Tag Archives: growth

man look at himself in the mirror

Self Awareness is the Silver Bullet to Professional Growth

A few weeks back I gave a lecture to a packed room at the Green Industry Expo in Louisville on the topic of “Benchmarking for Profit”.

The audience learned my seven key performance indicators that you must benchmark (measure and manage) in order to improve your company’s performance.

Some of the benchmarks were as expected, such as labor, and some required outside-the-box thinking.

Then, I ended the talk with a big surprise…

I shared how you can benchmark your self-awareness (!), and why self-awareness is the single most important indicator of your future success.

Here is what the audience learned…

Self-awareness is rarely discussed in business circles, and yet it tells you everything about your future.

Alan Stein, the author of Raise Your Game, agrees with me on this.

In his excellent book, he tells the story of a young basketball player and how he could predict the player’s future success on the court based on his level of self-awareness off the court. This young basketball player chose to play for a high school team that would focus on improving his weaknesses, and ignore the hype surrounding his talent.

Stein (who has coached 100s of stars) says self-awareness is the single most critical characteristic of high performing athletes. It’s what gets them to the top of their field, and keeps them there every day.

How strong is your self-awareness? And how can you improve it?

As I write this, I’m visiting with an award-winning landscape company in Asheville, NC. They have invited me in to guide the owner and his team to grow from good to great…to extraordinary. I laid out the strategies to fast forward their success and domination of the Asheville market. But it still requires the owner and his team to be open to hearing my direct feedback, and then be willing to act on it.

With high levels of self-awareness, the owner and his team will easily surpass the extraordinary goals they have set!

How about you?

Your Challenge: Try this simple exercise in order to benchmark your self-awareness.

  1. Meet with your leadership team, and ask each person to rate themselves and each other on the following question: “Are you an intimidating leader or an approachable leader?”
  2. Score yourself first, on a scale of 1 to 5. The lowest score (1) means you are a very intimidating leader, and 5 means you are a very approachable leader. And the scores of 2-4 means you are ‘in-between’. You get the point.
  3. And then score everyone else on your team. And then…
  4. Share your scores with each other. And then…
  5. Go around the table and, one at a time, discuss your personal score vs. how others scored you. How similar were these scores? How clearly do you see yourself vs. how others see you?

The scores are not the main point. The ensuing discussion (around your perception of yourself and other people’s perception of you) is what will have the biggest impact. It will raise your self-awareness and that of your team.

Plus, it will foster an open and honest dialogue within your leadership team. And that’s priceless!

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.