Tag Archives: Landscape professional

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.

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!

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.

Are you going to GIE + Expo / Landscapes in Louisville?


If you’re coming to the biggest landscape show on earth, the week of October 15th, you won’t be disappointed!

Here are 7 opportunities for you to connect with me at this event, and for you to gain more from your visit!

Plus there is one extra resource at the very end of this post, that you’ll want to use for any conference you attend in the future.

  1. Attend the ticketed Design-Build workshops on Tuesday, I’m a guest speaker in the afternoon, and will be sharing brand new concepts for making your business run better. It will be highly interactive and you won’t want to miss it!
  2. Wednesday you can attend both of my talksIn the morning, “Creating a Five Star Brand” and in the afternoon, “Benchmarking for Profit.” You’ll leave with brand new tools that I’ve never shared before. Don’t miss it.
  3. Wednesday and Thursday’s Breakfast With Champions are superb learning events. You’re invited to join me at my table to learn about Achieving 20% Net Profit” and “Developing Your Second In Command” 
  4. Wednesday you really want to attend the special ticketed CEO
    Forum.  I’ll also be attending, on the topic of “Breaking into the Millennial Mind”.
  5. Wednesday night, if you want to network and have a great time, you should attend the IGI Investors Reception at the Omni hotel. You must make a donation to this worthy fund to gain entry but it’s well worth it.
  6. Let’s coordinate a time to meet up together, one on one, in Louisville, to discuss your business, goals and ambitions. Email me directly so we can confirm the date and times.
  7. You’re going to be busy, don’t forget to see the live concerts, and take advantage of all the great networking and education! My favorite is The Muhammad Ali museum, it is fabulous!

One last thing, if you really want to maximize the value of your visit to this or any conference, read this blog: 11 tips to maximize your time and money spent going to conferences.