Back to Blog

Generations in Green Industry Success

March 25, 2021

In this episode of the Green Industry Perspectives Podcast, Ty Deemer welcomes Jennifer Lemcke to the show. Jennifer is the CEO of Weed Man Lawn Care. Jennifer shares her journey into lawn care, what it’s like to be a female leader in the Green Industry, what factors have contributed to her career success, and the perspective she has from starting out as a franchisee.

You can tune in above on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or anywhere you get your podcasts.

Become a pro member of the podcast to receive notifications for each new episode and bonus content each week.

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL LEARN:

  • About Weed Man’s franchise model.
  • The power of partnership between franchisor and franchisee.
  • How crucial pivoting has been through their business.
  • The impact that listening before speaking has had on Jennifer’s career.
  • What a female perspective can bring to a male-dominated industry.

LINKS TO LOVE:

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

Ty Deemer:

You are listening to The Green Industry Perspectives podcast, presented by SingleOps, a podcast created for green industry professionals looking for best practices, tactics, and tips on running their tree care or landscape business. 

All right, everyone. Welcome back to Green Industry Perspectives. I’m your host, Ty Deemer. And today we get the awesome opportunity to welcome Jennifer Lemcke to the show. Jennifer is the CEO of Weed Man and we’re really excited to welcome her to discuss a variety of topics, what it’s like to be a woman leader in the green industry, Weed Man’s success, and a bunch of things that have led to that success. Jennifer, welcome to the show. 

Jennifer Lemcke:

Well, thanks for having me, Ty. It’s a pleasure to be here. 

Ty Deemer:

Absolutely. So Jennifer, we always ask our guests the exact same question on every episode to provide immediate value to the audience. And it’s pretty simple. What are the top three things or common threads that have led to Weed Man’s success over the years? 

Jennifer Lemcke:

Yeah. So for us, as I look at this or hear this question, I really feel there’s for us that the customer is our franchisee. And we’ve really made it our absolute top, top priority to be laser focused on franchisees’ growth and their success. Because it just makes everything simple. If you’re very, very focused that we’re going to help them grow which then in turn if they’re successful, they’re then going to be happy. And the next thing I would say is, and you have to earn this, but really earning the franchisees’ trust. You can’t expect it. You got to earn it. And the only way to earn it is to really deliver things that are going to impact their lives. How are they going to be successful? So it kind of ties into the first thing. But it’s sometimes forgotten that people, if they’re going to follow, they need to trust you. And then last but not least, I would say developing communication with the franchisees to be effective. You’re not just communicating things that are fluffy or communicating things that are important to them. Package that communication in a way that is edible to them. Like they can absorb it. And always make sure it’s honest. 

And sometimes it’s bad. Sometimes there are bad things and just really being honest about it. But we found that through the years because of our focus on them and developing the trust, that even the bad things aren’t that bad because they know we’re going to handle it together because that trust is there. So I think all of it kind of talks about us on our number one point is to be focused on their growth and their success. But those are the things that have kind helped us be in tune and aligned with what they want. 

Ty Deemer:

For sure. All of those things definitely work harmoniously together. One doesn’t exist without the other. I really like how you touched on those and we’ll probably dive into those a little later on. But we always like at the beginning of the show just for the guests to provide the background for why you are on the show. Give the audience a little idea of like how you became involved within the green industry and what your experience is today. But then also if they’re not familiar with Weed Man and your franchise system, what all do you all do, what do you specialize in? 

Jennifer Lemcke:

Okay. So are you ready for a very long story? Because I’m a little bit older now. 

Ty Deemer:

Absolutely. 

