My dog Rudy is a big, sweet dog. When we got him nine years ago, the breeder said he was the runt of the litter and would never weigh more than 45 pounds. Like life when things don’t go as planned or predicted, Rudy weighs 88 pounds now. He just kept growing and growing. And, he still cracks me up.
What really makes me laugh is how he responds to creatures that come into our backyard – the deer, the coyotes, the birds, the chipmunks, and with the most excitement, the squirrels. Rudy has never once thought he couldn’t catch those squirrels. While I admire his determination, his distraction caused by chasing squirrels he can’t catch reminds me of entrepreneurs who behave similarly.
Distraction – chasing the wrong things – saps energy. Through the years, I’ve wasted a lot of time chasing “squirrels” myself. Mine weren’t the animal kind; mine were those countless distractions that are disguised as opportunities. Just as I laugh at Rudy, I have to be honest and laugh at myself, too. Both the dog and his master could spend their time more wisely.
So, what squirrels are you chasing? A “squirrel” in business is nothing more than something that seems like an opportunity but isn’t. It’s merely a distraction disguised as an opportunity.
What are you doing right now? Are you focused on your vision, mission and core values? Are you running decisions and behaviors through those filters? One thing I know for sure, the most successful landscapers are the ones who stay focused on four things and don’t deviate:
1. Successful landscapers know their ideal client and everything they do is set up to serve them. They have a dialog going with clients, constantly asking them if they are happy and requesting feedback on how to do better. You can’t have multiple ideal clients; you can only have one and you need to know what they look like and where they are, and have as much information as possible about those ideal clients. When you communicate that vision of your ideal customers, your team becomes focused on them as well.
2. Successful landscapers know that, to have an organization focused on the ideal client, you need to identify your ideal team member as well. Again, in as much detail as you can possibly provide, clarify to your team what you are looking for and hire only those people. You see immediately when someone isn’t a fit and you get them out of your company. Only ideal team members can serve your clients the best. Knowing your ideal team member helps you hire, lead and serve clients better.
3. Successful landscapers don’t perform work outside their mastery. We chase squirrels in the form of jobs that our ideal clients have that need doing, thinking we have to take care of them. We assume we’ll “figure it out;” however, that approach usually becomes very costly. Many a landscaper has lost a great client because they tried to build something or perform a job they had no experience to successfully complete. Tell your client NO when they ask you to do something you’re not proficient at and explain to them why.
4. Successful landscapers stay focused on profits. Your financial statements are your “ultimate score cards” and everything you do focuses on that. You have a culture centered on putting a winning score up on the board. Everything you do should contribute to profitability. Sure, some days are better than others and sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. However, you are always trying to make money – money that can be used to buy new equipment, incentivize your team, grow your business, and help you retire one day.
Writing about what I’ve learned from my dog might make you laugh; however, I believe you can learn something from every situation. Rudy needs to stop chasing squirrels and lie down and take a nap. You need to stop chasing squirrels and get focused on finding ideal clients, ideal team members, doing the work you have mastered, and making a profit. Stop chasing squirrels and capture business success!
Marty Grunder is a speaker, consultant and author; he owns Grunder Landscaping Co. See www.martygrunder.com; mail