How Do You Get Through A Tough Situation?
I like to think I know something about life and business, and then God throws a curve ball... and I am a fast ball hitter. I am referring to my cancer diagnosis two years ago and my continuing battle to beat it. Yes, the treatment seems worse than the cure. Physically I am worn down. So it comes down to mental resolve. What are you willing to do and what do you resolve to do to win... especially when the outcome is unclear and not guaranteed.
What To Do When The Cure Is As Bad As The Problem?
Sounds a bit like business. The economy, your people, your customers and the government throw you a curve ball. You have to change. The cure for what ails you is as painful as the problem itself. You get tired of the fight. So... the solution comes to mental resolve. What are you willing to do, sacrifice and risk... without a clear view of the outcome to win? When you think about it this way - running business or saving your life, it makes the decision to go forward with resolve simple... doesn't it?
Your Better Landscape Business Resolutions
Now is as good as any time to resolve to build a better landscape business... if only because it is the right thing to do. Of course, you want increased profits. But, profits are the result of resolutions made and resolutions kept... and this all begins with the right culture or attitude. Culture is the manifestation of beliefs, values and behaviors directed in the pursuit of a goal.
Building a culture requires both leadership and management. Leadership provides the passion and purpose… management provides the tactics and execution.
What the heck does that mean? Simple… it means that profitable companies provide people with the inspiration and the means to deliver a better customer experience.
This past October I presented best business benchmarks and practices at the GIE in Louisville. Perhaps some of these ideas may help your resolve to build a better landscape business:
Resolve first to win hearts.
Start with yours. Why do you do what you do? If you cannot answer this and communicate the answer with passion to your people, they will never act with purpose. Direction without purpose is compliance, not initiative. Initiative is what you need. You’ve heard the cliché a million times, “Get the right people on the bus." It starts with you.
Resolve to rid your company of those who aren’t on the bus.
Opting out of your culture is not a choice for your people. For those who refuse to "get with the vision”, ask them to make a decision—are you in or out? If you can’t or won’t do this all the resolutions that follow will only produce partial results.
Resolve to respond more effectively to customer requests and complaints.
Your Account Managers are overwhelmed. This is not good for you or your customers. The problem is lack of request and complaint management systems that tie together the Office, the Crew and the Account Manager in “real time”. Web-based apps that do this are available and affordable. Handling and resolving issues faster buys you customer loyalty.
Resolve to anticipate customer requests and complaints.
Remember… your Account Managers are overwhelmed. If they had the time, the systems and the skills they could do a better job of reporting and managing quality and selling enhancements. Provide them with client budget and quick bids tools... and expect them to use them. Anticipating needs buys you more than loyalty… it makes you indispensable to your customers.
Resolve to increase prices.
You can do this only if you commit to the first four resolutions. Yes, labor is more expensive. But your customer pays you for value not for your labor cost inflation. Look at your pricing model and update it. Make a serious overhead budget. Then revise your mark-ups and margins using a MORS system like Frank Ross and Jeff Harkness teach to get your prices right. If this weeds out some customers… so be it. See the next resolution to replace them.
Resolve to improve your sales process.
Get a sales pitch that matters to the customer. Better landscape and low pricing is not it. How you make their lives better is way more meaningful… sell that. At the same time set sales goals higher and track them like a hawk. And for heaven’s sakes insert a little chutzpah into your sales calls. Like they say, “It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it.” Sell with a meaningful pitch and with confidence… and replace those customers that won’t pay for the value you deliver.
Resolve to put quality on equal footing with budgeted hours.
Too many owners have lost touch with the way the work actually gets done in the field. Provide your crews with hours, then get out in the field and review and audit your jobs. Remember, you get that which you expect and inspect. Consistent quality is driven by pride. You need to lead this charge personally.
Resolve to “level-up” your Account Managers
They need mentoring in “the business side” of the job... specifically time management. Let’s face it, AM's are hard to find and harder to lose. You need to give them reasons to stay. They—like everyone else—want to work for a company where they can grow and increase their earnings. As I stated earlier that they are overwhelmed… get them help.
They need computer applications to do their jobs more efficiently… as well as training to build confidence in the way they handle customers. Confident Account Managers with more time are less stressed, happier, and loyal to you... and they will make you money.
What Are Your Resolutions?
These are my simple thoughts on resolutions. You get thrown a curve ball? So what... everyone gets one. Clear your head, steel your will and make some resolutions. It is the right thing to do for (1) you, (2) your people, and (3) your customers. Have a prosperous and successful 2016.
Best, Mr. Kehoe