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After just five years, Ken Beasley has purchased three U.S. Lawns locations. His annual revenues exceed seven figures. And it’s no surprise that he’s recently won a third honor: a Customer Hero Award for one of the highest client satisfaction scores among franchises.

Are all these achievements coincidence? Not according to Ken. Before buying a U.S. Lawns franchise, he spent 15 years at Walmart Corporation. He says it taught him the importance of service when building a profitable business. Here’s a brief profile of Ken and his advice for managers in any industry.

 

“At Walmart, we did a lot of silly chants,” Ken admits. He doesn’t do that now, but he has worked hard to create a family culture.

Ken owns U.S. Lawns locations in Louisiana and Mississippi—places known for their Southern hospitality. For his employees, he provides daily coffee and donuts, health insurance, 401K matching, and plenty of incentives like laptops for perfect attendance. Crew members get a new pair of boots on their birthday, and he’s taken another page out of Walmart’s book: a high hourly wage. The result? “I don’t worry about recruiting,” Ken says. “Good people come to me, because it spreads in the community that we treat our employees well.”

 

As Ken’s customer satisfaction scores seem to prove, well-treated employees lead to happy customers. “Nobody wants to come to work every day, but our people do know they’re valued,” Ken reflects. In addition, they’re taught to be the best at their job, with weekly internal videos and training. The result? Competent employees who like their work. No wonder they’re rated so highly.

 

“This is a philosophy I learned at Walmart, and I still believe it’s true,” Ken declares. “If a customer has a problem, you always listen.”

Ken’s clients, like his employees, feel cared about. He admits he “makes a big deal” about trying to fix things if an issue ever arises. No matter how small, he takes complaints seriously. And he won’t quit until his customers feel the problems are resolved.

 

Caring may not seem like a cut-throat business model, but it’s hard to argue against a multi-million dollar growth trend in just five years. U.S. Lawns is proud to salute Customer Hero Ken Beasley for his outstanding commitment to service.

The U.S. Lawns Franchise Resource Library

Mike Kirk actually has customers calling to spend more money with him at the end of their contracts.

The veteran U.S. Lawns owner, based in New Albany, Miss., has perfected the art of the upsell. He’s known in Oxford and Tupelo for landscape enhancements, in addition to maintenance. His team routinely contracts for additional services, not just basics. And it all happens without a single sales pitch.

“It starts with every maintenance customer, no matter how small,” Mike explains. “We develop a strong relationship, and then suggest a long-range plan we think would benefit them. It’s all about listening to their needs, and then showing how we can fulfill them.”

Getting “close to the customer,” as Mike is quick to note, is simply part of the job at U.S. Lawns. His approach is based on the key principles of customer satisfaction and radical personalization. And the results have been highly profitable.

Next to referrals, upselling is the easiest way to grow your business. It’s fast, low on additional overhead, and when done correctly, helps establish your reputation as a premier local business. As Mike and his team have proven, it doesn’t even require marketing. But, it does require sincerity and honest attention to a client's needs.

“You have to really know your customer,” Mike says. “If you present a plan for additional work, it has to be work they actually want. Otherwise, it's not good service, it's just aggressive sales.”

Mike suggests building a “remedial” plan for every customer, and presenting it toward the end of a contract (late summer/early fall, for those on a calendar year). Walk the property with your client, and include pictures in the proposal. At the end of the conversation, if you’ve truly addressed your client’s needs, talk will probably turn to budget.

“If the cash isn’t there, no problem,” Mike says. “We ask our clients if we can help them develop a budget to purchase the services next year.”

This is a huge incentive, because it shows you’re willing to radically personalize your services to work with your client’s financial situation.

And adding enhancement work to your portfolio can benefit your financials, too. In addition to generating new business, it improves your cash flow, by offsetting all the work done during the growing season. The U.S. Lawns Home Office projects that a healthy ratio of maintenance to enhancement work is around 70% maintenance, 30% enhancement.

If you’d like to grow your business, take a look at our select services and enhancements, and then start thinking about your clients’ needs. Are any of them looking for more than you currently provide? As Mike Kirk reminds us, stay “close to the customer” at all times. You never know what opportunities you’ll find.

The U.S. Lawns Franchise Resource Library

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