John C. Maxwell, famed leadership author and speaker, once said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.” Syngenta is proud to sponsor the 2019 Lawn & Landscape Leadership Awards to recognize the industry leaders who have successfully navigated and conquered many mazes throughout their careers, and have worked relentlessly to make the paths straighter for their colleagues and companies. We are honored to work with and recognize these leaders who remove roadblocks, clear the obstacles and get straight to success.
Syngenta values your opportunity for growth and wants to see your business thrive. We are committed to supporting you with products and resources that help you solve problems and delight your customers. One such resource is our GreenTrust® 365 program, which offers yearlong rebates of up to 9 percent, plus an additional Barricade® brand herbicide rebate of 3 percent. And, new this year, the GT Bonus Booster allows you to save up to 2 percent more on purchases made in October and November.
We also continue to innovate with products like Manuscript® herbicide, which provides post-emergence control of mature grassy weeds like crabgrass, tropical signalgrass and more in certain warm-season turf species. Syngenta also offers many digital tools and programs on GreenCastOnline.com like free marketing materials, soil temperature alerts and Growing Degree Day alerts. Sign up for alerts and receive relevant information to help you improve your customers’ turf all season.
Congratulations to the 2019 Lawn & Landscape leadership class! Your dedication to your colleagues, your business and our industry inspires us to be reliable partners for tools, programs and products that can help you succeed. We look forward to growing beside leaders like you for years to come.
For more information about resources for your lawn and landscape business, please visit GreenCastOnline.com/Lawn.
Turf Market Manager
Syngenta Lawn and Garden
©2019 Syngenta. Important: Always read and follow label instructions. Some products may not be registered for sale or use in all states or counties and/or may have state-specific use requirements. Please check with your local extension service to ensure registration and proper use. Barricade®, GreenCast®, GreenTrust®, Manuscript® and the Syngenta logo are trademarks of a Syngenta Group Company. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners. Syngenta Customer Center: 1-866-SYNGENT(A) (796-4368).
Client expectations are higher than ever before. Clients are asking for – rather, I mean demanding – a higher-level service. Not only are expectations high, but there’s little patience or tolerance for error when it comes to service nowadays. To further underscore the importance of recognizing and taking the client’s growing expectations and shrinking tolerance to heart: clients have more choices than ever before when choosing a service provider. Fortunately, our capabilities have also been growing exponentially.
Given the tremendous capabilities now available, snow and ice management contractors and service providers have a unique opportunity to meet the challenge of growing client expectations. They can do this all while establishing a competitive advantage over the competition by fully leveraging today’s enhanced capabilities.
I believe all big challenges in business have the ability to actually become competitive advantages, for those business leaders determined to make it so. Widespread challenges in business, even that of growing client expectations, can be capitalized upon and made into a distinct advantage.
An overwhelming majority of the competition will treat a challenge as a challenge, holding open the proverbial front-door for the few who choose to, instead of struggle, capitalize. By exploiting a challenge as a competitive advantage, companies stand to gain market share, profits and positive brand awareness.
So, what is driving rising client expectations?
I believe it’s at least in part because they’ve learned exactly how capable we’ve become. We’ve sold them on what’s possible – what can be done – and now they want it. We’re out there selling how great we’ve become, how advanced and wonderful our operation is; so, they want to see it. And now, clients are more informed than ever before. They understand what level of service is possible from snow and ice management contractors.
Our equipment is state of the art, so we sell that. Our systems and processes are better than ever before, so we sell that. Our technology is beyond impressive, so we sell that. We have GPS systems with geofencing and timestamping. Our anti-icing and deicing abilities are incredibly refined, so we sell that. We have certification programs, continuous education, and training; we sell that. We have ways of mitigating environmental impact, so we sell that.
Perhaps most importantly, we are capable of effectively and significantly reducing liability, so we sell that, too.
As an industry, we’ve increased our clients’ expectations. We’ve done a good job selling them on how incredibly improved and modernized our product and service has become. Now, and rightfully so, they expect us to deliver. Our clients are only holding us accountable to the super-high standards we’ve sold them. We’re more capable than ever before; our clients know that, and simply expect us to provide their service accordingly.
To keep up, or better yet exceed our clients’ expectations, we must take full advantage of all that’s out there. We need to give them all they’ve come to expect, and then some. We must use today and tomorrow’s tools, technologies, and techniques to not only compete, but to set ourselves apart from the competition.
Truth be told, most of your competition will fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to fully utilizing all that’s available. This is how you can turn the challenge of growing expectations into an advantage for your organization.
Business leaders aiming to be on the cutting edge (pun intended Snow Fighters) can do so by continuing to advocate for, and selling an improved and modern way of doing things. What’s next? You have to deliver. You must perform noticeably and consistently better than your competition.
Delivery is key. Results matter. Having GPS, for example, is just an unnecessary frivolous expense if not properly utilized to deliver better service. The latest and greatest anti-icing and deicing equipment does little to advance your competitive advantage, if not utilized to noticeably improve service. Having a well-trained, educated and certified staff means very little if the best practices learned aren’t consistently executed. Furthermore, take time to teach your prospects and clients the measurable value they receive from having well-trained, educated, and certified workers on their site(s). If the client doesn’t know or notice, it doesn’t matter.
