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Archive for the ‘business’ tag

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Some pricing information, business strategy and how to use your extra leaf blowers to make high art. Have a great weekend.



February 22nd, 2013 at 2:50 pm

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 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.

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March 5th, 2012 at 4:11 pm

The best places to work

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Every company – well, every good company – strives to be a top notch place for employees to work. They know profits are important. But they also know profits are earned by a good, hardworking and dedicated staff that performs because of the company culture created around them. We’re putting together a feature on the Best Places to Work in the green industry. Tell us why you should be one of them and click here.

While you’re thinking about what makes your company standout, check out Outside’s list and the ideas from companies most of us outdoor-loving people know well.


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January 17th, 2012 at 6:35 pm

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On old age, treachery and the importance of failure

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Steve Hoogenakker, and originally appeared on his blog (which has the best name of any landscape blog I’ve read).

It was a Friday afternoon in this past November. We were sitting down having pizza in the company War Room.

A young man came in, a new employee on the rise. One of the managers introduced us. He introduced me as “The Big Boss.” People who know me, know I’m uncomfortable with titles, and I don’t think the statement is even important.

In business, titles can sometimes fool the new employees for a time and might scare some others. In both cases, demanding respect of my title will only hinder the efforts of the company and it’s employees. As we were eating the pizza, it got me to thinking. What does this young guy think of me, now that I’m the old guy (51 years old)? Also, what would make him respect me or even listen to what I might have to say? I mean, I was his age once.

Granted I was better looking, more intelligent and knew what real music sounded like, could disco and still believed the Vikings could win the SuperBowl in the 1990s, so surely he would revere every word of advice, right?

When it comes down to experience versus youth, consider one of my favorite beliefs from 1970, Shunryu Suzuki said this: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”

It’s an amazing sentence that cuts both ways. Read it again slowly and read between the lines. In it’s simplicity, it is at once advocating youth with it’s many possibilities and also the experts ability to cut through the extra fat of too many possibilities. And it implies warnings for each position as well!

Yes, my youthful counterpart has many ideas. Many ideas I might discount out of hand, using my experience to say why his idea wouldn’t work. Yes, the young man might see things that I have long forgotten. This brings me to my second point. I have forgotten more things about landscaping than this guy has learned. While true, what better opportunity for me to learn what I’ve forgotten than to listen to him?

Being a great leader is very important to your organization, no matter your position. Whether you are the CEO, the Office Manager or a guy with a shovel, leadership starts with you the moment you wake up each morning!

So, why should a new employee listen to someone like me? We’ve determined the title isn’t important. We’ve determined that they might have a different outlook than me, and in some things, even though they don’t disco dance, they may be correct.

I think it boils down to this: “You should respect my ideas, not because of my title and not because of my successes, but because of my failures.” The irony of this statement is that while the older readers are nodding their heads, the younger ones are saying, “What a loser!”

Ask anyone who has worked for me. They will tell you I have made nearly every mistake a leader can make! Not only that, but when it comes to decision making, I’m certain I have repeated more mistakes than my young friend has even had the chance to make. It’s those repeated mistakes that leave their lasting imprint. The scars and the wrinkles were hard earned with each learning experience. These are the events that teach me the choices are few.

At the same time, I have to respect my young associates ideas. Not only do I want to encourage him, I have to work even harder than he at keeping an open mind. After all, his mind is a floodgate of ideas, while mine is a focused “narrow” stream with the emphasis on narrow.

Suzuki also said this: “Our tendency is to be interested in something that is growing in the garden, not in the bare soil itself. But if you want to have a good harvest, the most important thing is to make the soil rich and cultivate it well.”

As green industry professionals, we know this to be true. It’s almost 2012. To grow your business, make the soil rich with the wisdom of some and cultivate the ideas and enthusiasm of youth as the basis for your success!


December 21st, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Weekly round-up

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Here’s a short list of the best stuff our editors have found this week.


November 18th, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Eliminating endless distractions

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As I was switching between seven computer applications and eight different Internet tabs, I came across this gem of advice on four destructive myths most companies live by:

Myth #1: Multitasking is critical in a world of infinite demand.

This myth is based on the assumption that human beings are capable of doing two cognitive tasks at the same time. We’re not. Instead, we learn to move rapidly between tasks. When we’re doing one, we’re actually not even aware of the other.

