired because they were smart, and they’re good at what they do,” he says. “When you’re faced with a tough decision, you’re empowered to make that decision. You don’t need the come to me. You don’t need to come to other people. You just got to ask yourself four questions. Is it good for the company? Is it good for the client? Is it ethical? Are you willing to be held accountable for it? If you can answer yes to all four of those, then make the decision.”

Narsavage says his team and his family have both provided him the support to grow the business.

He says he’s also taken advantage of the NALP bookstore resources for business management, leadership and training topics.

Photo: GreenSweep, LLC

“The knowledge in the bookstore is extremely helpful,” he says. “Why reinvent the wheel when you have a great starting point from there. There’s a ton of knowledge and history in those books. You don’t have to start from scratch.”

Narsavage also encourages being a sponge and attending as many NALP events as possible to build relationships and learn from your peers.

Lastly, he credits their relationships with their customers. They stick by their core values of honesty, quality, respect and accountability.

“Anyone can cut grass; anyone can do landscaping,” he says. “It’s not rocket science making tall grass short, but at the end of the day, it’s all about relationships and how you care for people.”

GreenSweep provides their customers with a resource page after jobs, which outlines a number of topics so the landscape will succeed in the future.

“We’re not just there to install it; we want to come by six months later or six years later and see that it’s thriving,” he says. “At the end of the day, I’m in business for the long run. I want a customer for many years, not just for one job. I want to make sure that they’re happy and that when the next project comes up, we’re the first person they think of.”

One of the company’s unique value propositions is to get customers an estimate in 48 hours. He says their rapid response time is one of the aspects that sets them apart.

“If someone’s called you for an estimate, they’re halfway there,” he says. “It’s on their mind. They’re thinking about it. Nine times out of 10, they’re going to go with the person who is most responsive. Because if you take a week or two to email them and then they don’t hear from you for a week or two, they’ll think that they’re not important. We want to make sure that they feel they’re important.”

GreenSweep also rolled out customer financing this year after they started to see some roadblocks with customers who wanted to do some projects but asked about a payment plan. Narsavage says they teamed up with a third party to handle financing and it’s worked out well so far.

Recruiting and Retention

GreenSweep has 115 employees and Narsavage says they also utilize the H-2B program. While they’ve received their workers for the last two years, the two previous years, they did not get their visas.

He says a lot of their new hires come from word of mouth, as their team is extremely loyal. Their HR manager is constantly looking for the best and the brightest people as well.

Photo: GreenSweep, LLC

“We look for people that have a great attitude and put in a good effort,” Narsavage says. “Those are the only things that you can control. I can teach you the technical aspects. I got a great team here who can train you. The only two things you can control are your attitude and effort. If you don’t have that, it’s not going to work.”

Narsavage says it is their company culture that helps them retain their staff.

“People like coming to work when they enjoy the people that they are around,” he says. “We’ve got great camaraderie and teamwork. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. This industry can chew you up and spit you out, so we try to keep it light.”

He says their focus on the company culture has been a more recent change when he realized a couple years ago being simply production-focused wasn’t sustainable for his team.

As the company continues to grow, Narsavage says he maintains his company’s culture through constant communication. They host a number of company events and have weekly training sessions on safety. They also do full crew leader training twice a year, where they shut down for the entire day and cover the various aspects of the business at different stations.

He has learned that your internal customer service will never exceed your external customer service, so he focuses on treating his team really well so they treat their customers really well.  

“We got great people who have bought into the vision and the culture and what we’re trying to accomplish,” he says.

Click here to read more Level Up stories.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.