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Let’s Make Better Mistakes

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Business Advice

This blog was originally posted by Editor Chuck Bowen on Lawn & Landscape.

The 2017 season has finally started. Now is the time of year when you’re implementing all those grand plans that you’ve been reading about in Lawn & Landscape, when you put in place all those new ways to operate, sell, manage, hire and retain employees, buy equipment, upsell customers and market your services to new prospects, when you do all the great things you heard from speakers at the winter conferences you attended.

Or, at least, that’s what I think you’ve been doing all winter. Maybe you’ve been pushing snow. Maybe you took a vacation.

However you spent the last few months, here you are at the start of the season. This is the time of year when, if you aren’t careful, the wheels are going to fall off.

This is the time of year – when it’s super busy and you’re eager to get back to work after a long winter – that it’s easiest to slip back into the same habits you and your team fell into last year. This means fueling up the mowers at the local BP instead of at your yard, or scrambling to send back someone to pick up the extra valve and box of rotors that they forgot to load up in the morning, or treating lawns all over town because you’re too busy to stop for a minute and plan a direct route.

All those things – which are expedient, but not necessarily efficient or profitable – are what you as business owners try to eliminate.

I was up in Canada this winter at a conference and Mark Bradley, who runs TBG Landscape, a $21 million company, as well as a very successful software firm, spoke about how his strategic planning process focuses on continuously identifying and eliminating processes that are inefficient, unsafe or unprofitable. And he encouraged all the other landscapers in the room to realize that this sort of stuff happens at all landscape companies.

This is the time of year when, if you aren’t careful, the wheels are going to fall off.

“If you think your business is the only dysfunctional business in the room,” he said, “you’re wrong.”

My point is this: This busy time is not the best time to dramatically change how you operate. But it is the best time to find the weak points in your operation and see where you can improve. Try something to be faster, better or more profitable. It might work; it might not. It might be another mistake. But at least it will be a better mistake than the ones you made last season. – Chuck Bowen

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