Work-Life Balancing Act

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Whatever the season, lawn care and landscape pros are busy with one aspect or another of business and operations. This past summer, Turf spoke with Chant Singvongsa, owner of Singvongsa Landscaping in Jackson, MN, founded in 2009. In this interview, Singvongsa shared insight on how he balances work during the busy season (and year-round), as well the drivers behind the growth of his business over the past 12 years.

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Chant Singvongsa, Owner, Singvongsa Landscaping, Jackson, MN (Photos provided by Chant Singvongsa)

Turf: How did you get started in the lawn care and landscape business?

Chant Singvongsa: The idea for starting this business occurred when my wife and I bought a home and needed to mow our lawn. I purchased a 21” Craftsman lawnmower. To pay the bill, I offered to mow my neighbors’ lawns. This became a side-business after I had successfully grown the number of houses I was servicing. I was eventually able to secure enough customers to make this my full-time job and quit my factory job. My landscaping company employs four people. It offers complete lawn care, landscaping and hardscaping.

Through my landscaping business, I discovered my passion for sharing what I was learning about entrepreneurship and started a YouTube channel–Chant’s Daily Hustle–where I show my more than 27,000 subscribers what it takes to start from nothing, build a successful business, and positively influence others.

Turf: When you started out in the landscaping business, what did you expect to be most challenging?

CS: When I first started my landscaping business, pricing was one of the most difficult aspects to learn. I was unsure how to price my services and what system to use to get paid. I was uncomfortable asking clients for money at the time.

Developing this skill set required extensive research. Connecting with other landscapers through Facebook groups was what really helped me. Although they had never met me in person, these entrepreneurs were kind enough to share their knowledge and help me understand the trade. They helped me structure prices to make a profit and cover my expenses. They also inspired me to help others in return–I launched the YouTube channel in 2015.

Hiring was another challenge that I faced when I began to grow my business. I did everything by myself when I started the company. I was a novice at hiring and understood the process of hiring. I needed to learn how to hire, delegate, and pay professionals. Finding an accountant to handle bookkeeping and payroll was one of my key early hires. This was what allowed me to scale the business.

Turf: Would you share how you’ve tackled a challenge in your business?

CS: I’ve learned over the years that the only way to address challenges is head on. If I don’t know the solution or how to solve a problem, I turn to my team or hire someone who can help.

One of the greatest challenges I faced as an entrepreneur was the cost of running the business. While it is understandable that funds are tight when starting a business, I would rather save money and find solutions than fix the problem. You will gain confidence and learn over time in making the right investments to ensure your business runs smoothly. We will buy equipment that makes our jobs easier. We repair anything that needs fixing immediately, rather than waiting. This is more cost-effective than letting your team be inefficient or allowing a problem to grow.

Turf: Work-life balance is tough for many landscape business owners. This was a major challenge when you first started in the industry.

CS: How have you worked to find balance over the years? In the beginning, I was hungry. I worked seven days a work week. I didn’t have a work-life balance for the first 10 years. I wanted to make my business grow as large as possible. I didn’t think about what to do with the lawn after it was mowed. As I grew older and my children grew older, I began to think about where I could take my brand. I was unable to be out in the field every day so I hired a team. I would still be in the field but I was able to have my weekends back. It was important to delegate and hire the right people in order to maintain work-life balance.

Having the right technology was key to my freedom. In the beginning, everything was done with pen and paper. I realized that I needed systems to make things easier. I started using Jobber in 2018. I was able to save so much time with this software. It allowed me to improve my work-life balance, and created a wonderful customer experience. Jobber allows us to make estimates on the ground and then send them out to customers who can approve them right away. The app also allows us to do batch invoicing or route scheduling. All members of the team have the app installed on their smartphones to allow them to clock in and check out on-the-move. Prior to Jobber, I was completing admin-focused tasks in the evenings when I could be spending time with my family.

work-life balance

Now in its 12th year in business, Singvongsa Landscaping in Jackson, MN, employs four people and provides lawn care, landscaping, hardscaping, snow removal, and tree trimming.

Turf: What strategies do you use to ease stress? What lessons have you learned about business management through the years?

CS: I manage stress by identifying the cause and putting a system in place to relieve that stress. There will always be issues and problems in a company. It is important to establish a system that not only solves the problem but also prevents the same issue from recurring.

I enjoy spending my time with my family. My sons and I enjoy camping and fishing. Sometimes I work weekends in my shop and perform small tasks like sharpening blades. It is the little things that I do alone that help me relieve stress.

Business management demands that you are patient with all the happenings in your business and not take any of it personally.

Over the years I have learned that customers and employees are all different. They operate and think differently. It is important to be able to listen and adapt conversations to their communication style. This skill is essential. The business is our business, and must function in accordance with our vision.

Learn more about Singvongsa Landscaping by visiting “Chant’s Daily Hustle” Channel on YouTube.

Do you have a comment or business experience to share? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below, or send an e-mail to the Editor at [email protected].

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