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“What is the point of making good money if you are never home long enough to enjoy it?” This question, asked by his father, brought Bryan Smith to a crossroads.

Bryan Smith had established a successful career as a boat captain, but it required him to spend three weeks out of every month away from home. One day his father asked him, “What is the point of making good money if you are never home long enough to enjoy it?”

After some internal reflection, Smith realized his father was right. This realization would lead the two down a path towards entrepreneurship, signing a franchise agreement with U.S. Lawns for a territory in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Along that path, Smith had to overcome some significant concerns about his ability to be successful in this venture: he knew nothing about the lawn care industry and he had never run his own business before.

While concepts such as budgeting and profit and loss statements were foreign to him, he was confident in his ability to manage the people side of the business. As he progressed through the discovery process, he began to understand that the U.S. Lawns support team would be there to help him fill in the gaps. “There is no way I would be sitting here today without them” says Smith.

Early on, Smith played a dual role, managing the business and operating a truck to ensure all work got completed. He would bring a change of clothes to the job site so he could change quickly from landscaper to business owner, visiting surrounding properties to sell his services.

Over time he did exactly what U.S. Lawns asks their franchisees to do and stopped working in his business so he could work on his business. As revenues grew, he put his people skills to work and grew the team around him. Describing his team, Smith borrows a phrase from his time on the boat and says “The captain is only as good as his crew, and I’ve got a great crew.”

Today, Smith still works hard, but enjoys the flexibility that comes with success. He prefers to mix things up now, some days coming in early to meet with his crews before they start their day and other days coming in a little later to focus on business aspects. He is able to leave early to spend the afternoon with his son after picking him up from school and enjoys taking time off when he needs to without seeking anyone else’s approval.

While Smith’s father is no longer involved in the ownership of the business, he still enjoys spending time around the shop and repairing broken equipment. Of their original decision to invest, he says “We never thought in a million years that we would be where we are today.” Underlining his own satisfaction, the younger Smith recently doubled down on his investment by purchasing a neighboring territory in Brunswick, North Carolina to continue his success story.

When asked what he loves the most about U.S. Lawns, Smith highlights “the comradery of it all…the network of owners. I have made life-long friends that I never would have crossed paths with if it hadn’t been for this organization. Investing in U.S. Lawns is the smartest thing that I have ever done. They’ve created the road map, all you have to do is follow it.”

For more information about investing in your own U.S. Lawns franchise, click here.

The U.S. Lawns Franchise Resource Library

Blog by: Mike Fitzpatrick, Vice President of U.S. Lawns.

Operating With Efficiency Requires Well Trained Employees

Commercial grounds care is a routine, redundant, repetitive business. The best way to be efficient is to have well trained employees, and the only way to have well trained employees is to train them.

You shouldn’t assume that just because a new hire has experience, they will do things the way you want them done. The only way to make sure your crew members are doing their jobs properly is to train them on your systems and processes.

Disregard Those Irrational Arguments Against Training

Yes, we’ve all heard (and maybe even briefly entertained them ourselves) a few emotionally charged arguments like “I don’t have time to train,”. However, logic dictates that you don’t have time not to train.

The next one you’ll hear is, “I train them and they just leave.” Well, that’s certainly better than not training them and having them stay.

Training Demonstrates You Care

Now, beyond efficiency, training is integral to creating a “best place to work” culture, because it shows your employees you care about them. Besides that, how will you ever have people prepared to move to the next level as your business grows, if you don’t train them?

U.S. Lawns believes wholeheartedly in training, which is why we provide a multitude of training tools, topics, videos and testing so our franchisees have access to everything they need to help their employees become certified.

Training Ensures Safety

It’s also worth stating that in the landscape maintenance industry safety is paramount, especially with all the equipment our franchisees’ crews use to perform their jobs. Training is a key element to making sure every U.S. Lawns crew member goes home at the end of the day in the same condition as they arrived to work.

It’s Also About Fulfilling A Promise

Trained crews are also something that U.S. Lawns promises to our customers, so it’s vital that every franchise owner is fulfilling the promise to put well trained employees on the job site.

It’s A Key To Long Life

It’s been said that constant learning is the key to a long life, and this is true in business too. At the end of the day, you’ll never be efficient, you won’t be as profitable, and you won’t be able to retain your people if you don’t continually train them. It’s not a one and done thing, you may complete segments or levels of it but training is ongoing, it never ends. Good thing it keeps us all youthful.

