Your own personal R&D department

August 19, 2015
Chuck Bowen
Editor's Notebook
Chuck Bowen

Here’s a quick exercise: In the margin of this page, write down the two biggest challenges facing your company right now.

I guarantee that of the thousands of landscapers who just did this, more than one wrote down the same thing you just did. I’m hard pressed to think of any problem – big or small – that you could have that no other contractor has ever experienced. None of us is that special or unique.

Whenever I’m touring a landscaper’s yard or shop, or just catching up on the floor at a tradeshow, I’m always amazed at how freely they give. Almost to a person, contractors are ready to share advice and insight on how their operations work, from the practical stuff like how they park their trucks to the loftier stuff like how they target new customers.

Thankfully, there’s a very low jerk factor in the landscape industry. It seems everyone is more than happy to share the tips and tricks they’ve learned along the way with younger or less experienced colleagues.

This sharing has been institutionalized across the country in peer groups – started by a few smart consultants years ago and now getting attention from NALP – and it really took off, buoyed by the idea that non-competing contractors who get together to share best practices and – gasp – even financial data can all improve.

That’s what our cover story this month tries to illustrate. My crack team of editors, writers and contributors has been working for months now to gather up the best tips and tricks from landscapers out in the field that they’ve used to help their teams become more efficient and productive. Most are very simple and easy to implement. Some are more complex and might even require a bit of investment on your part.

But they all get to this central idea: That together, we have the solutions and answers to the problems we’re all facing. When we asked for tips, we got way more than we could use. So, starting this fall, we’re going to roll out more every month. And if you have some tips of your own, send them to me. Why reinvent the wheel when you can rely on the massive brain trust of the thousands of landscapers who have likely already solved your problems?

– Chuck Bowen