Editor’s Note: Make the connection

February 11, 2016 -  By

palmieriIt’s less than a week since Winter Storm Jonas dumped prolific amounts of snow along parts of the East Coast, burying 14 states in more than a foot of snow.

Even several days later, I’m still seeing messages pop up on my social media feeds from snow and landscape company owners thanking their crews for literally working around the clock.

Case in point: Kurt Bland, president/CEO of Bland Landscaping in Apex, N.C., posted a photo on LinkedIn with this note, “You wouldn’t know it by their smiles, but this kick-ass group of guys in Charlotte pulled a 20-hour shift after we only got an hour and a half of sleep, and we are getting right back at it before the sun comes up on Saturday. Words cannot say how much I appreciate our teams who are making properties safe and operable all over N.C. during Winter Storm Jonas.”

Bland’s comments got me thinking that 1). I wouldn’t be able to function on that little sleep, and 2). When you’re working that hard for that long, I can imagine how easy it is to forget why you’re there in the first place. I can imagine that at some point, people are just going through the motions. (I don’t mean to project onto Bland’s team at all; he just got me thinking.)

Heck, I get overwhelmed and distracted some months during the
run-up to LM’s deadline. And I’m certainly not freezing cold, wet and physically exhausted.

When you’re feeling drained and your motivation is waning, it helps to get a reminder about why we do what we do. Joe Kucik, CEO of Real Green Systems (RGS), offered an excellent example during his presentation at the RGS Solutions 2016 user conference in Orlando last month. When he thanked the attendees (his customers), he showed a slide with the following:

Because the customer has a need, we have a job.
Because the customer has a choice, we must be the better choice.
Because the customer has sensibilities, we must be considerate.
Because the customer has an urgency, we must be quick.
Because the customer is unique, we must be flexible.
Because the customer has high expectations, we must excel.
Because the customer has influence, we must hope for more chances.
Because of the customer, we exist.

It’s an important message for any business, Kucik says. He credited RGS President Don Brown with keeping this concept front of mind in their company. RGS does 75 percent of its business in five months of the year—not unlike some landscape and snow firms. Such a crunched production period makes companies susceptible to just selling and producing work—and can cause them to forget, “Because of the
customer, we exist.”

As Bruce Wilson points out, your employees don’t care about your business the same way you do. But there are things they value. The first and last things on the list above—having a job and a place to do that job—are perfect examples. As an owner or manager, you must make the connection between the customer’s needs and the employees’ priorities, so you can get everyone moving in the same direction, come rain or shine. Or snow.

About the Author:

Marisa Palmieri is an experienced Green Industry editor who's won numerous awards for her coverage of the landscape and golf course markets from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA), the Press Club of Cleveland and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). In 2007, ASBPE named her a Young Leader. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, cum laude, from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism.

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