The U.S. Lawns Franchise Resource Library

Blog by: Mike Fitzpatrick, Vice President of U.S. Lawns.

Labor is our greatest asset…

Regardless of the industry, the most successful companies have exceptional employees. One thing all U.S. Lawns franchisees share is the recognition that having a super star team is mission critical. But, even though labor is the greatest asset of every commercial grounds care business owner, it is also the biggest expense–a startling reality when one considers all the specialized landscaping equipment necessary to effectively service customers’ properties.

…and our biggest expense.

In fact, labor is 40 to 45% of our franchisees’ operating costs. Part of the reason for this is that today’s ultra-competitive labor market makes hiring a challenge. And for U.S. Lawns franchisees, this is exacerbated by our commitment to operating very ethically and above board. Every franchise owner carries workers comp insurance, pays overtime, doesn’t pay cash under the table, and uses only legal workers, whether they come through a guest worker visa program or have other proper documentation, all of which translates to higher labor costs.

U.S. Lawns Franchisees are committed to operating ethically.

So, while our franchise owners do not compete with “lowballers” that are not operating their businesses properly, U.S. Lawns franchisees approach business with the philosophy that a responsible contractor is not afraid to compete with responsible contractors.

So, U.S. Lawns Franchise Owners must effectively manage and retain employees.

But, this also drives the need to effectively manage and retain existing employees even more. How? By being the best place to work–investing in people and training them to be the best in the industry; doing good job sequencing; operating efficiently; providing the right equipment for the right job; having a good safety program.

U.S. Lawns Home Office Supports Franchisees

Another big differentiator between U.S. Lawns franchisees and other small, local landscape companies is that while our franchisees fully own and operate their businesses, they have national support from the U.S. Lawns Home Office. Support that comes in the way of processes, systems, scheduling tools, and other tools to promote efficiency on job sites;

The Home Office also helps franchise owners understand, budget and plan for peaks and valleys in their labor costs, and we even provide resources for recruiting and training, so that every local U.S. Lawns franchise has what they need to be the best place to work.

The U.S. Lawns Star signifies a responsible business owner

So, next time you encounter a U.S. Lawns Star see it with the knowledge that there is a responsible commercial grounds care business owner local to your area, employing citizens in your neighborhood, serving clients in your community, and being backed by a respected national network–and you can bet that U.S. Lawns franchisee has what it takes (and then some) to deliver.

The U.S. Lawns Franchise Resource Library

Blog by: Brandon Moxam, Vice President of U.S. Lawns.

It’s about being a business friend

In commercial grounds care, much like all other service industries, strengthening customer relationships all begins with the concept of radical personalization. In the most basic sense, it’s all about developing a business friendship.

Defining business friendship

Now, we’re not talking about getting together for beers and chicken wings here, so before we get into the how’s of being a business friend, let’s define what a friend is. A friend is someone you confide in; it’s somebody that you share experiences with; and it’s someone that you watch out for. It’s someone that you know has your back and will come through for you when you really have a need–and you do the same thing for them.

Business friends are more than just vendors or service providers

As it applies to our customers, being a business friend means climbing a few steps up the value chain, so you’re not just existing within a customer/vendor relationship.

It is this approach, which separates U.S. Lawns from competitors. Our franchisees are all committed to being true business partners and true business friends with our customers.

See yourself through your customers’ eyes

We’ve found that the most effective way to best accomplish this is to look at yourself though your customers’ eyes. This is how you can determine if you’re delivering what they’re really looking for. First and foremost, ask yourself these questions:

Are you easy to do business with?

No one likes to do business with someone difficult. And as you ask yourself this question, be sure to look at whether you’re offering a quality service and/or product. Ultimately, it won’t matter how great you are at building relationships if you have a really poor product or service to offer, because nobody’s going to want to do business with you.

Are you convenient?

Convenience means getting what you want the moment you want it, without bending over backwards to make it happen. In the commercial landscape management business, you’re setting yourself up for failure if you’re just sitting by the phone waiting for the customer to contact you.

