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Archive for the ‘business’ Category

Unfriendly skies

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Don’t tell Marty Grudner, but in May, Frontier Airlines will stop serving its beloved chocolate chip cookies.

The sugary treat that for many years had delighted weary passengers is going the way of … pretty much every other nice thing that used to be associated with air travel.

Save for the elite class of business traveler (who are hard to see what with all the chickens flying around back where I sit), most of us have seen benefits and extras like Frontier’s cookies disappear from airlines and many other services we purchase.

That’s why doing small things for customers can go such a long way to cementing a relationship. Send a hand-written thank-you note. Call a few days after the first application to make sure the service was good.

These things don’t cost a lot, but they’re worth a ton.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

April 12th, 2012 at 12:10 pm

How to be hyperlocal

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Jeff Korhan offers three tips on how your company can one-up larger players in your market by doing something revolutionary: understanding your market better than they do.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

March 20th, 2012 at 11:02 am

Posted in business

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6 quick thoughts on social media

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The best session at PLANET’s Green Industry Great Escape was the discussion on social media and how businesses operate online. Led by Roger, Phelps, Stihl, Bruce Robert, Red Letter Corp., and Pat Schunk, PowerCloud, the talk touched on how consumers find companies online, the impact of mobile devices and how social media can improve not only your firm’s visibility but its reputation as well.

Here’s a quick re-cap of the talk. Look for more in an upcoming issue of Lawn & Landscape.

  1. Allow negative comments live on your site, blog or Facebook page. It shows that you’re a real company. The key is that you respond to it, and diffuse any bad situations.
  2. Good content pushes out bad. The more you publish about your company, whether it’s blog posts, Facebook updates or other content, the more you show up in search results (not rogue negative commenters).
  3. Use online tools to monitor what people say about you and your industry. Roger uses Kurrently to keep tabs on Stihl.
  4. Think about how social media can be used to highlight your employees, and how that attention can improve morale.
  5. Consider how your employees use social networks on (and off) the clock. The same goes for your family members – whether they work in the business or not.
  6. Social media takes time. If you’ve already got a packed schedule, you honestly might not have enough attention left to focus on updating these platforms. If that’s the case, don’t do it.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

March 19th, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Posted in business,sales

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How deep do you want your trenches?

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Jim McCutcheon told me this story a few weeks ago.

He was at a meeting with a developer in Atlanta that was known for its focus on green building, specifically LEED certification. In the meeting along with him and the client were a few other landscaping companies, most of which he knew. But one guy, down at the end of the table, he’d never met before.

The group was talking about the pros and cons of the LEED system, the developer’s challenges on this project and the cut-throat nature of the Atlanta real estate market in general, when the guy at the end of the table spoke up.

“How deep do you want your trenches?” he asked.

McCutcheon’s point here is that you have to have to speak your customer’s language – and that language isn’t always the language of landscaping. It’s not about the shiny brochure with pictures of your trucks. It’s about asking the right kinds of questions and learning about their business.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

March 15th, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Posted in business

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You can’t ‘win’ friends

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Turns out, Charlie Sheen Dale Carnegie was wrong. You don’t “win” friends. You don’t collect them like business cards.

Reid Hoffman, founder of Linkedin and celebrated tech investor, said as much in the February issue of Fortune, where he was promoting his new book. Turns out you make friends and allies by just being thoughtful and lending a hand. Who knew?

This excerpt featured some of his best advice on how to strengthen your network:

The best way to engage with new people is not by cold calling or by “networking” with strangers at cocktail parties, but by working with the people you already know. Of the many types of professional relationships, among the most important are your close allies. Most professionals maintain five to 10 active alliances. What makes a relationship an alliance? First, an ally is someone you consult regularly for advice. Second, you proactively share and collaborate on opportunities together. You keep your antennae attuned to an ally’s interests, and when it makes sense to pursue something jointly, you do. Third, you talk up an ally. You promote his or her brand. Finally, when an ally runs into conflict, you defend him and stand up for his reputation, and he does the same for you.

