Lonestar lessons

We just wrapped up GROW! 2016 in Dallas and it was an awesome event if I do say so myself. Industry giants Frank Mariani from Mariani Landscape, Jim McCutcheon from HighGrove and Scott Jamieson from Bartlett Tree Experts all taught. We toured the wildly successful Complete Landsculpture. We heard from Lawn & Landscape Editor Chuck Bowen. And more than 200 success-minded landscapers shared so many ideas that headaches reached epidemic proportions. Just kidding, sort of. My colleague, Matt Caruso, did his usual awesome job teaching operational efficiencies. As I sit here writing this column, looking through the journal I filled, I see five specific things we can all learn from that were talked about at GROW! 2016.

1. The industry is doing well.

Our attendees from all over the U.S. didn’t report a lack of work but they did report a lack of workers.

Homeowners are spending money on their properties. Backyard retreats are popular.

Commercial contractors at our event also reported good things, especially those who perform snow removal in the winter.

The challenges were all related to getting work done. Those who were having trouble blamed themselves for bad bids, bad hires and other things that could be fixed.

2. Clients want pros.

Chuck shared his state of the industry report, which revealed that consumers want to hire a professional. Frank really stressed this. He said it’s the way we all can stand out.

What’s interesting is we all know this. However, we let things slip. We don’t wear uniforms. We let our trucks get dirty and beat up. Basically, we lose enthusiasm for what we are doing and quit paying attention to the details. The little act of paying attention to running a professional landscaping company can pay big dividends. One of the ways we can all do this is to join the National Association of Landscape Professionals. No group is doing more to promote professionalism in our industry.

3. The ultimate scorecard.

Too many people come to events like GROW! and want to talk about their gross profit. We stressed the importance of profit – the bottom line. We had a landscape professional in the room doing $25 million and netting 2 percent, and we had a another in the room doing $3 million and netting 30 percent.

Which one is more impressive? Profit is a product of a well-organized company that has a great culture. When you do a lot of little things well, your profits improve. Quit worrying about your gross and worry about your profit.

4. All about relationships.

There was, once again, an overwhelming focus on the power of relationships in our business.

We heard this message over and over again from the teachers and we saw it first hand at Complete Landsculptures. Gene Freeman and Chris Strempek, who run Complete, have built a wildly successful business that completely understands the power of relationships.

For example, they hold an annual fundraiser at their beautiful facility that raises $75,000 for abused children.

The relationships they have formed at this annual event prove that being intentional about relationships works. What are you going to do in 2016 to secure and enhance the relationships in your business?

5. The value of sharing ideas.

There’s something magical about talking through your problems and successes with someone who understands what you are dealing with. It seems once you hear that someone else is dealing with the same problem, the pity parties go away and we realize we must take action and improve.

Let’s face it, you don’t want to tell your chief competition about your issues; however, you often feel comfortable talking to someone two states over. In 2016, who will you let your guard down to and really get involved in fixing what’s broken at your company?

We’re busy planning GROW! 2017 right now. It will be in Dayton, Ohio, and we’re going to tour my company, Grunder Landscaping Co.

Best of luck folks. The 100 days of ‘heck’ is about to begin. Get ready by following the above five tips.

Read Next

Mentally dead

March 2016
Explore the March 2016 Issue

Check out more from this issue and find you next story to read.

Share This Content