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Five steps for successful strategic planning in 2013

November 8, 2012 -  By

Now is the time to assess this past year and make plans for improved performance next year. Involve your staff and create a strategic plan that everyone can support. Here are 5 steps towards improved profits.

1. Assess your financials. Compare your numbers to last year, and of course, to your budget.  But don’t stop there! Assess each of your divisions as separate profit centers in order to see which areas are dragging you down. Then go deeper:  Assess each of your crews as profit centers. Are they all meeting their budgets and making money? Now take it one step further: Assess each of your client types. Are any of them dragging down your profits or simply falling outside your business model for profitability?
For those of you who want to drive your success even further, you should compare your numbers to industry benchmarks. Not just financials, but other key indicators. I have developed a set of these for our Leader’s Edge landscape peer group,
2. Set goals that motivate. Update your long-term goals (2 to 5 years), and set your one-year goals. Get your employee buy-in to your goals. Get their input at some point during this process, either in creating the goals or assessing the goals. Also, does your company have a “mission” statement that empowers your employees? Most mission statements are boring and too long! If you have to pay someone to recite it in front of your team, it fails the litmus test. You are better off with a “one sentence” call to action that is emotional and ingrained in everyone.
3. Create a budget. Set a budget for next year, with clear objectives/milestones and metrics. The budget should not rest on your shoulders to execute. Your employees need to buy in to the budget in order to drive it. It is not enough to have year-end budget numbers; they have to be broken down into monthly objectives, with milestones and clear ways to measure performance. You also need clear assumptions, so as conditions change, you are made aware that you need to make changes in your plans.
4. Make roles clear. At this point, you want to make sure your roles and job descriptions are clear. Does everyone know who will be doing what? Just as important, you need Relationship Agreements in place, where key employees know how they support one another. (This is the magic sauce to making an organization hum!) Your company should have a clear organizational chart so everyone can see the reporting relationships. You need both a current chart hung on a wall for everyone to see, and a second chart that reflects your 2 to 5 year goal. (This one should have blank roles not yet filled in, shown in a different color, so it is clear when you look at it who you need to be recruiting or training.)
5. Refine incentives. Finally, compensation and incentive plans should be created and fine-tuned. There is a LOT to this, so I will cover this in a separate upcoming blog post.
A good strategic plan should pass the 3-way test. Is it good for the employees, owners and your clients? Could any one of these groups read your plan, and see that their needs are being met? If not, there is a problem with your plan.
Lastly, careful about setting a goal that is too low. If you are too conservative in the short term, you may not reach your goals in the long term.  Now is the time to win big! The way to stretch your staff, and still keep them excited, is to set a “realistic stretch” goal, one that appears to have a 50-50 chance of being hit. Come up with a goal that stretches your people out of their comfort zone yet still feels possible to hit.
If you need help with any of this, reach out to me at Scott, MBA, author and consultant, grew his landscape company into a successful $10 million enterprise, and he’s devoted to helping others share the same success. He facilitates PEER GROUPS for landscape business owners who want to transform and profitably grow their business.  For more info go to, email, or call (203)220-8931.
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Jeffrey Scott

About the Author:

Jeffrey Scott, MBA, author, specializes in growth and profit maximization in the Green Industry. His expertise is rooted in his personal success, growing his own company into a $10 million enterprise. Now, he facilitates the Leader’s Edge peer group for landscape business owners—members achieve a 27 percent profit increase in their first year. To learn more visit

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