Tag Archives: sales team

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.

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

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. 

Take Inventory of Your Sales Team: The Good, The Bad And The Pretty.

An innovative contractor that I coach recently asked me if she should bring on sales training for two of her weakest salespeople. The short answer is: invest in training with your Strong and Natural salespeople; outside training will not help someone who is not predisposed to sales. Let’s explore this further:

1. Weak salespeople tend to sell at discounts or allow the price of a job to be beaten down. They get overwhelmed easily, and they are probably on the wrong seat on the bus.

BTW, even owners can be weak salespeople; sometimes selling out of fear of lack of backlog, sometimes they are better suited in other roles in the company.

2. Strong salespeople love the challenge of winning the client at the price the company needs to make a strong profit. They relish the competitive nature of sales. They do not get thrown off base by objections, flinches or challenges to their value.  They have an abundant mindset (more on this below.)

3. The natural salesperson is a young or untrained salesperson that brings natural selling talent and would benefit from mentoring and training on your value proposition and your sales / estimating processes. They need mentoring, and would also benefit from external sales training once they have a good grasp of how your company works.

Discounted Selling is internally focused and based on fear:

  • I may run out of work
  • My competition may be eating my lunch
  • Our value is not strong enough
  • I am not good enough, I am a fake

Abundance Selling is externally focused on serving the customer:

  • My client and I are building a strong rapport
  • We offer tremendous value
  • We are uniquely qualified to service our clients’ needs
  • My price is fair and a great value for the customer

Jeffrey’s Breakthrough Idea: External sales training cannot turn a weak salesperson into a strong one. Focus on staffing salespeople who have potential, and then invest in mentoring and training them.

Take Action: To be successful at abundance selling you need three things: Know your costs, Have a smooth selling process with no gaps, and Spend the majority of your time building relationships with Green Light prospects.