How Cornwell Lawn & Landscaping grew 7x from quality work and communication

SMS Assist Blog Post

“If I had to describe Nicholas Cornwell and his team, I would call them rock stars,” said Brandon Gronset, a manager of vendor procurement at SMS Assist.

In 2010 Nick Cornwell took on the title of founder. He started his own landscaping company, Cornwell Lawn & Landscaping, counting two trucks and four employees working to serve ten customer locations in the Columbus, Ohio, area.

A year into running his business, Nick learned he was about to lose one of those customers—or so he thought.

“Our relationship started when SMS Assist acquired an account we had for snow removal,” said Nick. “I thought I was going to lose this account, and I was devastated.”

But Nick soon discovered that when SMS Assist begins a new partnership with a customer, the company welcomes that customer’s service providers to join the SMS Assist Affiliate network.

And that’s exactly what Nick did. “We teamed up with SMS Assist, and since then, our experience has been amazing.”
“We teamed up with SMS Assist, and since then, our experience has been amazing.”
Nick Cornwell, Founder of Cornwell Lawn and Landscaping
A relationship that continues to grow

Eight years later, Nick’s business has grown sevenfold, powered by 14 trucks and 30 employees. The team serves up to 50 sites a day.

In that time, SMS Assist grew, too, including receiving a $150 million investment from Goldman Sachs valuing the company at $1 billion. Nick says, “As [SMS Assist] grows, our company grows with it.”

In eight years, Nick has completed 9,700 work orders (and counting) for customers that he wouldn’t necessarily have access to if it weren’t for his relationship with SMS Assist.

When he’s in the field, Nick likes that there are always people available to have his back.

“I have an incredible rapport with every [customer service representative] I’ve worked with at SMS Assist. I can call them anytime I have a question, and even if they don’t pick up the phone immediately, I know they’ll call me back if there’s something I need help with.”

“I don’t have to dial an extension when I call,” Nick says. “Everyone has a direct line, and there is no transferring. That makes a huge difference.”

Brandon is one of those people that Nick has a strong relationship with at SMS Assist. The two have worked together since Nick joined SMS Assist’s Affiliate network in the very beginning.

“[SMS Assist] and Nick have a symbiotic relationship where we know that to succeed, we have to work with each other,” said Brandon. “Because we know that we can count on him, we’re more inclined to give him more work.”

Quality service is a two-way street

Affiliates who go above and beyond often treat SMS Assist’s customers like they’re their own. “Getting the job done in a timely manner while meeting the expectations of the customer is important,” said Nick. “We want to make sure that our work meets the customers’ expectations, and SMS Assist helps us do that.”

That thinking is one of the reasons why SMS Assist calls on Nick when customers have emergencies.

In January 2016, Brandon reached out on behalf of SMS Assist and asked Nick to travel to Kentucky and provide snow services during a massive snowstorm.

“When we contacted Nick about the opportunity, he was ecstatic,” said Brandon.  “I could tell that he wasn’t just happy about the extra business, but he was proud that we had faith in him.”

Once he accepted the work, Nick prepared his fleet and drove the three hours from Ohio.

The work began along the way. Before they even left Ohio, Nick and his crew provided services for 12 locations outside their regular service area. During the snowstorm, Nick’s team served 24 Kentucky locations spanning Louisville, Shelbyville, Crestwood, and Lexington.

“SMS Assist made sure their customers had coverage and helped our company earn some extra money at the same time,” said Nick. “We were happy to travel and will continue to do so.”

With new work orders always coming in, customer services representatives work with Affiliates to be sure they’re comfortable with the workload. “SMS Assist focuses on quality first, and won’t force work on Affiliates,” said Nick. “And that’s a good thing, as it has helped us stay prepared and organized when new opportunities arise.”
“As [SMS Assist] grows, our company grows with it.”

Nick’s advice to new Affiliates

“It’s ok to be hungry and ask for more sites, but at the end of the day it’s your performance that gets you the work,” he said. “Communicate with your [customer service representative], provide quality services, and the work will come over time.”

When we look for Affiliates, Nick is an excellent example because he values the relationship and tries to make it work for all parties involved. “We put Nick’s service in high regard,” said Brandon. “And we can rely on him when emergencies occur because he has a do-whatever-it-takes mentality.”

Want to join our mission of better? Sign up to be an SMS Assist Affiliate.