Jennifer Lemcke:

So I’m going to go back in time. First of all, Weed Man is lawn care. We’re primarily residential lawn care. We do commercial lawn care and when I say lawn care, it’s fertilizer and weed control, insect control. We do not mow the grass. We don’t do landscape design. So although we’re part of the landscape industry, we’re really kind of segmented out where the lawn care piece of the landscaping. So to then go back into where did I begin. So and I’ll give you kind of the elevator but I’ll give you a little bit more in depth. So our neighbor owned a Weed Man franchise in a suburb outside of Toronto. I was 12 years old. My dad was working at Union Carbide. And at the time, my dad was looking to leave. He was a chemical engineer and really just had that entrepreneurial spirit. And he ended up, we ended up spending a lot of vacations driving around, looking at different opportunities. So we looked at retail. We looked at the restaurant business. And one afternoon, it was I think a Saturday afternoon, our neighbor invited us over for a barbecue and said after dinner, do you want to come see my business downstairs? So my dad went down and went holy smokes. And this was a small franchise. He said, wow, you’re doing these profits with two trucks? And the guy was like, yeah, yeah, I am. So it was then and there that we decided, our family decided to join Weed Man. 

So Weed Man was founded by Des Rice back in 1970. Decided franchise in 1976. So when we were first introduced to Weed Man, I guess it’d be about ‘85. We’re French-Canadian. Decided to buy his first franchise from Des in Quebec which is predominantly French. So we were one of the first French Weed Man franchises. So you can imagine. We had zero brand recognition. We had negative brand recognition. We actually had to explain to people what this English name was. So did very, very well in that market and this is all my dad. I’m just a youngster at the time. So I was 16 by the time he ended up buying. At that time, I did mall shows, did some telemarketing. Those were the days when you could telemarket. Just really did odd jobs. No intentions of joining the business whatsoever. Wanted to go to university and then the world was going to be my oyster. So he did very well in Hull, Quebec. His brother was running that office. Then went and bought seven territories in Montreal and another city in Quebec and did very, very well. And as a now a young adult looking at he was building wealth, his houses and cars were getting nicer. And it was kind of like, maybe this lawn care thing, there’s something to it. Right? 

So at that time, I had met my husband and he was interested in finding out more. So we met with my dad and said, yeah, this is something that we’d like to do. So we started kind of full-time. We bought a couple franchises in Ontario. If you’re familiar with the geography in Canada, we bought Otto, Ontario which is our nation’s capital. And Chris and I were there for about six years. Did very, very well. We bought the existing franchise. It was about $250,000. Grew it to $2 million in six years. So really that was kind of the crux of me learning every bit of operations. So we had also branched out into the Toronto marketplace and we were becoming like a multi-unit. So we’re just a franchise but growing and growing very, very fast. So while we were doing that, we were developing systems and business planning, tracking systems and stuff. So we approached Des Rice and said, hey, would you consider selling us the master franchise rights for all of the U.S.? And that was in the 90s so that would have been about ’95, ’96. And he said yeah, that this is awesome. So we continue to buy franchises in Canada. We did about 40, 45 acquisitions across Canada. So we were a franchisee in Canada but we are the franchisor in the United States. And that’s where I transitioned my career into helping the U.S. grow. 

So I’ve been doing that full-time in the U.S. since 2000. When I joined the U.S. side of things, I was a little late to the game. I was probably three, four years after we launched. We were about a million dollars of revenue at the time. So now last year, we ended the year at just over $213 million. So it’s been what? 20, 22 years since I, 21 years since that one million dollar starting mark. So it’s been quite a ride. In 2018, Brenda Rice—Des had passed away years ago—approached us and said, you know what? I really want to retire. Would you consider now buying the master rights for Weed Man across worldwide? So now we are Weed Man. We are the franchisor for all of Weed Man North America and in the UK and are also a franchisee. So that’s kind of our story. Sorry, long. But that’s it in a nutshell. 

Ty Deemer:

That’s a really cool story and I love how you’ve really been able to see Weed Man from all different phases of the business. That’s got to be really cool to have like started your own franchise right outside of college with your husband, to know what it takes to build it from not necessarily bare bones but to start it and to grow it. Does that really help you with how you think through communicating with your franchisees? 

