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Q&A: Experts discuss the biggest mistakes LCOs make

November 18, 2016 -  By
A panel of experts weighs in on industry challenges during a breakfast panel at the LM Lawn Care Forum Nov. 12.

A panel of experts weighs in on industry challenges during a breakfast panel at the LM Lawn Care Forum Nov. 16.

At a breakfast panel on Nov. 16 during the 2016 Landscape Management Lawn Care Forum, our group of experts weighed in on a burning question: “In each of your areas of expertise, what is the biggest mistake you see lawn care companies make?”

Here’s how they responded.

Karen Reardon—vice president of public affairs, Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE)
Area of expertise: 
pesticide and fertilizer policy and issues

“If you’re not showing up to tell your story in the policy arena and the regulatory arena, especially in your state, depending on where you are, and also in the federal level, someone else is filling that void and sharing information about you that could affect your business, your livelihood, your family and your customers. I go to places where not one company person is showing up. Other locations, only two people are carrying the water for an entire state across 32 towns that are considering bans on lawn care inputs. There is that (thought), “I’ll let someone else—I’ll let my competitor—take care of this.” You have to get up and go, because the world is run by those who show up.”

Phil Harwood—managing partner, Pro-Motion Consulting
Area of expertise: leadership, strategic planning

“Every study and every survey says that the people problem is the biggest challenge in the industry. Half of the attendees here said people is their No. 1 challenge. The mistake that we make is we think it’s a recruiting problem, and it’s not. It’s a retention problem. We have to recruit, and we have to do recruiting like we’ve never done before. I’m not saying we don’t need to recruit—that’s a given. But we also have to look in the mirror and look at our companies and say, ‘Where are we not attractive? How are we losing people? Why can’t we attract the stars?’ If you took your car into a dealership, they’re going to perform a 38-point inspection and give you a report on everything about your car. Same thing if you go into a doctor’s office for a physical. They’re going to assess you and give you a report. So we need to do some analysis within our own walls to say, ‘How do we get better? How do we move the needle from an eight to a nine? How do we approve?'”

Shaun Kanary—director of marketing, Weed Pro
Area of expertise: digital marketing

“I think the biggest problem is a lack of attention to detail in digital marketing. A lot of people in this industry say, ‘I’ve got a guy for that. He or she is younger. He or she understands it. I don’t need to understand it.’ Like in our industry, we all see those people out there who just throw a spreader in the back of their truck and say, ‘Hey I’m a lawn care expert now.’ It’s very easy to call yourself a digital marketing expert. You need to try to understand it because there’s a lot of wasted spend in digital advertising. Someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing could be wasting a lot of your money.”

Ron Edmonds—president, Principium Group
Area of expertise: mergers and 

“One of the things I ask people is, “Can you imagine somebody other than you running your business?’ Almost everybody says, ‘No, not really. I built it this way, and it’s my baby.’ What I have to tell them, unfortunately, is if you can’t imagine somebody else running your business, nobody else can either. So, you’re not going to be the target for achieving the wealth on the back end. Take the steps and systemize your business so that you can free your business from its dependence on you. A mistake that a lot of people in this industry make is letting their business revolve around them without developing those systems.”

Dan Gordon—managing member, Turfbooks
Area of expertise: accounting, finances, management information systems

“As you grow your business, you need management information systems. It’s easy to go out and push a spreader, hire another guy, keep track of your accounts receivable and things like that. But when you want to scale it to 50 people or 500 people, how do you get there? How do you create the management information systems and the reporting systems that allow you, as a manager, to look at things and understand how your business is doing real quickly, without having to dig into it. It’s all about how you set up your business and knowing what is going into your accounting system so you can look out into the industry, by looking at things like the Operating Cost Study in the September issue of LM, and see how you compare.”

Watch the full panel discussion below:



About the Author:

Dillon Stewart graduated from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, earning a Bachelor of Science in Online Journalism with specializations in business and political science. Stewart is a former associate editor of LM.

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