Dollars to (jelly) doughnuts

Departments - Editor's Insight

What is it about your company that makes it wonderful?

September 11, 2012
Chuck Bowen
Chuck Bowen

What is it about your company that makes it wonderful? You get up every morning (hopefully) excited to greet the day’s challenges and opportunities because it’s your name on the trucks and the deeds and on the bank accounts.

But what about everyone else who rolls through the door fuzzy and stiff, clutching a cup of coffee and gassing up their mowers? What makes your landscape company better to them than the dozen others in your town?

If you don’t have an answer, then you’re going to have a lot of guys heading down the road when your competition gets a big job and trots out a quarter-an-hour raise to the guys who just yesterday were munching on your doughnuts.

And, more importantly, what’s keeping your crew leaders and account managers sticking around? Don’t bet on free bakery and a pot of coffee to inspire devotion.

Every year, we publish a list of the biggest companies in the industry. And while it’s a worthwhile project, it leaves out one of the most important (and hardest to define) parts of a company: What makes it different.

That’s the question we tried to answer with this month’s cover story. We tracked down some of the best companies to work for in the landscape industry. They aren’t necessarily the biggest, but they’ve managed to get a handle on a few very vague concepts like company culture, like the perception of management.

They use concrete tactics to control those blurry things, and you can, too. A demonstration on chainsaw safety will make your tree crew feel like you care about them getting home with all their fingers still attached. A free dinner every week will make your maintenance division feel appreciated. And divvying up a full quarter of your company’s profits every year will make your whole team feel pretty damn good about where they work.

And then it builds. You’ve got a core group of employees that act like evangelists, and they find other people to come to work. Then you‘ve got more. It’s not easy and, yes, it costs money. (And, yes, doughnuts should still be a part of it.)

The companies we profile this month each spend well into the six figures on training, bonuses and other rewards. So turn to page 50 and find out how you can turn your company into one of the industry’s best places to work.


– Chuck Bowen