When Darin Adolphs finds himself mowing a property across the street from a competing crew, he can pretty much be sure they’ll be done before he is. That’s because he’s concerned less with speed and more about quality and making sure all the details are taken care of.
That’s part of what makes Darin Adolphs Outdoor Services of Stewartville, Minnesota, unique. It’s only a two-man operation with $75,000 in annual sales, but Adolphs likes it that way.
“I don’t mind being small because I work on all of my accounts personally, so my customers see the owner out working,” says Adolphs.
Turf posed five questions to this LawnSite.com super user, and the answers offer some insight into what it takes to run a successful small landscape company.
1. What business challenge keeps you up at night?
Finding a good lead employee, a next guy in charge who I can trust to go out himself and do as good a job as I’m going to do. I’ve gone through a couple part-time employees and had a few that were total duds. A couple guys were really good but were too part-time and wanted to work other jobs, too. I haven’t yet found that guy who can actually devote 40-plus hours a week to my business.
2. How do you plan on addressing that challenge in 2016?
By advertising for the position through various channels—the local newspaper, Craigslist, word-of-mouth. Hopefully I get a good variety of candidates to interview before the season starts. Once the season starts, I have no time for bringing on employees.
3. What’s your best Monday morning motivation?
Well, usually I’ve worked Saturday, and even Sunday night I mow a few businesses. But on Monday morning, having my own business is my motivation. I work for myself and control what I make and the job I do for customers. Plus, I get to interact with those customers. I don’t have to be told what to do, and I don’t work 9 to 5.
4. What are you most excited about as the spring season kicks off?
Every year, I struggle with winter. I have seasonal affective disorder, so winter just kills me. So just getting out of winter and getting my hands dirty and wearing a T-shirt outside is what I’m excited about.
5. What’s the most valuable advice you’ve received on LawnSite.com?
That if I just be patient, do a good job and treat my customers right, I will get good word-of-mouth and referrals. I first got on LawnSite.com when I started my business, and pretty much everyone on there was bigger than me. When they gave me that advice, I had five customers and the phone wasn’t ringing. And then the next year it happened a couple more times, and then it happened a lot more. You get back from a day at work and you have 10 messages on your business phone.