At U.S. Lawns, responsiveness is in our DNA. Our franchisees have weekly contact with customers through documentation of the services performed that week. Not only does this foster engagement between your team and your customer, but it also provides an opening to discuss future enhancement opportunities as well as things you’ve seen on the property that could impact your customer’s business.

Are you delivering what was promised?

Before you can strengthen a relationship, it’s important you start off on the right track. It’s all about setting proper expectations. So, when you start a new relationship with a customer the agreement you execute should outline exactly what services have been mutually agreed upon for that specific property. There should be no gray areas.

Then, from more of an operational perspective: set the job up correctly; document everything; communicate exactly to your crews how to properly service that property; and communicate the customer expectations to your crew leader and crew members.

If all you do is deliver upon what was promised when you started that relationship–if you just show up do what you committed to doing, you’re already going to be 90% better than the competition.

U.S. Lawns Customers: We’ve got your back

What we’re really saying is this: U.S. Lawns has the backs of our customers. We’re going to be there when they need us, and matter of fact, we’re going to be there before they need us.

We understand that as commercial real estate/property managers and owners you have a lot of different things going on in your world and at the end of the day we want to take that landscape service piece and sweep it off your plate.

You don’t have to worry about this, we got you.

The U.S. Lawns Franchise Resource Library

Blog by: Ken Hutcheson, President of U.S. Lawns.

Climb the Value Chain

One of the core tenets of U.S. Lawns is that it is hard to fire a business friend. We built the business around this concept, and it continues to serve us well.

How do we become a business friend instead of just a contractor?  By offering more than what a customer will get from a contractor; information, understanding of their business, the ability to speak their language and then take it a step further by using their language instead of ours. It’s about being a partner, not a customer, and developing an economically interdependent relationship.

Economic Interdependence Defined

Economic interdependence is a complex relationship in which all parties are mutually dependent upon one another. This is an age-old concept that applies to all aspects of life, whether it be the mutual reliance between certain plants and animals, or the relationship between a grain farmer and a baker. The farmer specializes in growing and harvesting grains; the baker’s specialty is using those grains to make bread. Each party depends on the other, and the rewards associated with this interdependent relationship far outweigh the costs for both.

In the case of U.S. Lawns, this is why our clients outsource landscape maintenance instead of doing it in-house. We specialize in providing grounds care services to local businesses, allowing those local businesses to specialize in the service they deliver to the community. In the simplest terms, we all gain.

All Parties Must See Value

Economic interdependence requires that all parties see value. That means you must pull your own weight so others can rely on you. This applies to employers, employees, customers, vendors, and the community–each party.

Think about it this way. Is the customer just using you up? We’ve always said that the customer has to work to help you become more successful. If they don’t, it becomes apparent over time, and that’s a customer to jettison. The same thing goes with employees. If all you’re doing is using them up, that is not economic interdependence. That’s why this principle is so valuable, everybody benefits, and that’s the way a meaningful relationship works.

Get Behind Their Eyes

The only way to be a true partner and the first step to creating an economically interdependent relationship, is to get behind their eyes. Again, this applies to customers, employees, vendors...everyone. The best way to identify, understand, and fulfill their needs is to see things from their vantage point.

For instance, in working with the property manager of a multi-family dwelling; do you recognize that their push is to lease apartments right now and are you helping with that? Are you supporting their association just like they support yours? Are you a member of the Apartment Association, CAI, BOMA, etc.? Are you supporting them not just as a vendor, but are you supporting their community as well?

This goes back to U.S. Lawns’ mission to improve lives and improve communities, which can become incredibly complex.

Being Mutually Reliant Makes You Far Less Vulnerable

You should also know that it is vital to recognize and embrace this concept of economic interdependence, because if you don’t, you are vulnerable. Remember, it’s really easy to fire a contractor but it is hard to fire a business friend.

The difference here being that a contractor cuts grass; U.S. Lawns identifies the need of the individual customer and then we fill that need. If you don’t do that and you remain just a contractor, you’re vulnerable–to the client that can hire and fire you at will; with the employee who will have no loyalty to your brand; to the vendor who’ll treat you like a customer instead of a partner.

Great Success Comes From Economic Interdependence

In the end, it all comes down to trust, understanding and respect, which flows both ways. There is no top of the food chain in an interdependent relationship, everyone’s on the line because we’re all mutually dependent. If we each do our part, and recognize and embrace those of like minds, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.

