Interview with Bob Wilton - President of Clintar Landscape

Date: MAY 19th, 2011

Topic: Interview with a CEO

Bob Wilton, President Clintar Landscape Management, as been cultivating this business for almost 40 years. With a degree in business administration from Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto, and a mission to deliver premier customer service to the landscaping industry, he has created a company that has created a standard in how landscaping is done today.

Bob has been an active member, and past president on the Landscape Ontario board of directors, the Snow and Ice Management association, as well as an active member of several organizations all over Canada and the United States and he continues to be an advocate for the standardized professionalism throughout our entire industry by diligently supporting the industry certified designations, and ongoing education.

BeTheBoss - Tell us about the Clintar concept.

Bob Wilton - Clintar has been in business for almost 40 years primarily to provide quality landscape service to our customers while maintaining a professional image, and operation. In a sea of like companies, we strive to come out on top by operating under strict, consistent guidelines from the inside out. Our customers are professional property management companies, to national corporations, and home owner associations – We owe it to them to keep a clean, crisp image.

BTB - How and when did you become involved with Clintar?

BW - In the early 1970’s I started Clintar with a partner in Toronto. There was a severe lack of professional companies out there, and there was a void that needed to be filled.

BTB - What was your background prior to joining Clintar?

BW - When Clintar was born, I had a degree in Business Administration from Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto. This is where I was approached by an acquaintance from university to become involved in a spray company. This was the first step towards what is now one of North America’s largest landscape maintenance companies. This company initially, strictly sprayed to control primarily dandelions in the spring time. Although, very lucrative during the spring season, it did not provide consistent revenues that a landscape maintenance provider enjoyed.

BTB - What are some of the advantages in being a Clintar franchisee?

BW - When you start with Clintar, you are starting a company that has been in operation for almost 40 years; you instantly have the reputation, experience, and confidence to approach any company regarding any job.

Additionally, as a Clintar owner, you have access to accounts that you would not be able to access as an entry level provider. Several large, notable, organizations and government facilities require contractors that are able to be bondable. This eliminated several newer companies from the bidding process as they do not fulfill the requirements to become bonded. In addition, we have several national accounts that are set in place, and managed through our support office which enables you to instantly have access to the account as a Clintar Owner.

Anytime access to a board of directors with over a century of industry experience. Our team here has been working throughout the 40 years to perfect the systems we have in place and to provide advice to all our franchises. This is an invaluable advantage over independent contractors as you always have a place to turn when you have a question, run into a brick wall, or need advice on a staffing, operational, or technical concern.

Proven marketing systems have been carefully implemented, tested, and evaluated to ensure optimal results. With each initiative comes years of proven history to back it. Every one of our franchise owners have been positively affected by these systems, and it just simply works. Here’s the best part – As an owner, it’s already done for you!

A dedicated franchise support representative will be with you every step of the way to ensure a positive transition from a prospective Clintar owner to a successful company. Your support team member is dedicated to the longevity, and success of your business, and is there to assist with the creation of operational processes, technical support, and financial advice.

Ongoing financial, technical, and operational training is the core of the franchise support system. Through our quarterly system wide meetings, yearly conferences, periodic sales and systems sessions, and on-demand support we ensure that each of our owners are up to date, and operating as productively as possible.

BTB - Who is your ideal franchisee

BW - A passion for people is a must. We don’t sell service, we sell relationships. A successful owner has the natural ability to work well with people, and build on relationships. Without relationships, we will be in an industry strictly basing decisions on price. Our current owners that have proven to be successful all have one major common, their ability to maintain a positive relationship with their clients.

Someone with a ‘full tank of gas’ will be a success with the Clintar brand. Our support teams are here any time to teach the technical aspect of the business – but we can’t teach the motivation required to make it a success.

Like any business, sales are the key to staying in operation. If a candidate is sales oriented, the other aspects will fall into place.

BTB - Tell us a little about the landscaping Market?

BW - The landscape industry is segmented into several major categories – property management companies, national chains, retail operation, commercial, industrial, government. Each of these segments have unique features and benefits.

Although there are thousands of landscaping companies registered in North America, surprisingly very few would be considered a professional landscape provider. Though this is a very easy industry to penetrate, it is extremely difficult to achieve longevity and sustainability thus gradually eliminating the ‘chuck in a truck’’ type landscapers.

In most cases, the few large companies compete for major accounts, rather than an excessive amount of smaller companies underbidding each other.

There is always a constant need for summer maintenance and snow removal.

BTB - What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?

BW - Carefully selecting the right owners is the first step in creating a foundation for success. This is an industry that is not for everyone, and through extensive experiences, and trial and error I have personally identified that there’s a direct correlation between a successful business, and a successful owner; this is the key to a successful franchise. Ownership is a huge motivator in operating a Clintar franchise. This is where we get ahead, and out-perform the large corporate providers.

BTB - What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?

BW - Expect to put in a superb effort; this means early morning and late nights. If you are looking to operate a business and not put in the time required to be successful, this may not be the right industry for you. There is a direct co-relation between the amount of effort you put into a job, and the rewards that come out, and with the right attitude, motivation, combined with the expertise of our system, you can expect the rewards.

Take a deeper look into the industry to ensure this is the right avenue for you. The landscape industry does not work on a 9-5 schedule, particularly in the winter months. There are sacrifices you have to take in order to become a successful owner, and that usually translates to sleepless nights, early mornings, and nonstop managerial duties.

Ensure you are willing to adhere to a proven system – We value experience, and successes from past ventures, and embrace them; however expect to follow the Clintar system that has been proven successful for almost 40 years.

Having the finances readily available, combined with the positive attitude, and the willingness to take the experiences from a proven system will be some of the major consideration criteria in this process. Take a look at where you stand, and see if it is a right fit.

BTB - In your opinion, why do you think that Clintar would be a great opportunity for someone?

BW - Almost 40 years in business with an average of 15%-20% growth each year can almost speak for itself. You are tapping into an invaluable resource that is impossible to obtain starting on your own – experience. You are guided in the right direction from the very first day, and trust me when I say that no matter what you encounter, someone somewhere in our system has faced the same issue, and has overcome it.

When you become a Clintar owner, you become part of a team that has only proven success. The success rate of a franchised business trumps that of startups 10 to 1.

You are able to give your customers the attention of a local landscaping company with the power of an entire organization to back it.

Penetrating a market with a new brand is hard enough as it is – With the Clintar brand behind you, you are already known in your market, and you have the 40 years of references to assist in large account sales, something you will not be able to obtain for years after you start a business from scratch.