Tag Archives: employees

Dramatically Change Your Company Culture in Just One Week

What if you could dramatically change your company culture in just one week?

In a way that would foster deep leadership buy-in, sharpened leadership focus, and surging employee morale?

It may sound like pixie dust, but I have seen it happen over and over.

This is not meant to be a brag, but rather to show you what’s actually possible in your company.

Last week, Wade Vugteveen, co-owner and CEO of DeHamer Landscaping outside Grand Rapids, MI, brought his executive team to visit with me in New Orleans for a strategic retreat (see photos below).  In his words, here is what he experienced after the first five days after returning to work.

 “I told my wife that I don’t really recognize our company this week. It feels like a different place.” – Wade Vugteveen

Here are seven specific changes they made –– out of probably 20 motivating and profitable changes they implemented in the first week:

1. Hold an all-leaders team-building meeting.

They held a company meeting with all leaders where they played a fun game for everyone to get to know each other and then laid out their new company values. (Their Sales Manager, who is usually quiet and in the background, led this meeting with enthusiasm.) Each foreman took the time to talk about him/herself by answering a list of questions they created. Wade said it was a great meeting that felt entirely different from anything they have ever done. It was very well-received by their team; the energy and attitude were amped up! 

2. Nominate Chief Energy Officers.

During the strategic retreat, Wade and the team decided that Adam, one of the owners, would take on the role of Operations Manager. When they got back to work, Adam set up a three-person team to be responsible for the energy and attitudes of the entire production group, with the goal of leading everyone to more positive attitudes in the workplace. Adam named this team the Chief Energy Officers. 

3. Set up a personal database.

Adam, as the new Operations Manager, created a database of all of their team members and set up a schedule to give them formal reviews (which had not been done before). Adam collected personal information from all of his new direct reports so that the executive team could get to know and care for their people better. Within the first week, Adam had already met with half of the team, giving raises and re-setting expectations. This caught a couple of unhappy team members by surprise. It worked out super well!

4. Take the team to lunch.

The bar at my favorite restaurant, where I took the Dehamer executive team for a pre-event, southern creole meal.

Their Sales Manager had lunch with his salespeople and re-set much clearer expectations. Sounds like a no-brainer, but this was not part of the original Action Plan we had set. He simply made it happen. This should be happening a couple of times a year; lunching with your key leaders. When is the last time you took your people to lunch one at a time?

5. Find out what irritates your team the most and fix it.

They paved their parking lot, and oh-man did everyone really appreciate that. What’s one thing you could do to elevate everyone’s mood?

6. Remove the fires and decisions from your plate.

As CEO, Wade has been much less stressed and has had time to really focus on his role – there has been much less distracting discussions around the office and more people taking responsibility and just getting stuff done. Gotta love that. How freed up is your time?

7. Gain buy-in for cross-selling services.

Hard at work, the Dehamer executive team at my strategic retreat in New Orleans.

Their install salespeople have already sold a few lawn care and snow contracts in this first week, and they have become excited about supporting the growth of services, which was not the case before the strategic retreat. We laid out an entire cross-selling strategy where everyone will have responsibility for growth, not just the service sales team.

Wade also told me that on the flight back home, they decided to step up their plan to grow their sales team. And they already made an offer to a lawn care salesperson as a way to really accelerate the growth of their services division.

I am told that their executive team has gelled and bought into the growth plans that we laid out. As Wade shared with me, he does not recognize his company after just one week – It feels like a totally different and better place. 

Your Challenge:

It’s one thing to do a strategic planning session with your team, be it quarterly or annual.

But, it’s completely different to transform the energy of your team and actually create a plan that dramatically improves your culture and your financial results.

Your challenge is to think outside the box next time you hold a strategic planning session with your team.

To help this, create your own R&D program (rob & duplicate). Steal one of these ideas from above and implement it in your company.

Man walking in a lane with the sunlight breaking through the trees.

CRISIS RESOURCE PAGE: Responding to COVID-19 for the Lawn and Landscape Industry

SMART BUSINESS RESPONSES TO COVID-19

During a crisis, smart lawn and landscape owners are looking for practical strategies and solutions they can implement in their business rapidly. You want to act fast.

Consider this your crisis resource center where you will find links to basic and advanced business resources that will help you during the COVID-19 crisis.

You’ll find a select list of videos, white papers, podcasts and other publications that are suitable for lawn and landscape business owners.  We’ve created a special link to make it easy for you to come back to this resource page as it will be updated regularly. That link is JeffreyScott.biz/crisis.

To receive immediate updates directly to your inbox, you can subscribe to my weekly newsletter by clicking here.

CRISIS RESOURCES:

READ: How to Respond to COVID-19 as a Business Owner: Landscape Business Owners – Now is the time to prepare and be the first to move on opportunities in your industry during COVID-19. Click to discover 10 ideas to help you.

