What does The Pond Guy know? When trying to calculate the profitability of a landscape contracting business, you have to evaluate the revenue per man hour of your crews and foremen. Maximizing the per hour revenues of your contractors is an incredibly difficult task when you don’t know what to do. Fortunately, there are industry leaders willing to share their knowledge with up-and-coming landscape business owners.
One such leader is Greg Wittstock, also known as The Pond Guy. His accolades include being nominated for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award. He also received the Best Boss’ award from Fortune’s Small Business Magazine and Winning Workplaces in 2005, and earned the University of Chicago’s Entrepreneur Hall of Fame award in 2007.
On a recent episode of the Landscape Disruptors podcast, Greg Wittstock, founder of Aquascape, sat down with host and landscape industry influencer Stanley Genadek to discuss his keys to success and what it takes to maximize his installation crews’ revenue per man hour. As daunting as it may seem to improve productivity and efficiency at the same time, it is achievable when you use the right tools and techniques.
Here is a breakdown of Greg’s landscape business advice, and what you can do to become your local Pond Guy.
Greg Wittstock: The Pond King
If you ever think massive success is unachievable in the land and landscape industry, think of Greg Wittstock. Approaching its 30th year of business, Aquascape has become a global leader in both decorative water features and contracting efficiency. With over $40 million a year in annual revenues, Greg has cemented his business as one of the most successful hardscape companies in North America. While the resupply side of Aquascape drives most of its business, Greg still credits his installation teams’ unparalleled design/build method as the most valuable part of the organization.
Back in 1991, Greg founded what would later become the R&D department of Aquascape. The full-service design, build, and maintenance firm for residential and commercial decorative water features in the Chicagoland area. In 1995, the business expanded, and the company entered the manufacturing and supply side of commercial and residential decorative water features. From there, Greg developed a patented filter system and design known as the Aquascape Ecosystem. This eco-friendly water feature is now sold from Chicago all over the world. But, as Greg mentions in the podcast, Aquascape’s success doesn’t solely come from his patented features and designs. It also comes from his world-renowned ‘20 Parts, 20 Step’ installation method.
How to Maximize Revenue Per Man Hour
Back in 2017, data collection giant Planit, released the survey results on the revenue per man hour rates of all participating residential and commercial design/build firms. The report showed which industry segments had the highest and lowest revenue rates per hour per person. Based on the data, the highest revenue per man hour rate was irrigation, at $57. As of 2019, the hourly revenue rate per person for Aquascape’s installation crew was $281.
While this seems like a fictitious amount of money, that rate is based on a strict, tried and true method of assembly. For a standard 11 x 16 foot pond, it might take the average crew about two days, or 80 combined man hours, to complete. Using the Aquascape approach, a 4 to 5 person crew can do it in one day, using only 40 total man hours.
How Can You Adopt the Aquascape Method?
Not only has Greg learned to package his Aquascape Ecosystem, he has also learned how to package his success. The Aquascape University, formerly known as the Aquascape Academy, teaches landscape contractors how to adopt their method of installation so that you too can achieve profit margins of 50% or higher. “It’s a franchising system without the franchise fee,” says Wittstock. By completing the program, you immediately gain access to the Aquascape manual which Greg values at about $3 million.
Installation isn’t the only area of your business that can be optimized for productivity. Payroll, scheduling, and administrative work can all contribute to increased profitability if regulated and improved the right way.
For landscape business owners looking to affordably scale their company, LMN has you covered. Our suite of cloud-based, landscape business management software empowers owners to significantly improve the efficiency and monitoring of their business. Start growing your business the right way and try out LMN Free today.
Read more about payroll and reporting for your landscape business here.
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