Thank you coach

Justin White CEO of K&D Landscaping

I am often asked what was the catalyst that triggered a 30-year-old company to grow from $1 million to $10 million in five years. In short, it all started with a cold call from a business coach. It was early 2015 and Jonathan Goldhill was calling on CLCA (California Landscape Contractors Association) members asking around for those looking to grow.

As a spry 26-year-old getting ready to take over the family business, my answer was, "hell yeah!” As Jonathan went through the sales process and proposed his services, my parents were very hesitant about letting some stranger into the inner workings of the company. Once they saw the price, they really pushed back.

I knew the company had to grow to support mine and my parents' salaries along with the rest of the family, and a business coach seemed like a shortcut to getting where we wanted to be. After much back and forth, we took the leap by hiring our first business coach. The rest is history.

If you are struggling with growth or seeking more work/life balance, or if you want to increase profits or just need someone besides your partner at home to strategize with, a coach might be a great solution.

What does a coach do?

Coaches provide a unique perspective into your business that you cannot see. They help develop structure and systems for growth. They can also be a person to confide in and vent to, as it can be lonely at the top. At the end of the day, a coach should improve your quality of life, improve the financial performance of the company and help identify and achieve your goals.

What to look for in a coach?

Find someone who will push you and that you click with. If you do not personally align with the coach or there is a lack of respect, the program will see little results. Having someone that knows the industry can be a plus, but I have also had success with coaches outside of landscaping, so that is not a deal breaker for me. Similarly to hiring an employee, you should check references and specifically look for results that you want to achieve being accomplished in those references.

How much should a coach cost?

Look at a coaching program as an investment. If the coach charges you $5,000 per month and helps you create a new pricing model that generates $50,000 in additional income without increasing your costs, it’s an easy decision. If the coach charges you $1,000 per month but you do not get along, or you continuously find yourself defensive in meetings and you're not implementing any new ideas, then it may be a huge waste of money. Don't look at coaching fees as hourly rates. One coach asked me: If you could unwind three bad decisions you made, how much more money would you have in the bank right now?

When should I hire a coach?

Tomorrow would be good, today would be better. This is just my opinion, but I am 100% a believer in having a coach for you and your business. I do not see any football teams asking their quarterback to also be the head coach, so why should you?

How can I be a good student?

Allow yourself to be coachable. I realized very quickly that if I approach a coaching call defensive and closed minded, I am wasting money and all of our time. If a coach starts pointing out issues and your reaction is to defend or make excuses, you will never achieve the success you are meant to find. You must be open, humble, vulnerable, honest and genuine. If you show up ready to learn with an open mind, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.

I am in a peer group, is that good enough?

It depends on your goals and needs. If you already have a successful business and you're looking to maintain or slightly grow, peer groups work great. If you are just getting going and strapped for cash, peer groups work great. If you are picking up momentum and have goals for rapid growth, a one-to-one coach might be the best investment. I am in two peer groups and have multiple one-to-one coaches. They all serve a different purpose and I have various goals I am working on at once. It really boils down to your specific intentions and targets.

You will only get out of a coaching program what you put into it. There is no magic formula for success and hiring a coach does not guarantee any results; you must still put the work and dedication into the business. If you have not looked into coaching before, maybe now is a good time to check it out. Good luck everyone and go raise the bar!

Raise the bar is a monthly column by Justin White, CEO of K&D Landscaping, written to help improve professionalism in the green industry.

May 2023
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