33 Grasshoppers in 17 years, with no plans to make a change
Rodney Miles just wanted to spend less time mowing. He owned a home with 3.5 acres in Portland, Ind., and he spent more than 5.5 hours every time he cut the grass. He knew a zero-turn mower would cut the time in half (or better), but he wasn’t ready to buy brand new just yet.
So, he purchased a used Grasshopper FrontMount™ mower with a PowerVac in the spring of 1996. He fell in love with that mower. “It mowed so well,” he says. “It was just a great machine.”
In the fall, he decided to purchase a brand new Grasshopper, and traded his 1822 for a 720K. To help pay for the new mower, he started mowing a few yards in town. He had no intention of making it a career.
But that was then, and now 17 years later, Rodney has owned a total of 33 Grasshoppers, employs 10 people at Miles Mowing & Lawn Care and maintains more than 125 acres of commercial and residential landscaping accounts every week.
“I started trading the current mower every year for a new one, and it just grew from there,” Miles says. “Eventually, I was trading in two a year, then three a year. Before I knew it, I had passed 30 units.”
The three Grasshoppers run 10 to 12 hours every day in two shifts, one in the day, and one in the evening. The residential accounts are maintained during the day shift when most of the residents are at work or out of the house, while the commercial accounts are taken care of in the evening to when those businesses have slower traffic or are closed.
“We have a good system going, and it helps us give our clients the best service we can,” Miles says. “In fact, I still mow the very first commercial account I signed almost 17 years ago, and it’s because of our focus on customer service.”
That’s what sets him apart from his competition: his approach to customer service. Miles Mowing & Lawn Care is a full-service landscaping shop – he also has a Grasshopper AERA-vator™ coreless lawn aerator that he uses to provide aeration – and Miles tells his employees and his clients that his number one priority is service and client satisfaction.
“Anybody can mow a lawn,” he says. “But, we treat our clients’ properties like we’re the ones living there. I tell my guys that if they don’t feel like they could pay for the job we’ve done, then the job isn’t done.”
His core philosophy is that service comes first, not money. Miles’ service comes at a premium, but he’s selling the value of the service he provides, not the final price tag. He sees many competitors that offer lower prices, but they don’t have a business plan, they don’t have insurance and they don’t have a service model. They are just cutting grass, and not cutting very well.
“We’re not one-price-fits-all, and we don’t sacrifice quality to match somebody else’s price,” he says. “We focus on providing our clients higher value for the dollars they invest with us.”
It’s an approach that has paid off. Nearly all of Miles’ clients have been with him for years, and most of his new business comes from word-of-mouth referrals from his satisfied customers.
He tells of a call he received from a business owner in Florida. The caller had a rental property in Miles’ town that was not being maintained, and he contacted Miles to clean it up. He had heard of Miles’ reputation and was willing to hire him without meeting him in person or seeing examples of his work first-hand.
“The property was neglected. I sent him before pictures with a formal quote, and he said, ‘Let’s do it.’ We did the work, and I sent him the after pictures with an invoice, and he was extremely pleased with the job we did.”
That’s the kind of reputation Miles’ has built from the ground up and works to improve with every client and every project; it’s a reputation that he credits to his choice of equipment in Grasshopper.
“The out-front deck on a Grasshopper gives us so much more flexibility maintaining a property, whether mowing and trimming or removing the deck and attaching an implement like the AERA-vator,” he says.
His aeration service is aimed at higher-end customers who want their landscapes immaculate. Some clients simply trust Miles to do what’s right for their lawns, so if aeration fits the need he works it in, while other clients request the service specifically. He’s looking to purchase a fourth Grasshopper to use with the AERA-vator™ as a dedicated aeration system in the next year.
“It’s amazing what a Grasshopper can do,” he says. “You can literally do anything with them. And they are user-friendly. They’re comfortable. They definitely increase our productivity.”
And increasing productivity while focusing on the needs of the customer to provide lasting value is a recipe for continued success.