May Franchisee Spotlight: Derek Dexter

by Dianna Worthington on May 3, 2018

Doing the right things in business is critical to expanding your reach and your ability to take on additional territory. The Grounds Guys’ team is excited when owners show interest in expanding and when they meet the core criteria to qualify, such as managing existing customer complaints, capital, business plan, and more. Franchisee Derek Dexter owns The Grounds Guys of Winnipeg and he expanded his business last year. Find out about his inspiration, tips for success and his perspective on the top three characteristics of a successful franchise.

Meet the Dexter family!

Derek is holding Cadence and his wife Sherriann has her arm around Raine.

Dexter Family

Dianna: What was your initial motivation to purchase a The Grounds Guys Franchise?  Or, your “Why?”

Derek: In 2015, Peter vanStralen was the keynote speaker at our annual landscape conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba. As he spoke about The Grounds Guys, I thought that is how I want my company to run when I start one. He talked about excellent customer service, caring for your staff’s personal needs and giving back to the community and planet. After meeting the rest of the head office team in Orangeville, Ontario, I knew I had found the perfect business partner I had been looking for.

Dianna: As a franchisee with The Grounds Guys, what has been your favorite part of being in this business?

Derek: My favourite part about being in business is making customers happy. Maintaining beautiful outdoor spaces for them to enjoy and making sure they can run their daily lives in the middle of a snow storm is very rewarding.

Dianna: What do you believe are the three most important characteristics of a successful franchisee?

Derek: Number one is to follow the system. When I started, I followed the marketing plan just as it was taught at orientation, and it paid off. I also created a business plan, so I knew where I wanted to go, and how to get there. The teams follow GC3 and we have very few call backs.

Number two is great customer service. We are complimented all the time on how fast we respond to emails and calls. We make sure to be proactive especially in our snow business to let customers know what is happening on their sites. 

Number three is having the right team – actually, it is number one! I have a fantastic father who is also our accountant and he has provided lots of business and entrepreneurial advice. He and my mother have also provided financial capital when needed. My team members are great at keeping customers happy and sites looking beautiful. The Grounds Guys’ head office team provides direction to keep the business growing and profitable. Bouncing ideas around with other franchisees and sharing what’s working has been key to our continued growth.

Dianna: Who has inspired you – either in your personal life or in business and why?

Derek: My wife Sherriann has inspired me in many ways. She is a very strong woman who sets goals and accomplishes them. She has a strong passion for people who are struggling. As a social worker and manager, she changes people’s lives every day. Her attitude is contagious when you are around her. She has taught both our daughters to respect everyone and they are showing the same caring attitude Sherriann has. In our business, we hire a lot of team members with various disabilities and even though Sherriann doesn’t work in the daily operations of the business, her passion and knowledge has been instrumental in making sure all team members are given full opportunities to grow.

Dianna: You recently expanded and purchased additional territory – now owning all of Winnipeg – congrats! How did you make the decision to expand?

Derek: Thank you! Last summer, the business grew very quickly when we landed two, very large maintenance contracts. A majority of the work was not in my territory, so we looked at expanding to ensure we could continue to service the customers. The second reason was that we have built a very reputable name for The Grounds Guys in Winnipeg and I wanted to make sure we had room to continue our growth and service the high-end customers we focus on.

Dianna:  How do you plan to advertise and capture market share in your new area?

Derek: I have always focused my marketing in one way: referrals and face-to-face interactions. We work for a lot of property management companies and all we need is for them to go to their condo boards and highlight how fantastic we are to land more contracts. We also use commercial folders for in-person meetings with potential customers who meet our target demographic and use the information to highlight the pros of The Grounds Guys. After I drop off a folder, I enter the lead into GGPro and flag it for local lead development (LLD) where Candice Dillon follows up and lands me the quote request (QR)! We are also part of networking groups, which allows us to meet potential customers and give referrals back to the other group members. I always tell potential leads to not believe me when I say we are the best, but to call my customers, and hear it from them! A recent new customer told me when he signed the contract that I must have paid off all my references because they ALL raved about us! The best marketing is a happy customer telling their circle how great you are.

Topics: Franchisee Spotlight


Dianna Worthington

Dianna Worthington

Vice President of Operations

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