I am just back in Dayton after three days in San Diego co-leading the 2019 NALP Field Trip with industry great Frank Mariani, and wow did Mike Bogan and his team at LandCare deliver. As promised, they gave us a behind-the-scenes confidential look at how they execute and operate and at what has enabled them to become one of the most successful and comprehensive landscape companies in the US. I can tell you both I and Frank took note after note, as did most everyone else in attendance.
I can’t begin to go into everything here that I learned there, but here are three of my top takeaways:
“Many people don’t grasp landscaping is a people business.” Mike Bogan pointed this out, and he’s right. You of course have to deliver on the work itself, but if you don’t also strive to cultivate personal connections with your clients, you are missing out. At LandCare they want their clients to have their account managers on speed dial. They regularly survey their clients and they have found again and again that when their clients are happy, they invariably cite a LandCare team member by name.
Do your clients know someone from your company by name? Do they feel a connection to one of your team members, or are you just another faceless company? Unlike many businesses in our increasingly digital world where you can buy nearly everything on the internet, landscaping remains an inescapably local business; use that as the tremendous opportunity it is to build personal connections with your clients. Connections breed loyalty; foster yours and you’ll build customers for life.
LandCare requires every team member to spend their first week working in the field. Whether you’re a VP or the CFO or the marketing director, at LandCare you’ll spend your first week on a crew seeing first-hand how they do what they do. Think about what that does internally to change and deepen understanding of the services your company delivers, the challenges your crews face, and the interconnected roles everyone on your team plays to achieve success.
Focus on profitability every day. Running a business is hard, and every CEO, president, and owner has a lot on their plate. But you will never get ahead if you take your eye off your profits. When Mike took the reins at LandCare in 2014, they were bleeding cash. He focused on cutting out waste, while at the same time building trust and a genuine culture, and today they’re squarely in the black. Frank, looking back on how he grew Mariani Landscape into one of the largest privately held landscaping companies in the country, said he expanded his operation to give his people more opportunity but he wishes he had focused more on profitability along the way. “You shouldn’t miss a single day to add value and improve your bottom line,” he told us.
Thank you to everyone who joined us in San Diego and who helped make this such a great learning experience with your dedicated attention and insightful questions. And if you couldn’t join us this year, we’ll see you next.
Have a great week!
Our Fall Field Trips bring owners and their teams onsite to Grunder Landscaping Co. headquarters in Dayton, Ohio, one of the most successful companies of its kind in the Midwest. You’ll spend a jam-packed day going behind the scenes with president and CEO Marty Grunder, touring the facility and grounds, meeting with the GLC leadership team to see how they operate and optimize each area of the business, and visiting some of the job sites they’re at work on. We purposely limit this event to just 14 attendees so we can guarantee you get the one-on-one attention you need.
Our Fall Field Trips sell out every year so if you plan on joining us, please reserve your spot soon.