An Interview with Duglas Cruz, owner of Greenland Landscaping in New Westminster, B.C.

By Donna Marrin

Tell us about your business and how you started it.
Greenland Landscaping is a lawn care and garden maintenance company operating in the lower mainland area. We provide services such as grass cutting, fertilizing, power raking, top dressing, aerating, garden installations, hedge trimming and small tree pruning, and client satisfaction is our focus.

Prompted by my passion for gardening, I launched Greenland Landscaping eight years ago, starting out by offering grass-cutting services. I began with one client and within a couple of months, had three more. From there, it grew.

What was your early vision for your business, and how has it changed over time?
I was working for the city of New Westminster as a seasonal employee; my goal was to service at least three or four clients every day, taking care of their garden maintenance and lawn care needs after I’d finished my job with the city. By the following year, I was taking care of three or four places every day. Two years later, struggling to work both jobs, I decided to leave my job with the city, take the self-employment program at Douglas College and start my own business. By this time my vision had changed into the creation of Greenland Landscaping, a company that offers quality work to achieve the total satisfaction of our customers, and also offers employees the best place to work.

Your biggest learning curve?
Being so passionate about plants and gardening, the physical aspect was not an issue. Starting my own business made me realize that it wasn’t just about the work; there were also other challenges that I had to face in order to keep up with the business. These challenges consisted of learning how to keep my own records, legalizing the company, estimating jobs, managing the business financially, and dealing with the daily business itself. On top of all of that, finding time for my family.

Describe a day in the life…
Early morning, I prepare myself to have a positive day, since running a small business can be stressful. What boosts my energy is keeping in mind that nothing is easy and working hard and giving it my all will help me achieve my goals. At this time, I have three full-time and part-time employees; and I do organizing and supervising. We visit about fifteen to twenty-three residential places from Monday to Friday. Our working days range from eight to twelve hours, depending of the type of work we are doing. After work, I check in with my clients and employees to find out how the day went, and if there is anything we can do to improve the services. Aside from my regular working hours, I also use some time after the workday to provide estimates for new customers. Once at home, I check over the work schedule for the following day. My day ends after loading the equipment needed for the following day onto the truck.

What makes your business stand out?
We always advise our clients by offering solutions that are right for their needs. If a client requests that work be done in the spring that really shouldn’t be addressed until fall, we’ll take time to explain the pros and cons. People are always grateful for the advice. No matter the job, we always strive to surprise our customers and make sure that they are pleased with the results. We do not view our customers as ‘simple transactions, receiving services that they’ve paid for’; we aim to build real relationships, friendships. If you put your heart into it genuinely, they will be grateful and remain loyal to you.

How do you find balance between your business and home life?
When I was starting my business, my family was excited too; we were all kind of involved. My kids came out and helped me advertise by delivering flyers and telling people about my company and services. Later on as they got older, they started working part-time in the company during the summer months. My wife worked with me for about two years; it was hard finding employees with the experience I needed. Nowadays, after finding the right employees, I have been able to take time off and spend quality time with my family on road trips and vacations.

What’s the best part of running your own business? What’s the most challenging?
The best part of running my own business is being able to make decisions and establish my own short, medium and long-term goals. Achieving these goals is very rewarding. The most challenging aspect of my business is learning to make the right decisions. As an entrepreneur, it’s been challenging to have to learn so many things in a short period of time in order to make the business successful.

Do you have a favorite business tool or resource?
Communication is my favorite business tool. Talking directly with people is the best way to keep informed about your business. I’ve found that it’s very important to talk regularly with my customers to make sure we are doing well. It’s also important to connect with other landscapers to keep informed about the market in order to stay competitive.

What is the key to your success?
Keeping a positive attitude and being enthusiastic about everything I do in my business; believing that I can do it, and working hard to achieve my goals.

What is the one piece of advice you would like to give to others thinking about starting a business?
If you want to start your own business, you have to love what you are going to do. Nothing would be more difficult than having to succeed at something you don’t have a passion for. Dream big and work hard—that is only the way your dreams will come true. Also have a clear vision about where you want your business to go.

DUGLAS CRUZ came to Canada eleven years ago, and is married, and the father of three lovely kids. You can contact him by sending a message to [email protected].

By Adam

November 04, 2011