The U.S. Lawns Franchise Resource Library

Blog by: Mike Fitzpatrick, VP of U.S. Lawns.

It’s Time To Pay Attention To The Landscape

Springtime is when we begin to pay special attention to the landscape all around us. Budding trees and early blooms elevate the spirits, and it’s a prime time of the year to make property improvements.

For U.S. Lawns, This Is Enhancement Season

Now, before we go any further, we recognize that people tend to shy away from the word “enhancement” because somewhere along the line it became associated with unnecessary expense.

Defining “Enhancement”

So, to clarify what it means to us: Enhancements in the most basic sense, are property improvements–and enhancements play an important role in how well property owners and managers achieve their goals.

Whether it be renting a hotel room, an apartment or office space, or maintaining the grounds of a retail establishment, there are a multitude of enhancements that contribute to safety as well as aesthetics.

It goes without saying that you’re far more likely to draw the right customers when your property has visual appeal, and making surface enhancements like planting seasonal flowers and adding fresh mulch is a great way to accomplish that.

Enhancements Are Valuable To Customers

But plant material has a life cycle, and at some point, it all needs to be refreshed, removed, replaced or rejuvenated with some serious pruning. It’s also important to remember, as plants grow and mature, safety issues develop too. They start blocking signs; tree canopies get heavy, their lowering branches threatening the eyes of passersby; plants grow up and block ingress and egress visibility so drivers can’t see properly as they enter and exit the parking lot; Addressing each of these issues would be considered an enhancement.

The Reasons To Plan Enhancements

Understanding the value of enhancements is critical to the end game, and planning ahead is equally crucial. This is for a number of reasons:

  1. There may be zoning issues or codes that take time to resolve;
  2. There are extra costs for making property improvements, so it must be budgeted;
  3. You want to be sure the plants, trees, shrubs, turf, and other materials are available when you’re ready for them, because they often require special orders ahead of time;
  4. You need to be sure your grounds care service provider can accommodate your needs;

The last two points are big. You need to make sure your landscape contractor is able to get the specific items necessary to fulfill your vision. You also want to be certain you get on their schedule before it fills up. Not to mention that it is wise to let a specialist help you build your budget and create the plan that will be most effective in achieving your goals.

Partner With A Specialist

You need a landscaping partner with the expertise to handle basic maintenance as well as enhancements, so you can continue to focus on your own specialty. That’s why we’re here. Your local U.S. Lawns grounds care specialists will partner with you to maintain and make improvements to your commercial property, and we’ll help you build your budget too. After all, it’s what we do every day.

The U.S. Lawns Franchise Resource Library

Blog by: Brandon Moxam, Vice President of U.S. Lawns.

Your Team Encompasses Every Relationship You Need To Operate Successfully

To state it simply, this is a business of people. If there’s one factor that can be most limiting to any business owner, it’s the ability to build and manage a team. It’s important to recognize that your team is not just made up of employees, but also encompasses customers, partners and all the relationships you need to have in place to really have a successful business.

Recruit And Retain

At U.S. Lawns, one of our core beliefs as we look at business, is that it all centers on the ability to recruit and retain both customers and employees.

When we talk about customers, one of the best ways expand your business is through referrals. This happens through customer intimacy, which means delivering an amazing customer experience that goes beyond providing a very professional service (which is still a critical aspect). You’re going to personalize that service by really understanding that customer–understanding their goals; identifying their needs; being easy to work with; and looking out for the customer. We call this radical personalization. It’s all about climbing one step up the value chain and being a partner instead of just a vendor.

Apply The Same Principles To Both Customer And Employee Recruitment

The same principles apply to employee recruiting. We believe that if you take care of your employees and provide them with a positive and rewarding environment to work within, one of your best sources for new recruits will come through your existing employee base.

In fact, a lot of U.S. Lawns franchisees fulfill most of their employee recruiting needs through the relationships they have with their existing employees, and the relationships those employees have with family and friends.

That doesn’t happen if you’re beating up your employees; if you don’t have a positive work environment; if you’re not providing the resources and the tools they need to be successful within their position.

Provide An Amazing Employee Experience

Just as we talked a little about the customer experience, our “best place to work” initiative is all about the employee experience. You should already know the value of having a culture of mutual respect, but the employee experience goes deep.

