There is no charge for awesomeness.

Archive for the ‘Jim McCutcheon’ tag

Tough calls and uphill battles

without comments

Jim McCutcheon has a simple — but very important – message for landscape contractors on his blog:

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.


March 12th, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Easy design delegation

without comments

One of the best things about working at L&L is our crack design team. They win lots of awards and make the stories we write come alive on the page (and in our app).

Landscapers don’t often hire graphic designers, but they need them more than you might think. Great logos, truck decals and business cards and the like help build a brand and make you stand out in the minds of prospective customers.

So how do you get great design without hiring a whole designer?

I was talking with Jim McCutcheon the other day, and he recommended Design Outpost. It’s a sort of crowdsourced design site that lets you submit your idea or request for a logo, say, and have it picked up by freelance designers from around the world.

It’s how Jim got a logo for his KnowWater program (above) in just a few days for a couple hundred bucks.

It’s definitely worth looking at if you need something designed fast and cheap, and don’t have the time or resources to keep a design team on retainer.


March 7th, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Weekly round-up: First day of March edition

without comments

Spring isn’t technically here yet, but we’ve made it through the longest shortest month, and that’s reason enough to celebrate. This week I’ve brought you a solid reading list, a video to share with your friends and a great post on marketing.


March 1st, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Lifestyle business vs. enduring enterprise

without comments

Great post this week from Jim McCutcheon at his blog:

I am not running a company; I am building a business.

How many business owners can truthfully say this?  I am proud to say I can.  It has not always been this way but it has always been a goal. The moves I have made over the years have gotten me to this point.  This is a critical step in building an enduring enterprise.

I believe that business owners must have a personal vision and a vision for their business.  And it goes without saying that they must be aligned.

The personal vision starts with deciding what kind of company you want to build.  In my mind there are two kinds: the lifestyle business and the enduring enterprise.

Click here to read up on both kinds, and why you can only have one.


February 22nd, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Posted in business

Tagged with ,

How deep do you want your trenches?

without comments

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.


March 15th, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Posted in business

Tagged with ,

Why it matters: Next Level University

without comments

Representatives from Next Level companies met for breakfast roundtables to discuss strategies for employee recruiting, retention and, here, market economic trends.

I spent a few days last week in Atlanta today for Next Level University, the annual gathering of the members of the Next Level Network.

The owners (and top employees) from the group’s companies get together once a year for a development meeting. This year, Jim McCutcheon and the team at HighGrove Partners hosted.

Next Level formed about 10 years ago as a way for large regional companies to network and learn from each other. The members – firms like Mariani Landscape, Enviroscapes, Pacific Landscape Management and others – are all stand-outs in their own right.

But here’s why it makes sense for someone like Frank Mariani to spend a week away from his office right before the season starts and be a part of a group like Next Level.

  1. They can do more together than they can apart. Companies of the same size tend to go through the same problems, and the owners can learn a lot from each other. The decisions each owner has to make every day probably aren’t brand new to the industry.
  2. They have buying power. The don’t share budgets for mowers or trucks, but they can pool their money to pony up for a few high-end speakers, training for their managers and retaining Jenn Buck as an exclusive recruiter.
  3. They keep each other honest. After three days, the employees go home and the owners stick around to compare financials. They take a candid look at each others’ business and ask tough questions about operations and financials. Unlike a banker or board of advisers, these owners know the right questions to ask of another owner.

Many industry consultants offer peer groups – this one just happens to involve some of the industry’s best companies. But there’s no reason you can’t start your own, with other landscapers or other small business owners.

The point is that you seek out other smart people who are going through – or already have gone through – the same things you and your business are. Don’t reinvent the wheel – it’s already there. Just work on making it better.


February 27th, 2012 at 12:09 pm

The cheese walk

without comments

Every property that you service – from a small residential installation to a Class A commercial property – has a cheese walk.

The cheese walk is where the homeowner walks her dogs, what the property manger sees when he looks out his window, where the executives (the big cheeses) park and walk into the building.

It’s the part of the property that is the most-seen by the most-important person.

I heard the term from Jim McCutcheon, owner of HighGrove Partners in Austell, Ga. His crews visit the cheese walk on some properties as many as 20 times a week.

“We have to understand our properties to that level,” he said. “If we screw up the cheese walk, we’re done.”


February 22nd, 2012 at 3:32 pm

People buy don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it

with one comment

Jim McCutcheon, CEO at HighGrove Partners in Austell, Ga., showed this video at his presentation on innovation at the GIE+EXPO in Louisville last month. The presenter, Simon Senak, examines what makes certain companies (Apple, etc.) truly innovative and great. The answer? They start their process thinking about why they do the work they do.

Written by admin

November 23rd, 2010 at 3:52 pm