Jennifer Lemcke:

Absolutely. I know what it’s like to gain the first customer, lose that first customer, and everything in between. It’s funny and I wouldn’t change one thing about my career path because it gives you humility through the whole thing. I used to be, I was a technician out on the lawn. I telemarketed. I’ve worked home shows. I’ve done sales. I’ve done everything you can imagine inside the company. I cleaned toilets because who else does them? Right? So it gives me a real feeling and a sense of what franchisees are going through and that could be something that’s missing in sometimes a franchisee/franchisor relationship is that we’ve got boots on the ground. In fact, everyone at our head office except for I would say our digital department has a lot of experience in operations. And so that’s helped us definitely with our growth. 

The other thing I didn’t mention though because I was trying to speed it up. When we went into the U.S., we got partners involved and we call those our sub-franchisers. We knew if we were going to be successful in the U.S., we needed to get Americans involved. And so we actually targeted, back in the day, it was PLCA. Now it’s NALP. But PLCA was the Professional Lawn Care Association of America. And we went after past, present leaders in the industry and they have been phenomenal resource for us to help us grow. They’re there. They’re local to the franchisees. So not only does head office have all of this experience and knowledge in lawn care but so does all of our sub-franchisors. They’re in operations. They’ve been there, done that. And it’s just been a really great partnership for us and honestly, the reason why we’ve grown so well. It’s about our current franchisees, our sub-franchisors, and our head office. It’s just been a—you know when you get to wake up in the morning and you get to put your two feet on the ground, you’re like, man, I love what I do? That’s me. I love what I do. I work with the best in the industry so I love my job. 

Ty Deemer:

That’s really cool. And it just coincides so well with what you started the show with of building that trust and building that equity and it’s what has made you all successful to have people in leadership and people that these franchisees are looking towards to say like, look, like I know I know what you’re going through. I’ve done it. I’ve been there. You can’t fake that. So that’s awesome. We’re going to cover a wide variety of topics today but one thing that you’ve kind of touched on and I think would be cool for you to kind of expand upon is you have seen the evolution of Weed Man over time from growing up as a child, watching your dad get involved in it to today. What have been some of the biggest shifts for you as a business? Like has there been moments across time where something took place where it was like, oh, this really changed how we do business? I’m curious to see the viewpoint over a timeline, if there were ever like any key moments that made you, like that changed how you all do things or maybe changed the game for your franchisees? 

Jennifer Lemcke:

Yeah. There’s actually been a lot of those. Certainly, when we were in operations in Canada, we were just starting in the U.S. But a big impact was, well, twofold. In Canada, the pesticide bans. Huge. I mean one day you wake up and you don’t have any products that you can use that are effective. So and my dad, I’m very, very blessed, my dad has been my biggest mentor in my career and in life. But he said, when pesticides were banned, it was like we’re going to figure this out. We are going to be in business in 5, 10, 15, 20 years. We’re going to figure it out. So that was reassuring and at that that time, we were just starting in the U.S., really starting to build and this was happening in Canada. So here we are launching a brand in the U.S. and we’re dealing with pesticide bans and it was tough. You can well imagine you’ve got effective products and you’re able to eliminate or control weeds. And then all of a sudden, you go to something that there’s just nothing there. There’s no market for these organics and a lot of people tell you there are. But it was a lot of trial and error for us to get through that and it took us a while to figure things out. And it beat up our employees hard. Like you go from winning to losing really, really fast. So that has been a very difficult transition at least here in Canada. I feel like we’re on the other side of that and we’re growing again and there’s excitement and there’s new products coming in. So I look at that as it definitely, if ever anything happens in the U.S., we’re ahead of the curve because we’ve already figured it out in Canada. So I think that, although a negative, I hope it doesn’t happen in the U.S. but certainly we would be prepared. 

