In the past decade, Tom Butchko has grown his business – Tom’s Outdoor Living in Tulsa, Oklahoma – from just him and a mower to 25 employees who handle maintenance, design/build, chemical, irrigation, landscape lighting, masonry, electrical and plumbing services.
A 2015 Landscaper of the Year Finalist, Butchko based his business model on a need he saw in the industry – a lack of focus on customers. His company strives to give clients the best product, while keeping them involved with the process.
Here are three secrets to Butchko’s success:
Keep it in house
Offering a wide range of services has been a large reason for his business’s growth. Instead of having to deal with different professionals for each service, customers can just talk with Butchko and his team. That’s been a big selling point for his company.
“We focus on being a one-stop shop for our maintenance clients,” Butchko says. “Being the only contractor on our properties ensures the success of our company.”
Having his crews on jobsites throughout the project also helps them catch problems: The maintenance crew can let the irrigation group know if they see a broken head, for example.
Staying in constant contact with both crews and customers keeps everyone updated and helps them stay proactive.
“That way, clients aren’t worrying where we are with the process,” Butchko says. “Communication is the key.”
Depending on how the client likes to receive information, they will text, email or call them with project information – with texts being the preferred client method.
And that open line of communication works both ways, adds Cherlyn Reeves, in-house lead landscape designer for Tom’s Outdoor Living.
“We have a great staff that communicates with Tom and me regularly – whether it’s about a failing turf, dead plant material or irrigation problem,” Reeves says. Then, they can pass that information along to clients and fix the issue.
“It lets the homeowner know we are watching their yard and managing it for them – that’s why they are paying us,” Reeves says.
Finding and keeping good employees can be difficult, especially in a competitive market like the one in which Butchko’s company operates. That’s why he looks for ways to keep morale high and turnover low.
He offers an incentive-based program that includes commission, bonuses, employer-paid health insurance and an optional 401(k) package.
To learn more about Butchko’s approach to an industry he loves, check out the following video: