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Master the Big 4

October 22, 2014 -  By and

What’s the magic number? It’s four. Actually, the Big 4. When it comes down to it, there are four fundamentals companies need to understand, embrace and hone to succeed. Some companies can do OK excelling at two or three of them, but to reach best-in-class status and grow profitably, companies must master these four key areas: employees, performance, customers and profitability.

1. Employees—the ability to find, attract, hire, keep and develop the right people. An organization’s ability to find and attract the right people and put them in the right position is the root of success. Nothing will aid success more than a company’s ability to master this first step. You must excel at recruiting, hiring, training and retaining the right people. Get this down first, and the next steps become much easier.

Ask yourself: How good are you at recruiting and retaining the right people? Do you have the right people in your organization? If not, what’s your plan?

2. Performance—the ability to consistently deliver services that meet and exceed your customers’ expectations. When you have happy, productive, effective and safe people who are engaged, encouraged and rewarded, they perform. Performance can be measured by customer retention, percent of sales coming from referrals and whether work is completed at a level that consistently meets and exceeds customers’ expectations. Remember, what’s measured is managed, and what’s managed is improved. Consider building and implementing a quality assurance program that links training to objective performance standards. Set high standards, and measure quality at least three to four times a year. Reward excellent performance with recognition, such as bonuses, raises and promotions.

Ask yourself: How do you measure performance? How is your team performing in key areas?

3. Customers—the ability to find, attract, hire, keep and develop the right customer. Now that you’re rolling with No. 1 and No. 2, No. 3 will be much easier. Happy employees attract the right customers. When you have happy employees consistently performing and delivering your service promise, customers will seek you out. Just as with your employees, you should periodically scrutinize your current customers to cull the wrong ones. Remember, the customer is always right, but you might not have the right customers. Sound familiar?

Ask yourself: Do you have the right customers? Who’s attracted to your company? What needs to change to attract the right customers?

4. Profitability—a company’s ability to expand its business and make money doing so. Ultimately, all companies must be able to generate profit. But to make a profit over a long period of time—not in just short spurts—companies need to build their programs and systems that focus on the Big 4. When you have the right people and programs in place, they’ll seek ways to become more profitable. Great people perform at the highest levels. Customers love them and want more.

Ask yourself: Are you making enough profit? If not, look at No. 1 and No. 3, and ask if you’re getting these in place.

Remember, the Big 4 should be built in the correct order. First, tackle No. 1 to start paving your path to success. If you’re spending quality time in these areas each day, you’ll be building your company the right way and will enjoy sustainable success. Focus on the Big 4, and watch the magic begin.

Arman and Laflamme are co-founders of The Harvest Group, a landscape industry consulting firm. Both are authors and speakers. Reach them at and

This article is tagged with , , , , and posted in 1014, Business Planner 2015

About the Author:

Arman is co-founder of the Harvest Group, a landscape and business consulting/coaching firm. Reach him at

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