ASK THE EXPERTS is presented in partnership with PLANET’s Trailblazers On Call program. Trailblazers are industry leaders who volunteer their time and expertise to give back to the industry.
Q: I am exploring the option of moving to Florida and would like to find a way to keep our operation running in Maryland as well as starting up a company in Florida. Have any Trailblazers done this or explored this option, and could they give me some advice?
A: I originally worked in Wisconsin and then moved to Naples, Fla. Having come from Wisconsin, I assumed the off-season in Wisconsin would coincide nicely with the busy season in Florida.
However, I soon found that there was quite a bit of overlap in seasonality. Knowing what I do about the Maryland market, there would be even more overlap in seasons since your downtime in Maryland is far shorter than it is in Wisconsin.
In order to keep the business functioning in Maryland while you start a business in Florida, you would have to have a very strong person who could run your Maryland operations in your absence. You would have to be able to rely on this person to manage all of the day-to-day operations. This person would have to be trusted to make many financial decisions for you.
They would basically have to act as an “owner” while you are in Florida. People like that are difficult to find since, if they have those traits, they most likely would want to own their own company.
One last note: I found the competition in Florida to be brutal and the pricing very low compared to pricing in Wisconsin. I would imagine the pricing would be low compared to the Maryland market as well.
Judson Griggs, Landscape Industry Certified Manager
Q.: How do I go about finding a mentor to help me increase my knowledge of managing a successful and profitable business?
A.: Finding a mentor is a great idea and can produce positive results for all involved. For the mentor, it is a great way to give back to the landscape community and for the mentee it provides assistance that can be invaluable as he or she grows and builds a business.
One way to find a mentor is to ask the people you know who they would recommend as a good mentor or if they would be willing to mentor you. This industry is very close-knit and rarely have I ever seen an industry member not be willing to help a newcomer. Look to your local or national associations and see if they can recommend someone who would be willing to mentor you.
Attending events like PLANET’s Green Industry Conference (GIC) gives you an opportunity to meet and talk with some of the industry’s best and brightest members. Networking at events like this is another good way to find someone who would be willing to work with you.
PLANET members have access to its Trailblazers program, a personalized networking and mentoring program for emerging and established companies to gain insight and advice on developing and growing their businesses. It’s free to PLANET members and over the years has helped create many long-lasting friendships.
There are individuals with landscape contracting experience – business consultants and business coaches – who would also be great mentors, but they offer their services for a fee. As with any service, you need to select someone you are comfortable with and who has the experiences that would help you grow your business.
Another opportunity to increase your business knowledge is through peer groups, where a number of contractors come together to discuss issues they are facing in their businesses. These groups are often led by a consultant or coach who acts as the facilitator, asking questions and keeping the conservation moving in a positive direction.
This method allows group members to share experiences, learn from each other, and hold each other accountable.
Rich Wilbert, Landscape Industry Certified Manager, SiteSource Business Coaching
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