A while back one of my clients asked me a question that really made me think. He said, “Marty, can you tell me what you have done to be successful?” I asked him what he meant and he elaborated. He said, “I know strategically or in terms of the big picture what you have done; however, what were the exact things you have done or do now to make Grunder Landscaping Co., successful? That’s what I want to know.” This question forced me to sit down and write out all the things we’ve done to make Grunder Landscaping Co., the 30-year overnight success story we are. I can’t list all of them here but I hope what I share helps you grow your landscaping business.
1. Get your vision communicated. I define vision as your “ideal state.” Everyone at your company, or rather anyone who can help you achieve your goals, needs to know where you are headed. They need to know what a win looks like. So, tell your team, your family, your advisers (accountant, coach, attorney, etc.) and even your vendors. The more people who know what you are trying to do, the more helpful and engaged they can be. I don’t think you will EVER realize your potential if you don’t have a clearly communicated vision. We have our vision posted and we talk about it all the time.
2. Have a memorable mission statement. Develop one that your employees understand and get excited about. A mission statement is what your team is going to do on a daily basis to achieve your vision statement. It should be crafted in such a way that your team works like they are on a mission. Our mission statement is everywhere. If you work at our company, you have to know it.
3. Communicate and practice your core values. Core values are the beliefs and behaviors your team must live and support to be successful. If they don’t live and support them, they can’t work at your company. This is the culture of your organization. If you have someone who is a great worker but can’t follow your core values, get them out of your company. Our core values are talked about ad nauseam. The things that are important to a company must be talked about constantly.
4. Know who your ideal client is. Limit chasing non-ideal clients, learn how to say no and feel good, not bad, about it. Your ideal client should be someone with whom you enjoy working, make profits from, and is loyal to you. It’s hard for landscapers to do this but, to grow, you have to say no to people who aren’t a “fit” for what you do best.
5. Know your costs and how to make money. You have to know the holes and, by all means, understand you must rally your crews around beating the hours bid. Landscapers sell time. Therefore, everything you do has to center around that. Work orders must be used and the crew doing the work has to understand how many hours are budgeted and then together, everyone involved in the job works together to beat the hours.
6. Use contracts to limit confusion. State terms and bid jobs with margin in them. Assume the worst and get a fair profit for your work. You may think your clients feel you don’t trust them. When you ask them to sign, say, “Your satisfaction is critical to our success, so to make certain we’re all on the same page, we put everything in writing. To get sideways with you could cost us your business and we’re not going to let that happen.” Show the client why this is in their best interest.
7. Bill as soon as the work is done and collect. Only do this if the client is happy. If they aren’t, make them happy – no excuses. Cash flow is critical to any business. I know of way too many landscapers that use a line of credit when, if they had a prompt billing process in place, not only would they not need a line of credit, they actually might have a ton of cash in the bank.
8. Keep score and show your team the score. Constantly focus on the positive and catch your employees doing things the right way. Through the years I have heard from my team and countless other landscapers about “wanting to be careful with criticism.” I get that. However, you know what makes delivering criticism easy and effective? Two things: 1. Having a constant dialog with your team. It’s pretty easy to tell someone you talk with a lot about all sorts of things when they have done something you don’t like or they need to improve. 2. If you spend enough time sharing compliments – and I mean compliments. Not “you did a good job” but rather, “I drove by the Caruso residence and it was perfect, not a detail out of place. Wow!” With specific compliments like that, you can easily share constructive criticism with your team. They will listen and take it well because you have been consistent and fair, and have told them when they’ve done well, too.
There’s a lot more that I have done and will continue to do to make Grunder Landscaping Co., successful. However, overall, these items can and will help you. My 30 years of experience make arguing with me pretty tough. I’m an old, crusty landscaper now, folks. Ha!
Marty Grunder is a speaker, consultant and author; he owns Grunder Landscaping Co. See www.martygrunder.com; mail