Fall is for planting, December is for planning

December 4, 2020 -  By
Lightbulb and 2021 (Photo: Urupong/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Photo: Urupong/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

In some ways, it’s hard for me to believe that I’m in my 38th year in business at Grunder Landscaping Co. Time has flown by for me, and so much has changed over the years. There are many landscape pros who follow along with what my team and I are doing through this column and on social media. It probably looks like I have it all figured out, although I can assure you that even I have bad days.

It’s taken a lot of time, mistakes and hard work to get to where we are now. In 1992, I had just sold my biggest job to date, a $22,000 landscape installation. I was so excited, I put my briefcase with the plans and signed contract in it next to my truck to get in, then promptly forgot about it and backed over it. The briefcase busted open, and there were tire tracks on all the documents. My mistakes aren’t limited to the past. About a month ago, I went to the wrong house for a sales call.

My team and I aren’t perfect, and our journey to get to where we are now was full of missteps. Early in my career, I repeatedly made a big mistake this time of year: I used to more or less take off the month of December. As a reward for a busy year, December was a month to just coast.

I realized that this was valuable time wasted, and now we use December to plan and prepare for the coming year. One of my mentors, Les Banwart, taught me to start planning by asking myself, “How will I know I’ve been successful a year from now?” when framing my goals so that I can clearly articulate my vision for success and how I want to measure it.

So now, I ask you: How will you know if you’ve been successful a year from now, and what needs to happen to make this a reality?

If, for example, you want more money in your bank account, you’ll need more profits. To get more profits, there are a couple areas to focus on: growing the right sales for your business and managing expenses. To close more profitable sales, analyze your most profitable sales from 2020 and figure out why they were the most profitable. Then, replicate those conditions in 2021 by searching for similar prospects, proposing jobs with similar scopes or creating a bidding process based on these jobs.

To manage expenses, look over your financial reports to see what expenses are up compared to last year or what expenses are up to your surprise. Right now, interest rates are low, and refinancing loans can be a simple way to save money. If you haven’t reevaluated your loans or line of credit recently, check in with your banker to see if you can get a lower interest rate.

So, this month, I encourage you to look at where you are today, celebrate how far you’ve come and think about where you’d like to be a year from now. Then, start conversations with your team to identify the steps you’ll need to take. Spend any downtime you may have this winter on the first steps to making your vision a reality.

We’re looking forward to the GROW! 2021 Annual Conference in New Orleans on Feb. 24-26. While the event will look a little different this year, it will still be the event many in our industry rely on to learn new ways to grow or better control their business. See what we have planned here.

Marty Grunder

About the Author:

Marty Grunder is president and CEO of Grunder Landscaping Co. and The Grow Group, based in Dayton, Ohio.

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