Another one was losing the ability to telemarket. That was something that we did a lot of and to pivot on kind of a dime when all of that went away and having to learn how to market or market differently to get it. So that was a big thing. If you were to ask me which was more impactful, I don’t know honestly. I don’t know. Losing your ability to market at the scope that we were marketing was a tough one to swallow as well but equally losing your toolbox of products was pretty tough as well. So that I would say was pivotal on a negative side but we’ve survived through it. And certainly, last year COVID was a tough one. But again, survived through that one. Some of the positive ones I would say for our company would be the sub-franchisors. Just an absolute asset to us. Great, great move on my dad’s part to kind of envision what this would look like. And then also buying up Weed Man Canada, it’s been great because—and Brenda’s still a shareholder in the company so she’s not fully gone. But it allowed us to create opportunities for my team at Turf Holdings to grow and to add people and create an excitement in the team. So that’s been an awesome impact. And although I said COVID was a negative, COVID’s also a positive. We’ve learned to do business differently. Here we are on Zoom and kind of working through that. We do a lot of Zooming, a lot of that. So I hope that answers your question but those are definitely milestones. 

Ty Deemer:

It definitely does. And I want to like go into kind of the marketing and the business development side later on. But I would agree with you. One of the key themes that I’ve experienced talking to guests on this show over the last couple months is that there’s an element to COVID where you have to acknowledge the difficulties of it and the pain and the frustration it’s caused. But you also have to acknowledge the decisions it might have forced for businesses to adapt or try new things that if it was in a regular environment, we never would have done. I know for SingleOps, we’re a software business. It did that for us. And it is cool to see just how people have adapted in a lot of ways in the past year. 

Jennifer Lemcke:

Yeah. No, it is. It’s resilience. Right? Everyone. It’s incredible. 

Ty Deemer:

Yeah. And it kind of goes back to what your dad said with the shift in pesticide use. It’s like putting your foot down and going like, look, this isn’t going to affect our long-term ability to stay in this space and be a business. And it’s cool to see when people take that stance and adapt and are resilient in it. So that’s awesome. The next topic I wanted to cover with you is one that’s really present with this month. It’s Women’s History Month and the green industry as a whole is predominantly male. If you go to a GIE conference or a Lawn and Landscape Tech Conference, it’s a lot of guys rolling around. And our team definitely has noticed that and I’m sure most people acknowledge it. I’d love for you to just talk through what has your experience been like as a leader, a woman leader in the industry that is predominantly male? 

Jennifer Lemcke:

Yeah, it’s a good question and I get asked this a lot. So I’ve been in the business now 27 years. So there’s not as many, there’s more women now certainly than there was 27 years ago. Like I said, if you go back to my history and when I first started, I started at the bottom. I literally, I was a technician. I did all of the frontline. So I gained the experience. So now fast forward to when I was running Weed Man in the U.S. and having to be out in front more, I was on the NALP board back in the day. It was PLANET board. Again, one of the very few women sitting at the table. A lot of staff, a few staff were women but by and large, leaders. And I honestly, I’ve never felt being a woman has—well, at least I’m not aware of it—hindered me. I feel like I’ve probably brought a different perspective to the folks. 

So I think there’s a couple of things as I look back in time. And as I prepared for this call, I was thinking about it and I think one of the things that I was more afraid of was being young in the industry, getting respect because I was younger in the industry or nepotism, like my dad being the CEO. And so for me, those were bigger worry cards than being a woman and I don’t know why. Maybe it was naïve of me at the time. But for me, those were bigger challenges. And again, my dad was such a huge mentor. And I think when I kind of spread out and I went on to the PLANET board, one of the things he said is, just sit back. Listen, don’t jump in, insert yourself. Figure out where you fit in. Figure out where you’re going to add value to being on the board. And that held true for me and really kind of figuring out my space. I talked about our sub-franchisors. They’ve been probably my biggest coaches in life including my dad. And again, I’m young. I bring a, well, I’m no longer young. My brain thinks I am but I’m not. But as I look at things and as I see young people coming in and my daughter’s join the company which I’m so excited about, her and her fiancé. Oh, actually her husband now. Sorry, they just got married. It’s been an interesting thing to kind of impart that wisdom onto her as well. So I think I’ve never been, I think back maybe a couple times in my career that somebody has, a male has been maybe disrespectful or anything. But I just, I don’t even think it was because I was a woman. I think it’s just because that’s who they were and honestly, I don’t really care. I don’t. I’m very, I am able to separate personal and business. So it was more like, oh well, they didn’t like my idea. Oh well, move onto the next. 

