One Contractor’s Journey to Financial Freedom

by | Sep 21, 2018 | Blog, Landscaping

When Crisis Leads to Change: One Contractor’s Journey to Financial Freedom

Sometimes, it takes a crisis to discover things need to change. The 2010 economic recession was exactly the crisis that served as the catalyst for the most transformational change Belknap Landscape Company had ever undertaken. As the recession loomed, knocking the bottom out of the Gilford, New Hampshire contracting firm, owner Hayden McLaughlin knew he had to take quick action before he lost the business he had spent decades growing and nurturing. 

“We weathered the storm well throughout the 2008 recession,” McLaughlin shares, “but in 2010, we suffered some serious losses.” Revenue went from $5.6 million to $4.5 million. Although McLaughlin hadn’t seen the recession coming and didn’t know why Belknap had taken such a large hit, he vowed to never again let his business be vulnerable to shifting economic tides. Strongly motivated by his dedication to his business and his desire to support the team who had sacrificed so much to keep it afloat during the turmoil, McLaughlin sought a recovery solution and soon found one in an unexpected place. 

“I met LandOpt at a snow and ice management convention in New York,” he recalls. At the time, McLaughlin knew little about the Pittsburgh-based service organization, but he strongly sensed the tools, systems and processes the sales team introduced were what Belknap needed to regain its financial footing. Soon after signing the agreement, McLaughlin began to work with a dedicated coach who walked alongside him and his team as they underwent a whole-business transformation in a relatively short time. This transformation opened the door for growth and profitability far beyond what he could have imagined. 

Cash Flow Management 

An in-depth analysis of Belknap’s books revealed the business regularly leaked significant cash by not having a clear picture of the costs associated with performing work. “Our numbers weren’t great,” McLaughlin admits. Through targeted coaching and deep-dive annual planning sessions, he learned the importance of building invoicing structures that recouped overhead and burden costs and accounting for those costs in a detailed twelve-month financial plan.  

Financial Planning 

McLaughlin says the full impact of implementing the plan became evident in when the bottom line grew tenfold. McLaughlin maintains the financial plan has been one of the most integral and influential variables in Belknap’s unprecedented growth and success. “We are in an area with a population of only 25,000, yet we now bring in revenues of over $7 million. The plan works.” 

Community Outreach 

Greater financial independence has also had another unexpected benefit – the elevated presence and involvement of the business in the surrounding community.  McLaughlin proudly shares that, while Belknap has always been active in the community, having the right financial tools in place and the numbers consistently working in the business’ favor has resulted in the organization being able to significantly extend its outreach. “I didn’t think it was possible,” he says, citing the daily whirlwind of operations that regularly consumed his and his team’s energy and resources as the factor that previously held them back. “We now have time for the things that are near and dear to our hearts.” 

Does financial freedom and a healthier bottom line seem out of reach? Visit or call 412.567.4328 x303 to find out how LandOpt can help you fall back in love with your business by putting it on a solid financial path.


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Alison Blobner




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