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Features – Company Profile
One day in spring 2011, Bryan Ring, left, logged onto the local Stillwater, Minnesota, Craigslist to advertise his lawn care services when another lawn mowing ad caught his eye. It wasn’t the prettiest ad. For some reason, Ring felt compelled to help the nearby competitor who posted it � a man named Richard Hansen from Woodbury, Minnesota.
With 15 miles between Stillwater and Woodbury, Ring was close enough to help Hansen, but far enough away that he didn’t consider him direct competition. Ring didn’t even service Woodbury, but if Hansen was willing to travel to Stillwater, Ring would share some of his customers. Ring called Hansen, offering him 12 lawn care accounts in Stillwater. When he didn’t hear back, he called again to assure Hansen he didn’t expect kickbacks.
�I looked at it as an opportunity to help somebody out,� Ring says. �This wasn’t to gain money. There was no agenda. It’s just in my nature.�
When he found out Hansen only owned a push mower, Ring also offered to front him a 36-inch commercial walk-behind mower until he could afford to buy it.
�I couldn’t grasp why someone who was capable of handling these jobs wanted to give them away with no strings attached. It didn’t make much sense,� he says. �But I thought if this guy was willing to loan me his equipment to mow his lawns, he trusted me to take care of his customers, so he’s got to be a guy I can trust.�
To smooth the transition, Ring visited many of those 12 accounts personally, and called others on the phone, to explain that another contractor would be mowing their lawns. Initially, customers kept paying Ring Lawn Care, and Ring paid Hansen as he performed the work. Ring checked on the properties regularly to ensure that Hansen performed to his expectations.
Eventually, Ring handed those customers over entirely and Hansen invoiced the accounts himself � at least, until he built up enough business that he could pass those accounts back to Ring.
Ring knows you’re still wondering: Why help a competitor, even a few towns away? He knows that what goes around comes back around. Loaning those 12 accounts was critical to launching Hansen’s Lawn Care, but Ring had no idea it would benefit him, as well, through a new referral network.
Under Ring’s wing.
Hansen started Hansen’s Lawn Care just one season before meeting Ring on Craigslist. Though fairly green in the industry, he brought leadership experience from the military, having served six years of active duty with the United States Air Force, achieving the rank of staff sergeant, and deploying to the Middle East with Operation Iraqi Freedom. He relocated to Minnesota after his military career ended and, with a wife and a newborn daughter to support, sought a career in lawn care.
When Bryan lent me those jobs, that meant the difference between continuing on with my business versus going to work for someone else.�
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