This year The Grounds Guys of Abbotford received a hat trick of awards, earning the Franchisee of the Year Award, Recruiter of the Year Award and Top Gun Award during the annual Neighborly International Conference in San Antonio, Texas.
This particular franchise is owned by Chris and Juanita Draaistra. They have been running the business since January 2012 and became a franchisee after working in the nursery industry with family and decided to branch out on their own.
Chris Draaistra says they fell in love with the code of values and the way that The Grounds Guys do things, so they decided to buy a landscape franchise.
“We could have done this on our own,” he says. “We could have started our own business, but I think the franchise system, the franchise support and the franchise marketing have helped propel our business far faster than those that would struggle to do that on their own.”
The Franchisee of the Year Award is the highest honor that can be presented to a franchisee. It is given to a franchisee who has grown consistently and has a consistent high level of sales through quality service.
Draaistra says he asked the president of The Grounds Guys why his franchise deserved it and not others.
“It seems to me that over the years we’ve followed the systems and excelled at following the systems,” he says. “Not that we’re perfect, but we’ve done our best to follow the systems that they presented and we’ve be successful with that so our sales have grown consistently every year and I think the other part of that is the way we treat our people and how we live out the code of values within our business.”
Meanwhile the Recruiter of the Year Award is given to a franchisee for their superior recruiting skills by attracting quality employees to their business, providing an effective training program for their people and creating opportunity within the franchise for their people to grow.
“We’ve got a number of staff who have been with us for a number of years full time,” Draaistra says. “Whenever I hire people, I always tell them that I want them to reflect me and my family well in the community.”
Draaistra says he looks for people who are happy, who are fun, who enjoy what they do and respectful of their clients. He says they currently employs about 20 to 22 workers, including part time labor.
“We’ve been fortunate to have a number of staff members who have been with us for a long time and really live out the code of values and what we stand for as a brand,” Draaistra says.
The Top Gun Award is presented to franchises that reach operation benchmarks and achieve top sales. It represents the top 10 percent of The Grounds Guys franchise owners across North America.
“The idea of ‘Top Gun’ was established by the Navy in the 1960s as a way to give training and credit to elite fighter pilots,” says Joshua Sevick, president of The Grounds Guys. “Taking a page from the Naval Top Gun Program, each year we recognize our franchise leaders for their accomplishments and dedication to the trade. It takes dedication, hard work, expertise and commitment to reach the Top Gun goal and we are honored to have these winners on our team.”
Draaistra says his company is very proud of their accomplishment in earning all three awards. He credits his franchise’s success to having a level of consistency with both their staff and clients. He also notes that following the franchise’s systems have helped them tremendously.
“As far as our financial success, the brand does a great job marketing and has been very successful getting us a lot of leads as well,” Draaistra says.
He credits the franchise’s brand recognition as one of the ways they stand out from their local competition.
“Our trucks when we roll through town are fully logoed out,” he says. “People know we’re here for sure and the other thing is we’ve been here for close to 8 years and within our industry there’s a lot of movement. A lot of people come into the industry and then leave the industry, so we have that consistency as well.”
Draaistra says he has a number of clients who have been with them for five years or longer as they have come to count on The Grounds Guys’ consistency.
For those who are looking into the franchise system, Draaistra says he tell them it is not a silver bullet.
“It’s not a license to print money,” he says. “It is a great way to achieve a lifestyle that people are looking for, but in doing that you have to work hard. You have to be out there aggressively looking for sales. You have to be able to put your heart and soul into your work and then just following the systems. There’s a reason why the franchises come up with systems. As a franchisee I’ve paid for those system and I paid for that marketing, it’s just good advice to follow it and reach out to other franchisees for help when needed.”