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Questions anyone?

Columns - Industry Voices

Marty Grunder | August 12, 2013

 

Marty Grunder

In the last several months I have fielded a lot of questions from our fellow landscapers. I picked out the best four and I wanted to share them with you in hopes of the dialog helping you too.


I am having trouble finding people who want to work; what do you recommend to help me fill up my crews?
First and foremost, the best way to attract people to your company is to have a company others want to work for. So, look at your company; what would you not like about working for you? How’s your communication? Does your team know what’s going on? Do they know your mission? Do they know what a win looks like?

Clarifying what you are trying to do and how each team member directly contributes to that success is a great way to get people feeling good about their future. In general, your existing team will tell others about your place if you make your place an environment where people feel important and are important.

Nothing shows your care for your team like fostering a safe work environment as well; contact PLANET — their Safety Stars program is fantastic. Secondly, get your name out. Get a sign in front of your place of work; here’s ours (see photo). Put magnetic signs on your trucks and post on all your social media outlets that you need help and don’t be afraid to spell out what you need. Talk about your drug testing and background checks if you do them. If you don’t, I recommend you do. Basically, don’t miss any opportunity to get the word out that you are always hiring quality, experienced help. Believe it or not, Craigslist works for many of our clients and we use it too. Finally, ask for help. Tell your team you need people and go to local schools and the like and recruit.


I have a family member working for me and they really shouldn’t be. What should I do?
Well, for starters, separate the fact they are a family member. Focus on their performance. If their performance isn’t up to snuff, then why are they working there? Have you exhausted all efforts to get them to improve? Have you asked an expert to help you deal with this? There are coaches and business psychologists that deal with these items; seek them out.

If they aren’t performing, you have to treat them like you would anyone else and remove them from your team. It will be the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do. Be professional; go overboard with kindness but do what you must do and by all means, learn from this and resist the urge to hire family members the next time. Disclaimer: I am not saying it is always a mistake to hire a family member; however, my experience says it’s better to bring people on your team because of their talents, not their last name. There is too much that can go wrong by hiring family members.


What’s the best sales tip you have?
Oh that’s easy. Listen. Too many of us sales professionals make everything about us. We try to sell the tree instead of the shade. We talk about features when we should be selling benefits.

We need to show the prospect or client what they want, not what we think they want. And you can only find out what they want by listening and asking questions. Here are the two best questions you can ask a prospect or client considering your company: What process are you going to go through in hiring a landscaper and why did you call us? 

There are a lot more questions that need to be asked to dig deep and make certain you are selling them what they asked for, but those two set the table.

The answer to the “process question” will give you clues as to what you need to do. Do you need to have the best price? The best design? Can you do it right away? And so on. The answer to the “why did you call” question is valuable because if they called you as a result of a referral, you are in better shape than if they called you because they heard you were cheap. Listen, truly listen, and you will be amazed at the improvements you make in your selling efforts.


What do you regret the most about your business career?
Okay, I have to be honest, no one asked me that one, but I wanted to answer it. I have three things. First, I did not realize how important hiring the right people was for many, many years. When you have a good team, they attract more of the same. So, today I know the best way I can find more people is to take our time in hiring and make sure they are a fit for our culture. I don’t have the hiring problem completely solved, but we do it better now than we did 15 years ago.

Second, I hired several family members and none of them work for me any longer. My teenage children do some simple things in the office in the summer and there’s a specific reason for that, which I’ll write about in a future column, but they don’t have key positions. I wish I had never hired my brother or my cousin; neither was able to deliver to my high expectations and I learned a very valuable lesson I hope none of you repeat.

And finally, I regret not studying sales sooner. I don’t think I read a book on sales until I was about 25 years old. And I don’t think I attended a selling seminar until I was teaching sales myself. Today, I attend all sorts of selling seminars, read tons of books and I even have a coach. Yep, the coach has a coach. I regret I didn’t hire him when I was 25. There’s no telling where I’d be right now.

Please read this whole column again and make sure you are learning from my mistakes. You’ll find we landscapers repeat them over and over again. L&L

Marty Grunder is a speaker, consultant and author; he owns Grunder Landscaping Co. See www.martygrunder.com; mail
mgrunder@giemedia.com.