Entrepreneurs often become business owners on the strength of having a “better answer to a customer’s problem.” Even so, most entrepreneurial journeys are replete with challenges for a small business owner to address – frequently without significant experience or business training, and most often without substantial support. Eric Kobb, the founder and owner of Rolling Green Landscape Solutions, faced just that predicament and turned for assistance to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) and its award-winning Advisory Board Council (ABC) program.
Orlando-based Rolling Green Landscape Solutions provides a full range of landscaping services to high-end residential and commercial clients. What sets it apart is the quality of its people and service, and the superiority of its technology. “The landscape industry is a crowded place,” explains Kobb. “The number one way we differentiate ourselves is through our people. We focus on hiring the best, on training and education, and on retaining them. We’re proud of the number of licensed and certified staff members we have. We also try to be more technologically advanced than most in our industry. It’s all part of making our teams more efficient, to allow us to communicate better with our clients, and overall just do a better job.”
“I have spent my whole life in the landscaping industry, so I have always known my trade,” Kobb points out. “I know my craft and I know how to service my customers. What I didn’t have any experience in was the business side of things: how to set up a business plan; how to have a marketing strategy; how to actually understand and grow our financials. I have seen other businesses flounder without that knowledge and I didn’t want to go down that path so I sought out the FSBDC.”
“When I first met with them, they recommended one of their programs: the Advisory Board Council,” Kobb recalls. Directed by Program Manager Jill Kaufman, each advisory board consists of a customized, no-cost panel of experts providing advice and counsel to help businesses grow. The FSBDC acts as a matchmaker between established local small businesses like Rolling Green Landscape Solutions and area professionals who volunteer their expertise as members of an advisory board, with each advisor purposefully selected to address the specific needs of the FSBDC client.
“We set up a board that would fill the voids in my personal experience,” Kobb states. “We built my board focused on the areas I could improve upon and we went from there. It’s been great. My ABC was pretty awesome in fact.” It included professionals in accounting and finance; Human Resources; advertising, marketing and branding; and banking. “It was really cool to see the different levers that can be pulled in the business world and how you could make yourself more successful and grow as an individual,” Kobb shares.
The FSBDC’s Advisory Board Council really made a difference for Kobb and Rolling Green. “Working with the FSBDC and my Board have been really impactful. It’s been huge,” Kobb concluded. “The results are staggering. Over the three years we have worked with the FSBDC, our profits are up, our revenues are up 139%, our employee count has more than doubled, we have expanded our facility, and we have increased our line of credit by three times (3X). It’s all really helped to position us for the future and for future growth, and I’m super excited about that. The FSBDC opened my eyes to how things are done and I want to thank them and everyone on my Board who helped me.”
For information about Rolling Green Landscape Solutions, please visit http://www.rollinggreenlandscape.com/