Raising your prices is one of the ways you can become more profitable. However, the best way to improve profitability is to work on your efficiencies. If you’ve read my column here in L&L for a long time, you’ll recall that I mostly talk about leadership development, sales, marketing and family. Well, this month, I’m going to get really tactical with you and share my top five ways to add thousands of dollars to your bottom line right now. So, here goes:
1. Create a sense of urgency at your company for the morning routine. At HighGrove Partners in Atlanta, owner Jim McCutcheon and his team have arguably created the most impressive rollout routine I have ever seen. Their team gathers in a circle in their mammoth shop. They get very quick safety instructions and updates for the day, and all methodically, like the U.S. Army, walk to their trucks and leave in single-file fashion quickly, safely and impressively. If you are late for work, you don’t work. They have a clock that shows the goal and they track the departure time of every truck that leaves each morning. Their trucks are all the same, the equipment on them is all the same, and they get parked inside, so there’s no loading or unloading.
2. Have clear, highly detailed work orders. Jarod Hyson at Earth, Turf & Wood in Denver, Pa., has work orders and drawings like I’ve never seen before. The hours budgeted for the job are on them. They have a planning meeting before his crews ever set foot on the property. Many people in his company are involved in the bidding process so there is experience share and buy-in. Which job do you think the crew is more excited to work on? The one they had a say in? Or the one they did not? Too many landscapers don’t plan well on the front end and they pay for it big time. Include photos and have correct prints. Put the work order together with the intention that whoever sold it won’t be available, and your perspective will change. Detailed work orders don’t cost; they pay.
3. Have trucks with boxes that carry everything you may need. One of the first areas I help struggling landscapers improve is their truck set up. You lose money when your team loads and unloads tools. You lose money when you have to drive clear across town with a pole pruner for a crew that should have something like that on their truck. When I see a company with a flatbed truck and no tool boxes, I see a company that must enjoy throwing money out the window. Grunder Landscaping Co.’s trucks cost more but they are worth it and make us a sizable return on our investment. Folks, think about that and stop buying trucks off the lot. Order them and have them customized.
4. Have standard operating procedures (SOPs) for all that you do. The key word here is all. As I type this column, I am on a flight to Atlanta to work with a landscaper. Where do you think airlines would be without standard operating procedures? How many lives would be lost if the pilot didn’t go through a series of steps before, during and after each takeoff and touchdown? Jeffrey Johns runs one of the Southeast’s most successful landscape maintenance firms, Coastal Greenery. They have procedures for everything, and everyone there knows them, believes in them and practices them. Procedures take the guesswork out of things. When your team isn’t guessing, they are working and gathering momentum that turns into dollars.
5. Have a culture of continuous improvement. Industry equipment company Ariens/Gravely has this figured out as well as anyone. Its facility in Brillion, Wis., is the gold standard for continuous improvement. (Full disclosure: I work with Ariens/Gravely to provide sales training and employee mentoring.) Everyone there, including the company CEO Dan Ariens, is part of the process. It’s an attitude; it’s a culture. If Dan weren’t behind this, think about how easy it would be for others to not be supportive of it. Everyone who works at Ariens/Gravely is empowered to speak up about ideas that would make them more efficient and the leadership team there listens and implements the ideas. All of you can accomplish more working together than trying to improve by yourself.
Look closely at how you are doing at the five things I laid out above and make a commitment to get better now!
Marty Grunder is a speaker, consultant and author; he owns Grunder Landscaping Co. See www.martygrunder.com; mail