Ask yourself:

What kind of impression does your facility make? Is it clean; orderly; professional; a welcoming environment? Or is it a disorganized pig pen bordering on chaos?

What’s your orientation and onboarding process like? Do you take time to tour the facility; review a job description; sit down and explain what it takes to be successful within the position; help them envision a real career path with your company? Or do you immediately send them into the field without sharing even the simple expectations such as when to show up; when to take breaks; whether to bring a lunch or plan to eat out?

Do you give them the right equipment to be successful on the job site? Is it good equipment that’s been well-maintained and is replaced as its usefulness is running low? Or is it old, beat up and falling apart?

What about uniforms? Do you make the small investment in keeping a small inventory of uniforms to ensure they’ll immediately fit in and feel accepted? Or do you make them feel like an outcast on day one by having them wear something completely different than every other employee in the company?

All of this has a strong influence on the employee experience, so if your answers are on the “or” side of these questions, it’s time to make some big changes.

Give Your Employees A Common Cause They Can All Buy Into

At U.S. Lawns, we also believe strongly in painting a vision and sharing a goal that gives employees something they can buy into, collectively, with other employees–that together we’re working towards a common cause.

Celebrate Success And Reward Performance

Celebrating success through monthly barbeques, public recognition, awards, monthly incentive programs based upon performance, work quality, safety and attendance also contributes; as does training, whether it be on the job, through their crew leader, or through our Five Star Training Program Online.

When you reward your employees for their good performance it goes a long way towards having a productive workforce that cares about the company. Then they’ll go out and share the good news with other people who’ll want to be part of the organization. By taking care of what you already have, you shouldn’t have problems recruiting new employees.

It’s not just their network of family and friends, either. In this tightknit industry, other landscape companies will start noticing. In every market, there’s dozens if not hundreds of grounds care companies that all employ other people. If you truly are the employer of choice in that local market, employees from other landscaping companies are going to want to work for you.

Combine Recruitment Tactics

Even though tapping your employee network is the most powerful way to recruit, you can also include grassroots recruiting efforts along with use of existing media outlets.

On the grassroots side of things, network with local professionals in the community, as well as landscape supply stores and equipment dealerships; put up employment fliers in community centers, grocery stores and any other place your typical employee might visit on a frequent basis;

You can also place targeted ads online using social media, Craig’s List and the job boards.

Just make sure you’re communicating the values of your company and the benefits to that employee so you’re getting applicants who will relate to what you’re looking for.

Ultimately, It Goes Back To Being The Best Place To Work

The long and short of it is that whatever mix of recruitment efforts you use, if you focus on the employees you do have and create that best place to work environment, you shouldn’t have any problems putting on good employees.

The U.S. Lawns Franchise Resource Library

Blog by: Mike Fitzpatrick, Vice President of U.S. Lawns.

You Should Already Be Planning Your Spring Start Up

With springtime just around the bend, we all look forward to the approach of longer daylight hours, warmer temperatures, and the awakening of our turf, trees and plants.

For commercial property owners and managers, this refreshing of the seasons can present new challenges with the landscape.

Spring is typically the best time for mulching, changing out last season’s flowers for some new blooms, fertilizing and replenishing your turf, and starting up your irrigation system after it’s been off all winter. And for regions that get heavy snow and ice, there is probably some plow damage to address, in addition to left-over surface treatment product that needs to be cleaned up.

Partner With Your Commercial Grounds Care Provider Early

So if you want to make sure your grounds are looking fresh and beautiful to welcome the new season, it’s important to connect with your commercial grounds care provider early on. This matters for a number of reasons.

The Landscape Needs Time To React

First, the landscape takes time to react to things. If you want your grass or turf to be bright, Kelly green on St. Patrick’s Day, you need to have that conversation with your landscape contractor in January or February at the latest, and November or December would be even better. Similarly, if you’d like to have annual flowers in full bloom by a certain date, then they need to go in the ground a good four to five weeks prior if the temperatures and weather predictions are favorable.

Be Prepared

Secondly, planning ahead is valuable for budgeting. Repairs to the irrigation system, mulching and flowers can all be significant expenditures, so you’ll want to be sure they are included as you plan your budget for the upcoming seasons. At U.S. Lawns, our franchise owners work closely with each commercial client to put together a plan that effectively meets the individual needs of every property.

