Our Level Up series shares the strategies that help landscape and lawn care companies get to the next level.
Green Lawn Fertilizing’s mission is to be the leader in the lawn and pest industry by delivering a superior customer experience.
Based in West Chester, Pennsylvania, the company was founded by president/owner Matt Jesson in 2004 after transitioning from his lawn mowing company, Jesson Landscaping, to Green Lawn Fertilizing which provides lawn, tree and pest services in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
Over the past 17 years, the company has experienced growth every year, with several periods of rapid growth. The most recent started in the spring of 2018 and is still ongoing.
Sudden Growth Period
“That year Green Lawn Fertilizing started the season off at $8.7 million and grew 18.9 percent to $10.4 million,” says John Guth, LIC, vice president of lawn operations. “That trend continued in 2019 with 22.7 percent growth, ending the year at $12.7 million. 2020’s planned growth of 21.4 percent is well on track and continues to trend above budgeted pacing.”
Green Lawn Fertilizing’s current revenue goal for 2020 is $15,525,000.
When the company started in 2004 it had 7 team members on staff. In 2018, when the most recent growth period started, Green Lawn Fertilizing had 100 employees and now it has 200+ team members.
Guth says the top 3 elements that have contributed to the company’s continuous growth are their people, their marketing/data tracking and their leadership team.
Green Lawn Fertilizing focuses on hiring team members whose personal mission statement matches theirs. Guth says they provide ongoing training and create advancement opportunities and mentor future leaders with their leadership development program. Employees are also recognized and rewarded for successes through weekly spotlight awards and a yearly awards banquet that highlights the top performers in all the departments of the business.
Guth says they invested in hiring an experienced marketing leader early on and they measure spend daily against return and are constantly looking for opportunity.
The company significantly invests in identifying and developing high potential team members. Guth says Jesson also invested in a strong senior leadership team that is able to scale with the business.
Drivers of Growth
Guth says during this most recent growth period they invested heavily into their people, processes and growth channels.
The company supported ongoing learning by sending leaders to participate in events such as Harvard’s Professional Leadership Development, Stanford’s Executive Leadership Program, MEA Leadership Development and NALP’s Leadership Academy.
“NALP has provided many opportunities for training & development: such as Leadership Academy, LANDSCAPES and the many online tools available to its members,” Guth says.
Guth adds that by being a NALP Trailblazer they have been able to host other companies and share best practices, allowing them to reexamine their processes compared to the visiting company’s processes.
“Being a member in NALP has helped Green Lawn Fertilizing by helping us to create relationships with other industry-leading businesses, who have shared best practices and processes with us,” Guth says. “These companies have also allowed us to visit their businesses, talk to their leaders, and see their daily operations.”
He says they’ve doubled down on their customer service processes and have focused on retaining their customers. The company has also enhanced their online digital presence and the delivery of commercial lawn services. Additionally, Green Lawn Fertilizing created a Residential Outside Sales Department.
“During this growth period, we have made many changes,” Guth says. “Our most notable was hiring a Director of Technical & Quality Assurance. This position has strengthened the foundation of our current agronomic programs and has led to industry-leading process improvements. On the lawn care side of our business, we have completely redesigned our lawn care vehicles, spray systems, fill systems, and agronomic programs. We have included grub control into our program versus being an a la carte service. In our tree & shrub care side of the business, we have added spotted lanternfly treatments to our offerings.”
Green Lawn Fertilizing has also made strategic capital investments including new buildings/upgrades to existing ones, trucks/equipment and software.
Adapting to Change
Guth says the biggest hurdle they’ve faced with growth is change.
“This change has come in many forms: people, roles, processes, training, tracking, etc.,” he says. “As with people changes, bringing people in from outside of the company to fill roles becomes a balancing act. It is important to allow those new team members time to become acclimated with Green Lawn’s culture and way of doing things. It is just as important during that timeframe for the new team member to look at the business and see ways to improve the business from a different perspective.”
Guth says it’s also important to develop those who have been with the company for years and keep them engaged and growing along with the company.
Green Lawn Fertilizing has maintained their company culture by finding people who fit their culture, as well by having a full day of onboarding for all new hires.
During the onboarding day, new hires meet and speak with all the executive leadership members, helping them have a better understanding of all the departments in the company. Green Lawn Fertilizing also sends surveys to team members after they have been with the company for 45 days. Guth says these have been instrumental to identifying opportunities in the onboarding and training processes.
“Keeping a company’s culture does not mean you have to do everything exactly that same as you have for the last 16 years,” Guth says. “It means finding ways to do the things you have done well for the past 16 years better or more efficient!”
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