And then the nepotism, how I handled that was I just work harder. I know I can look around a room and there may be a lot of people in that room that are smarter than I am. But I know I’m going to outwork them and I know what needs to be done, I’m going to do it. So for me, that’s how I kind of got around everything was really listen intently, be a very active listener, listen to what people need, what they want, what I could bring to the table, and then just work my butt off and put the time in. And everything else will come if that makes sense. 

Ty Deemer:

Yeah. I really loved what you said, talking about your dad’s advice to you when you were joining the PLANET board or what is now the NALP board. Because I think that’s something that we’re all like prone to do is like, oh, I’m in this new situation. I need to figure out how I contribute. But sitting back, recognizing like where’s my space in this, that’s really powerful and good advice. Is it exciting—you mentioned your daughter is now and her husband are joining Weed Man. How recent is that and like what has that experience been like for you so far? 

Jennifer Lemcke:

She was in the U.S. on a lacrosse scholarship in Grand Rapids, Michigan and met her husband there. And they went off. And I wanted this. I wanted them to go into their field and experience what it’s like to work for somebody else. And then one day, it was just kind of a, they started asking more questions about the business, similar to what I did. It wasn’t like I was, I went to university and came out of university thinking I’m going to join Weed Man. It was just like, okay, there’s something to this. So I forget the exact moment but she’s watched me through the years and she’s watched me work very, very, very hard. She’s watched me miss a lot of events, kids events. I tried to never miss the big ones. But it was cool because sometimes as a mom, you kind of look back and you go, maybe I put my career too much ahead and I wasn’t there for some of the things. But that’s where maybe it was okay what I did. Maybe I have to give myself a little bit of a break on that because here she is now wanting to be a part of the business. So she joined November 2019. Right before COVID. Poor thing. So it was a tough first year for them but they’re running our Houston operations and they actually, she doesn’t report to me. She reports to one of our partners. Actually, there’s no reporting to me whatsoever and I want her to do it on her own. And they’re doing so well. So it’s so awesome now at Christmas, we were together at Christmas time and my dad was there. So there’s my dad, my husband’s in the business, now my daughter and my son-in-law are in the business. And just sitting around and talking about business and things that they’re experiencing that we’ve experienced and we’re able to give a little bit of wisdom on that. And so it’s really, really cool to see three generations now in the business. I have two sons. They’ve both worked as technicians. They haven’t committed that this is their career path. But certainly, well, a potential Plan B or C depending for them. So you never know. But it was never an intent for us to have the kids come in. It’s just a very pleasant surprise. 

Ty Deemer:

That’s awesome. That’s really cool and a great experience for you to be able to work in the same realm as your daughter. You mentioned when I asked you the question about what it’s been like to be a woman leader in the industry that you feel like you’ve been able to have a different perspective at times in some conversations. What exactly did you mean by that? Like what’s been that perspective that you feel like has maybe been a little bit different? 

Jennifer Lemcke:

I think women are nurturers, that we tend to, well, and I may be generalizing here, but for me anyway, I live in the gray. I’m not a black and white type person. So when there’s issues at hand, it’s always like, well, okay, there’s an issue but there’s a solution. So let’s figure it out. And I’m not an ego driven person at all. So for me, let’s just look at the issue, let’s throw it all of the possible solutions on the table, and sometimes it allows us, I think women are good at this because you become a problem solver. Kids, something’s wrong, you got to fix it. They forgot something at sports and you got to fix it. Like you’re always continuously problem solving and sometimes it’s the little things. So you’re always looking for answers and solutions. And I think women bring that to the table. Not that men don’t. I don’t want to say that they don’t and I don’t want to say we’re better than men certainly. But definitely, being a nurturer, being a natural kind of problem solver all the time. When your kids are crying, you’re always trying to figure out why are they crying and figure out what they want. So I always say my kids were my best management course I’ve ever taken in my life. Yeah. So I feel like for me, women tend to be problem solvers. They tend to look at issues differently maybe than men. I think we’re forced to live in the gray oftentimes. A lot of women especially in the workforce, you’ve got to be able to adapt. You got to be able to adapt quickly. One minute you’re a mom and then you’re a business person or you’re a wife or you’re a friend and all of these things. So I think that help can help a company, having that type of person around the table helping look at different solutions. And we just look at things differently than men. So if you’re a landscape company that has predominantly hired men and you decide that you want to hire a woman or there’s a fit there for you, do yourself a favor and invite them to these problem-solving situations because we just look at things differently. 

