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Landscape Business Owners’ New Year’s Resolutions and Predictions for 2020

| Topic:

Business Advice

Mark Bradley, LMN CEO

I caught up with five successful landscape business owners to get their New Year’s resolutions and share tips to help build your landscaping business in 2020.

Here we are: 2020! On top of the ‘go to the gym 5x a week’, ‘bank $20 every day toward that new vacation’ and ‘start dance classes with my spouse’ resolutions, you’ve vowed to build a better landscaping business this year.

According to the U.S. News & World Report, the failure rate for New Year’s resolutions is said to be about 80 percent. I cannot help you with the gym and the dancing, but in this post will share tactics and tips to help you succeed in your resolution to build a better landscaping business in 2020.

The good news is that the state of the landscaping industry makes this a great year to focus on refining and improving your business. Strong growth across all sectors, a strong economy and the aging population will continue to fuel our industry this year. As individuals, landscaping business owners are becoming more financially savvy and looking for creative ways to improve their efficiency, profitability and growth.

In the longer term, landscape business owners should expect to see wages and fringe benefits rise exponentially across the green industry over the next ten years. It’s long overdue. We’re seeing a big shift in the perceived value of field staff and how important they really are to a company.

We’ve spoken with landscape business owners like you to see what their resolutions and goals are for 2020, and how they plan to achieve them. I’ll also share 3 actionable tactics you can start using today to kickstart your growth through this year and beyond. Ready? Let’s dig right in.

1. Rally your team around your landscaping business goals.

For starters, it’s important to clearly define what a better landscaping business means to you by identifying a few (or several) measurable goals. Let’s say you’re hoping to increase your profit margins and/or sales goals this year. A couple of measurable goals would look like this:

  • ABC Landscaping will increase its profit margins X% by December 31st, 2020
  • ABC Landscaping will grow its annual revenue Y% by December 31st, 2020

Setting achievable goals in a great start, but it’s impossible to get your team working towards something if you don’t share it with them.

Your seasonal kick-off meeting should outline your vision for the company and your near-term goals. Most importantly, you need to express how these goals translate into expectations for each team member. Each month you’ll regroup, measure your individual and collective progress, and set new objectives.

Let’s be honest—workers earning an hourly wage will not care if your business earns an additional $100,000 this year unless there’s something in it for them. If you want buy-in and motivation from your team, start an incentive program tied to meeting those monthly objectives you’ve established.

  • Level up with bonuses. Start simple. You could state that 10% to 20% of every dollar above the objective becomes bonus capital for key staff.
  • Add profit sharing when you achieve ‘Super Profit.’ When you exceed your sales goals in the same amount of working hours, you’ll drastically improve your profits as your payroll, equipment, and overhead costs do not increase significantly. That’s called Super Profit!

Not only will your team get invested, they’ll feel a sense of pride and ownership in the business when their extra efforts are recognized and rewarded in tangible ways. In an industry with such high labour turnover, an incentive program can go a long way toward employee retention and recruitment.

What do you do with team members who refuse to help the company progress? As George Urvari of Oriole Landscaping says, “The people will change or the people will change.” Everyone from your forklift operator and foreman to your bookkeeper and operations manager should have committed to meeting expectations at the start of the season. If you’ve done everything you could, from additional training to modified work plans, it’s time to move on. Firing people is never easy but it’s far more costly to run a company with people who don’t (or won’t) do their jobs.

2. Start your landscaping company’s spring cleaning early.

Organization is a huge contributor to productivity, which quite obviously has a positive impact on the bottom line. Too many landscaping businesses start the season off with a mass organization of the shop and yard, only to watch it all fall apart within weeks.

Andrew Wilson of Cut & Clean LLC told us that his New Year’s resolution this year is to take back his time. “My main focus is to learn to be a business owner, not just the laborer in my business,” he said.

It’s a common struggle. You’ve heard the old adage, “If you want something done properly, do it yourself.” However, this can cripple your ability to grow your landscaping business. At the end of the day, there’s only one of you—and you are needed to strategize, motivate, and steer the truck, so to speak. You can’t afford to be wrapped up in the menial physical tasks your employees need to be doing.

To maintain organized spaces and maximize productivity all season long, employ the 5S workplace organization model to your landscaping business:

  1. Sort: Remove or relocate anything that is not needed for current production.
  2. Set in order: Everything has a ‘right’ place. Label shelves, containers and other storage areas so things can easily be found and put away. Furthermore, every crew should have their own assigned equipment, from small tools to heavy equipment.
  3. Shine: Employees must take pride in keeping everything from their trucks and desks to job sites clean. Schedule regular cleaning and inspections to ensure follow-through.
  4. Standardize: When roles and responsibilities are clear, everyone knows what is expected of them. Invest in regular training (for yourself and your team) and employee onboarding to improve efficiency.
  5. Sustain: Conduct routine inspections to make sure that every one of your crews is following the 5S procedures and offer rewards for continuous improvement and optimal performance.

Don’t forget about your administration! This resolution was shared with us by Josh Jones of Mass Hardscapes in Massachusetts: “My goal for 2020 is to be as efficient and organized as possible, both in the office and in the field.”

Many landscape companies are currently operating at around 60% of their potential, simply because they lack effective in-office systems. In other words, most companies are billing only 60% of what they should/could be billing with the right systems in place.

In your spring cleaning, get rid of time-consuming manual processes. In addition to 5S, make sure you implement business management software to automate processes and increase efficiencies.

3. Hold everyone accountable (yourself included!)

If you’re two months in and results aren’t as expected, why is that? What are you doing to improve? If expectations for your team are set at the beginning of the season (and monthly) in support of business goals, it might be time to look at individual performance. It’s hard for someone to blame his trainer if he’s eating junk food every night.

In addition to your operational goals, what is it that you ultimately want your business to do for you? Shawn and Savanaha of East Canton, Ohio-based Spencer Lawn Care want to start acquiring assets to work their way towards financial freedom and retirement. Their New Year’s resolution this year is to “minimize our liabilities and start using our debt and money to work for us.” They plan to work smarter, not harder.

It’s a goal shared by Stanley Genadek of Minnesota’s Genadek Landscaping & Excavation Inc. 

“For me, it’s the understanding the cost of time. It’s easy for a one day job to go a day and a half or even two days. People seem to think that the only expense to that is the extra few hours it took to do the job. They miss the concept of overhead on a day-to-day basis and how that can significantly impact the bottom line,” he explained. “My goal this year is to make the cost and impact of lost time clear, concise, and easy to understand.”

Our Landscape Management Software Resolutions for 2020 and Beyond

At LMN, we share in your desire to find efficiencies, improve operations and grow your landscaping business. In fact, your company’s success drives ours! This year, make a promise to yourself and your business to be part of the 20% who actually stick to their New Year’s resolutions. We are here to support you every step of the way.

As for our own resolutions, LMN strives to:

  • Help our landscaping business customers achieve double-digit profit margins.
  • Help landscape business owners provide a middle-class career for their field staff, in order to move beyond the impact of labor shortage.
  • Delight our customers with innovative, impactful new products to save them time, improve customer service, and grow landscaping revenue and profits.

To learn more about building a better landscape business, I encourage you to attend one of our workshops.

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