Does your company name match your focus?

December 2, 2016 -  By
Photos: Hinkle Hardscapes

Crystal Clear
The only way Hinkle Hardscapes owner Zach Hinkle knew he could eliminate confusion was to rebrand.

It’s been one year since Zach Hinkle changed the name of his company, formerly K.C. Lawn & Landscaping, to Hinkle Hardscapes. Since rebranding, refocusing and implementing new processes and procedures, business has never been better. Revenue is up; his designers, crews and account representatives are happier and more efficient; and the company is attracting the right customers. For Hinkle, changing the name of his Riverside, Mo.-based company, which has served more than 3,500 clients throughout the Kansas City area, was certainly a risk, but as it turns out, it was a risk worth taking.

“I was a bit fearful because I had built something that people were accustomed to knowing,” says Hinkle, owner and project manager of the $2.5-million company. “But we are more focused now. We know who our clients are, and we are doing what we’re good at. When you put all that together, good business will come out of it.”

The evolution of Hinkle Hardscapes was a few years in the making. Hinkle started K.C. Lawn & Landscaping in 2007 by providing landscape design and lawn maintenance services to mostly residential customers. In 2009, he decided to stop offering maintenance services and focus on hardscape and large-scale landscape installations. By 2010, Hinkle realized his true passion was creating outdoor living environments families could enjoy for years to come. With that epiphany, the company began to phase out its landscape installation services to become a true hardscaping firm. Hinkle Hardscapes now constructs outdoor living spaces, fire pits, retaining walls, patios and other hardscape features for a 95-percent residential, 5-percent commercial clientele. The company only offers landscaping services as part of hardscaping projects.

“I haven’t mowed a yard since 2009,” Hinkle says. “Our guys are concrete and stone guys—there are better people out there to put in your plants.”

But offering hardscape services under the name K.C. Lawn & Landscaping created confusion and frustration for everyone involved. Customers would call wanting maintenance or landscaping, only to find out the company no longer offered those services. Employees spent too much time on dead-end leads and explaining the company’s new direction. For Hinkle, changing the company’s name was the only way to truly represent its new identity as a hardscaping firm. After 90 days of communicating the name change through press releases, social media and on its website, K.C. Lawn & Landscaping began doing business as Hinkle Hardscapes in November 2015. The company retains K.C. Lawn & Landscaping as its corporate name for tax purposes and for its standing with the Better Business Bureau.

“When we changed our name we could start marketing to people who were looking for what we have to offer, and there was no confusion,” Hinkle says. “We began to only get calls and leads for hardscapes. We didn’t have to explain what we do anymore.”

Hinkle says the rebranding process was “pretty seamless.” It began with internal brainstorming sessions about what the team wanted to accomplish by changing its name. The process included revised mission and vision statements, a new logo, a website redesign and a new web address. Hinkle also increased his marketing efforts through outlets such as Google AdWords, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest and put a high priority on search engine optimization. He has an active blog on the Hinkle Hardscapes website, and he also recently wrote an e-book on how to construct outdoor living environments, which is now available on Amazon. While Hinkle says the company now receives fewer leads than it used to, all of these efforts help Hinkle Hardscapes connect with the right people at the right times.

“We are ultra-focused on bringing in the right candidates for our salespeople,” Hinkle says. “We are now hearing from customers we are a good fit for, and it’s helped increase the quality of the leads.”

Streamlining sales

Aside from the new name, the biggest change at Hinkle Hardscapes was the implementation of Infusionsoft, a customer relationship management (CRM) software system that has streamlined nearly every aspect of the company’s day-to-day operations. Operating as a “white-collar business within a blue-collar industry,” Hinkle says the system automates every process and interaction from the moment a potential client makes contact with the company. He spent most of 2014 creating different customized campaigns within the system—including lead generation, appointment confirmation, online scheduling and quote generation. Once a client has chosen to move forward with a project, an automated system orders supplies and clients can make payments online. Hinkle says company revenue is up 60 percent since he started using the CRM system in March 2014.

Photos: Hinkle Hardscapes

Build It
The company is pleased with its investment in a CRM system with automated features.

“The automation factors make sure that all of our clients get treated the same way every time,” Hinkle says. “It’s allowed us to refocus employees in the office to do other things because those everyday mundane tasks are now automated.”

With the automation of the company’s operational systems, Hinkle says it has reduced the possibility of human error and freed up more time for staff to pursue tasks more pertinent to the growth of the business. The system has been so effective for Hinkle Hardscapes that Hinkle recently became a certified partner with Infusionsoft so he can share the campaigns he’s created with owners of other hardscape and landscape companies. Through his newest venture, Hinkle Small Business, which he’s currently launching, he will work as a consultant to help other contractors streamline their marketing, sales and production efforts and grow their businesses. Hinkle Hardscapes’ marketing department also will help these clients grow their social media presences and learn to use marketing tools such as Google AdWords.

“We want to help other contractors simplify their businesses and be able to spend more time with their families while still getting the reports they need to run their businesses,” Hinkle says.

For contractors wondering if rebranding is the right move, Hinkle advises them to go ahead and take the risk. After all, he says, it’s never bad business to make sure you’re marketing to the right people, and that you’re offering profitable services you’re truly passionate about.

“If you are ever wondering if it needs to happen, I would say go for it,” Hinkle says of rebranding. “We did it, and it’s been great ever since.”

Photos: Hinkle Hardscapes

This article is tagged with and posted in 1116, Design/Build+Installation, Featured

About the Author:

Emily Schappacher is a freelance writer based in Cleveland.

Comments are currently closed.