Now five years later, is the winner of LandOpt’s Contractor of the Year Award, which is presented annually to the company that has exhibited the strongest performance amongst its peers in a number of categories.
The award’s criteria include performance against plan, transformation, participation in network events and maintenance base growth. Belknap Landscape Company scored 84 out of 110 possible points.
“We beat our revenue projection by 3.5 percent and our net profit margin by 30 percent,” said Hayden McLaughlin, principal and owner of the company. “We were within 10 percent of our sales plan for recurring work and beat our project sales by 7 percent.”
Belknap Landscape Company was able to exceed its projections thanks to the systems and processes that LandOpt trained the company in, helping the sales team become more efficient with their time.
“We go through a much more detailed pre-qualification process with each lead, which cuts down on time spent on leads, which may not be our client,” McLaughlin said. “The operational efficiencies, which were put in place, led to greater returns on our labor investment.”
One of the main reasons why McLaughlin turned to LandOpt was because he was concerned he was going to lose some of his competent and dedicated staff, which he says are “the heart and soul of the ‘Belknap Experience.’”
With LandOpt in place, the staff received more defined roles and responsibilities within the entire organizational chart. This allowed the company to become more cost efficient and managers were also cross trained so that each title has a full understanding of what each other’s role is.
“The involvement of LandOpt into the Belknap culture has provided clear career paths for all of our middle management team, and given them a working structure to make them feel more organized and consistent,” McLaughlin said.
As for the Belknap experience, McLaughlin says it is the relationship that is formed when you become a client and his staff is committed to providing unparalleled service to each and every client they have.
“Whether the relationship is with your sales person, and then your account manager, you always know who to call and that person will be looking out for your best interest,” he said. “Whether it is an installation or a maintenance package, there is always someone who will either be proactive with your property, or returning your call within one business day. It is all about the relationship!”
Belknap Landscape Company was established when McLaughlin purchased the original Belknap Nursery in 1988. McLaughlin had worked for a landscape architect for eight years as the general manager of his installation company. When the owner decided he no longer wished to be in the contracting business, he sold that portion of the business to McLaughlin.
Serving the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, Belknap Landscape Company is a full-service design, construction and grounds management business that serves both residential and commercial clients. The company has criteria which needs to be met, so not everyone is their client.
“The level of service that we are known for is what helps to set up apart,” McLaughlin said. “We are known as the most expensive, but we are also the largest in the area by a factor of three.”
The company’s number of staff varies during the seasons, with 80 to 85 employees during the busy season and 30 to 35 full time employees during the winter.
Like most other landscaping companies, Belknap Landscape Company struggles with the labor challenge, but it has found cross training has helped it become more flexible and reduce the need for employees with only a specific set of skills.
Although McLaughlin started out wanting to be a dentist when he grew up, once he reached college he found the horticultural program at the University of Maine intriguing.
“I love learning about plants and their use in the landscape,” he said. “Building landscapes to fit folks’ lifestyles has been the driving force for me.”
When asked what is his favorite part of the landscaping business, McLaughlin kept it simple:
“Exceeding the expectations of our clients.”