Making the transition from soldier to civilian isn’t always easy. While a military work ethic translates well as a valuable skill in the workforce, marketing a business may not come so naturally.
Find out how these military veterans successfully promote their landscape and lawn care businesses in their local neighborhoods.
1. Birch’s Lawn Care – Sgt. Charles Birchfield, U.S. Army
After 5 years of active duty in the U.S. Army and 10 years in the National Guard, Charles Birchfield started his own lawn care business in Kennewick, WA. Having a military background helps him be more professional, quickly assess particular jobs and customers, and make quick and accurate decisions.
Most of Birch’s Lawn Care’s business comes from their well-designed, easy-to-use website. His best advice for getting new business:
“Start using an answering service. People want to hear a human voice; they don’t want to leave messages. I was missing too many calls from being on the job site and couldn’t stop to answer the phone.”
Birch’s Lawn Care offers a full range of lawn care services including: mowing, edging, shrub trimming, sprinkler winterization and fertilization in Kennewick, Washington.
2. Key Landscape and Irrigation – Steve Key, U.S. Air Force
As a B-52 crew chief in the U.S. Air Force, Steve Key served his country faithfully in both Thailand and Guam in 1972-1976. Afterward, he used the GI Bill to attend the University of Massachusetts for a degree in landscape management.
When he started his own landscape and irrigation business in 1987, he knew he wanted to include his family. Eventually, his son Zak joined him and now runs the equipment and crews, as well as their social media accounts. Steve now concentrates on getting new business. His best advice for running a successful landscape business:
“Don’t say no to the small jobs. A 10’ x 10’ patio job helped us land one of our biggest jobs when the homeowner referred one of his friends. That job was worth $100k. Also, separate yourself from other businesses by using the latest technologies and equipment in your industry.”
One of those technologies includes permeable patio material, which lasts 50 years versus the 15 years you’d typically get from a standard asphalt patio. Key Landscape also uses paver clamps, which allow them to easily shift pavers into patterns and lay them on the ground as an entire layer. They estimate they’re able to complete projects 15-20 times faster with this type of technology.
3. Field Day Lawns – Josh Battle, U.S. Marine Corps
As a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Josh credits the U.S. Marine Corps with teaching him the discipline, efficiency and attention to detail he brings to every job. His new mission is much less dangerous, but it’s one he still takes very seriously: to provide high-quality lawn care services in a timely manner.
By catering to each project’s specific needs, his team ensures excellence every time. His best advice for success in a local business:
“Instead of treating customers like numbers, focus on characteristics like honesty, hard work, and faithfulness. If you bring a commitment to excellence and joy to everything you do, your customers will notice.”
Field Day Lawns provides lawn care, landscaping and gardening services to the Northwest Arkansas area. To hire Josh and his team, visit their website or call them at 517-220-8212.
4. Poo Happens – Annette Jacobs, U.S. Army
Annette Jacobs has a slightly different way of helping homeowners with their lawns. Her company, Poo Happens offers pet waste removal services in the hot, dry state of Arizona. While her love for pets drove her to start the business, it was the work ethic she learned in the military that made her believe she could grow it with hard work and a commitment to do things the right way.
Her best local marketing advice:
“Word-of-mouth referrals are the best way to market your business. Use Google to find and meet other business owners. You can trade services with them to get the word out, and they’ll refer you to more clients.”
Poo Happens offers weekly pet waste removal services in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Peoria and Glendale, Arizona. To hire Annette and her poo crew, visit her website. To see her adorable four-legged clients, check out their Facebook and Instagram pages.
5. A&J Lawn Care, LLC – Jordan Labrie, U.S. Army
After seeing the twin towers fall in 2001, Jordan Labrie knew he had to do something. He contacted an Army recruiter and a few months later, he enlisted at the age of 19. Eventually, he became a specialist in the Air Assault Infantry and fought bravely as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq.
The strong work ethic, organization and time management skills instilled during his time in the military prepared Jordan for the next phase in his life. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice in 2013 and went on to become a corrections officer. On one of his days off, an elderly neighbor asked Jordan to mow her lawn. Another neighbor saw this and asked him to do the same. Realizing it might be a good source of extra cash, he posted ads on Craigslist and Facebook. With just a push mower and help from his son Adrian, they ended the first season with 10 customers. The following year, they doubled that number.
Now, he has over 75 accounts, 4 great employees, and he’s continuing to expand his business.
Through his diligent work, he went from making $30,000 a year as a corrections officer to a comfortable living that also allows him to spend time with his wife and 2 children. Interestingly, by staying smaller and minimizing overhead and management, A&J Lawn Care’s profits are comparable to much larger companies.
The secret to his success has been what he calls his “Fortune 500 mindset.” He taught himself the ins and outs of digital marketing and wasn’t afraid to reach out to bigger landscape companies to get their advice. He’s grateful to the mentors he found at Giant Landscaping and North Point Outdoors who selflessly gave their time and advice to help him when he was just starting out.
Jordan’s best advice for marketing and running a lawn care business:
“You have to transition to the times we’re in. I run my entire business from my phone so I’m able to get back to my customers in a timely manner. Utilize the power of social networks and review sites. Every time we leave a happy customer, we follow up and ask them to leave a positive review. If we notice that one review platform like Facebook or Google Business is getting more than the other, we ask customers to post their review on a specific site.”
A&J Lawn Care offers lawn mowing, aeration, seasonal cleanup, gardening and snowplowing services in Manchester, New Hampshire. To hire Jordan and his crew, visit their website or message them on their Facebook page.
6. American Veterans Lawn Care – Claudio Torres, U.S. Army Ranger
Serving as a U.S. Army Ranger for 10 years, Claudio learned how to quickly analyze situations and determine the best routes to take to achieve his goals. Seeing many of his fellow soldiers make difficult transitions to civilian life, he decided to further his education while he was still serving. Getting his Bachelor’s degree in Business Development proved instrumental in his success when he finally left the military in 2015.
Claudio’s interest in the lawn care industry actually came from a desire to provide more job opportunities to those looking for lawn care and landscaping work. In his work as a business development manager, he received many calls from people he just couldn’t help at the company where he was employed. So he ventured out on his own and now runs a successful lawn care, fence installation, and fence repair company in Central Texas.
Claudio’s best advice for marketing a lawn care business in his local area:
“Our marketing consists of Facebook ads, word-of-mouth referrals, and good ol’ door-to-door sales. By doing door-to-door sales in neighborhoods we already have a strong presence in, we’re able to quickly show examples of our work and keep our travel costs down. The majority of our new clients come from referrals. We do great work and we’re definitely on the lips of our customers.”