By Laura MacKenzie
Nova Scotia franchise wins top honours
Nutri-Lawn’s Steve Smith at the Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, or “Our Little Brothers and Sisters”, orphanage which is home to approximately 160 children in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic.
(Originally published in the April 2012 issue of the Nova Scotia Business Journal - "Nutri-Lawn" special advertising feature)
This year, Nutri-Lawn’s grass is greenest in Nova Scotia.
The Nutri-Lawn franchise, based in Dartmouth, was recently recognized as the 2011 Franchise of the Year at Nutri-Lawn’s annual meeting. This is the third year in a row the Dartmouth franchise, owned by Peter Bugden, has taken home the coveted honour.
Steve Smith, the franchise’s general manager, was among those who travelled to Mexico to accept the award. He says the company’s excellence in customer service, brand representation and sales made it stand out amongst the rest. The Dartmouth franchise also won other company awards this year recognizing those achievements individually.
Nutri-Lawn provides services including fertilizer and lime application, lawn aeration and weed-control. The company is proud of its products, but especially its customer service. Smith says it’s the little things that count, like calling customers in advance to remind them of lawn service appointments.
“Our customers think that is just great,” he says, “to know that we’re coming the next day, so they can pick up the dog toys or do whatever.”
Employee training is also a priority for the Nutri-Lawn franchise. New lawn workers get several days of what Smith calls “grass class” to learn about growing techniques. He also gives weekly presentations on issues such as watering or specific pests, and educates workers on the way current weather patterns affect customers’ lawns.
The Dartmouth Nutri-Lawn is thriving because its team, whether answering phones or mowing lawns, is focused on its customers.
“I’d like to think that people who have any kind of contact with us have a positive contact with us, and when they talk to our staff out in the field, they see them as professional and educated,” says Smith. “It’s the hard work and dedication of all our employees that has led to our continued success.”
re:nourish program — it’s all about giving back
In addition to keeping lawns beautiful, Nutri-Lawn works to make the world a better place through its re:nourish program.
Inspired by the company’s slogan, “We nourish lawns and lives”, it includes an ongoing community development project in the Dominican Republic and an annual food drive. The Nova Scotia franchise won the re:nourish Award for 2011 for its enthusiastic participation.
Dedication to Dominican
Franchise owner Peter Bugden and general manager Steve Smith have traveled to the Dominican Republic over the years to participate in the community development project.
“It was a life-changing experience, certainly for the better,” says Smith.
The project began with the creation of a soccer field and irrigation system for an orphanage in San Pedro de Macoris in 2009. In the second year, Smith and colleagues from across the country expanded the field, and also worked to help people in the nearby community.
“To be honest, the orphans probably have it good compared to some of the neighbouring communities,” Smith says. “As the trips progressed, we tried to do some other things outside of the orphanage walls.”
Smith’s team planted a garden of fruit trees for the community, and on another trip Bugden and his colleagues repaired some damaged trees and teamed up with a rotary club working in the area to create a second garden in the community of Vasca.
The Nutri-Lawn website features videos by the workers, describing the “living fence” they created from wooden poles that would take root in the ground to protect the garden from animals.
Food for All
The Dartmouth Nutri-Lawn has been involved in the company’s national food drive for the past three years with its donations going to Feed Nova Scotia.
In September and October, Smith says customers were invited to leave donations on the porch to be collected by the lawn care workers during their service rounds. In 2011, the franchise collected 44 boxes of food and $965 for the charity.
More on the Horizon
Smith says he would like to plan a new project, perhaps putting the team’s skills to use by beautifying a local public space.
“We like to instill those principles in our staff, that there’s a bigger picture,” he says. “It’s not just about making the lawn green, it’s about being community-minded and being a partner with the customer.”