When Tony Szczechowski graduated from college in 2004 with a degree in business, he didn’t have a plan for his future. All he knew was that he didn’t want to work for someone else. So he just continued mowing lawns, as he had throughout high school and college.
Eventually, he ended up with 200 clients and a business he named Pro Edge Lawn Care, based in Holland, Ohio. But despite working hours each week, he was struggling to make any money. He began searching for answers, and finally signed on with LandOpt’s network of landscape contractors in 2013.
“I believed in the systems LandOpt offered, so I jumped right in and turned a profit that first year,” he said. “I really don’t know where we’d be right now if we had kept chasing clients like we were – probably out of business.”
Before LandOpt, “anyone was a client,” he noted. “And all we did was mowing, which is the least profitable service.” LandOpt offered a plan, and Szczechowski became a planner, investing in its processes to produce better results.
Szczechowski changed his pricing to reflect what it cost for him to do business. He lost 120 clients. But the 80 clients left soon generated $1 million in business for his northwest Ohio company, he said. “Our margins are much better.”
“We needed to be working for the right client for us. And we began offering mowing as part of a package of services, including bed management, fall cleanup, fertilization, irrigation, mulching, pruning, spring cleanup and winter services like ice control and plowing.”
Pro Edge now is moving into projects as well as maintenance, with plans to continue to grow to sales of $1.6 million in 2016.
“We already have a book of business of $1 million plus, so we’re on the right track this year,” he said. That follows a disappointing year, with 2016 sales dropping below the $1.3 million in sales the company generated in 2015.
Szczechowski also is investing in his team. After attending continuing education classes with LandOpt a few years ago, he came home to teach his management team John Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. This winter, he is teaching the leadership class to his crew leaders.
“We need everyone to understand what we need to do to make money and to have happy customers,” he said. “In 2016, we opened up our financial plan to every team member.”
By reaching out to other owners and managers in LandOpt’s peer network, Tony has developed new ideas for his business that have already proven successful in other landscaping firms. One that he thinks will make a difference this year is to offer profit-sharing rather than holiday bonuses. And LandOpt’s CRM (customer relationship management) system is helping Pro Edge cut administration costs as it automates some processes, he added.
All of the changes the past four years with his business is leading Szczechowski to a better future, he believes. And the best outcome has been a better work-life balance. He is spending more time with his wife, Erica, and their sons, Grayson, age 6, and Reid, age 3.
“I even have time to coach the YMCA basketball team that Grayson is playing for. And it’s been a blast.”