Archive for the ‘quote’ Category
We have spent so much time focusing on the “poor economy,” “Obamacare,” “Sequestration,” “Watergate” (Rubio), etc., that we are losing sight of a critical axiom of building a business – you still make the call as to how you are going to lead your company.
Yes, you may need to make some tough calls as to how you are going to successfully overcome the obstacles in front of you. Sometimes, it means you must make difficult decisions.
Every company needs to have a leader that is willing to be unpopular at times. That willingness means you have the courage to make tough calls that will lead to better times for all members of the team. If your focus is on being liked all the time, you can’t succeed.
Seth Godin makes a similar point, but uses a bicycle analogy: The uphill parts of a ride are much more strenuous than the downhills, but it’s only when you’re going up that you have control over how fast you go. Once you crest the hill, physics takes over and you’re essentially ballast.
Now, I look forward to the uphill parts, because that’s where the work is, the fun is, the improvement is. On the uphills, I have a reasonable shot at a gain over last time. The downhills are already maxed out by the laws of physics and safety.
Read Jim’s full post here. Stop thinking about everything that you can’t control and start working on the things you can.
It is a miracle if you can find true friends, and it is a miracle if you have enough food to eat, and it is a miracle if you get to spend your days and evenings doing whatever it is you like to do, and the holiday season – like all the other seasons – is a good time not only to tell stories of miracles, but to think about the miracles in your own life, and to be grateful for them.
The quote comes from “The Lump of Coal,” and it’s a great message to keep in mind as we shake off the rust, get back to work and focus on 2013.
Good luck out there.
Our great contributing editor Kristen Hampshire put together some strategies for contractors to get the most out of a conference or trade show after they get back home. After all, a few days out of the office is nice and all, but the idea of heading to a national or regional event is to bring back some knowledge or tactics or ideas that you can actually use in your company.
So, as the industry gears up for the trade show season, here are some of those ideas:
Conferences, trade shows and small-group meetings with industry peers can become a huge brain dump. You’ll take notes on more ideas than you can count. With your motivation and mojo for the business completely stoked, you head back to the office – and deal with the daily fires.
Sound familiar? All of those great ideas are filed away for “later.” The problem is, that time to implement never comes. John Rennels, president, A Plus Lawn and Landscaping, knows the feeling. “You get bombarded with ideas,” he says. “Your list is so overwhelming that you do nothing.”
There’s a constructive way to deal with that list of 50 things so you actually take action on ideas that will better your business. “Boil your ideas down to three or five action items,” Rennels suggests as a starter. “Work through them one at a time.”
Prioritize the ideas. Go through your notes and decide which ideas could be implemented in the short-term, and which are more visionary, long-term concepts. From there, choose a few ideas you’d like to implement right away.
Ask for feedback. Consult with trusted advisers, whether industry peers or an informal board – talk to your banker, accountant, fellow managers. Gather their input on the priorities you selected. How feasible are they to implement? What must be done to take action? “Evaluate those ideas and decide which ones will have the biggest impact right now,” Rennels says.
Set some deadlines. By sharing your ideas with others, you create a system of accountability. Ask those individuals to hold you to your promise to implement the ideas, and set a timeline. “Perhaps you meet with them regularly in person or over the phone to discuss your progress,” Rennels says.
Watch for your November issue in the next couple of weeks to learn more about how Rennels and other contractors make the most of their time away from their companies.
A Monday morning thought from Seth Godin:
People are never irrational. They often act on memories and pressures that you’re unaware of, though.
Read the full post here.
In our forthcoming September issue, we sit down with Joe Markling, the CEO at BOMA and head of strategic accounts for CBRE, to find out what property managers and building owners want from landscape and snow contractors.
Here’s a sneak preview:
L&L: What do your members wish landscape contractors knew about how they provide their services?
Markling: Here’s an example. I’m from California and the big issue here is water … and you can’t control how much water you have access to. I have a lot of concerns that landscape contractors need to be much more aggressive with their clients – us – to say ‘If you want this area to stay green, then it’s going to cost you this much in water. We need to put together a plan that overtime will move you toward a drought-tolerant planting (strategy).’
Now, no owner wants to hear about a $10 million landscape project that will only begin paying back after nine years, so the landscape contractor needs to come in with a plan that address certain areas at a time. If it’s a utility issue … it’s a sustainability issue … it’s a water issue, and today’s tenants are much more tolerant of not having the lush green landscape surroundings. In fact, in some cases, it can be a turnoff because of how much it costs – not only in dollars, but in water – to maintain. Landscape contractors need to have a frank ongoing discussion about how we can have a plan, over a period of years, to slowly integrate these changes and is easily budgeted.
Keep an eye out for the September issue for more.
Last week, I sat down with Vidu Kulkarni, CEO at TruGreen LandCare. We talked about his appointment a year ago, and what his plans are for the “new” landscape company as it emerges from a long period of foundering as part of ServiceMaster.
Here’s a taste:
L&L: LandCare always seemed to struggle as part of ServiceMaster. How will you improve the business?
VK: Being independent is great for us. What we need to achieve short term – if you talk to pretty much anyone down to branch managers and people in TruGreen LandCare, the message in terms of what we need to focus on is very consistent. Our 2012 focus is resetting the foundation, getting back to the basics, making sure we do them right every day. Ours is a relatively straightforward business. We’re not building rocketships. Longer term, our focus is on profitable growth, not being the biggest dog on the block. I want to be the best dog on the block.
Read the full story – including how Kulkarni plans to compete with Brickman and ValleyCrest – on our main site.
Every month, we run a short conversation with owners of companies from our Top 100 list. We try to pick their brains on how they got to this point, running some of the largest companies in the industry.
In August, we’ll bring you a conversation with Bob Wilton from Clintar.
Here’s a quick preview:
L&L: To what do you attribute your growth?
Wilton: Our people. It’s not a very unique answer, but it’s the truth. I truly believe that selecting only good people makes it so much easier. And I think that for anybody that’s grown beyond a certain size, it has to be the people. Anybody can buy a truck or a lawn mower and a snowplow, but you’ve got to have very good people to make it all work and keep the customers happy. Our retention rate is basically due to having people who love their job.
We spend a lot of time thinking about how to approach training – we probably spend a disproportionate amount of time on training. We’re not one-man bands, we’re teams. I was thinking of that the other day watching the Masters – it’s an individual sport, it’s not a team sport. We’re the opposite, we’re a team sport, and I’m kind of the coach.
This one is courtesy of Jack Harrell, owner and president of the eponymous chemical distributor. He’s the subject of our June Q&A, where he talks about the company’s push to the national stage. Here, he explains how he’s grown the business over the past 30 years.
We’re still family-owned and pretty nimble. We can jump on opportunities pretty quickly. The second thing is that if you don’t grow, you plateau. I’m always looking for ways to grow our company, but do it on the top line, the bottom line … the whole nine yards. But we don’t want to get too far afield of what we do best. Boring is beautiful.
Keep your eyes open for the June issue hitting mailboxes soon.
I used to never pay technicians. I’d pay market rate. I was younger, I was stubborn and I was scared. The guys you pay more, it always comes back to you. We put so much on them, so much more responsibility … we get it back 10-fold in return.
That’s Matt Noon, one half of the leadership team at Noon Turf Care, speaking about how he learned to change his mind about paying his lawn care technicians. Look for more from Matt and his brother Chris in an upcoming issue of L&L.