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Archive for the ‘Marty Grunder’ tag

Continuing education

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I’m down in rural Alabama this week attending the fourth-annual Green Industry Grad School. It’s a three-day development program put on by Agrium Advanced Technologies for about 40 LCOs from across the country. Thankfully, they put me up in a cabin with wireless, so I’m not too far off the beaten path.

L&L columnist Marty Grunder works with AAT, and he opened the event last night after dinner with his talk, “Outdone! 11 Ways You Can Outsell, Out Service and Outdo Your Competition.” Regular readers of his column and L&L will recognize the talk, but it’s got great, easy-to-implement messages for any company as you head into the off season.

Here are my favorites from last night.

1. Offer great customer service.

This one sounds like a no-brainer, and it is. But think back on the last week of interactions you’ve had with other service companies. How’d they treat you? “The competition can’t copy how you treat your clients. Don’t give them a reason to go anywhere else,” Grunder says.

4. Have a team atmosphere

One of the complaints I hear most often from readers is that they can’t find quality employees. One of the best ways to attract good people is to take care of the folks you’ve already got. People talk, and you’ll become a magnet for solid hires.

“For someone to feel like they’re part of a team, they have to be valued – they have to be loved,” Grunder says.

7. Set objectives and 11. Have a plan

These two are closely linked. This winter, write down where you are now as a company, and where want to be in 12 months.Then just connect the dots. Once you do that, tell everyone on your team what the plan is, and stick to it.

9. Learn

Not everyone can attend GIGS, but there’s a world of resources at your disposal. I’d hazard a guess that if you’re reading this, you have access t the Internet. Or, attend one of the hundred regional trade shows that take place between now and March. Or read a book.

You can read the full list of Grunder’s 11 tips here. Stay tuned for more coverage of GIGS.


December 6th, 2011 at 12:38 pm

How much do you pay your receptionist?

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How much do you pay for print ads in your local shelter magazines? Radio spots? Flyers and mailers and postcards and rented lists and door-to-door salesmen to sign up new customers?

Or, if you rely on word of mouth: How much effort do you and your team put into your work to ensure Mrs. Jones tells her book club about how much she loves her new patio?

Take a minute this morning to think of all the time and hard costs associated with a great referral program, landing new business and keeping current clients happy.

Then listen to your receptionist answer the phone.

Seth Godin describes the bad side of this process bluntly:

When a new referral shows up, all that work and expense, and then the phone rings and it gets answered by your annoyed, overworked, burned out, never very good at it anyway receptionist, it all falls apart.

Marty Grunder always asks his audiences why the (often) lowest-paid person on your staff is (usually) the first person new customers deal with.

You spend a lot of time each day with your foremen and crews and suppliers. But your customers spend most of their time interacting with your folks on the phone.

The more effort you expend pusing people to call in, the more you should work to make sure the folks answering those calls are doing it right. Otherwise you’re wasting a lot of time and money.


May 18th, 2011 at 9:10 am

Great Idea: Short- and long-term action

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Here’s your weekly Great Idea from your friend and mine Marty Grunder. His advice today is, as always, pretty simple but profound. He says that, when you get stressed out and times get tough, you can feel pressured to do something new. Don’t. Keep doing what’s worked in the past and, most of the time, you’ll get there.

It’s spring, for many of you who receive this weekly great idea, you are stressed right now. You have more work than you know what to do with, clients are impatient, it’s hard to find dependable help, and so on. The list goes on. I think when we get stressed out and feel the frustrations, there is a tendency to try something new. In my mind, this isn’t smart if what you’ve done has worked well for you in the past.

Oh sure, you might have the wrong strategy and you may need to change course. But if you’ve sold residential landscaping and done well at it for the last 5 years, why would you stop doing that now just because you had a bad month?

If you have a plan that has worked in the past, don’t be so quick to give up on it. Keep your head down, do what worked in the past, maybe work at it just a little bit harder. Call clients back immediately, get them quotes immediately, take care of problems right away. I’ll stop. You know what to do; just go do it.

Have a great week, and good luck.


May 16th, 2011 at 11:54 am

Great Idea: 4 sales tips

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Here’s your weekly installment from L&L columnist Marty Grunder – four ways to tweak your sales calls to speed up the process and increase your closing percentage.

Good luck this week!

My buddy and mentor Ed Eppley is a brilliant sales coach. He was teaching us what we need to do to help ensure our selling efforts are successful with prospects. Here are 4 tips he shared recently with my team.

1.    You need to establish clarity around the expectations your clients have for a successful transaction.

2.    Begin the second call by establishing what changes, if any, have taken place since our first conversation” in the thinking of the prospect. (Done to determine if either the “current” or “desired” realities on which his proposal is built are still the same.)

3.    Consider asking what budget people have established for their project. (Not always a true indicator of what people are prepared to spend but it may help determine what value they place on your kind of work.)

4.    Be prepared to ask “closing” questions to help prospects make a decision so you can advance the opportunity further through the selling cycle. If they say no, it creates an opportunity to ID specifically why they are hesitating which should ultimately shorten the selling cycle.


April 19th, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Better than a PowerPoint

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As the season gets underway, it’s easy to get lost in the hustle of day-to-day operations. You’ve got crews to manage, customers to call back and equipment to fix – and it can seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day.

But if you can get away from it all for an hour, I’ve got a great resource for you to keep yourself focused and motivated through 2011.

L&L columnist Marty Grunder has just announced his 2011 webinar series schedule, and he’s got some great stuff on tap. Want to raise your prices, but aren’t sure how? Want to make your company more productive?

Check out the full schedule of webinars at Marty’s site. The first one takes place on April 28, and they run through November. You can sign up for each one a la carte for $99, or get all five for $375.

