How to stay focused during the busiest times of the year

April 23, 2019 -  By
Headshot: Marty Grunder

Marty Grunder

My team at Grunder Landscaping Co. (GLC) in southwest Ohio is thrilled that spring is finally here, after what felt like an especially long, cold winter.

We’ve scaled up our crews, held our annual team kickoff and training and set our sights on clear efficiency and revenue goals. In other words, we’ve done all we can to prepare for the busy months ahead, but as we all know, even the best-laid plans have a way of getting derailed when client demands soar. You can very quickly lose sight of getting ahead when you feel like you’re barely keeping up.

To help keep you focused and in control no matter what comes your way this season, here are three tactics that have worked year after year for me at GLC and for the landscape professionals I coach.

1. Money matters

Nothing causes more stress than financial performance. Smart landscaping companies require deposits from their clients upfront with their signed contracts, bill immediately upon completion of projects and are proactive when it comes to collecting. In the green industry, anything below 30 days is good. The more you trim this number, the faster you have cash on hand and — as we all know — cash is king. Some of the companies I consult with have gotten theirs down to as low as 11 days, often by accepting credit cards and assigning one person in the company to really drive and own the collections process.

It’s also important to make your work orders as detailed as possible, no matter how busy you get. Clearly list the hours bid for a job so your team knows exactly what numbers they need to hit. At GLC and the companies I coach, I have seen profitability improve significantly by focusing on this tactic. You will never motivate a team to deliver and foster a culture of accountability if you do not make your goals and progress clear and explicit.

2. Lead through the ups and the downs

You’re going to be asking a lot of your people in the next few months. Foster a HOT — honest, open and transparent — environment in which your team knows you will listen to their concerns and face them together. And no matter how stressed you get or how great the challenges are when you’re at your busiest, do not complain in front of your team. When leaders do that, they give license to everyone else to complain, too, and that can drag down your whole company. When problems arise, discuss them, focus on finding solutions and leave your venting for after hours with a peer or mentor who can help you put it all in dispassionate perspective.

3. You can’t take care of your team if you don’t take care of yourself

Stress at work is a vicious cycle. Under pressure to deliver at our companies, we dial back on our lives outside of work, thinking the only way we’re going to get out of the fix we’re in is by doubling down on the time we spend on our businesses. We stay late at the office, skip out on dinner with our families, cancel sessions at the gym, pare back our weekends to work more and check our work email at 3 a.m. I am guilty of all of this and more.

Guess what? It turns out all you get from doing this is a frustrated family, a bigger belly and sleep deprivation. It really is just like they tell you: If the plane you’re on is going down, you can’t help anyone else until you get oxygen for yourself. No matter how stressed or busy you get, make it a point to find and keep time for yourself, your family and your health every week. Schedule it and honor it, just like you do for work appointments. Trust me — it really is that important.

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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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