Ty Deemer:

Yeah. I love that. I love the frame of reference you brought up about just being a mom because that’s kind of been a joke with me and my family about, my dad runs a company in Atlanta, very successful. But like we always go back to like, if you’ve got a problem, you’re going to mom, not dad. Like my mom’s the one that’s going to have the answer and the rational mindset. So I relate to that for sure. 

Jennifer Lemcke:

Yeah, yeah. And I find we’re not, I’m not judgmental. Like it’s kind of like, okay, we got a problem. I don’t care whose fault it is or… Let’s just look at this. Just like when kids bring you problems and they certainly bring you problems. It’s not like you’re judging them. It’s like, let’s fix it. Let’s work together and fix it. So it’s just different. And there’s a lot of dads that are like that. So I never want to make it that this whole gender difference but there are some subtle differences how we look at things. 

Ty Deemer:

Yeah. And that’s really, you mentioned if you were talking to a landscape or lawn care professional about bringing a woman onto their staff, I think that’s a really good point about the value that they can bring and just a different mindset. And I’m glad you touched on that. On the flip side of that, what would be like a word of courage meant to other women that are thinking about possibly getting involved in the green industry or that are already involved. From your experience, what would be a piece of advice or a nugget of wisdom to give to those? 

Jennifer Lemcke:

Yeah. I guess it would be yourself but also be self-aware. So I don’t know if that makes sense. So I’ll give you a life example. So I’m a pretty upbeat person. I’m very upbeat. I’m the half full person. So I typically answer the phone. So when I answer it with a lot of, I don’t know, energy. And when I first started, I used to be customer service and I’d answer the phone and people would laugh because that’s how I disarm people and I just answered the phone like that. That’s just me. And I remember when I transitioned into I guess vice president of Weed Man USA and then to CEO, I remember when I first transitioned over, I continued to answer the phone like that. And one day I asked my dad, what do you think about me answering the phone? Like do I sound maybe like I’m not as smart? Does it sound like not genuine? Like what do you think? He goes, well, I don’t know. You’ve always answered the phone like that. And so I started to change. I started to not answer the phone. Like I’d be like be more professional. And I was like, this is not who I am. And in the end, it’s funny because me answering the phone like that and always being like somebody calling me and there’s an issue, it’s like, all right, let’s get to it. Let’s do this. And I realized the thing that I was worried about was my biggest asset, my biggest ally, the biggest thing that disarmed people, the biggest thing that people thought, oh, I can call her with my issues and she’s going to solve them because she’s always happy and stuff. So I went from being myself to self-doubt to maybe I need to be somebody else. If I’m going to work my way up this corporate ladder, I need to be more professional. I need to be all of these things. And in the end, I need to be myself and that’s a running joke inside a Weed Man. When our franchisees win awards, I’m the one crying. I cry and cry and cry because I’m just so happy that they’re winning these awards. I’m sad for the ones that aren’t but I’m so happy for the ones that do. And that’s just me. And it is what it is. And there’s a point that you just have to accept that. 

And then the part about being self-aware, I need to realize there’s times where I need to tone it back a little bit. There’s an issue at hand or there’s a situation that needs me to bring myself down and be very, very focused on the issue, not up here and not way down. I just need to be here. And like being on the board, listening to people and understanding where I fit in. Nobody can demand respect. Nobody can do that. You have to earn it. So you need to be yourself but you also need to be self-aware of your surroundings, of people around you, being able to read situations so that you can make yourself adaptable to that particular situation. So does that make sense? 

