When ONE Grounds Management, based in Nampa, Idaho, started out in 1995, they were a typical landscape business handling local residential and commercial work. The company had a nursery and several maintenance and construction crews.
The company was growing but Jason Nielsen, CEO of the company, says he was spending too much time on the day-to-day operations.
“The business was almost overwhelming, I was running from fire to fire and that needed to change,” Nielsen says.
Over the years Nielsen had also noticed many commercial facility managers expressed concerns that their needs were not being met.
“Taking this information, I again reexamined our business model,” he says. “This led to the development of a new business plan to be able to operate regionally and/or nationally and provide each commercial client consistent results at every one of their locations including real-time reports and information. And that is how we operate today.”
From 2002 to 2006, ONE transformed into the operation it is today. The company utilizes a network of subcontractors, known as service partners, to perform the necessary services for commercial clients. ONE’s local offices and proprietary software gathers field information in real-time.
“We combine a local service partner’s expertise and services with our ability to manage and provide consistent results at every property,” Nielsen says. “That is what we bring to the table.”
ONE fulfills the niche need of facility managers who have locations spread across multiple cities and states. The company consolidates all contracts, services, vendors, quality control and scheduling into one place with one contact.
“Some of these larger companies want things consolidated,” Nielsen says. “They don’t want to deal with 200 vendors. They want to one. So, they’re looking for somebody who can handle a regional or national contract. There’s two ways to approach that, one is you’re just massive as a company. You have tons of assets and tons of employees and you can cover a huge area, or you have to work with subcontractors.”
Working with Service Partners
No service partner is too big or too small to partner with ONE. The company works with all types of businesses from single operators to organizations with hundreds of team members.
“We have found that most of the time smaller companies work better with our business model, especially those who are wanting to grow and learn,” Nielsen says.
When a new landscaping company is interested in partnering with ONE, they log into the service partner portal, which is tied to ONE’s propriety software on their website. This creates an account and they go through the qualification process with ONE’s service partner services team.
“We look for service partners that want access to properties in their area they normally wouldn’t be able to do because they don’t offer multi-state services,” Nielsen says. “Our goal is to provide a new source of revenue to local service partners and a consistent service to clients.”
Some service partners ONE has had since 2006, while others will work with them for only a season after realizing it’s not what they’re looking for. Part of ONE’s onboarding process is determining if the partnership is a good fit for both companies.
“We really do want to establish long-term relationships,” Nielsen says. “It’s just like hiring an employee. Every time you have turnover it costs money. It takes time to find somebody and then get them trained and everything working properly so they’re happy and we’re happy. There’s an investment of time so the longer we can partner with somebody the better.”
As for which service partners get what jobs, Nielsen says it’s mostly determined by the partner’s willingness to follow the requirements the client has requested and their capacity.
“We’ll typically try to give them locations that are close to their base of operations, something that adds to their density,” Nielsen says. “We want them to have a very easy route and don’t want to create a nightmare for any of our service partners by giving them something that’s just way out of the way.”
The company has also started a new client recruiting strategy by encouraging service partners to help land new clients with ONE.
“We encourage them to tell us of sites they wish they had in their area and help us find the right contact,” ” Nielsen says. “If we are successful, they win the work automatically. This is truly a win/win opportunity.”
Handling Payments and Customer Feedback
ONE’s proprietary software and app allows service partners to create reports and share photos in real-time. Using this system ensures service partners are paid quickly.
“If they’re awarded work, they can invoice us directly through the system, so they don’t have to send us paper invoices or emails,” Nielsen says. “Everything’s just handled within the system, so it makes it a very seamless process.”
Project managers who supervise the service partners communicate with them throughout the month when they’re doing a good job or if anything is missing.
“It’s just an ongoing constant communication process that we have with our service partners to ensure they understand where they are and then at the end of the month, there’s no surprises,” Nielsen says.
If any issues arise, account and project managers will create work orders for the service partner. Phone calls are made to ensure all parties understand the needs of the client.”
“The work order tracks the issue through resolution,” Nielsen says. “Most of these issues are minor and are resolved quickly.”
The app also has a bid portal that allows service partners to see what’s up for bid or coming up for bid soon.
“We designed it to be very efficient and easy for subcontractors to use because if it wasn’t, they’re not going to use it,” Nielsen says.
Plans for the Future
Currently ONE has offices in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and Ohio, but Nielsen says they’d like to spread to all 50 states eventually. ONE adds local offices to an area once there is enough density.
“Once we have enough clients or enough locations in an area, we’ll add a local office staffed with a number of employees needed to coordinate the work in that area and be eyes onsite,” Nielsen says.
Team members at the local offices work to network and recruit more service partners, meet with clients, and run our quality control program.
“They are located in areas where we have a population of sites so they know their communities,” Nielsen says. “They know and recognize other landscape companies and we try to network in those areas as much as we can. It’s really about building the relationships at the local level, which allows success for both parties. Nielsen says managing companies through many states isn’t hard, as it’s what they do every day.
“By placing local offices in key strategic areas and creating long-term relationships with our service partners we have overcome the challenges of operating in many states. This allows us to provide something our clients value and our service partners want. That combination gives our employees an opportunity to grow and that is success,” he says.
Find out more about ONE at www.onegm.com