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How Blades of Green has changed its approach during COVID-19

April 1, 2020 -  By

“We’re doing better than some and worse than others, but I’d say we’re doing better than most, so we’ll take it,” says Brad Leahy, vice president of Blades of Green in Edgewater, Md.

When LM reached Leahy on March 26, he reported that Blades of Green is completing its work as scheduled and hired its 100th team member last week. The $11 million company provides 70 percent lawn care and 30 percent pest control services to a 95 percent residential, 5 percent commercial clientele.

Virtual meetings and text messages are now the normal modes of communication between staff members. Technicians take their trucks home and resupply visits to the shop have turned into more of a curbside pickup process to minimize person-to-person contact.

The only technicians who aren’t operating as a team of one are training teams of two, and the in-office staff is now five people down from 30 — just the people who don’t have the ability to work from home.

Instead of door knocks at the beginning and end of service, technicians are now doing text-ahead messages for clients and communicating any lawn issues via text and follow-up phone calls. Leahy noted that the company completed 400 lawn care and pest services yesterday and times of service are now written on the back of the leave-behind yard sign.

These vital changes took just a matter of several days. “Everything’s changing so fast if you start emailing customers and change what our protocol is the next day, it’s very confusing,” Leahy says.

“We chose not to do a blanket email, and we’re individually texting our customers, and trying to keep communication to the individual level — what do they need to know today?” he adds.

“We’re lucky that some of the core processes we’ve been developing over the last couple of years really are serving us well right now,” he says.

Technicians have been cross-trained in lawn care and pest control, and the company has adopted new billing models. This includes 10 percent of clients going prepaid, and 65 percent of clients now on a monthly billing cycle where their yearly contract is split into 12 payments. This allows the company to post ongoing revenue even in a slowdown of work, helping cash flow.

Externally, there’s the question of whether the company can continue to do work. Since the messaging from the government level is always changing, Blades of Green monitor the governor’s public statements, which are now coming daily or every other day. Any changes or expectations from those statements are communicated via the text messaging platform to field staff.

“Right now, we’re slightly behind our sales goal,” he says. “My prediction for my company that we’ll see positive growth, it just might come in different ways.”

Leahy and his staff are in contact with NALP and the National Pest Management Association and use their resources. “It’s a great time to be a member of those organizations and they’re certainly providing their money’s worth for us. They’re in the background and building that support with your congressional reps,” he explains.

He also has taken advantage of webinars on professional preparedness and financial and marketing preparedness, and his landscape company peer group.

“Since we went a remote workforce almost overnight, there’s a lot of information about how to best manage that right now,” he says. “Luckily, I don’t have to go looking for those resources; someone’s already found it and shared it.”

Being an active member of a peer group, Leahy has advice to pay forward to the thousands of other companies facing the COVID-19 dilemma.

“Have a strong handle on your cash flow situation make projections for a 0 percent, 10 percent and negative 10 percent growth, and be prepared with cash flow to make the best business decisions you can,” he says. “Don’t wait for the first of the month to get your monthly report. We’re going to weekly.”

Despite the pressure to continue with the instability in the country, Leahy is optimistic that he’s helped build a thriving company. “We’ve been working on company culture for many years,” he says. “When you have a strong company culture it’s very easy to see because the willingness of people to help and pitch in has been unbelievable.”

This article is tagged with , , and posted in COVID-19, Today's Green Industry News
Abby Hart

About the Author:

Abby Hart is the managing editor of Landscape Management. A native Clevelander, she spent 10 years in Chicago, where she was operations manager of a global hospitality consultancy. She also worked as managing editor of Illumine, a health and wellness magazine; and a marketing specialist for B2B publications. Abby has a degree in journalism from Boston University’s College of Communication.

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