Ty Deemer:

No, it totally does. And I love all the points that you covered there. And I think whether you’re a woman in the green industry or a guy, that’s true for everyone, recognizing you have to be you but self-awareness is also extremely powerful, especially when it kind of comes to some of our more negative attributes if you’re willing to acknowledge those and say, hey, I probably should tone that down a little bit. That’s a good word. On the back half of our conversation here, kind of shift some of our conversation because you really have been able to see from every level what makes a Weed Man franchise successful. And you mentioned earlier that when you and your husband first started, you grew one franchise’s book of business from $250,000 to $2 million. And I think it would be cool from your perspective as the franchisor to talk about like what do you view, like what does it take for one of your franchisees to become successful in terms of sales and business development? Like what do they need to take that next step or like what are some of the biggest mistakes that companies are making that prevents them from making that step? 

Jennifer Lemcke:

A lot of our franchisees come within the industry, so the landscape industry. And I have the pleasure of working alongside a lot of landscapes. So this would be the more commercial type landscape companies. We’re very much residential. So when we get added to a company, which we do often, it’s for companies to help grow their residential side. So one of the things that I’ve noticed in working with landscapers and quite a few in the industry is a lot of times the company is them. It’s all about them. And it’s not on purpose. It’s like they have this drive and this hustle, this work hard mentality and they go out and they get all the deals and they have their phone on their hip and the phone rings and it’s like almost like their self-importance that like it’s this deal is going to close because it’s me. And it’s true. It is because of them and it’s their energy and their passion and a lot of them have just taken the whole company and throwing it on their back and growing it. So I find a lot of times landscapers tend to work in their business and not on their business. And not all of them and no disrespect. But I see that a lot. And I don’t know if you’ve ever read the E-Myth Revisited. But we’re kind of that industry that’s a quintessential e-myth revisited type scenario. So it’s to teach landscapers to work on their business. I couldn’t imagine, like what do they have to sell at the end. If they want to retire, what do they have to sell? There’s a customer list but the customer list is often there because of them or God forbid, something drastic or terrible tragedy were to strike, their poor wives and kids, what do they have if the owner is not there? 

So I think what we help franchisees do that add us on is to really look at your business and work on your business. So create business plans and matrixes to market your business that is something that you can, that’s easy, that is repeatable, and that you’re able to create this recurring revenue stream for yourself and to build equity, like wealth. You have something in the end that you can sell and it can’t all be you. Some landscapers they have 50, 100, 200 customers. That’s kind of their max amount. But they’re worth a lot of money. Right? They’re like millions of dollars sometimes, some of these contracts. So when you lose one, it’s devastating to the company. Where we work with more volume of customers so we have thousands. In fact, we’re over 500,000 customers that we service and there’s a lot more volume. But you lose a customer, it’s not the end of the business. It’s not like, oh my goodness, I got to work day and night to try and replace that customer. So I feel like at times landscapers get really stuck inside their business. They get stuck at that I guess infancy stage like the e-book talks about infancy or maybe even adolescent stage. But they can’t get past that stage of their business because the business only exists because of them. And that’s where we teach people to work on their business. And we’re not a fit for everyone. There’s some landscapers who are just so passionate about what they do and they’re so good at it. That’s not a fit for us. We need to work with people that really want to step back and grow their business and in turn, grow people and let the people run their business for them and they can be up here. 

So you asked me a question. What are things that make people successful? Well, we do that. We help people grow to work on their business. But I find the owners inside of Weed Man that do really, really well are the owners that are very in tune with the details. They’re working on their business but they’re also close. They understand the numbers. They understand what this means and they look at the matrixes and they say, you know what? If this guy’s doing this, how can I do that? It’s not different here. We’re the same. How can I reach higher? And are just really good people, people, people. They’re in it to grow people around them to be better. So that very long-winded answer but that’s my answer to your question. 