If you’re on a conference call, for example, and you turn your attention to an incoming email, you’re missing what’s happening on the call as long as you’re checking your email. Equally important, you’re incurring something called “switching time.” That’s the time it takes to shift from one cognitive activity to another.

On average, according to researcher David Meyer, switching time increases the amount of time it takes to finish the primary task you were working on by an average of 25 percent. In short, juggling activities is incredibly inefficient.

Advice noted. Windows/applications closing.


Photo courtesy TechnoBuffalo and it’s story “Getting a Grip in the Age of Multitasking.”

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November 16th, 2011 at 6:21 pm

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This businessman turned a $1 million investment into $4 billion

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You probably haven’t heard of Eric Lefkofsky, but we can all stand to learn a lesson from him.

His bio: He’s a 41- year-old Midwesterner who got his start selling carpets. He has spent his career starting and selling companies — sometimes with mixed results. And now, the $1 million he invested in Groupon to get the coupon company off the ground will be worth $4 billion when the company goes public, according a story in the Wall Street Journal today.

From his experience, he has formed a set of guiding business principles:

1. Enter big, fast growing markets.

2. Change course when things aren’t working.

3. Use data as a guide.

In our current environment, business and customers are changing so much faster than in the old days. You need access to information to figure out what to do next,” he told the WSJ.

Also, look for the July issue of Lawn & Landscape. We’ll feature three landscapers who used Groupon to spur business.



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June 4th, 2011 at 8:15 pm


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Here’s an e-mail I received recently when  I checked out of my hotel. It came through on my phone as I rode the elevator down to the car to head to the airport:
Dear Charles Bowen,
On behalf of our entire staff I would like to thank you for allowing us to be your host during your recent stay in Phoenix. Our goal is to exceed your expectations at every opportunity. We genuinely hope your time with us was comfortable, efficient and enjoyable.
We know you have a number of hotel options when you travel, that’s why we are constantly striving to improve our accommodations and service. We want you to think of us first the next time you are traveling to Phoenix. Whether it’s a quick business trip, a vacation or a national convention we want to be your hotel of choice.
Again, we sincerely thank you for choosing the Wyndham Phoenix.
Warm Regards,
Steve Cohn
Managing Director
This type of thank you isn’t terribly hard to do – this one is entirely automated and not personalized at all. The manager didn’t leave me a hand-written note with my bill, and he doesn’t need to – our interaction wasn’t that personal.
But a quick (albeit automated) message that recognizes the fact that I could have stayed at a number of other hotels and mentions that they appreciate my busines is certainly welcome. I never get that from Marriott or Sheraton or Hyatt – and I’m a member of their reward programs.
I ordered a jacket from Land’s End for Christmas, and they sent me a hand-written note in the box to say thanks. Every time I get my oil changed, the owner of the family-run shop calls me the next day to make sure the service was top notch.
Steve Cohn and Land’s End and my mechanic don’t have to do that. But they do, and that extra 10 percent goes a long way. I can highly recommend all three of them to anyone in need of a hotel in Phoenix, a solid sport coat or an oil change on Cleveland’s east side.
As you and your employees interact with your customers, there are a few things you can do to stand out from your competition, and you could do a lot worse than a quick thank you.


February 10th, 2011 at 9:27 am

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Calling cards

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As someone who both hands out and collects a ton of business cards (I’m staring at several precarious stacks on my desk right now), I can say that these little bits of paper are really important. Maybe not as important as the awesomely rabid Joel Bauer does in the above video, but still.

“If you think about it, a business card is what represents you when you’re not there,” said Lizzie Post, an author and spokesperson for The Emily Post Institute in a recent story in the Dayton Business Journal. “It really needs to reflect what you all stand for, what you’re about.”

Not to go all Christian Bale on it, but Ms. Post is right: the card you leave behind represents you after you’re gone. When you attend a trade show, association meeting or other gathering, you’ll meet lots of people. And unless you’ve become a master of Dale Carnegie’s Golden Book method of remembering names, they’re often the best way for folks to remember just who it is you are.

Ms. Post suggests you ask yourself these questions when designing your company’s business cards:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages to listing your products or services? (An upside is that your card can serve as a mini-brochure)
  • What tone or personality do you want to reflect?

And, for what it’s worth, I would suggest you leave some white space on the back and print on stock that’s easy to write on, so notes about your conversation don’t get smeared off in somebody’s pocket.

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January 6th, 2011 at 11:55 am

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