This is part two in a two-part series. Click here to read part one.
Heroes Management Services, based in Omaha, Nebraska, is currently in a growth stage where it is challenging to get to the next phase. Operations manager/partner Taylor Olberding employs 13 full-time workers and he would like to keep the number below 20.
“We’ve talked about franchising, things like that or even just branching out to other locations, but I think under 20 is ideal for me,” he said. “I would be bringing in probably an office assistant, bringing in maybe another landscape crew and maybe one or two others, one guy full time for mosquito spraying and a guy to help with maybe mowing.”
Olberding says he’s been lucky with finding laborers so far, as the majority of his workers have come through employee referrals, but he now needs help on the back end so he can delegate some of his many responsibilities.
“Our guys, they work hard,” he said. “They do everything and I’m eternally grateful for that, but I need to reach out of our friend to friend group into hiring someone to come in and take over the office side, the accounting side.”
As operations manager, Olberding is in charge of day-to-day operations covering everything from sending out bids and invoices to watering a customer’s plants or fixing a couple of irrigation heads. He says it’s currently a 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. job, Monday through Friday without any back office aid.
“Trying to balance work and this is tough just because we’re at a point where we’re big enough where we need to bring someone else in, but if you look at our account and everything else, it would be a squeeze,” he said. “And then it’s also about finding the right person.”
Some of the tasks that he would like to pass on to his office manager includes invoicing and handling social media.
Keys to success
As for Olberding’s keys to success, he says communication is a big one for his company.
“I think it’s answering emails right when they come in that need to be done,” he said. “Especially with the commercial property managers. They’re always amazed by how quickly I turn around answers to them or either find a solution or figure out a game plan to get something done.”
While some may prefer to turn off their phones on the weekend, Olberding opts to keep his on to help boost his relationships with clients.
“If they call and you answer, they’re like ‘Oh I didn’t expect you to answer,’” he said. “That’s only good in their eyes and it’s only going to help, even if it’s just setting something up for next week.”
Because Heroes is not only competing with other mowing companies but also the kid down the street who mows lawns for $10 bucks, Olberding believes being open and available can help lead to year-round clients and bigger jobs.
He also advises companies to not be a ‘yes and..’ business where you add on services you are not good at just in order to be a one-stop shop for homeowners.
“Stick to one or two services and be really good at it,” he said.
He also admits that the name of the company has helped attract business. Being so close to Offutt Air Force Base, the company gets lots of phone calls from military members and their families.
Olberding credits his employee retention rate to providing health benefits and enough time off. Weather permitting, the crews tend to work four 10-hour days and have three-day weekends. Since a majority of the company’s money is made in the winter, he strives to let them enjoy their summers as much as possible.
Plans for the future
Some of the markets that Heroes plans to break into include artificial turf installation and mosquito spraying.
This is the first year the company is offering artificial turf services, and they’ve done two properties so far with bids out on other properties.
“I think it’s going to be huge here,” Olberding said. “In Denver, it’s big. In Omaha, middle of the U.S., it takes 5-6 years to get here.”
He says a big driver for artificial turf are dog runs, especially after wet winters turn backyards into mud.
Meanwhile, this is the company’s second year using the Mosquito Shield franchise.
Olberding says they currently have around 35 clients, but they need around 200 to keep one worker busy and to ensure profitability.
“The beauty of it is they can be year-round,” he said. “They don’t have to just be seasonal when October hits and they can go into Christmas lights and all of our other services that we offer. That way, they’re wearing multiple hats but they have job year-round, unlike other places.”
Another aspect that Olberding wants to work on as the company grows is finding ways to give back to the community and become more involved in organizations such as the National Association for Landscape Professionals (NALP).
“This is our fifth full year,” he said. “Those are the things that now that we’ve got our roots and started to grow a little bit that way, we can start doing things like that.”