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Lessons learned from growing a family business

Chris Lambton shares how he grew his family business, while maintaining the personal touch he and his brothers learned from their dad.

Growing up, I loved working with my dad. After school and during the summers I would help out with the family landscaping business that my dad started. My dad was a smart man. He had three boys so starting a landscaping company meant that he had free labor for decades. My dad was and still is a hard worker but he kept the business small with only one crew and got all his jobs by word of mouth.

Transitioning from a small, nearly one-man operation to one with multiple crews and employees had many difficulties. We wanted to make sure we kept the personal touch and attention to detail that my dad taught us while increasing our workload. I also wanted to market our company more and expand our online presence by creating a company website and utilizing social media.

To keep the personal touch that set my dad’s company apart from so many others, we made sure that one of us was on the big jobs at all times. Although at times this proved to be difficult, we wanted to keep the personal, family feel of our company. This would also allow us to make sure we kept doing the high-quality work customers were accustomed to. If one of us couldn’t be on the job we would always check our employees’ work to make sure it was up to par, which would also help to keep expectations high.

Expanding our online presence has been a great – and more importantly, free – way to advertise in our area. Whenever we finish a project, we post pictures and videos to show off what we have accomplished. This has helped us land more clients and more large landscape jobs. It is an easy way to get our name and quality of work out there. It is also a good resource for customers because they can look at our various sites and scroll through photos of completed projects.

It has been fun taking over the business that my dad started. The difficulties of expanding the landscape company while still keeping the one-man-shop feel have been tough but rewarding. I am thankful for what my dad created and what he has taught us. We hope to carry this on with our family for many years to come.