Our Level Up series shares the strategies that help landscape and lawn care companies get to the next level.
StayGreen Lawn Services (now known as MissionGreen Services), based in Chicopee, Massachusetts, has only been in business since 2018 but in that time, it has grown to an annual revenue of $1.3 million.
Owner Mark Kelbacher plans to grow his company to a revenue of $15 to $20 million and he says his company is always in growth mode. In order to reach this ideal size, Kelbacher says they plan to do a mix of entering other markets via acquisitions and growing organically with their own branches.
The three main elements Kelbacher credits to his company’s growth are experience and leadership, effective and diverse marketing strategies and a company culture focused on exceptional service and results.
“Another part of big growth is our add-on services like lime applications, grub preventatives, core aeration and overseeding. “Core aeration and overseeding represent about 20 to 25 percent of our business, so that’s a huge opportunity for us every fall.”– Mark Kelbacher, owner
Marketing and Sales Are Critical
Kelbacher says one of his crucial investments in growing was recruiting an experienced marketing manager who helped the company appear established during their first year through marketing.
StayGreen does a lot of social media marketing and Kelbacher says they’re also still big on direct mail.
“We dial into, not just neighborhoods, but we truly dial into income, house value and things of that sort,” Kelbacher says. “So, we take our top list first and then we narrow it down with the income, house value, things of that sort and where our existing customers are.”
One campaign they do in January is email all of their previous cancels and then follow up with phone calls and try to win those customers back. He says they’ll also go up to three years back into their old estimates and will send an email blast to those potential customers and follow up with phone calls as well.
Kelbacher says late March through the end of May is when they typically have their biggest push for sales. Then they shift to upselling additional services to current customers.
“Another part of big growth is our add-on services like lime applications, grub preventatives, core aeration and overseeding,” Kelbacher says. “Core aeration and overseeding represent about 20 to 25 percent of our business, so that’s a huge opportunity for us every fall.”
He says their company’s focus is on lawn care and exterior pest control and they currently have no plans to diversify their services.
StayGreen felt the pressure caused by COVID-19 like many other businesses and experienced a few cancels. Kelbacher’s response was to stay in front of their customers as much as possible through various communication methods to let them know where they stood and how they could help.
“As far as our growth strategies go, we stuck to our sales plan, and then we did make changes, we implemented those changes and we adapted and adjusted accordingly,” Kelbacher says. “We stayed par for the course on what our vision was as far as growing.”
Kelbacher says that being a part of the National Association of Landscape Professionals has helped his company grow, he says he attended some of the meetings and networking with other NALP members has been particularly beneficial.
“Through networking, we can get some feedback on what’s working for other companies so we’re able to use some of those tools and some of those references to find better equipment,” Kelbacher says. “We’re always looking to upgrade our equipment, our trucks, what’s the right truck and through NALP, we can see some of that.”
Always Be Recruiting
In 2018, StayGreen had 2 employees and now has 13 on staff. So far, Kelbacher says hiring has not been a problem for him. He credits this to the fact that he is always recruiting whether they are fully staffed or not.
“I try to stay in front of them for as long as I can, and I’m honest and I’m upfront and say, ‘Hey we’re fully staffed at this point, but that can change in a month.’ So, I try to build a bench,” Kelbacher says.
He says he recruits a lot on Indeed and he also gives out his business card to anybody he happens to find while out and about who he sees taking pride in their work. In one instance, Kelbacher says he gave his business card to the man fixing his sandwich at a gas station as he noticed the care he was taking while making it.
“I said ‘I would love to have you come work with me,’” he says. “‘Give me a call if you’re interested,’ and he called me right away. I always say never stop recruiting, even when you’re off and you’re not working. I’m always watching and recruiting for people that go above and beyond the normal.”
With his current staff, he says they’re training and coaching constantly to make sure employees are the right fit for the team.
“We have procedures in place to maintain pride and professionalism from the appearance of our trucks, when we pull up to a customer’s house, to the way we communicate and perform our services for the customer,” Kelbacher says.
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