Green Industry Profile: Larry Bennett

Green Industry Profile - Larry Bennett (1).png

Larry Bennett
B&B Lawncare

About B&B Lawncare: B&B Lawncare is the ONLY Lawncare company in Wayne County, Indiana, to receive Angies List Super Service Award. B&B is a family owned and operated lawn care company in Richmond, Indiana, that offers professional lawn care and snow removal services at affordable prices.

For Larry Bennett, owner of B&B Lawncare in Richmond, IN, running his green industry business is an around the clock proposition. “Usually in the busy season we work 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and I’m out there in the field with the guys helping mow. And then I also do all the paperwork - the invoicing and the scheduling for every day. So I work about a 13 hour day in the busy season. And then I’m also the maintenance guy. So on the weekends or a rainy day, I’ll come in and work on the mowers and stuff.”

Even with all that work in a day, Bennett understands the importance his employees play in the success of his business. “I can’t have success without my employees’ help. There’s a list of things that have to be done in the day, whether it’s however many mowings we need to get done in that day so we don’t get behind in case it rains another day or just some stuff around the shop that needs to be done. I try to send a schedule out for everything between jobs and cleaning that the guys do everyday. I always say that as long as 80% of the list gets done, that’s a good day to me. And as long as they leave and they’re not super tired to where I put too much work on them, that’s a good day in my book. So they still have enough rest for the next day. Without employees I can’t have the success that I have.”

I can’t have success without my employees’ help. 

Bennett has certainly been successful in the decade since he started his business. “I started back in 2008 doing it part-time around the neighborhood for some of the older people as I was working full-time at another job. Then I started liking it a lot over the years. About a year and a half later I decided to branch out and just go full swing with it all and used Facebook to try to get my name out there and that seemed to help out a lot. For about three years I was doing it for myself and by the fourth year I was able to hire two other guys. Now, in our peak season there’s up to ten guys working. I started with one truck, now we’re up to four. We were just doing the basic mowing and trimming. Now we’re doing anything from snow removal to landscaping, planting trees and shrubs and doing retaining wall work. We’ve even gotten into irrigation in the last year and half.”

Bennett sees the customer relationships his team builds as the key to their success. “I like seeing our customers because I focused on that when I started with a customer base - getting to know each customer personally. There’ll be times where I’ll call a customer or text them and make sure they’re doing alright or talk to them. When my guys see a customer out and about, I tell them to say hello and ask them how the day’s going. Sometimes the guys run into some problems where one of the clients were having a bad day so they just sit there and listen to what they have to say and then they end up getting back to work. So I try to implant on them that the customer’s satisfaction is number one. You don’t see that a lot where you get a customer relationship with the employees and the owner. So that’s what I tried to create.”

Outside of the weather, Bennett can’t find much else to complain about in his business. “There’s really nothing I don’t like about it besides just the weather not cooperating. I have a good team of guys that work with me and we don’t really have any complaints. But number one, I like being out there with them. I’ve always enjoyed being outside and working. I don’t mind the paperwork so much, either. It’s gotta get done.”

There’s really nothing I don’t like about it besides just the weather not cooperating. I have a good team of guys that work with me and we don’t really have any complaints. But number one, I like being out there with them. I’ve always enjoyed being outside and working.

Short-term, Bennett wants to retain his team and continue to see steady customer growth. Long-term, he wants to be one of the region’s biggest and best businesses. “Short term I would hope my employees would come back every season. Most of my guys do. But you always have the one that works for the summer and that’s it. I’d also like to add maybe five clients a year. That would be my short-term goal. For a long-term goal, there’s probably only a handful of good lawn care companies around here. I’d probably say there are about five big ones around our city and county. I would like to become one of those guys within the next five years. We’ve grown over the last ten years but you see that they have five to ten crews out and right now, we’ve only got two. I would like to be one of those guys that has a three to five crew team.”

Helping his customers is one of the perks of Bennett’s business. “We try to keep our prices competitive and affordable, especially for the elders around here that are on a fixed income. You know, it’s hard on them sometimes. There’s a lot of fly-by-nighters in the lawn care industry where you see them in the summer and they’re not here the next or they’re there part of the summer and you don’t see them the rest of the summer. I want to make sure we do a good job on our customers’ yard cause if the customer can come home at the end of a stressful day and know that they don’t have to take care of their lawn and they don’t have to get out there to sweat and mow and do that hard labor, that’s a good feeling to me to know that we can help them out on their week. A lot of the folks appreciate that. That’s just one less hassle they have to worry about and they know it’s in good hands and they don’t ever get dissatisfied. So that’s always a good feeling.”

In the last decade, Bennett has noticed changes in the equipment he’s used that has made his job easier. “There’s a GIE Expo in Kentucky every year and it showcases all the equipment that’s out there for landscaping and hardscaping and the lawn care industry. Over the last ten years, I went there. The equipment that we use has changed dramatically. It’s more fuel efficient. They’re not as heavy and they don’t rupture the ground as much now. There’s better equipment out there now. You don’t have as many breakdowns. It’s just a lot easier equipment to use where it’s less labor intensive now. It kind of made even handheld equipment easier on the person using it. So you don’t get that physical fatigue. A weed eater might have weighed 20 pounds 10 years ago and now they’re so light they’re probably 5 pounds.”

Bennett started his business leveraging social media to find buyers. But a new tactic he’s tried recently has overtaken social media as his best source of new customers. And, as his business has grown, so have referrals. “The best marketing tactic I’ve used the last three years has been the radio. More now than social media. We started out at social media and we’re still on it. We’re on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Anything that’s out there we can get our name on, I try to get our name out there. And we’ve tried phonebook ads, signs in customers’ yards. But the biggest thing, it always comes back to referrals. Somebody referred them to us. Word of mouth. I think that’s been the best thing for us, word of mouth. You know you get the one person that has something bad to say about you, and that could just ruin you. One person gets to talking and they know this person and they know that person. You can spend all this money on ads and stuff but a lot of the time people want a reference before they hire somebody.”

The biggest issue for Bennett’s business is the cost of insurance. “It seems like in our industry, the insurance is high because of what we do and the dangers that come with it. There are blades that could come off and hit somebody and do damage to their property. That’s probably my biggest issue. Just the insurance. How much it costs to have it.”

The best marketing tactic I’ve used the last three years has been the radio. More now than social media. 

This profile appeared in the 2018 Green Industry Benchmark Report. Download it today to see how your business compares to that of your peers.

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