Our Level Up series shares the strategies that help landscape and lawn care companies get to the next level.
Josh Wise knew he’d be an entrepreneur from the time he could talk. He was always selling something to somebody.
He started out mowing lawns when he was 14, with his father driving him around on his off days. Now he is the CEO of GrassRoots Tree and Turf Care Inc., based in Acworth, Georgia. The company brings in an annual revenue of $5.2 million and serves mostly residential clients providing turf management services.
Wise’s current goal is to break into the top 150 list within the next 5 years.
Growth Through Franchises
GrassRoots has 10 franchises in Georgia, North Carolina and Mississippi. Wise says he started researching the franchise concept in 2018 and their first franchise location opened in October 2019.
“We have always had steady growth, however the last two years we have doubled the size of our business,” Wise says. “This is partly from franchising the company and going from one location to 10. We have 6 more about to open and expect for crazy growth again in 2022.”
Wise wants to have 100 locations in operation by 2028. He says he opted to franchise because he wanted to expand their brand and franchising would allow it to happen faster than just focusing on corporate locations.
“We handle the inbound calls for all of our locations and are able to control the customer experience for the brand,” Wise says. “This is key in making sure that the end-user experience is similar across the entire company. Having individual owners over each location is also key in controlling the quality of the brand.”
Keys to Success
GrassRoots has been experiencing a sudden growth period since the spring of 2020 and he credits God for his company’s success.
“We are a company surrounded by the Lord and make sure He is a part of every meeting and everything we do,” Wise says. “Without God, none of this would be possible.”
He also points to his team of employees, past and present, for growing the business.
“Each one of these individuals helps to mold this company and propel it forward,” Wise says. “I am thankful for their hard work and dedication to the brand GrassRoots.”
Currently, the company has 32 employees company-wide. GrassRoots attracts their employees through word of mouth and Indeed. He does say staffing has been an issue with the growth spurt.
“Finding the right individual and getting them through training and onboard takes time,” Wise says. “This is not something a company should rush so it is key to always plan ahead for these staffing needs and be as prepared as you can be.”
Wise says retention has been easy as they take good care of their staff. He has several employees who have been with the business for over 10 years and several more who have been with GrassRoots for over 5 years.
As they’ve grown, they’ve maintained their culture by being open and honest with their staff. They host weekly meetings and sometimes surprise their team with breakfast or a catered lunch. They rent out places and take their team on bowling outings, water park adventures and even Braves games.
“I am confident that my staff would tell you GrassRoots is the best place they have worked but not because of the pay or the owner, it is because of the entire team and the family we are together,” Wise says. “I take pride in helping others grow which in return will help the whole company grow.”
Wise says his third key to success is his family.
“My wife continues to make sacrifices, so I am able to work while she takes care of the kids,” he says. “She is my rock and always there when I am stuck and need direction. My mother and father both are retired and work in the business part-time. I love having them around to help look after the business and make sure everything is correct.”
As he has run the business, Wise says he’s often gone to NALP’s website for training materials and an update on the industry.
“I gain knowledge from the podcast, emails, magazines and the tradeshow events held each year,” he says. “I am really looking forward to getting involved with one of the leader summits in the near future and I can’t wait for the new approach NALP is taking with the separation from the GIE+EXPO. That will be very beneficial.”
Aside from lawn care and weed control services, GrassRoots also offers mosquito control. This was added in 2014 when they first started their pest control division.
While GrassRoots eventually closed down the pest control division in 2017, they kept the mosquito control service.
“We were becoming a jack of all trades and a master of none,” Wise says. “I wanted to get laser-focused on what we are the best at and then become the leader in the industry. I also felt like the quality of life was lost as in pest control you have to be ready to go when someone needs service for ants or roaches in their kitchen or termites in their house. I never get an emergency for weeds in a lawn taking over.”
As part of their laser focus, Wise says they are constantly changing their turf management program based on the needs of the lawns and the weather conditions.
“We recently changed our process for core aeration and also the overseeding process,” Wise says. “We no longer offer core aerating, just the liquid aeration service.”
Wise says liquid aeration is less labor-intensive and more economical. With liquid aeration, the lawns get 100 percent coverage, and there is no risk of property damage.
“I love this service and so do the lawns,” Wise says. “The process is a mix of 4 products that we apply over the entire lawn.”
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