VIDEO: Responding to COVID-19 for Landscape, Lawn Care, Irrigation and Tree Care Business Owners : Here are 10 crucial responses for you to take, to protect your company and your employee’s jobs due to COVID-19.

RESOURCE: Build Your Resilience in the Face of a Crisis from Harvard Business Review: Things you can do to protect your mental state during crisis.

RESOURCE: U.S. Small Business Administration Website & Disaster Loan Assistance Site: Keep updated on resources that can financially help your business during COVID-19.

RESOURCE: Resources to Help Your Small Business Survive the Coronavirus from US Chamber of Commerce: Five resources that can help you mitigate the financial impact of COVID-19.

READ: Productivity Tips: Working From Home: Tips to work hard from home and still separate work life and home life.

VIDEO: Crisis Leadership Strategies For Landscape Companies: Here are 10 clear strategies to engage and inspire your team to help your company survive, thrive and kick butt in 2020 and beyond.

VIDEO: Words of Hope: In these difficult times, here are words of hope for owners and employees of lawn and landscape companies.

RESOURCE: Relief Funds (National and Regional Ones): Comprehensive, searchable database for businesses to find assistance in this crisis.

RESOURCE: 5 Ways to Stimulate Cash Flow in a Downturn, by Harvard Business Review: Tips to keep ensure the economics of your business remain sound.

VIDEO: Economic Predictions – How To Be Ready For The Upswing: Landscape and lawn professionals should get prepared now for the upswing.

VIDEO: High Stakes Leadership: The NBA commissioner made a courageous move that many sport organizations followed and every lawn and landscape business owner should follow and use, not just now but during any difficult decision-making process.

VIDEO: 10 Proven Ways To Grow Sales Now: Every lawn and landscape company has a sales and marketing culture; and the question is how strong is yours? Use this inspiring video check list to see where you can make immediate improvements in your sales right now, in this economy.

Young male constructor worker in orange hardhat thinking with one arm crossed and the other on his chin

Poach or Be Poached?

A recurring question that you face—and one that I am asked occasionally—is it okay to poach employees?

And/or what should I do when someone is poaching my employees?

First off, when someone offers one of your better employees $10k more and they leave, either they were unhappy with you, or you were underpaying them, or underutilizing them, or all three.

However, what if they leave for just a $2-4k raise? or for no raise at all?

That is why I believe this question, “Is it okay to poach?” is the wrong question to ask because it covers up (hides) the larger dynamic happening in the market place.

It’s a seller’s market.

Your company is either growing or shrinking when it comes to talent retention and acquisition.

The growing companies in your market are winning employee market share—and the shrinking companies are losing out on the best employees. And poaching has nothing to do with it.

By my definition, growth means growing in reputation, career opportunities, and client opportunities. These companies are becoming a true Destination Company®️.

Since I published my prescient book (Become A Destination Company®️) over three years ago, I have seen the competitive nature of attracting and hiring employees become even more acute.

The newer generations of good employees have even higher standards on what they want from an employer. It is a race to the top!

Your challenge: Build a company culture that promotes growth from the inside out. Where all the leaders at your company are focused on developing and retaining top talent.

Back to the question – Is poaching ethical? It is not professional when it involves you walking onto job sites. But your company should be so attractive that great employees want to walk across the street to work for you.

surfer riding wafe

Transition Your Company From Founder-Led to Founder-Inspired

At some point in the growth of your lawn or landscape company, you will want to focus your attention on new things. You may be bored with your current role, or you have personal or professional passions you want to follow.

Are you ready to make a change?

It is hard to make that transition, from leading the company to the role of inspiring the company. And if you are the face of the company, it is 10x harder.

How will you do this so that your company legacy continues to soar, while you shift your focus?  

Grab a cup of coffee and ponder this example: 

When Howard Schultz of Starbucks made the transition (for the second time, after the first time backfired), he made it clear to his troops that the new CEO was in charge. They held a private meeting, all sitting down on the wooden floor of the original Pike Place store. Howard then stood up and said to Kevin (the new CEO) and the leadership team, “This is my personal key to the Pike Place store. It is a key that I’ve carried with me for decades. And I want to present you this key as a symbol of this transition.”  

In my experience, a successful “next generation” leader tends to be more analytical because they don’t have the benefit of decades of operating by their gut and learning from early-on mistakes. 

Success also requires a more distributed leadership model. Even if the founder could initially run the business by herself or himself, the next generation cannot, or more accurately, should not do the same.

Assuming you have found the right leader or group of leaders, what will they actually focus on? 

  • Nurturing the vision
  • Making tough decisions to strengthen the company’s future path
  • Bringing more technology to bear
  • Greatly expanding the growth of the firm, based on the foundation built by the founder

What does a “founder-inspired” leader do?

