Grow! in 2012

Features - L&L On the Road

The annual conference emphasized the importance of a good plan and retaining employees and customers.

March 23, 2012
Carolyn LaWell
John Riley and Julia Pentecost of Wimberg Landscaping and Jeffrey Johns of Coastal Greenery set action plans.

Dayton, Ohio – All planning is good planning. That was one of the key messages Marty Grunder and the speakers at GROW! 2012 emphasized during the three-day event in early February that helped businesses get on a track to grow this year.

More than 100 business owners and managers packed a hotel ballroom in Dayton, Ohio, to hear and learn from Grunder, author and consultant Joe Calloway; Decra-Scape CEO Matt Caruso; and the author and international speaker, also known as the Pitbull of Personal Development,” Larry Winget. Among the topics covered were hiring, keeping good employees, sales, customer service and efficiency.

Successful business owners take the time to step out of their business and create systems and processes to help the company grow.

For example, Caruso spoke about how to hire, develop and retain good employees. In order to do that, he said, you have to create a picture of what your future team members should look like. Caruso suggested listing each position and then creating a profile of what the ideal candidate must have, needs to have and can’t have.

Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development, emphasized goal setting.

Calloway challenged attendees to define what they thought their customers’ experience was working with their company. He also said that all too often companies try to think out of the box and they get away from what they’re really good at and what customers really want. “Be the best at what your customer values the most,” Calloway said.

Grunder presented a session on the elements of a good plan. As a general business rule, he said, all planning should start with the end in mind and it should involve key people in the process.

Here are the seven steps to a good plan:

Conduct a S.W.O.T. The group should start by listing the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. “This is the basis for your plan,” Grunder said. “The S.W.O.T. analysis helps you define reality, the way things are, and helps you think toward the desired outcomes that you want.” He also said it’s important to use an outside facilitator who can present different options and question ideas.

Rank each S.W.O.T. Take each list – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – and rank the ideas mentioned under each category based on their level of importance to the company. “This can be one of the most exciting, exhilarating, energizing efforts you can take yourself through,” he said.

Lay out the priorities. After ranking the S.W.O.T. ideas, decide which ones should be the company’s priorities.

Grunder, Caruso and Calloway talk during a Q&A with attendees.

Write a win statement. Take the priorities and discuss a win statement for each one, basically a strategy for how to achieve that priority. For example, if the goal is to increase customer referrals, define how much the increase should be and how to go about doing it.

Set a vision.
 “Vision is where we’re going,” Grunder said. “Vision is what you would like someone to recognize your company for.” Develop the vision based on the company’s S.W.O.T. analysis and remember that a vision is never finished, it’s constantly being analyzed and evolving.

Set a mission.
 In simple terms, “What we’re going to do on a daily basis to achieve our vision,” Grunder said.

Set core values.
 The group should ask: What will help the company achieve all of the above? Grunder Landscaping operates on the four values of quality, leadership, teamwork and profitability. He said to pick four to six values that will make an impact on your company, and then once those are set, constantly reinforce them.

A planning meeting that involves these steps opens the eyes of top management because they have the ability to step back from day-to-day work. “Good ideas tend to not come to us when we’re fully engaged in work,” he said. 


The author is an associate editor at Lawn & Landscape. She can be reached at

Want a short tutorial on business growth? Grunder and Calloway did a webinar with Lawn & Landscape in January. Visit and search “Grow 2012.”