Not sure it’s worth it? Check out a webinar Marty and his colleague Joe Calloway did for more than 500 L&L readers a in January on our site. It’s chock-full of great information and advice to keep your business on track and growing in 2011.


April 12th, 2011 at 11:44 am

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Great Idea: Setting expectations

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Another Great Idea from L&L columnist and die-hard Reds fan Marty Grunder. This one’s about taking initiative and responsibility for your lot in life (or business). Here’s to a good week.

One of my favorite sayings is: “When you do nothing, expect nothing.”

I don’t know that there is a more true statement in life than that one. When you sit on the sidelines and watch things happen, you get passed by. Activity moves things forward; sitting around does nothing. So, hence my saying, “When you do nothing, expect nothing.”

If you’re not happy with where you are right now, take some action. If you aren’t pleased with sales, don’t sit there feeling sorry for yourself; go make some calls. Go see some old clients. Get moving.

If you’re not happy with the performance of your team, talk to them. Just sitting there ignoring the facts is never going to change anything.

When I look back in life at all the mistakes I’ve made, most of them went on and on because I sat there and did nothing to change things. I just didn’t act. Learn from my mistake and take some action this week. Because the alternative, doing nothing just doesn’t work.

When you do nothing, expect nothing.


April 11th, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Great Idea: Spring has sprung

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Another great idea from L&L columnist Marty Grunder, this time on how you should try to keep things in perspective as the season gets started this year – and not start working 90-hour weeks.

I used to think that if I just worked a little bit harder, I could get everything done and everything would work itself out. I have learned that you can’t just keep working harder and expect things to always be better. As I often say, “The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.” (I did not make that up; I’m not smart enough to have thought of that, but I’m not exactly sure who did. The Internet does attribute a variation of it to Gerald Burrill.) If you feel you might in a bad spot, it’s advisable to stop and look at the situation. That’s my advice this week.

In the coming weeks, if you feel overwhelmed and aren’t sure what to do, take a deep breath and go to lunch. Get out of the office and go for a walk. Do something, but don’t neglect your health or your mental well being.

As I finish this up, it’s 4:00 pm and I am walking out the door to go work out for an hour. Years ago, I NEVER would have or could have done this. But, I’ve learned that my company pays me to think from the neck up and the only way I can think is if I get all the frustration and concern and, yes, stress out of me. Great ideas come to me when I am working out, relaxing and the like. They DON’T come to me when I am working. As CEO of Grunder Landscaping and Marty Grunder! Inc., I need to be thinking, not always grinding away at work.

Here’s to the start of a prosperous season. Good luck!


March 30th, 2011 at 9:56 am

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Great Idea: Implementing change in small businesses

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Another Great Idea from Marty Grunder: How to implement changes in your small business.

A lot of what we write about in Lawn & Landscape and a lot of what other media outlets focus on touches on big companies. (Apple, for instance, apparently gets a lot of press. Weird.) So how do you implement some of the concepts and ideas if you don’t run a $50 billion company and live in Southern California?

The same way you would if you ran a $50 billion company and lived in Southern California. Here are three tips from Marty on how.

  1. Create a Culture of Constant Improvement. Never ever be satisfied with where you are; keep looking for new and better ways to do things. Try new things. If you make a mistake, don’t look at that as a problem; look at mistakes as learning, very valuable learning. Demand that your people give you new ideas and reward them for this. This works for big and small companies.
  1. Constantly Communicate What’s Important at Your Company. I mean constantly; each and every day is fine. Share your mission statement (Don’t have one? Get one!). Reward those behaviors you want to see more of. Squash the behaviors you don’t want and remember that “whatever you allow, you encourage.” This works for big and small companies.
  1. Listen to your clients. I say all the time that your clients will tell you what you need to do to be successful; you just have to ask them and then listen. This works for big and small companies.


March 9th, 2011 at 8:30 am

Get your head on straight

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Here’s another Great Idea from L&L columnist Marty Grunder on how to make it through the last few weeks of what can seem like a never-ending winter:

1. Get your truck detailed. You’ll feel better.

2. Start working out. Just 30 minutes a day of moving around can knock out the cobwebs.

3. Have an early dinner with a friend. Get the blue-plate special at 4 to catch up with someone, and you’ll still be home with your family by 6:15.

4. Plan a vacation. It doesn’t have to break the bank, but it’s something to look forward to.

5. Spend some time with your hobby. Or get a new one.

Look, you’re working hard. As the leader of your organization, it’s important to have your head on straight and relax enough so that some new ideas come to mind. CEOs need time to think, too.

Marty’s right. Even if you live in a place where it doesn’t snow, the above list can help you recharge and rejuvenate before the spring season starts.

Photo: ajcreencia


February 21st, 2011 at 12:46 pm

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Great Idea: Employee feedback

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Here’s another Great Idea from Marty Grudner to help get your week started:
What do you do about feedback from your team?
I’ve run my landscaping company for 27 years. Hard to believe. During those 27 years, I’ve learned a lot. The area I feel I have grown the most in is Leadership. Oh, I still have a lot to learn but I’m much improved.
One of the things I used to do, and still see a lot of leaders doing today, is asking for feedback when the decision has already been made. If you want to get your followers to check out and tune you out as a leader, ask for feedback on an important decision as an attempt to trick them into saying what you want to hear. People are way smarter than we give them credit for.
For example, if I have already made up my mind to get in the irrigation business, why ask my team what they think? If I have not made up my mind, then ask for feedback and listen to the feedback.
At the end of the day, you do not have to follow the feedback; you only have to acknowledge the feedback.
But, if a pattern forms where no matter what someone offers up, you do what you want to do, why ask for the feedback anyway? You only frustrate your followers to the point they won’t follow you.
And a leader without any followers is? Not much of a leader!

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January 9th, 2011 at 7:46 pm