Now while we’re still on the subject of planning ahead, take heed of your flowers. If you know you’d like to plant pink Begonias, but wait until the week before you want them to tell your landscape contractor, chances are very good that you’ll have to settle for what they can find–and it likely won’t be what you asked for. However, they can pre-order exactly what you want, as long as you give them a few months’ notice.

Be First On The List

Third, remember that everybody in your region has the same target date as you do. If the last freeze date is April 15th, you need to partner with your grounds care service provider to make sure you are both on the same schedule. First one in is usually first one on the list.

Don’t get so focused on wintertime and all the hassles that go along with it, that you put off planning for spring until winter is on its way out, because then you’ll be at the end of a very long line.

Roll With Mother Nature

On a final note, take into account that all of the landscaping activities associated with spring start up are driven by soil and air temperatures, not a date on a calendar. So just because you’d ideally like everything done by a specified date, if it’s been 15 degrees Fahrenheit outside every day prior to that, it won’t happen as originally planned. It won’t be beneficial to turn on your irrigation system or plant spring flowers while there is still a possibility of extreme winter weather.

The long and short of it is we all know how unpredictable Mother Nature can be. While it’s necessary to use calendar dates in order to have a schedule, we must still be prepared to be flexible to her impulsive whims.

The U.S. Lawns Franchise Resource Library

U.S. Lawns–Team 157 Franchisee Bryan Smith's Culture For Success

Bryan Smith, owner of U.S. Lawns - Team 157 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina knows what it means to become a success story because of his incredible team –a feat which he says he achieves by being strict but fair, and maintaining that culture of mutual respect we’ve been talking so much about here lately.

In a recent conversation with Bryan, the pride in his voice was unmistakable as he said of his team, “I couldn’t do it without them. It’s all pretty simple really, if you treat people the way you want to be treated then they’re going to do the best job they can for you. And we’ve found that little things can go a long way.”

It’s All In How You Treat People

Now although those “little things” may appear to be insignificant on the surface, the sincerity behind them creates something much bigger. What makes him so effective? Bryan has a genuine interest in people, and it’s pretty much second nature for him to treat everyone with care and consideration. He goes out of his way to interact with his employees and make sure they each know how much he appreciates their good works and values their individuality.

But even if you’re not a natural when it comes to interacting with people, according to Bryan it’s just as much common sense as anything. We all know that a stellar team starts with hiring the right people; placing them in the right roles; making sure they receive proper training; and there’s another, frequently neglected element that’s very critical: cultivating high morale. A happy team produces superior results, and Bryan has considerable experience on the subject.

In fact, before joining U.S. Lawns in his early twenties, Bryan spent his youth fishing, shrimping, and diving, and he put in a lot of hard work and dedication to earn the position of boat captain. Imagine the challenges he faced leading a seasoned crew of men, many of them twice his age, not to mention the lessons he learned–lessons he’s found useful for his commercial landscaping business.

A Winning Philosophy

2012 Hall of Fame Inductee, Smith said of the success with his U.S. Lawns territory: “It goes back to my previous life and a saying we had, that a captain is only as good as his crew. I took that philosophy and just moved it right over into this business.”

It’s working famously, too. During peak season, U.S. Lawns of Myrtle Beach has close to 70 employees composing nine or ten maintenance crews, an irrigation crew, an enhancement crew, and a crew to handle fertilizer and pest control application.

Of those employees, nobody has been with him for less than two years, and several have been there for as long as a decade–another great indicator that Bryan is doing a lot right.

Bryan’s Proven Tips For Success

He has a few pointers that can work for you too.

First ... and this is a big one:

Don’t Ask Anyone To Do Something You’re Not Willing To Do Yourself

Bryan proves this to his team by getting out there and working with them. A great example of this is when Hurricane Matthew came through in 2016. Even though time was of the essence, he felt it was important for his crew members to have their Sunday off, so he went out and got a head start on them. Then he worked shoulder to shoulder with them through the duration of the cleanup, which he said he still really enjoys doing.

Number two:

Seemingly Small Acts Can Make A Big Impression 

At the home base of U.S. Lawns-Team 157, the guys know the freezers in the breakroom and office kitchen are always stocked with popsicles. It may seem like a little thing, but it really means a lot after busting your hump out in the heat all day.

