When Mark Bradley first started his company, TBG Landscape Professionals, things seemed great. Revenue was coming in left and right, and he was seeing 15-20 percent profit on jobs. And he almost went out a business a couple of times.
“I kinda got started on the wrong foot,” Bradley said during his session: “My Biggest Mistakes in Building a Landscape Company and What We Did to Fix Them” at the Green Industry Conference.
But, after creating a budget and putting systems in place, the Canadian company, which produces $18 million in revenue, got back on the right track.
Here are some of the mistakes Bradley made, and how he corrected them:
No budget. Bradley has an employee called “Muscle.” And how did he get that name? Well, when the company was growing too fast, they needed money in the bank by Friday. So, they would start a job to get paid, and would have Muscle dig holes and look busy until they could get the man power and equipment to finish the job. Bradley remembers looking at wall and seeing 26 open jobs and seven crews.
“When you grow that way, you have a lot of work that doesn’t get done, he said. “It felt like chaos most days and that’s not fun.”
Keeping talent. Bradley left a job that was paying him more than $100,000 at age 22 because there wasn’t enough opportunity to grow. He asked for a raise and the boss said “If I give you a raise, then I have to give everyone a raise.” Bradley said that they should let everyone know what he produced and the boss said they can’t because then everyone would know how profitable the company is. So Bradley was out the door and carried that lesson with him into his own company.
Bradley also learned that you make superstars, you don’t hire them. So don’t spend time looking for a readymade star. Instead look at someone with potential and train them to fit your entrepenurial culture, he said. Once you find them, you have to work hard to keep them. That means not paying all foreman the same. If one foreman is responsible for more work and makes a better profit on jobs, then that foreman should be paid more than someone bringing in less business, Bradley said.
Spend money on equipment. “I was really afraid of making equipment payments,” Bradley said. But eventually he bit the bullet and opened up his wallet.
“Production went through the roof,” he said. While he was happy with the new way of thinking, he still had doubters. One of those doubters was an older competitor he was friendly with, who told Bradley he would sink his company with all the equipment he was buying. Bradley eventually passed the competitor in revenue and figured out that the competitor was never going get past a certain point because he was afraid to spend money on equipment.
“You can get a whole lot of work done with a well-equipped crew,” he said. “Being cheap is really expensive.”
Billy Goat Industries showed off new products for landscape renovation and cleanup, including the 33- inch QuietVac. The new debris vacuum uses a cyclonic filtration and new dust-sock technology in the collection system to cut down on dust in dry conditions. It also runs quietly, at about 84.5 decibels.
Also debuted were the hydro-drive OS900 Series Overseeder and Z Force Blower. The new blower attaches to any ZTR mower via standard JRCO mounting bracket, and uses a foot pedal to direct a 360-degree discharge. The unit also pivots on the rear attach to help it float over terrain changes.
Merchandising has also seen an update for dealers with an integrated video display for the showroom. The 7-inch color swiveling monitor uses push-button activation to show six pre-loaded product videos. The display attaches directly to a Billy Goat merchandiser, is battery operated and white powder steel-coated.
CORE Outdoor Power released a handheld blower and hedge trimmer, both equipped with GasLess motor technology.
Following the successful spring 2012 debut of the CGT400 Line Trimmer, CORE Outdoor Power is introducing the CB420 handheld blower that weighs 11 pounds, runs up to 400 cubic feet per minute and produces winds up to 110 miles per hour. Also hitting store shelves will be a 12-pound CHT410 hedge trimmer with run-times of up to 90 minutes.
CORE Outdoor Power is also introducing the Quad Power Pak, which is compatible with all CORE products and functions as both a back pack, offering users four times the run time, and a mobile charging system. When being used as a mobile charging system, it has the capability to charge four Power Cells simultaneously using a 12-volt power supply such as a vehicle power outlet or a typical AC wall outlet.
Kansas performed for more than hour during a free show at Fourth Street Live! The band blazed through hits “Point of No Return” “Fight Fire with Fire,” “Dust in the Wind” and closed the show with “Carry on My Wayward Son.”