New Ford CEO, Jim Farley, Shows Landscapers the Way to the Future

Nov 23, 2020 | Growth Tips, Leadership

The new Ford Motor Company CEO, Jim Farley, is leading the transformation of the 117-year-old company by focusing on going digital and giving commercial vehicle buyers better use of their data to make better decisions.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “As a racer of vintage cars, Jim Farley has ironically spent his first few weeks as Ford’s new CEO thinking about one of the company’s more utilitarian models: the cargo van.” This has implications for owners of landscape firms.

As a landscape business leader, you can learn from Ford’s new direction in three ways:

1. Customers are buying new features and benefits.

While talking to commercial customers, Farley, the new CEO, learned that they cared more about the add-on services (to track fuel usage and keep costs down) than they did about the cargo van itself. They wanted better results through improved features, services, and access to data. 

As I have written before, landscape business owners also  have to think of themselves as data scientists and make better use of data to make decisions and keep their company on track. 

2. Shifting focus.

Ford’s new strategy to catch up to GM and Tesla is to focus on commercial vehicles (electric and gas) and subscription services to support those customers.

Farley is not afraid to pivot the company in a brand new way in order to succeed in the automotive market. 

2020 marks the year that change has sped up in our industry, too. If you are not already pivoting your lawn and landscape to digital, data, technology, brand-new skills, automation, etc. — then you are already behind.

3. Hiring outsiders.

Ford’s new focus on digital and subscription services is evident in the new hires that Ford’s CEO is making, according to the WSJ:

  • An executive from John Deere with expertise using artificial intelligence to develop new services for farmers.
  • An Israeli intelligence officer to serve as Ford’s data and analytics chief.
  • A chief information/software officer who worked at the brokerage firm, TD Ameritrade.

For more ideas on new outside hires, listen to my podcast with Kevin McHale, where he talks about his newest hire, a young process-driven change-agent. 

This person’s title is ‘Director of Business Operations and Modernization’ and his role is to bring modern techniques and ideas to how McHale operates and evolves over the next decade.

Your Challenge:

1. Ask your clients new questions to learn about their new needs, features, and benefits that they want.

2. Be prepared to pivot your business (products, processes, and people) in order to stay relevant with your existing clients, and also to work with new clients in new markets.

3. Hire skilled people outside the green industry to help you succeed in the new world. 

4. Make better use of the right data; develop KPI’s that will drive your success.