Once you get the product right the work has just begun. Don’t think that just because your product is the best that your company is the best. It takes unwavering effort to be the best with laser focus on not only product development but also — Sales, Customer Experience, Implementation, Marketing, Finance & Compliance, and Relationship Management.
I had the pleasure to interview Mark Bradley. Mark co- founded LMN in 2009 based on his company’s need for landscape software that simply didn’t exist. Now the industry’s best business management software, he credits LMN as a catalyst for helping him scale TBG Landscape from a backyard business into one of the Top 100 landscape contractors in North America. Since his first lawn care customer in 1999, Mark has been passionate about educating the industry on best practices for building better businesses. Now a sought-after speaker and business coach, he regularly shares his insight at events including GIE+Expo, Snow and Ice Management Association (SIMA), the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) and Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association, to name a few. Having recently completed the transition from landscape business owner to tech entrepreneur, Mark is committed to transforming talented landscape professionals into better business owners through industry leading software and learning opportunities.
Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I started a landscape company in 1997 after finding myself bored with a high paying job in the Nuclear Industry. The small company that began in my small apartment in Toronto was growing really quickly and scaled to 10M in sales by 2007. I needed software to help manage the growth and maintain efficient operations and create scalable business systems. We decided to invest in our own product after searching for something that would work.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
After trying some of the leading software out we decided we could do it better. I knew that we were a well-run landscape company based on the above average profits and the systems we had in place. I was excited at the prospect of making my business better and sharing the tools with an entire industry that needs technology.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
We started developing web based software with the intention of selling it using a SAAS model, we knew that mobile would be the most common platform but found ourselves “waiting” for the devices to become available and then waiting again for landscape business owners to realize that it was worth investing in smartphones and software.
So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Things are going fantastic, the business is growing at 30% annually consistently with over 5,000 companies and 55,000 users on the platform today. In the early days showing the product we found it hard to share what benefits the product could offer to a business. It took a great deal of patience and confidence in our vision to invest in building a product that an industry did not know they needed yet.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Back in 2007 we thought that the Field Service workers would manage themselves using Tablets not knowing just how powerful phones would become. We were excited and waited for the launch of the IPad and thought it would be a game changer for our platform. It’s quite funny looking back now seeing how in fact smartphones are overwhelmingly the go-to for managing field workers.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think we stand out because our software was purpose built by a landscaper (me) to serve landscapers. Everything we build is easy to use with simple logic for people to follow. We realized from day one that the industry needed to be educated in order to realize they needed software. Our go-to market strategy has revolved almost entirely around teaching “business workshops” using our software.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Get out of your own head. Find great people and share your vision, create key performance metrics for everybody in your organization, and get out of the way! Keep a 1000’ view on everything and take action only when things are not working, let people make mistakes and learn for themselves. Teach staff to invest time in new staff so that they can personally advance within the company. Motivate staff with bonus’ tied to individual and group success so that you are not the only one driving innovation in the company.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My CTO, Mike Lysecki has been with me from day one. His relentless attention to detail and his love for the landscape industry has made it possible to create a product that would have a meaningful impact on every company that adopts our platform to manage their businesses. Mike has continuously worked with our staff at my landscape company and the LMN Customers to ensure that we build easy-to-use products that allow companies to gain the efficiency in their day-to-day operations to succeed in these changing times.
Approximately how many users or subscribers does your app or software currently have? Can you share with our readers three of the main steps you’ve taken to build such a large community?
- 5,000 companies, 55,000 users.
- 1 — our mission statement — “to make great landscapers great business people”
- 2 — Using Education as a go to market strategy — teaching our customers how to become better business people so that they identify the need for our products for themselves.
- 3 — Using channel partnerships to expand our reach, working with private companies and associations who share our mission and serve the same clientele
What is your monetization model? How do you monetize your community of users? Have you considered other monetization options? Why did you not use those?
Monthly Subscription model, no other model considered
Based on your experience and success, what are the five (5) most important things one should know before one wants to start an app or a SAAS? Please share a story or an example for each.
- 1 — Make sure your product is needed — we spent considerable money in our first few years developing a component of the product that was to be sold as an “add on” that did not lift. Some deeper market analysis including customer product feedback surveys and focus groups would have saved the wasted time and money.
- 2 — Software takes longer and costs more to develop then people say — the visionary needs to have a project manager who understands every detail — having Mike Lysecki as our CTO has made it easy to deliver products that hit the mark because he understands the business requirements so well, he can finish the customer’s sentences and can relay the requirements to our development team so that we can build efficiently.
- 3 — Once you get the product right the work has just begun. Don’t think that just because your product is the best that your company is the best. It takes unwavering effort to be the best with laser focus on not only product development but also — Sales, Customer Experience, Implementation, Marketing, Finance & Compliance, and Relationship Management.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
We aim to help the landscape industry raise the bar. There are 200,000 companies and over 1,000,000 employees working in the industry. That means 1 in 300 people are landscapers. I want to see the industry improve profits, increase wages, improve working conditions all while allowing landscape business owners to deliver better results to the customers who spend money on landscaping.