Grow with Grunder: 4 ways we improved Grunder Landscaping Co.’s profitability

July 28, 2023 -  By
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As part of our strategic planning in recent years, Grunder Landscaping Co. has focused on growing our recurring revenue services, like landscaping maintenance, snow removal and lawn care. When we implemented Aspire Software, it highlighted some opportunities to improve our profitability and offer more consistent year-round work to our team. We’ve followed what the data has told us to do.

I think it’s important to share how we improved our profitability. There’s a lesson in it for all landscape professionals about staying true to your brand while being open to change.

Here are the priorities we focused on:

1. Staying true to our brand promise

Our clients must have a consistent experience so our brand stays strong in our market. While we’ve traditionally focused on residential clients, we’ve also always had commercial maintenance clients. Commercial and residential clients often have different expectations of quality landscape maintenance. Residential clients tend to be a little pickier. Regardless of their different expectations, all clients must receive the same level of service and quality of work.

2. Tracking our numbers well

Before implementing Aspire, we included our equipment expenses in our overhead. After implementing Aspire, we allocated equipment costs to jobs where we used it. For example, we don’t use our Vermeer mini skid-steers for maintenance work, so we only count the cost of that equipment in the overhead for design/build jobs. This accounting change helped us see that maintenance services like mowing and watering were more profitable than we thought. It gave us a clearer picture of maintenance costs.

3. Routing

Our slogan is “Where service is ALWAYS in season.” We took this a little too literally. We had clients who asked us to do their maintenance visit on a certain day of the week. We were accommodating because we wanted to make them happy. As a result, our maintenance routes were an inefficient mess, with crews zigzagging all over town. We used Aspire to reroute our crews efficiently to cut down drive time, and that change alone reduced our indirect time by 35 percent.

4. Training, incentives and overtime policy

We focused on efficiency in our training, such as how to do tasks efficiently without losing sight of quality. We launched a bonus program that rewards our crews for coming in under budgeted hours, with checks and balances in place to monitor and maintain quality. We also don’t worry about overtime, which may seem counterintuitive. A crew working overtime may cost more per hour, but overtime rates are less expensive than finding, training and equipping a new crew. For maintenance routes, this strategy means we’ll add new properties to our existing crews’ schedules until we have enough properties to justify an additional crew.

5. Clearer picture

These four policies combined got our entire team on the same page. We’re making decisions and creating programs that benefit team members financially, allowing them to earn more money as the company does well. We’re also aligning their self-interests with our growth goals. As a result of these changes, we’re able to be more competitive with our pricing and also make sure the maintenance contracts we get are sustainable for our business. These things have been a key driver in doubling our company size over the last two years. As you look at the coming months, find ways to get a clear picture of your costs and improve your efficiency. That’s never a waste of time and is especially smart as we prepare for maintenance renewal season. And if you’d like to see my team and me in action, join us this fall for one of our Grunder Landscaping Co. Field Trips. You’ll have the chance to tour our operation, watch a morning roll-out and learn directly from the leadership team that drives our rapid growth. Learn more:

Marty Grunder

About the Author:

Marty Grunder is president and CEO of Grunder Landscaping Co. and The Grow Group, based in Dayton, Ohio.

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