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The Grounds Guys find room for growth from within

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“We continued to grow despite an uncertain economic climate and an increase in consumer sentiment to try and/or switch to a new brand,” says Lori Johnson, president of The Grounds Guys. (Photo: The Ground Guys)
“We continued to grow despite an uncertain economic climate and an increase in consumer sentiment to try and/or switch to a new brand,” says Lori Johnson, president of The Grounds Guys. (Photo: The Ground Guys)
Lori Johnson
Lori Johnson

For The Grounds Guys, focusing on its existing customer base was the main priority during and shortly after COVID, says Lori Johnson, president of the company.

The initiatives the company put in place helped grow its 2022 revenue by 29 percent from 2021. That landed The Grounds Guys at No. 22 on the 2023 LM150 list of the top landscaping companies in the country, with a revenue of $114,000,000.

A Neighborly company, The Grounds Guys is based in Waco, Texas, providing lawn and landscape maintenance, snow and ice control, design/build, lawn care, shrub maintenance, holiday lighting and pressure washing services. The company has 238 locations in the U.S. and 28 in Canada, where it services a customer base of 60 percent residential and 40 percent commercial.

As a franchisor, The Grounds Guys experiences growth in two main ways, according to Johnson: organically through increased sales of their existing locations and by adding new locations to their open territories.

“Both continue to have lots of runways to ensure year-over-year growth and expansion of our footprint,” she says.

When it came to organic growth from existing locations, The Grounds Guys reevaluated its strategies and how the pandemic impacted business. Concerned about runaway inflation and the potential pullback in consumer spending from 2021 to 2022, the company focused heavily on increasing its revenue-per-customer metrics.
This approach included price increases, replacing unprofitable customers, expanding services within its existing customer base and ramping up existing customer marketing.

“Because we are a full-service lawn and landscape company, it made sense to continue to add value by expanding the services customers received from us and maximizing our existing customer relationships,” Johnson says.

The economic conditions caused by COVID led the company to focus on keeping and expanding existing customers to ensure stability and lessen year-over-year churn, she adds.

The company also actively focused on reputation management using net promotor scores (NPS) and other forms of feedback to ensure positive reviews and referral increases. It sent the NPS to its customers as a follow-up via email after providing services, and in 2023, The Grounds Guys had an average NPS of 82 percent.

Looking ahead, Johnson believes it will be important to add value and increase revenue per customer like the company has done previously.

The Grounds Guys plans to emphasize customer research and sales this year. Johnson says it’s critical to understand the consumer mindset in their space post-COVID and how the company’s marketing and selling techniques should evolve to best fit the new normal.

Keeping its “culture of care” a priority is another important aspect of the company and its growth, Johnson says. To reinforce that culture, franchise locations have a team huddle each morning to recite the “code of care,” which includes keeping customers first, having a positive and helpful attitude, treating everyone with respect and enjoying life in the process.

“We continue to believe that our culture of care and a focus on values and customer service is what sets us apart from our competition, and is a key reason we are successful and allows us to continuously grow year-over-year,” Johnson says.

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