Tag Archives: Landscape

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!

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.

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. 

The Race Is On! But Will YOU Win?

Wouldn’t you love to learn how to raise the competitive spirit of your team?

Last week we did just that, with a select group of landscape and irrigation business owners at my Driven To Win event, held at BMW’s high-performance racetrack in S.C. 

It was unique and exhilarating; not your typical landscape conference!

Here are 6 lessons from the event that you, as a landscape contractor, can apply right away:

1. The Excitement of Competing Against One’s Peers

Even though no money was at stake, we all wanted to win the various mini-competitions that BMW set up for us. 

One of the attendees, Ken Hutten, shared that he is reserved and not normally competitive, but he stepped up and won one of the contests. He enjoyed the competition and camaraderie, and pondered how he could bring that same degree of excitement back to his operations. 

So how do you create fun competition in your company to crank up your people’s focus and results?

2. The Power of Metrics

We could see our scores (and the scores of our peers) each time we raced through a ‘time trial,’ and so we immediately had a new goal to beat, whether it was ours or our peers. 

This immediate feedback was a wonderful mechanism for improvement. 

So, how do you give meaningful daily and weekly feedback? Does it instill a competitive spirit?

3. Camaraderie Made Us All Excel

We enjoyed getting to know one another personally over a meal the night before the event. (We had a private chef in an exclusive loft.) 

This increased our enjoyment and our willingness to get “naked”, i.e., be more open and honest with each other when we convened the final day to debrief and apply our experiences.

Do you have that same level of open trust on your team?

4. Getting Feedback Was Crucial

We had three to four professional racecar drivers who were coaching us throughout the day.  

Some of us got too much feedback and it became distracting, and at other times we received “the perfect tip” to greatly increase speed around a corner. 

There were also times we were left wanting more feedback. (I wanted to beat one of the others and needed crucial feedback, but the coach wasn’t paying attention and couldn’t help me.)

Your business lesson – how, and how often, you give feedback is crucial – every employee wants it differently. Some want it more direct and more often than you think. Ask your people; make learning fun.

5. Daily Brief/Debrief

It helped us as a group to debrief how we did after it was all over, and then apply the lessons back to our business. We all had skin in the game (pride, business and personal goals). 

When your people have skin in the game, and when they have their own personal goals, they will gain even more value from the debriefs you hold at work — whether daily or weekly.

6. We Shared Our Failures

By the end of the day we were tired, and yet we had one more competition – the final time trial.  

I was pumped…but then I spun my $110,000 M5 off the track into the dirt. (No damage luckily.) I wanted to win, but my stamina could not keep up.  I was seeing the “red mist”, i.e., where one’s ambition clouds one’s judgment. Not good. ;-(

I was not alone. And so we took time to discuss our failures––on the track and in business. We kept it real and learned from each other. 

The best learning organizations have developed this same trust and a method for sharing problems and how to overcome them. Do you have this same camaraderie and support at your company?

Your Challenge: Make work fun, make competing fun, and use feedback and metrics to help your people improve. Don’t be afraid to share failures. And, just as important, take time away from the day-to-day to recharge and take advantage of out-of-the-box learning.  

See photos below, and stay tuned for my next unique event to help you truly excel at work.

bmw racing track

BMW performance track in S.C.

Jeffrey Scott bmw thumbs up

Ready to rumble!

bmw racing competition

Excited to get started!

bmw racing group team photo

We left it all out on the track.

bmw race team medals competition

Top 3 drivers of the day!