What is your name and your business name? Where do you do business?
My name is Edward Ramsden, I am the owner/operator of an Enviromasters Franchise in Edmonton, Alberta.
What kind of services do you provide?
We are in the lawn maintenance business. The core of our business is applying both fertilizer and weed control. We also perform spring clean ups and regular mowings for our customers.
What year did you start your business? Did you start it with anyone else? Anything special to note about how it all began?
The business has been operating in the area since 1994, and in 2009 my father and I bought the business. I was part way through my B.Sc and my dad was a Chartered Accountant.
Neither of us knew anything about lawn maintenance or running a lawn maintenance company.
What was the biggest challenge in starting your business?
When we started we didn’t know our elbow from our arm. We had to learn from the ground up all the technical skills such as treating turf diseases and maintaining our equipment. Then the business process skills like making efficient daily schedules.
How were you managing customer and business information when you first started out?
We were using an Ad Hoc system of Excel spreadsheets, QuickBooks, physical customer cards, Moneris for payments and mental gymnastics. All while experimenting with other CRM’s.
What would be your top suggestions or pieces of advice to a young person wanting to start their own business in your field?
Create a 3-5 year plan, laying out all the major milestones you need to achieve to become a viable business. This includes equipment, finances, and labour. Take the business plan to someone you admire in the business world and ask them to help you refine it, then take it your accountant.
Once you start your business collect all the data you can. How long does each stop take on average? How much gas are you using per week? What does your average customer look like? Your ideal customer? Etc.
Use that data to drive empirical creativity. Customer service matters above all else, a complaint is a great chance to have a conversation with your customer to learn how to refine your processes.
On a scale of 1 - 10 (10 being the hardest), how hard would you say it would be start and build your business to where it is today?
To start a lawn maintenance business like ours, I would say it is only a 3 out of 10 for difficulty. It mostly involves access to capital and a strong heart, combined with a creative mind to make the most of your limited resources.
Growing is the hard part. After developing strong systems and processes our limiting factor is now qualified labour.
What is your biggest challenge currently, or in general on an ongoing basis?
Currently our biggest problem is finding qualified staff to help us maintain our strict quality standards and keep up with our rapid growth projections.
How large is your company, including yourself. If more than 3 employees, how did you get to that point? How long until you grew to a size that required hiring?
Our company services approximately 400 customers with 6 employees in the spring and 4 or 5 in the summer.
The majority of our customers have purchased a fertilizer and weed control package, where we visit them 3 to 5 times during the season. We also have full service customers, where we visit the client’s property weekly. During the season we will do approximately 4,000 service stops.
It took two years to be able to hire full-time summer staff. During the first year we hired 2 staff for spring clean ups but did not have enough work to keep them for the entire summer.
How developed would you say your business is? What are your goals for growth in the future?
The fundamentals of our business are well developed. Thanks to Jobber, our systems for quoting, invoicing, billing and scheduling are all scalable.We plan to maintain 20-30% per year for the next 5 years. After that we will re-examine our capacity as well as our position in the market.
How did you find out about Jobber and how long have you been using it?
We had just moved into a new building and the company who was doing the painting produced a quote for us using an iPad right in front of our eyes. Turns out they were one of the first users of Jobber.
Since then we have been using Jobber for 3 years and counting.
What were the biggest problems that Jobber helped you solve?
Before Jobber we were using a physical card for each customer. The cards were sorted in a box by area. Each day a crew would be given a stack of cards that were organized the night before by dropping pins on Google maps to find the optimal route. The crews would perform the service and fill it out on the card and the information would be recorded on an excel spreadsheet.
Jobber brought all the major components of our Ad Hoc system for scheduling, invoicing and payments together under one dashboard. The biggest problem Jobber helped us solve was having the same information available to everyone without having to rely on our memories.
After fixing our biggest problems it became clear that Jobber was also going to allow us to scale up without adding more staff.