Eichenlaub Inc. nabs back-to-back honors

February 22, 2013 -  By
From left, LandOpt Director of Success David Gallagher; Eichenlaub sales professionals Ryan Johnson, Anthony Smith and Kevin Prall; Dan Eichenlaub; and LandOpt Success Coach Steven Bach accept their Contractor of the Year award in 2012.

Three tips for success from LandOpt’s two-time Contractor of the Year. 

As Dan Eichenlaub can attest, it’s always possible for a solid company to run a tighter ship. He’s the president of Eichenlaub Inc., a design/build and maintenance firm based in Pittsburgh with just under $5 million in annual revenue.

In January the company was named the Contractor of the Year in the LandOpt network for the second year in a row. The back-to-back recognition is due to the culmination of hard work over many years to improve the company’s outlook, plus impressive growth, such as a 30 percent year-over-year revenue bump from 2011 to 2012.

An engineer by education, Eichenlaub is always looking for tools and systems to help him improve efficiency. That’s what appealed to him about joining LandOpt, a service organization that licenses the use of business systems for a network of landscape contractors. Eichenlaub Inc., founded by the six Eichenlaub brothers in the wake of Hurricane Agnes in 1972, was one of the original licensees in the network, which now includes more than 20 landscape businesses spread across the country.

Here are three contributing factors in Eichenlaub Inc.’s success.

1. Recurring revenue. Before joining the LandOpt system seven years ago, 20 percent of Eichenlaub Inc.’s business was recurring revenue, such as maintenance and irrigation services. Today that figure has nearly doubled to 38 percent. “That’s by design,” Eichenlaub said. “Our goal is to get to 50/50. We see the value in landscape management, and we’re growing it at about twice the rate of our project work.”

2. Empowering people. “Most businesses will hit a threshold where your key staff—in my case it was myself and two other people—are carrying all the load,” Eichenlaub said. “Now we don’t have that. Now I’ve got the right people, we give them the right tools and training, and it’s fun.”

One thing Eichenlaub has been working on is engaging frontline employees so they always know if the company is “winning” or “losing.” “The guys in the trenches need to know because most people want to contribute,” he said. “We’re learning how you pick the right indicators so on a routine basis they can look at the scoreboard and see if we’re winning or losing.”

What indicators are best to share? There’s no easy answer, Eichenlaub said, noting you have to start by talking to the team about how their roles impact the whole company. Some metrics to consider are revenue per man-hour or for salespeople, the number of client introductions they make. “They have to mean something to the people using them,” he said.

3. Systemizing sales and marketing. “The key is to know what you’re selling,” Eichenlaub said, acknowledging that his company didn’t always target the right client niche.

Another tip is properly handling prospect calls. “When people are calling to buy your services, they don’t think, ‘Am I walking into the wrong dealership?’” Eichenlaub said. It’s the company’s job to qualify customers and not be everything to everybody. “My company was like that, and LandOpt helped us get focused,” he said. “You have to remember you’re not a landscape company. You’re a landscape company to a particular segment of the buyers.”

“Everything really is coming together nicely now,” said Eichenlaub. “We’re meeting or exceeding our sales plan and always getting closer to what we ideally want to be. We owe it to the entire team. The general managers in the network will all tell you they’re not doing it themselves. Everyone is empowered in their roles to make a difference.”

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About the Author:

Marisa Palmieri is an experienced Green Industry editor who's won numerous awards for her coverage of the landscape and golf course markets from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA), the Press Club of Cleveland and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). In 2007, ASBPE named her a Young Leader. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, cum laude, from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism.

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