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Keeping ourselves grounded with The Grounds Guys

We have three crews, ranging from two to three people each, dedicated to maintenance. A fourth team handles full-day projects.

I wear a lot of hats for this franchise, from general manager (GM) to salesperson. I handle human resources (HR) issues, invoicing, purchasing, scheduling and daily crew management. We need to find me some help!

These days, I’m spending 60 to 70 per cent of my time in our home office. We have a morning huddle at our shop with all of our team members before sending them off to work each day. My team leaders check in with me periodically by phone. The other 30 to 40 per cent of my time is spent meeting with clients, including sales pitches to new prospects and checking in with existing customers.

I have good relationships with my customers and they are confident in me. My biggest struggle is supporting that confidence by hiring enough staff for the work. It seems there are fewer and fewer people who want to do this type of work anymore. While Abbotsford doesn’t get harsh winters, it can rain here 50 out of 65 days. Landscaping is good, honest work, but it’s not always pleasant! So, our employees tend to be very transient and not likely to offer a long-term commitment.

We are thankful for our core group of team leaders who have been with us for a while now. Without them, we couldn’t even consider growing further.

The Dwyer Group is assisting us through their brand power. They offer a benefit of a professional trades network (PTN) and are constantly on the lookout for service providers for their franchisees. With the vast size of the company and their many brands, they are able to strike much better discounts and rebates on marketing materials, equipment, insurance, credit companies, etc., than we could achieve on our own. And we are excited because last September, they negotiated a deal with a service provider that helps out with hiring. We look forward to tapping into this particular benefit as our workload grows this spring.

Both the nursery and the landscaping business have difficulty finding staff, but at least the nursery is an agricultural business that can bring in temporary foreign workers from Mexico through the federal government’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program. Indeed, my learning Spanish and travelling in my younger years have worked out well, because there are so many Spanish-speakers in the nursery business.

The Grounds Guys doesn’t have the option of hiring workers from other countries. And the minimum wage is too high to spend on kids who need a lot of training for the first few years.

When the Dwyer Group acquired The Grounds Guys outright in 2015, building on their previous relationship, our franchisor support became less about how best to mow a yard and more about the financial side of the business. The buyout was a very good change for us.

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