You have a few choices on what your new role will be.  

  • Allow the new management to implement, i.e., stay out of their way! 
  • Look far ahead into the future growth, research new products and new markets 
  • Help ensure the original purpose of the company is kept alive, and strengthening the purpose to attract the younger generations.
  • Act as an advisor to the new leadership

When I speak to leaders, some of them also have other desires: 

  • Return to the field, back to their roots, to lead hands-on training
  • Go back to sales while someone else leads the firm
  • Or simply move on to enjoy life and travel more

Here is a prime example of a client who wants more free time:

I received a call from a landscape business owner who now wants to shift at the age of 52, take more frequent 4-5 day trips with his daughter, learn to surf, and enjoy life with his wife as traveling foodies. We will be working together to make that shift, and identify the team and infrastructure he needs in place to transition as quick as possible. 

Your challenge: Be honest with yourself – what would you like your role to be in the coming 3 to 5 years. (Don’t plan 10 years out to make this shift, that is too far in the future.) Start putting steps in place now to transition from founder-led to founder-inspired.

FINISH YOUR FINANCIAL YEAR STRONG WITH 12 PRACTICAL IDEAS

Finish Your Financial Year Strong With 12 Practical Ideas

“Starting strong is good. Finishing strong is epic.” – Robin Sharma

Your performance in this final quarter of the year will have an oversized impact on your year-end profits. In fact, it’s so important, that you should be reminded of it and think about it every year at this time. 

The question you should ask yourself is how you can persistently stay the course and finish this year with stronger net profits? Here are two critical areas of consideration.

1. Weekly Throughput 

The main driver of your net profit in the fourth quarter is measured by your company’s Weekly Throughput, i.e., the amount of billable production work your company can produce (“put through”) each week.

Here is why this is so important: Even though you estimate for net profit with each and every sale, starting with your first sale in January, the fact is that all the profit from those sales goes towards covering your overhead (OH) until all of your overhead is paid for. Once your overhead is covered, you have reached what accountants call your “break-even” date.

Once you hit your break-even date – all the profit you then make from every sale goes straight to your bottom line. Not only the net profit, but also the operational profit (that previously went to pay for overhead) now goes straight to the bottom line. This date is generally hit right before or in the 4th quarter.

Do you know what your break-even date is? Have you reached it yet?

2. Operational Margin

My high performing clients are able to achieve an Operational Profit Margin in the upper 30%’s and 40+% depending on the type of business they are in (and how long they have been working with me). If your operational margin is, for example, 35%, then after you hit break-even, every dollar that gets produced will put at least 35 cents or more towards your bottom line! That is a lot!

To this end, the more sales that your team can produce and bill in this final quarter, the more net profit you will ultimately earn. Conversely, if you have too many hiccups this fall, you put your year-end net profit at risk.

Thus your drive for additional revenues to maximize your margins should be on your mind all the time, if you want to finish the year strong

Here are 12 Ways You Can Increase your Weekly Throughput and Year-end Revenue:

  1. Keep salespeople motivated to continue selling through December, using situational and year-end incentives. Having an increased backlog is good, it puts positive pressure on the crews, so they have more than enough work to chew through.
  2. Decrease the non-billable time (shop time, morning, travel, deli and gas stops, evening) so more time is spent on billable work.
  3. Decrease (eliminate) the unnecessary go-backs needed to complete a job by ensuring crews are properly equipped and dispatched, with trucks and tools operating smoothly.
  4. Ask crews to plan to be flexible in case of bad weather, working late or weekends, so you can hit your Weekly Throughput goals.
  5. Use overtime (OT) to get your extra backlogged work done; the incremental cost of OT will be more than offset by the additional operating profit that will drop straight to your bottom line. Do the math!
  6. Sell more fall and winter add-on services. Remember, enhancement sales can be sold at a higher margin than your standard work anyhow, so it is a double win.
  7. Walk every maintenance property and sell them services to be done now, or in the winter.  Find extra work that can be performed by crews already on maintenance properties.
  8. Sell holiday decor now to be done this fall. For example, how about selling front door arrangements as you see in the magazine Southern Living?
  9. Sell fireplaces and hardscapes to be started now (and completed during the winter).
  10. Raise next year’s hourly rate right now, and apply it to your fall work. Who says you have to wait till January to raise rates?
  11. Deliver your holiday presents to clients early, and they will likely give you more work to take care of.
  12. Incentivize your crews to increase their Weekly Throughput. Make crews accountable for their weekly production goals, and motivate them to be as efficient as possible. Share the winnings when they sprint through the finish line.

Connect the dots:

Many employees may not immediately grasp how sprinting through the finish, and ensuring a healthy net profit will benefit them and their families. Take the time to explain this to them by connecting the dots on how it benefits the company and how it benefits them directly. Using an incentive plan helps them see directly how it benefits them and creates a win/win situation for both of you.