Ty Deemer:

Your point about working on your business and not in it is something that we hear all the time. It’s like the idea that the owner or the operator is like, man, if only I could clone myself and like someone would get exactly how I want to do it. You do have to get to break this threshold of where you’re like, no, I’m just going to create a process for someone else to do this part of the job and you can begin standing back. But I haven’t quite heard it phrased working on it instead of in it. Because you’re so right. That’s what’s it’s going to take to make that jump from really building a thriving business that you can begin also enjoying other aspects of your life. That’s one thing that we hear all the time. It’s like, yeah, you’re doing great but you’re working 80 hours a week because you’re not able to offload any of the work. So long-winded but it’s still a great answer. I always like to finish the episodes with a few of the same questions. We spend a lot of time being reflective on this show but I do like to finish with more of a forward thinking question. It’s pretty simple. It’s really just what comes next for you, what comes next for Weed Man, and what are you most excited about as we continue into 2021 and beyond? 

Jennifer Lemcke:

So for us, there’s a couple of things. Inside of Weed Man, we have some pretty big projects that we’re working on. One is launching a sub-brand, Mosquito Hero. So we went about it, two years ago, we launched the service inside of Weed Man and it was market confusion. It just didn’t flow. Weed Man offering mosquito control. So we knew that if we were going to be strong in this space, we needed to pull out the mosquito services and really brand it on its own. So we came out with Mosquito Hero. Our logo is so cool. It’s a woman superhero. So we are just like all behind this. So this is so exciting to us. It is a huge industry. Some of the leaders in the industry are Mosquito Joe, Mosquito Authority, a couple of other ones. But they’re very, very specific in what they do. And when you’re out on digital space, when you’re working against them in that space to gather customers, you got to be very, very targeted in what you’re doing. So we launched under Weed Man mosquito services and we said, no, let’s pull it out and let’s really push it. So we’re really excited about that. We did it wrong the first time. But it’s okay. We learned from what we did wrong. Now we’re going to do it right. And look out, Mosquito Joe and Mosquito Authority. I’m coming after you guys. 

So the next thing that we’re doing is COVID has taught us that the customer is digesting information differently and we really need to understand that. So we want to, I’m going to hire a consultant and we’re going to bring some experts in. And we really want to focus in on the customer experience and this is probably going to be a two-year project. But I want to transform everything. I want to be very, very communicate, be centric to the customer, and allow them to tell us how they want to and create the procedures and processes for us to allow the customer to tell us how they want to be communicated with. So really blow up kind of the customer experience. And last but not least, one of our very, very exciting projects, like I’m a lot of energy. So our next project is we are testing robotic lawn mowing under TurfBot. So we’re looking to launch a brand new brand and it’s all robotic lawn mowing. We’re not a franchise yet. We’re three test sites. We’re doing very well in those test places. So we’re in Atlanta, we’re in Madison, and we’re in Columbus, Ohio, testing these mowers out. We just feel there’s a natural fit there for our segment. And we’ve never gone into grass cutting and we didn’t want to do it to be labor intensive and divert. But we wanted to be cutting edge. We wanted to be innovative. We wanted to be low emissions, low environmental impact. So this is where we’re at. These are the things that we’re working on and it’s exciting stuff. 

Ty Deemer:

Absolutely. It really is and I want to thank you so much for sharing that and sharing everything that you did today. We covered a ton of different topics, heard about your journey from the very beginning with Weed Man, what you’re working on today, what it’s been like to be a woman leader in the industry, and then a bunch of just really, just a bunch of topics that I think the audience is going to get a ton of value out of. Jennifer, I can’t thank you enough for your time and thank you for joining us. And I look forward to seeing some of those projects come to fruition. 

Jennifer Lemcke:

Yeah. Thanks so much. It’s been awesome. Awesome talking with you, Ty. And I really appreciate you having me on the show. 

Ty Deemer:

Thanks, Jennifer. Talk soon. 

Jennifer Lemcke:

Thanks.

Conclusion:

Thanks for listening to this episode of Green Industry Perspectives, presented by SingleOps. If you got some value out of this episode, drop us a five-star review on your favorite streaming platform. And don’t forget to become a pro member of the podcast at SingleOps.com/podcast. As a pro member, you’ll get notified of each new episode, access to exclusive bonus content, and be entered in to win some great prizes. Thanks for listening and don’t forget to tune in next week.