Do you own a landscaping business, but still work in the field on a regular basis? If so, is it because you want to? Or is there another reason making you feel stuck?
If you want to spend less time in the field and more time developing your business, here are six things to think about.
1. Recruiting and Hiring Good Employees
Finding good employees is just as important as finding good clients. Your employees need to be willing to work, but they also need to be able to present a professional image and represent your company well. And, even when you're hiring people for manual labor, you can keep an eye out for traits like intelligence and leadership.
If you've made bad hires in the past, you've probably paid for it. It's okay to be a little more choosy.
2. Recognizing What You've Got
Every employee is different. Some will be especially hard workers, some will have unique talents or skills, and some might be natural leaders. If you've done a good job recruiting and hiring, you might have some employees with all those traits. You need to learn to recognize those employees early.
Conversely, you also need to spot employees whose overall performance drags the team down. Work with them closely and figure out, as early as possible, whether or not you'll be able to turn them around.
3. Managing and Coaching
You want all your employees to learn and grow, but you especially want to groom your strongest people for increased responsibility. When you're on a job, don't just give orders – explain each decision, along with how and why you reached that decision. The only way you can expect your employees to understand what you want is if you take the time to explain your thought process. You need to start this process early. When you need a new crew leader or a foreman, you should have someone (maybe more than one) ready to step up.
A willingness to coach and promote from within is valuable in more ways than one. When your employees recognize that you're investing in them, they'll start to see it more like a career and not just a job. When they see that you're providing opportunities, they'll be more enthusiastic about helping you to grow the company.
If your company is going to grow, you'll need dependable people ready to grow with you.
You should start delegating early and often. You should start with small things that won't hurt too much if/when they go wrong, but you want to start teaching employees to make good decisions on their own.
Once you've identified, coached, and promoted your best employees, it's time to trust them. Communicate with them and be available for them, but don't try to micromanage them. Let them lead their crews in their own ways and make their own mistakes.
Yes, they'll make mistakes. But, if you did your job in steps 1-3, they'll learn from their mistakes, they'll get better, and your company will be stronger for it.
I should point out that delegating isn't just about landscaping work. Don't try to learn every detail about taxes, contracts, and insurance – you should have an accountant, a lawyer, and an insurance agent you trust.
Every paying job is a good job, but some are better than others. You probably offer many different services – some are more profitable and some less. You need to know how each of your services fits into your overall profitability.
- Some types of services may be lower-profit, but you have to make them available.
- Other services will be your bread and butter, with decent margins and decent volume.
- Some services allow for bigger margins, but they aren't as popular.
Step one is understanding which service is which. Step two is steering your business toward the good stuff. When you're facing a less profitable job, it'll feel a lot better if you can also attach some of your high-profit services.
6. Marketing and Customer Communication
Some companies believe that they don't need to do any marketing – they feel they can rely on repeat customers and word-of-mouth because they're that good. If you're one of those few companies that truly can't grow any further and can't handle any more customers, good for you! Please share some of your knowledge here!
For the rest of us, part of growing involves finding new customers. As noble as it sounds to rely on word-of-mouth, it's okay to try to take the situation into your own hands.
And, a lot of your marketing work is not just about finding new customers – it's also about communicating with your previous customers and steering them toward the services that you might want them to consider. Also, it's about educating your customers – answering questions before they're asked.
Most of all, whether the customers are old or new, marketing is about filling up your schedule early so that you can plan accordingly and be ready to go.
What are your thoughts? Do you have other ideas about these six topics? Are there other things that keep you working in the field instead of working on growing your business?