SYLACAUGA, Ala. – The fourth annual Green Industry Grad School opened last night at Farmlinks golf course and research center near this rural Alabama city.
The event, presented by Agrium Advanced Technolgoies, brings together about 40 lawn care operators for three days of technical and business training. The facility, owned by AAT and operated with its partners, Toro and BASF, is used as a testing ground for new golf and lawn care products and equipment.
At dinner, Marty Grunder gave attendees 11 ways they can outperform and out service their competition.
- Offer great customer service. The competition can’t copy how you treat your clients. Don’t give them a reason to go anywhere else.
- Be different. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but make yourself stand out in your customers’ minds somehow.
- Make your work fun.
- Have a team atmosphere. “For someone to feel like they’re part of a team, they have to be valued – they have to be loved,” Grunder says.
- Survey clients and team members about your performance.
- Be clean and organized. Keep a tidy shop and your trucks washed. It says something about what’s important to you.
- Set objectives. Then write them down and tell your team what they are.
- Communicate your mission and vision to your team.
- Learn. Use your downtime to develop your skills as a leader, manager or salesperson.
- Have your antennae up for new ideas.
- Have a plan, and stick to it.
“In every market, there’s a clear leader, a clear number two and everybody else,” Grunder says. “Don’t be everybody else.”
The three-day event continues through Wednesday. Grunder will speak today on how to lead in lean times.
Other speakers will include:
- Eric Miltner, an agronomist with AAT, on smarter ways to grow
- Ron Dekok, AAT marketing manager, on a product overview
- Tim Brennan, president of Brennan Landscaping, Albany, N.Y., on marketing lawn care
- John Cisar, a professor of environmental horticulture at the University of Florida, on regulatory impacts on fertilizer
- Joe Gradnstaff, manager of athletic facilities for the Iowa Cubs, on season-long fertilizer use on sports turf
- Paul McDonnough, AAT manager of strategic accounts, on key business trends and practices