We all know it’s been raining. I’ve posted about it relentlessly…but with rain comes growth. New grass, flowers and trees are all in full bloom around Grayson and it’s BEAUTIFUL. I got to spend some time with the Hill family this past week to talk landscaping (something very top of mind for me, as mine likes to grow faster than I could ever possibly keep up with it). Stephen Hill and I got to chat one night, after a long day’s work, and he shared with me how he got started, why he loves living and working in Grayson, and what’s new for Hills Landscaping this year.
Getting Started – Family and Community First
Hills Landscaping has been around since 2006. Ford Motor Company, where Stephen had worked for 12yrs, was closing in the area. They offered him an amazing opportunity to move to Kentucky with the company, but Stephen just couldn’t say “yes”. He explained:
“My family was here, my community, where my kids were growing up – I couldn’t just pick them up and leave, not even for the opportunity. Ford paid well, but this was much more important”
He had a friend was getting out of the business; he took over his yards and got right to work. He explained to me how hard it was in the beginning… the market was really saturated; it made it hard to get in and stay in. He described the feeling of coming to the four-way stop over at Quik Trip and seeing 18 landscaper trucks all trying to do the same thing. Overwhelming is an understatement. …but, in time, he realized the reality is only the people that really care about it, the ones that have a true passion and put their heart into it, remain. And if you do all of that… your business WILL grow, no matter how many landscaper trucks you see at that four-way stop.
Now he says it doesn’t upset him at all. He explained to me the simplicity of it all:
“As long as you do good work and keep your customers happy they refer and it doesn’t matter anymore about other landscapers out there. Do YOUR best, work hard, and give it your all”
On Keeping it Local
Hills Landscaping may have started small, but right now business is wonderful based on client referrals. They’re expanding operations and although they haven’t advertised in years, they’re about to market for the first time in a long time. And why market? Because they want to stay local. Grayson local. Right now they’re in Grayson, Lilburn, Lawrenceville and Suwanee but Stephen explained:
“we really want more clients in Grayson, we really want to focus here, in our community”
Hills Landscaping works not just with individual homeowners, but also real estate agents and HOA’s as well. Licensed and insured, they are now well positioned to start taking on new clients.
How does success happen? By keeping clients happy. I asked Stephen what is the secret to his success. He replied:
“It’s simple – pay attention to detail, be on time, be accountable – show up! Be responsive, polite and most importantly…always be honest”
Honestly was definitely the theme of the day, and probably my favorite part of this interview. Listening to Stephen explain just how important honesty was refreshing and he really drove home just how important a factor it was to him, personally. He explained it further:
“If you do right by people they will do right by you – be honest, tell the truth, do the right thing”
He gave an example where an estimate he provided ended up using less pine straw then the client actually needed. He made sure to let them know, and only charge them for what they used. Because that is just the way it should be. He also provides options – always offering a range and the most economical solution for the project at hand at the time.
He let me in on his 5 year plan… he’d like to double or triple operations. When I asked him how he was going to get there, he reminded me again… it’s all about just keeping the clients happy.
On Living and Working in Grayson and What’s Important
What does Stephen love about living and working in Grayson? I think its what we all love…
“Seeing the same faces at our work and school and around the town – really knowing the parents and the community. …knowing they’re good people, really getting that small town feel”
And what is most important at home and at work?
“Family first, always – it’s why I started this business. I didn’t want to move my family to KY.
I want to grow this business to be everything I envisioned it to be …with integrity and honesty while keeping it local”
What’s NEW in 2015
This year Hills Landscaping is doing something new – offering continuing education for themselves and their clients. Stephen has been researching and learning new things every day and sharing this information both with his employees and his clients. From gardening print-outs to why to not bag your lawn, they’re making sure education and awareness is at the forefront of Hills Landscaping in 2015.
TIPS for You
So in the spirit of that, here are a few tips for you from Hills Landscaping:
You don’t always need to bag your yard every time!
- You’re taking nutrition away from your yard.
- When the leaves fall they hold moisture that will go back into the yard and put it back into the ground. If you cut on a routine schedule you don’t need to bag it – especially during drought season, this will replenish your yard.
- The biggest misconception is most people think they NEED to bag it, but you don’t and shouldn’t, because it will add important nutrients back to the soil.
Its time to plant your summer annuals. For those who don’t know about annuals, below are a few tips:
- Annuals don’t come back every year, you plant in summer and they die and then you plant winter ones
- Examples of annuals are pansies marigolds zinnias, petunias for full sun, vincas for shade
Now is the perfect time to Aerate Bermuda yards
Check out Hills Landscaping’s website [here] and like them on Facebook [here]. As always, its great to support local business, but even better when it’s a family-oriented, honest, and local business like Hills Landscaping. Happy Spring!