Another simple thing Bryan does is highlight kind words from clients and post them in a high-visibility area for everyone to see.

He also holds at least three family cookouts a year. He makes it more meaningful inviting the crews and their families to share their cultural cuisine. Bryan reminisced fondly about a cookout he held at the end of the last season, to honor his H-2B employees from Guatemala. “They gave us a shopping list and we went and got it. It was pretty awesome to see the looks on their faces when they were cooking for us and teaching us how to cook their food. Instead of us shoving our culture down their throats, they were giving some of their culture to us.”

Other things Bryan does to make sure everyone knows he cares include providing good equipment, and involving everyone in the bidding process as well as educational efforts. He also takes advantage of all the tools, training and technology provided by the U.S. Lawns Home Office. In addition, there are crew leader meetings, management meetings, and safety meetings held weekly, which goes a long way towards eliminating unwanted surprises.


Create A Friendly Internal Competition Centered On Company Standards

Bryan has a “Star Board” awards program. There can be one to multiple winners per month, with cash prizes, plus a day with Bryan as an extra crew member at stake. Star Board Awards are based on three factors: quality control, attendance, and equipment maintenance.

You Can Have High Standards AND A United Team

Make no mistake, Bryan can be tough. He has certain expectations of his team, and he’s not afraid to hold them to high standards. But what he offers in return inspires a unity that leads to success in business and life. It’s this approach that has earned the deep loyalty and appreciation of his team, and a promising future they can all enjoy.

The U.S. Lawns Franchise Resource Library

U.S. Lawns President Ken Hutcheson wanted to share some of his thoughts below on building a culture based on mutual respect.

A Stellar Team Is The Secret To Success

One of the big reasons U.S. Lawns is so special is because we recognize the role economic interdependence plays not just with vendors, suppliers and customers, but with employees too. The fact is, as business owners, we depend on our employees as much as they depend on us, and our greatest success comes from having a stellar team–and that happens through a culture of mutual respect.

Defining Culture

We often use words that can be interpreted in a number of ways, so before we talk about how to build a culture of mutual respect, it’s important to understand what culture means to us.

Culture is literally what happens when the business owner is not around.

For example, you may start off the day out in the shop, telling your crew how much you appreciate them, but if the moment you’re out of earshot your crew leader starts barking orders and treating everyone like animals, then that’s the real culture. It’s more of a top down culture, which, even though is quite common in the harsh world of service, does not fit our model at all.

Build A Culture Of Mutual Respect

U.S. Lawns is all about improving lives and improving communities, and we can only do that through a culture of mutual respect. It is not fake, or a cliché line written by a PR Agent. It is real and sincere, and the only way to do it is by being fully invested on a heart level and embracing diversity.

Mutual respect is actually the top line to creating a rock star team.

Of course, you have to select the right people and provide them with the resources to perform their jobs, but you also need to provide the resources they need to grow in their career: training, and a road map to show them where they’re going if they follow and meet certain benchmarks along the way.

But underlying all of this is a culture of mutual respect, which starts by acknowledging that everyone around you is different, and then by action, that it’s okay. It starts by respecting the cultures of each person on the team.

It is really cool to visit one of our territories and see flags representing all the different countries the team members have come from, hanging from the rafters–a flag of the United States of America, flags from Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, South Africa, Canada...wherever it might be. That’s just one real-life example of ways our franchisees encourage that environment of mutual respect.

Be The Best Place To Work

It goes deeper than just flags hanging from the ceiling though. It takes radical personalization. It’s the ability for an owner, within the community of his workforce, to be able to walk over to an employee, hug him and say: “Things will be ok.”; or to approach an employee on a job site and say “You’ve done a really nice job.”; or to host that 10 minute safety meeting out in the field, and open by saying with sincerity: “Guys, thank you all for taking a few minutes to talk about this. I really appreciate everything you’re doing.”

Be Tough, But Fair

This is a true culture of mutual respect. It doesn’t mean you let your employees walk all over you. You’ve got to be tough but fair.

Ultimately, what you’re trying to do is create a culture of pride and loyalty because you are doing something that’s bigger than yourself. It’s a common cause people from all cultures can get behind.

After all, diversity is the strongest foundation for a stellar team; especially when they know you sincerely care about and appreciate them.

The U.S. Lawns Franchise Resource Library

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