Jonathan Thrift, general manager of Carolina Creations Landscapes, Inc., a full-service landscape contracting firm based in Shallotte, North Carolina, says the company has always been reactive when it came to getting new customers. That’s not to say they weren’t good at what they did — plenty of leads came through as referrals and Thrift says the business was profitable. But when he wanted to take it to the next level, Thrift says he needed to start thinking proactively — and that meant some big changes.

The most effective change, he says, was partnering with LandOpt, a service organization that empowers landscape contractors to attain higher profits, growth and peace of mind. Thrift says that the proactive sales process they brought to the table, including their CRM software that has helped Carolina Creations stay on top of leads, has made a huge difference in propelling the company to the next level. Since making this change eight years ago the company has taken revenue from $3 million to $7.5 million.

Jonathan Thrift, general manager of Carolina Creations Landscapes, Inc.

Jonathan Thrift, general manager of Carolina Creations Landscapes, Inc.

“As landscape professionals, we are operations minded,” Thrift says. “Sales are not something that we excel at and once we were able to admit that, and bring LandOpt on board, we just hit the ground running with their ideas.”

Another key change was bringing in some sales reps. Thrift says that this stopped them from “trying to force the square peg into the round hole.”

“Sending our employees — landscape professionals — out to sell was not something they were comfortable doing,” Thrift says. “We had to think outside the box.”

Thrift not only brought on board a sales rep who had a background selling real estate, but one who had recently sold the company on a new mobile carrier.

“We recognized he was really good at sales when he sold us on switching carriers and we asked him if he’d come on board with us,” Thrift says. “Now he’s selling anywhere between $550,000 and $700,000 a year for us. The solution was finding the right people for the right roles. Having landscape professionals also handling sales was simply not the right fit.”

Thrift admits that it can be intimidating to think outside the box or to invest in services like those offered from LandOpt, but he adds that the return on investment can be well worth it. Business owners will know when they’ve hit a plateau, and when it will be time to take things to a new level.

“Don’t be afraid to go for it,” Thrift adds. “We took the leap and it’s done wonders for our business.”

Our Like a Boss series highlights some common business challenges landscape professionals face and how they conquer them.