Improving and growing

Departments - Editor's Insight

March 5, 2013
Chuck Bowen
Chuck Bowen

In Nashville last month, I got to hang out with a bunch of landscapers from across the country. We spent a few days talking about how the attendees could grow their businesses. The event, organized by our columnist Marty Grunder, offered tons of advice and practical strategies for contractors of any size and shape to improve.

It was my favorite type of conference: one where lots of smart people got together to share ideas. Here were some of my favorite quotes from the two-day conference:

“Saying yes gets you to $1 million. Saying no gets you to $2 million.” One of my favorite sessions at GROW! covered the art of delegation, and Marty mentioned this idea. The vast majority of landscape companies never make it past $1 million in revenue, and it’s not because they don’t do good enough work. They keep taking on jobs in too many segments, lose focus and end up in the weeds.

“Focus on the significant few, not the important many.” Matt Caruso, who owns Decrascape, said this about managing employees, but it applies to almost every area of your business. His message: Delegate the “important” stuff to your best team members so you can focus on the “significant” stuff yourself.

“Perfectionism is dangerous. … You have to keep that periscope running or you’re going to run into something.” Mike Rorie, who grew a maintenance company to $30 million before selling to Brickman, said this about delegating and managing a team. His point was that, as an owner, you can’t get too caught up in the minutiae. Stay focused on the largest problems and greatest opportunities.

“We’re a service company that does landscaping,” said Jim McCutcheon from HighGrove Partners in Atlanta. He gave a great talk that encourages landscapers to stop thinking of themselves as, well, landscapers. (You’ll hear more about that in a forthcoming issue.) He works in Atlanta’s commercial space, which is about as commoditized as they come. And the only real thing that makes his company stand out from his competition is the service he and his team provide their customers. Once he realized the real business he was in, he could focus his team on what they wanted to be really good at.

As your season starts up this month, take some time to think about what work you take on, what you focus on as an owner and, ultimately, what kind of business you’re in.


– Chuck Bowen