If your snow program works to mitigate slip-and-fall liability, make sure your clients know and notice what you’re doing. If you’re working smart to address environmental concerns, make sure you customers recognize this so they can accurately evaluate your performance and value. Your clients must know what you’re doing – it’s your job to teach them. Then, your clients will notice what you did. It’s your job to deliver!
Unfortunately, many will struggle to keep up as client expectations continue to grow. The good news is, there is a golden opportunity within reach for those companies committed to being on the industry’s cutting edge.
By fully utilizing today and tomorrow’s tool chest, and by giving your clients a level of service they can’t easily replace, you’ll be able to set yourself and your company apart. If you meet your clients’ high expectations with an even higher level of service, you’ll effectively turn what’s become a challenge for most, into an advantage for you!
Mike Voories is the chief operating officer at Brilar, a commercial landscape & snow maintenance firm with locations across the Midwest.
The old “my dog ate my homework” excuse holds no weight in a court of law when documentation is required to clear you from a questionable slip-and-fall claim. So, what’s a snow contractor to do?
While a fair percentage of contractors still rely on pen and paper as the core of their documentation procedure, the best advice to avoid dealing with lost or damaged site documents is to go digital.
“Digitally story documentation when at all possible,” says attorney Justine Baakman. “It’s much easier to store documents in the cloud then to find a space for paper documents.”
There are methods for reproducing documents that won’t negatively influence the defense in a slip-and-fall case, Baakman says. For example, if a contractor spills coffee on a site report and it needs to be handwritten, that’s okay as long as it’s noted, she says.
“If you handwrite a report and then later type up a digital version, then both versions should be kept,” she says. “However, if the handwritten copy gets lost or damaged, as long as it’s noted and you can give a credible explanation, generally that’s OK. But we’re always going to need to note that this is not the original document.
“The other party is entitled to the original document,” she adds. “And if for some reason the original isn’t available, we need to make (opposing counsel) aware of that.”
And if a document simply cannot be produced because it was either lost or damaged, Baakman says it’s considered “adverse inference” by the court and is not favorable to the defense in a slip-and-fall case.
“From a jury’s perspective, that’s something that will be looked down upon,” she says. “If a document existed and is now no longer there, it’s seen as benefitting the opposing party’s case.”
While the statute of limitation on a slip-and-fall claim is two years, Baakman recommends snow contractors maintain their documents for at least five years.
“Often, you might get a case where the lawsuit may get filed, but [the contractor] may not be aware it was filed for two and a half to three years after the incident happened because, maybe, the [contractor] wasn’t served properly,” he says. “With digital storage nowadays, that shouldn’t be too much of a burden on the contractor.”
And when in doubt, Baakman recommends snow and ice management contractors always consult their attorneys on the proper way to maintain, reproduce and store the documents that relate to their business.
Mike Zawacki is the editor of Snow Magazine.
I can tell the seasons are beginning to shift from the contents of my mailbox. In particular was an oversized flyer that, in an equally oversized font, claimed I needed to take action now to winterize my car or… well, suffer the consequences, I guess.
It got me thinking, though, this time of year is the perfect time to address some basic maintenance issues on your winter operations. I’m not talking oil changes or lubing connections with dielectric grease. Don’t get me wrong, that’s important, too. But what I suggest runs a little deeper to the core of your business operation.
Training & Continuing Education.
Think of this as the oil change and lube to your operation. Without it, things could seize up mid-winter. There is a wealth of educational information available to the snow and ice management community. From the ASCA alone, you can complete online coursework to earn or renew your ASCA-C certification (more than a 1,000 certified and counting). You can attend one of the half-day Snow Academy dates – Buffalo, Sept. 30; Philadelphia, Oct. 2; and Chicago, Oct. 8 – which puts you in the room with three of the industry’s top business coaches to learn about team building, overcoming labor issues, and strengthening the bottom line. You can also catch up on your issues of Snow Magazine. Likewise, check out your local public library for books on professional development. Just because you’re at the top of the hierarchy doesn’t mean you don’t have room to learn new skills and improve as a leader.
Talk To Your Clients.
Carve out an hour or so from your schedule every day to visit and talk to every owner and manager on your client list. If you can’t hit the road, then work the phones. Ask them how they’re doing and how business has been for them in 2019. Then inquire how they’d rate your performance the previous winter and if you’ve met their expectations. Educate them on the investments you’ve made to improve your overall operation and how these will impact snow and ice services. You may be able to rectify game-changing issues over the course of an afternoon visit, and some of those issues may have nothing to do with snow removal. Finally, don’t forget to thank them for their business and their continued support as you conclude and depart.
Have A Cup Of Coffee With Your Team.
Yes, you may have to switch to decaf to do this successfully. Ideally, you have the ability to individually meet with everyone who cashes a check with your signature on it. But depending on the scope of your operations, you may have to limit it to department heads, supervisors, foremen and team leaders. Talk to them honestly. Are they happy? Are their people happy? What would make their jobs easier, more efficient, and/or more profitable. Ask them the all-important: “If you had the power to change one thing, what would it be and why?” Reinforce with them that your door is always open.
So, heed this warning and address these maintenance issues today. Fail to do so and, well, you’ll suffer the consequences.
Kevin Gilbride is executive director of the Accredited Snow Contractors Association.