How Serpico Landscaping became one of the service leaders in the Bay Area.
In 1989, Sharon Serpico Hanson traded her high heels and attaché’ case for boots and a pickup truck and founded Serpico Landscaping. A former President of an HOA, she was discouraged by the lack of customer service and horticultural professionalism in the industry. For Sharon, great landscaping wasn’t just something to be taken for granted; it was essential in building a dream community.
Motivated by those concerns, she became a pioneer in bringing excellent customer service to the green industry, and created Serpico Landscaping to be Different from the Ground Up.
Serpico starts with understanding the customer’s needs.
Though she didn’t have a background in landscaping, Sharon focused on service, good communication and follow-through. According to Sharon, “It wasn’t about mowing lawns; we created an organization based on how we communicate with customers.“
It was difficult to break into the market, but Sharon used her HOA connections and started landing accounts. And whether she reported to the HOA Board, the Property Manager, or the Landscape Committee she made sure she and the Serpico Team took the time to really find out what her clients wanted, what was important, their concerns and suggestions, and all the many nuances that come with building a long-term relationship.
A key difference—The Serpico Standards
Making quality a reality day after day takes more than just good intentions. So Sharon developed what is now the Serpico calling card, the Serpico Standards. For inspiration, she drew on her background as a quality assurance controller and the lessons she learned from her father, who was a “by-the-books” military officer. From implementing a detailed work order system to demanding high-touch communications, the Serpico Standards form a set of key performance indicators for Serpico Landscaping. They also reflect Serpico Landscaping’s core value as a company.
At the time, the usual expectations for work were, “Mow, blow, and go,” but that did not fit Serpico’s new model. So a rigorous hiring and training program was put in place, with emphasis on service and communications.
Clients also learned they could rely on follow-up reports done monthly, which detailed all of the work performed. In this way they could quickly see the value of Serpico’s services, which, in many cases, exceeded expectations. Business exploded quickly because, at the time, no one was doing or talking about these things.
Serpico takes the edge through technology.
As digital technology rolled out, Serpico found they could be even more proactive in serving their customers. Instead of clipboards, employees were armed with cellphones and tablets, which enabled them to text or email about issues in real time, or send digital photos of what they saw on the grounds as they made their rounds.
Troubleshooting of problems is streamlined, too. As a recent example, a Serpico employee spotted a water leak, sent a photo to the Property Manager, and was able to generate a solution and work order in real time.
In tune with California’s climate.
Since Northern California is Serpico’s home turf, and water issues are always top of mind, the company prides itself in forward-thinking policies, participation in state and local professional programs, and its embrace of state-of-the-art technologies.
An example is Serpico’s WaterWise Irrigation, the industry-leading monthly base irrigation system inspection program, which delivers fast identification and repairs and reduced water waste and reduced costs for Serpico clients.
Different from the ground up—and quite successful!
Today, 28 years later, Serpico’s story is one of continuing—and growing—success, with more than 150 employees and over 300 properties managed. We never stop thinking, working and communicating with our customers, because we can honestly say those partnerships are what our business is all about.