(I love helping companies set up effective incentive plans because it is so win-win when done right!)

Your Challenge: Pull everyone together if you have not already done so, and explain to them which day in your calendar you hit break-even and how the production during the 4th quarter will help the company hit and beat its year-end profit goals, thus benefiting everyone.

boat on open water by an island

20 Hour Work Week Challenge

Do you work full time, or are you able to take time off –– and diversify your interests?

I am currently working with a seasoned but young business owner who has moved his family overseas to live in the promised land. I am coaching his GM and working with his team; he works an hour a week.

What would you do if you had an extra 10, 20 or even 30 hours free each week? How would you spend it? Continue reading 20 Hour Work Week Challenge

Think Like an Owner

Pass this on to all employees.

It is not enough in this economy to wait for the boss to tell you what to do. If you want to grow your career, you have to think and act like an owner or CEO. Ask yourself, “What would an entrepreneur do to help this company grow?” Here are some answers.

  1. Bring in prospects

The success of your company depends on its ability to attract new clients; but this is not just the role of marketing. “Everyone in the company is in sales,” says successful contractor, Joe Markell.

How can you help the company gain new clients? Personally, I find that the best way is to give a talk in front of potential clients, on a topic you are an expert. For me, it might mean giving a talk on ‘leadership’ or ‘time management.’ For you? It might mean giving a talk at a garden club or trade association. Selling can also mean passing your business card to people you meet on the street and at the deli. Whomever you meet, collect and pass along the good contacts you make to your sales team. Help the company grow, and you will too.

  1. Find Efficiencies

For every dollar a company saves, it is 8-20 times more valuable to the company than making a dollar in new sales. Why is this? Because that dollar saved goes right to the bottom line. It is pure profit. In my experience, in-efficiencies can happen in the following areas:

  • warranty
  • material wastage
  • call-back’s from a client
  • go-backs due to incomplete work
  • unproductive yard time.
  • unbillable time.
  • unbilled extra work
  • down time due to equipment failure
  • inaccurate or incomplete paperwork

Put on your thinking cap and find ways to help. If you are not sure where to start, ask your boss where he/she is trying to improve efficiencies. They will appreciate the fact that you care. Increasing job efficiency can start with taking an extra walk around before you leave a client’s property. You can’t go wrong by raising your head and opening your eyes and taking a bigger look at what is going on around you.

“You will do better when you help your company do better”, Jeffrey Scott

  1. Bring a “Yes Attitude” to work

You can single-handedly lift the attitude of your crew, and even your department, by having a consistent, outwardly positive attitude.

“The attitude of few, influences the attitude of many,” Jeffrey Scott

Be optimistic no matter the challenge, even when others are negative. Lift other people’s outlook by keeping yours high. This includes saying “Yes” when a peer or supervisor asks you for help. Just say Yes, and find out how you can help. Positive attitudes are infectious – bring a Yes Attitude to work, and you will become instrumental in improving your company’s can-do spirit.

  1. Generate referrals

Your clients will refer you when they are wowed by your work and by the impression you leave with them each day when you come onto and leave their property. Every customer contact is an opportunity to make them happy they hired you. It starts with a genuine smile and a wave hello, and an extra touch like picking up their paper or garbage blowing around. It is further supported by a genuine question to see if there is anything else they need, and it ends with a job site cleaner than you found it. For those in the office, making your client feel ‘special’ each time they call will go a long way. When you find out the clients name, repeat it and give them a phone-hug,  “Mr Smith, I am SO glad you called, how can I help you today!” Say this with enthusiasm, and you will be remembered and referred. I guarantee it!

  1. Learn valuable skills

Would you like to increase your chances of earning a raise? One thing you can do: learn new skills that your company needs in order to stay competitive. What skill would help you become more productive and help your company win more work? If you are not sure, ask your supervisor for suggestions. The more you learn and apply in a productive manner, the more you can earn. But don’t do it just for the money.

“Life is a journey, punctuated by learning new skills,” Jeffrey Scott 

The more skills you master, the more you will feel motivated and satisfied by your work, and the more confident you will be. Do it for the internal satisfaction!

  1. Bring a higher standard to work.

Owners like employees who are focused and want to do things right.  But since no one is perfect, there is always room to improve. Where can you improve your focus and workmanship? Where do you have go-backs, or where do you spend excessive time? Where are your clients not 100% thrilled with your work?

Start with reflection:

  • On Friday think about one thing you could improve from the previous week, and commit to improving on it the following week.
  • Make notes at the end of each day on how you did to improve.
  • Keep a little black book of improvements!
  • Find one specific area each week to improve on.

By the end of a full year you will have improved in over 50 areas! Wow – that will have a huge impact with yourself, your clients and your company! Sweat the details, and your clients and boss will notice.