No matter what I do I look at it and think “what can I do to make this more efficient, faster, better quality?”
Jon Kurkowski is the founder of Proformance Turf in Denver, North Carolina. Jon has been offering landscape services to the Lake Norman, NC communities since 1988 and now offers full-service landscaping that specializes in high-end landscape maintenance. Jon prides himself on using the best landscaping materials and equipment that allow his team to provide quality and efficiency to any yard. Jon has grown his business from simply mowing lawns to providing everything from aeration and seeding to pest control. Most recently, Jon has grown his business to include treatments for trees and shrubs to make his business the one stop shop for all a person’s outdoor landscaping needs. Jon is an entrepreneur in the truest sense of the word because every opportunity for growth with his business has required him to learn something new to succeed. He is always trying to learn something new that he can use to better his professional or personal life.
When Jon is not working he can be found spending time with his family and volunteering at his church. Other spare moments are spent reading and studying other entrepreneurs and thinking about ways to improve his business. Most recently this has been from a digital perspective, as everything Jon is reading points to this being the greatest avenue for growth as an entrepreneur.
Where did the idea for Proformance Turf come from?
I was the neighborhood lawn boy when I was 13 years old. I had a strong customer base immediately across the street from where I lived. A neighbor approached us and by the end of the day I had 4 houses. It just evolved from there. As a teenager I would run home from school and would jump in the truck and mow lawns for hours after school every day. I was making really good money at the time and it just snowballed from a high school job into a career and business.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I just get out of bed early and keep my feet rolling. My main focus is that the sooner I get started the sooner I can get finished. This way if something is wrong during the day we have time to fix it, overcome it, and still get the job finished. I focus on just being productive and staying motivated.
How do you bring ideas to life?
You have to be willing to learn to bring new ideas to life. If I want to take my business in a certain direction I have to be ready to learn everything that is required to that. I need to become an expert. I believe people should always be learning.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Digital marketing is the future of growth as an entrepreneur. I am especially excited when I see my efforts on social media to grow my business turn into profitable results. The digital world opens up so many doors to marketing that were not available to entrepreneurs in years past. I am excited to be on the forefront of this trend!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Equipment ownership. You’ve got to have the right tool for the job. Maintenance and image also sets us apart. We keep our stuff pretty well maintained and as clean as possible because our image is important. This is especially true in a million dollar neighborhood. The tools that we have make our job so much easier, efficient, and it keeps our cost low for our customers. You know we can do twice the amount of jobs than the other competitors can in the same amount of time simply because of the tools that we have.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I wish I would have made the decision to focus on growth a lot earlier than just getting by. Four or 5 years ago I made a decision to grow, but, you know, 25 years ago I was floating through life and getting by with no determination. I realized I was getting older so I was going to have to do something to get off the truck and into the office. I wish I would have made that decision a long time ago.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
In order to be successful you have to have the right equipment. If you don’t you will spend more time doing less work. Even if you can get the job done, without the right equipment it will be inefficient and will cost you in the long run. I see that with a lot of other startup companies. They try to be profitable without the tools they need to really maximize their profits. I feel like all most people think about is getting the job done.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
One thing that I find myself doing over and over is searching for improvement. No matter what I do I look at it and think “what can I do to make this more efficient, faster, better quality?”. I always think that there’s room for improvement. Even if we are doing the best we can I’m always looking for better results. I want better results with our website, better results with our equipment. I am just always looking for a way to improve something.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One thing I’ve implemented is social media posts on local yard sale pages. We call it Turf Tip Tuesday. I’ll just put out some educational sources for the community to view and read. We do it every Tuesday and we get quite a bit of response from it. It helps the customer feel more comfortable with us because we know what we are talking about.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest failure I’ve had recently is I financed a piece of equipment. I focus on being debt free, but this particular situation I wanted to acquire the piece of equipment so bad I jumped into a loan without knowing all the rules to the loan. There’s no way for me to get out of the loan. I can’t sell the equipment. I can’t refinance the equipment. The rules of the loan were far too strict. It has been the biggest mistake I have made and I totally wish I would have waited and paid cash. It was easier for me to finance it and I didn’t really want to write a check for $10,000 that day. I took out a loan on the equipment and my intentions were to pay it off early, because I don’t want debt. It’s difficult to be profitable when a company’s in debt. I just can’t get out of the loan, and I mean I could but I’d have to pay a fortune in penalty fees.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I am working to grow my business to also include treatments for ice. We don’t see a lot of ice in North Carolina, but when we do I want to be ready for my clients. Most people would ignore the business opportunities around them that don’t happen often. It may not be an idea for a new business, but everyone can find something that they can grow into that will be profitable often enough for it to be worth the growth.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I am most excited about digital marketing, but old school methods can still get the job done. For $100 I have had some door hangers hung and I am going to be hanging those in new neighborhoods I have been targeting. Money spent towards new clients is money well spent.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I use social media a lot to grow my business. I find that local buy/trade walls on Facebook are a great place to market my business. People think about their home when they are in their home and people use social media to relax. I want them to see my name and my business name when they are looking out the window at their lawn. Social media is a great way to do this.
What is the book you recommend our community should read and why?
Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick. It is so important to be able to escape all the distractions the world can offer.
What is your favorite quote?
The best is yet to come.
- You have to be willing to learn to bring new ideas to life.
- Money spent towards new clients is money well spent.
- Always look for a way to improve something.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.