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Wisdom without the weather


Contractors arrived in Atlanta with some feeling the snow, but all getting an education on their first day at GROW! 2014.

Brian Horn | February 6, 2014

A snow storm that slammed some parts of the country didn’t stop landscape contractors from attending Marty Grunder’s GROW! 2014 in Atlanta (which avoided the snow this time around). 
Matt Caruso, owner of Decrascapes in Sterling Heights Mich., was part of the first day's activities with a talk that focused on avoiding the “danger zone,” which is an area where your expenses exceed your revenue.
Caruso said entrepreneurs have to let go off some responsibilities in order to focus on the mission, vision and core values of the company. That focus will help them run a profitable business. 
Caruso said the owner of the company has to truly believe in the vision of the company because if things go wrong, “entrepreneurs will get left holding the bag” so it’s important you’re handling situations the way you see fit. Core values are also important to a company, and, “the moves you make are driven by your core values.” 
Other important points from Caruso:
  • If you don’t begin to develop team leaders, you will be stuck doing work you should trust your employees to do. While completing these tasks will satisfy you now, your company will suffer in the future. “We need to stop looking at things in the short term and look at them in the long term,” he said. 
  • When you have a vision, mission and core values that employees genuinely understand and use as a guide when on the job, then “You’re going to be able to focus on things to get you to the next level,” Caruso said.
Grunder shared his five steps to being a better leader:
  • Lead by example. It’s fine to talk about your core values and how much you believe in them, but you better model your behavior after them if you want employee buy-in, Grunder said. “People see better than they hear,” he said.
  • Integrity. You have to tell the truth when leading a company. Otherwise no one will believe you have the integrity needed to lead.
  • Be enthusiastic. You don’t need to come in to work every day and do a dance, but you have to show you have a genuine interest in helping others. “Enthusiasm is about how we work, and about how fast you get back to a client or employee,” he said.
  • Communicate. Grunder has signs posted at his company that say “no surprises.” “That’s our mantra for good communication,” he said.
  • Do a little bit more. You are at the top of your company, so when employees see you doing more, they will follow your example. “Engagement comes from the top, not from the bottom,” he said.
Today, attendees will get a tour of HighGrove Partners with CEO Jim McCutcheon. One tidbit about HighGrove – when a new employee starts, they have to wear a different color shirt than the other workers, so everyone at the company knows that person is new.
Check out a future issue of Lawn & Landscape for more details on how HighGrove operates.  
Be sure to follow L&L on Facebook and Twitter to get more updates from GROW! and the other cool conferences we visit.

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