A ‘Fully Charged’ Mowing Business

Dwayne Paisley has always aimed for ‘best practice’ in his mowing, garden maintenance and landscaping operations. In this article, JOHN POWER asks Dwayne to describe his experiences with business development, the successful switch to electric power equipment, and his future directions in the industry.

OPERATOR: Jim’s Mowing – Rowville South East, Victoria (transitioning to Saints Landscaping & Garden Maintenance)
REPRESENTATIVE: Owner – Dwayne Paisley
LOCATION: Rowville, Victoria
CONTACT: dwaynamo@nullgmail.com

Just over six years ago, Dwayne Paisley said goodbye to a corporate career and entered the gardening and landscaping world as a franchisee with Jim’s
Mowing in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs.

The move was first and foremost a business decision – a chance to try something different as his own boss. As such, Dwayne’s business success has been driven by a cool and rational examination of the sector, and a willingness to explore new technical frontiers to enhance business growth, rather than rely on traditional methodologies and industry-wide old habits.

Dwayne’s first step was to purchase a franchise with Jim’s Mowing, which was as much about business mentorship as customer lead generation.

“Having worked previously in the corporate world, obviously I had good general business skills, but my knowledge of the gardening side of things was basic,” he admits. “I didn’t have the proper experience of the heavier stuff and the day-to-day running of a mowing business.”

Obtaining the franchise, he adds, was a far more complex process than initially envisaged, effectively requiring a mutual screening exercise to ensure both parties were compatible.

“Luckily, I was accepted, and I bought a territory first up with only 40-45 customers; from there you use Jim’s lead system to gain initial customers – but what I found from there is that once you start doing a good job, you pick up customers very easily through leads, referrals, next-door neighbours, people in the street driving past you, etc.”

The rigour of a centralised franchise network introduced Dwayne to a range of handy hints and customer service tips that now inform his entire business, which has grown to encompass three full-time staff and three or four casuals working across two crews.

“Basic things like whenever you’re mowing or edging someone’s lawn, and a pedestrian is walking towards you, the first thing you do out of common courtesy is turn off your machines so you’re not spraying stuff all over the person!” he explains, noting that grateful pedestrians often become new customers.

Today, having expanded his business to include landscaping and commercial garden maintenance, including real estate agency and housing estate work, Dwayne is on the verge of leaving Jim’s and creating his own enterprise: Saints Landscaping & Garden Maintenance.

FULLY CHARGED FUTURE

In keeping with his open-mindedness about fresh ways to achieve business growth and superior in-the-field results, Dwayne says he has been eager to try out new battery-powered technologies and systems that might enhance the efficiency of the business. Despite some initial scepticism about the performance of electric machinery, Dwayne says battery-powered devices have delivered immense cost savings, less downtime, enhanced user comfort, and “most amazingly of all” superior performance than petrol-powered counterparts.

“Roughly nine months ago, I got a call from the outdoor power equipment (OPE) company Kress Australia to trial some of their electric products,” Dwayne recalls. “Because they know what I do and how heavy-duty my team is.”

Dwayne took possession of Kress electric devices including a battery-operated mower; backpack-powered leaf blower, edger, slasher, whipper snipper and chainsaw; three rechargeable batteries; plus a mobile powered DC-DC Charger called a CyberTank.

The CyberTank is basically a large, mobile battery powerplant that sits permanently in the back of Dwayne’s truck. This powerplant, which is recharged overnight at home in 4–5 hours, is used to charge the smaller OPE batteries (there are two sizes) throughout the day. After each job, the OPE batteries are fitted to the CyberTank and fully recharged in just eight minutes.

Dwayne says that despite a workload that might involve 12-14 jobs per day, he has never suffered downtime waiting for batteries to charge. Moreover, the CyberTank has always had more than ample power to keep his entire fleet of electric Kress gear charged over a full working day – the powerplant has never dropped below 35% capacity.

“We have our batteries hooked onto the CyberTank in the back of the car, and we just push the On button and all the batteries are charging,” Dwayne says. “Now, and this is the thing I really like, these batteries really do charge in eight minutes! It shocked me at the start. So, when they said initially that there was an eight-minute charge time, I thought, ‘Well, I’d like to see that!’ But it’s true.”

Batteries have a running cycle of approximately 45 minutes, which is more than ample for most domestic and even commercial tasks, and the ability to swap a drained battery and replace it with a fully charged one is an immediate solution to the busiest work schedule.

The performance of the electric gear, Dwayne concedes, has been the most surprising aspect of the entire trial.

“The first time I tried out these electrical products I had a terrible property that hadn’t been touched for two years,” he says. “It had blackberries, grass up to my knees and higher; it had the works. So, I took my battery equipment… and packed my petrol equipment in the back of my truck ‘just in case’! The battery equipment got through it with absolute ease. Which completely shocked me. To be honest, the whipper snipper and the mower are more powerful than the petrol, which I couldn’t believe. The slasher was getting through blackberries like a knife through butter.”

USER COMFORT

Another bonus with the Kress equipment, Dwayne discovered, relates to ease of use. Not only do the backpack battery packs spread weight evenly across the user’s body, leaving the device itself as lightweight as a broom or mop, but the batteries themselves do not heat up during the working day – a massive contributor to comfort at the height of summer.

COST SAVINGS

According to Dwayne, the use of electric equipment contributes to direct fuel savings of approximately $200 per month, “and that’s being very conservative,” he adds. “And there are obvious additional savings from not having to buy oil, spark plugs, filters, and all the rest, not to mention the fact that I no longer have to spend one or two hours of my time on weekends doing all the maintenance; the battery gear literally looks after itself.”
A less tangible, though still meaningful, saving relates to the unobtrusive nature of electric equipment, which permits paid work to continue in circumstances where noisy petrol-engine devices might lead to disruptions. Dwayne cites the example of a secondary school where he was advised to postpone activities for the day due to Year 12 exams. Following a quick demonstration of how quiet the electric equipment is, the principal reversed his decision and allowed gardening work to proceed.

NEXT STEPS

Having developed a successful business model via his franchise with Jim’s Mowing, and embraced the advantages of non-polluting, powerful, electric equipment, Dwayne says he is well placed to expand his business and undertake more commercial and landscaping projects.
His new business – Saints Landscaping & Garden Maintenance – is already up and running and gaining the attention of property managers, real estate agencies seeking to rejuvenate properties on the market, as well as housing estate managers and property developers.