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Grow with Grunder: Focus on what you can control

May 11, 2020 -  By
Photo: Marty Grunder

Marty Grunder

You’ve surely heard the saying that life is what happens when you’ve made other plans. I’ve found that line popping into my head quite a bit since the coronavirus began to spread in the U.S. just as my team at Grunder Landscaping Co. (GLC) was set to jump into our busiest season. We spent all winter preparing for what we had projected would be our strongest year yet, and then — poof! — most of it was put on hold.

Frustrating? Sure. Ironic? You bet. A setback we can’t recover from? No way. We won’t let it be, and neither should you. Here’s how we plan to make up for the revenue we’ve lost and position ourselves well for the future, no matter what it holds.

We’re making use of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This federal legislation authorized up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the coronavirus crisis. We applied for a PPP loan at GLC and were fortunate to get approved; once we receive the money, we will meticulously document how we spend it to help ensure we’re eligible for forgiveness. If you received this money too, be smart about what you do with it, follow the federal guidelines to a T and — as always — keep good records. This program is a lifeline to small businesses; don’t waste it.

We’re watching our indirect labor hours. Indirect labor is all the time your hourly team members are clocked in but are not producing billable work. To drive profits up, you need to push these costs down. At GLC, we’re using technology to reduce our indirect time, including tracking when our trucks leave and return to the yard. Our new digital schedule board, fed by Aspire Software, has made us much more efficient, as have the reconditioned iPads we’ve purchased and placed with every team leader. All of this improves our bottom line.

We’re building up our sales team. Any time the economy takes a turn for the worse, business owners immediately look for ways to tighten their belts. In my experience, sales is one area where it often makes more sense to invest rather than reduce. At The Grow Group, the consultancy I lead, we always say sales are to a business what gas is to a car: Without them, you aren’t going anywhere. That’s why at GLC, we’re actively recruiting for two new salespeople. We also believe the current economic uncertainty is temporary, and demand for landscaping services is likely to come roaring back. We want to make sure we’re in the best possible position we can be once it does.

We’re finding new ways to market to and connect with clients and prospects. I’ve made it my mission to personally call and speak to every one of our 200-plus clients at GLC in the last couple months. It will never cease to amaze me what a live human voice on the end of the line can do to make a customer feel cared for. Nearly every single person I’ve called has thanked me — effusively — for reaching out to them and has expressed their understanding and support for GLC. We are treading carefully, and sensitively, in our marketing for now, but we also know from the calls we’re receiving that many folks in our market are eager to improve their yards now that they’re spending so much time in them. And with many spring breaks canceled, and the possibility summer vacations will have to be tabled too, you just might find yourself positioned to make a lot of staycations a whole lot better.

I hope sharing the approach we’re taking at GLC helps you keep moving your business forward. Stay positive, focus on what you can control and if we can help you in any way at The Grow Group, let us know.

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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