Sustainability: More than being green

Sustainability: More than being green

This strategic business approach was one of the many topics and lessons at the 2011 Lawn Care Summit.

December 9, 2011
Carolyn LaWell
Industry News

AVENTUREA, Fla. – The Lawn Care Summit went into full mode Thursday, as about 150 lawn care operators and pest management contractors attended technical and business seminars to catch up on the latest trends and developments in the industry.

The event, hosted by the National Pest Management Association and PLANET, opened with a general session on sustainability. David Hildreth, president of BOOST Associates, spoke about sustainability meaning much more than green practices, but an actual strategic business approach.

High performing sustainable companies follow an alignment of five resources, Hildreth said. Here they are:

Strategy. Companies have to know where they want to be in the next 12, 24, 36 months. Is the goal to grow by X amount or is it to add a new service? Most importantly, once the goal is defined, a plan has to be in place to outline how to get there.

Structure. A strategy is great, but a company’s organizational structure needs to be in line to support that strategy. It starts with employees and trickles down to whether or not it’s easy for customers to do business with the company. “It’s a matter of taking a look at structure and making sure it’s in line with our game plan,” Hildreth said.

Process. If a process or a service is not adding value to the customer experience, then why is the company doing it? “What are your processes doing for you for enhancing and driving that customer experience, and when was the last time you took a look at it?” Hildreth said.

Rewards. Every company needs to ask itself if its people are engaged. Whether the answer is yes or no, are there incentives to engage them and keep them engaged? Hildreth cited a Gallup Poll from 2007-2009 that found only 30 percent of employees said they were engaged at work.

People. To be successful, companies must have the right people with the right skills and attitudes. That may mean getting rid of underperformers. “Why accept mediocrity?” Hildreth said. “Why accept less performance than what you desire?” He summed it up with this analogy: If a football player wasn’t doing a good job, would they be on the field playing? No. They’d be on the bench. And they might not be resigned. So why hang on to underperformers?
“When all of these things align, it gives you the opportunity to rise up to a much higher performance and sustainability,” Hildreth said. “None of that happens unless leadership drives it, supports it so that the other employees support it and make sure it’s a customer focus.”