You can read the full article, which includes more of the science and psychology behind networking, here.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

March 14th, 2012 at 11:07 am

Core values

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Core values: A principle that guides an organization’s internal conduct as well as its relationship with the external world.

That definition is according to the website businessdictionary.com. Your company probably has a set of core values. But are they written down? Do your employees live them? Do your customers know what they are?  Those are important steps a company must take in order to be successful.

Dina Dwyer-Owens is a stickler on core values. She’s the chairwoman and CEO of The Dwyer Group, which has a portfolio of eight companies, including the green industries, The Grounds Guys. The Dwyer Group is successful today because her employees know and follow the company’s code of values: respect, integrity, customer focus and having fun in the process.

To understand how those were being lived, Dwyer-Owens went on the TV show Undercover Boss (watch here). She learned a lot about herself, about her company and about running a lawn mower.

The Grounds Guys was formed in 2010 by The Dwyer Group and the Van Stralen family, which founded Sunshine Grounds Care in 1987. Here Dwyer-Owens shares with Lawn & Landscape The Grounds Guys own core values and how they’re integrated in everyday work:

Today, The Grounds Guys Culture of CARE states:

We show that we CARE, by putting the needs of our

Customers first, by always having a positive and helpful

Attitude, and by treating everyone and everything with

Respect. By living our code of values we

Enjoy Life in the process.

 

Now, the team learns how to CARE. It is reinforced daily with a quick morning H.U.D.D.L.E to start the day:

Have someone recite the Culture of CARE

Uniform check

Discuss yesterday’s route

Discuss today’s route

Listen and share good news

Energize and encourage each other

The call to action with the culture of CARE and H.U.D.D.L.E. has raised the bar for The Grounds Guys. It’s inspiring to know that the road we have traveled at The Dwyer Group can be an interesting lesson for other businesses on a journey all their own.

Written by clawell@gie.net

March 5th, 2012 at 4:11 pm

First, make two calendars

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When you’re good at what you do, and you really enjoy it, it can be difficult to step back and think about promoting yourself.

I mean, if you enjoy this work so much, how is everyone else not as excited as you all the time?

Jason Cupp recently visited with a landscaper out west having some trouble keeping her service schedule and marketing schedules in sync.

Of course, when it comes to marketing, there can be several challenges, not the least of which are what you want to promote, what medium you want to use, and exactly who to target. This client’s struggle, however, involved timing; she was always behind the power curve getting her marketing message to prospects.

So he had her make up two calendars — one for her services and one, set a few months back, that would help her schedule promotions for those services.

A simple idea, but one with a lot of power that could help a lot of landscapers. (And editors, come to think of it.)

Read the full post here for all the details.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

February 29th, 2012 at 7:34 am

Posted in business

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Who’s your competition?

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If you’re competing against the guy who put this up, you have my sympathy.

Because he’ll do anything to get the business. Read it yourself: He’ll mow your grass, clean out your garage and move your sofa. No job too small!

I hear from readers all the time about the mythical lowballer – how he’s stealing business and driving down prices and hurting the industry. They’ve been around forever and they won’t ever go away.

The only way to compete with someone who will do anything at any price is to do the same. Otherwise, you have to ignore him.

Do you target customers who pay the lowest possible price and also ask you to haul their old washing machine to the dump? Do you get a lot of your leads from the grocery store bulletin board?

If you don’t like competing against lowballers, stop. Find new customers.

As Seth Godin explains that your customer isn’t always the person who signs your checks.

Zappos is a classic customer service company, and their customer is the person who buys the shoes.

Many manufacturers have retailers as their customer. If Wal-Mart is happy, they’re happy.

Apple had just one customer. He passed away last year.

Not everyone with a lawn or snow-covered driveway is your customer. And not every landscaper is your competition. Figure out where you want to spend your time, focus your energy and stop worrying about these guys.

(image via @jasoncupp)

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

February 6th, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Posted in business

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