Things that make you go ‘hmm’

Marty Grunder

I’ve been really busy the past six months traveling around, helping landscapers grow their businesses and working hard to grow my own. As I reflect back on some experiences I have had (I put them all down in my journal so I remember), I felt compelled to share what I saw in hopes of teaching in the process.

I upgraded my cable at my house to the mega-super, duper fast one – no new cables, just a flip of a switch and, presto, my internet goes so fast when I order from Amazon, the package is in the mailbox in 10 minutes. (Okay, just kidding about the last part.) The thing that is interesting about Time Warner Cable is if you call to report a problem, you get put on hold; if you call to add new service or buy new things, you can talk to someone right away. Hmmmmmm.

I took my family on vacation to the Key Largo Marriott. It was, without question, the worst Marriott I have ever been to in my life. The rooms we had for my family were dirty and worn out. I specifically requested adjoining rooms so I could keep an eye on my teenagers, but that didn’t happen. We were on opposite ends of the hotel. The entire staff we encountered, with the exception of Simon, Luz and Barbara, was grumpy, rude and disengaged. I asked to speak to David, the manager, and I asked for him to call me. I never heard from him. I did see him on the way out with a couple boxes of Dunkin’ Donuts for his team. Donuts aren’t going to help them; leadership will. After two nights, we moved to another Marriott on Hollywood Beach, Fla., and it was lovely. Same brand, two totally different experiences. Hmmmmmm.

I had one of my ACE groups into Dayton for a meeting. I took them to Firebirds, a new restaurant by my office I like. One of my ACEs, John Richter, from Birmingham, Ala., said in his lovely Alabama accent, “Oh man, the Firebirds by us is terrible; we won’t go there.” After John and my other guests ate at Firebirds, they were happy and agreed “my Firebirds” is a good one. Same restaurant, different experiences. Hmmmmmm.

In the last year, five of my landscaper clients have traveled to Dayton, Ohio, to have their truck beds built by the little company that does all of ours. We have a pretty slick set up they are copying. Even though there are tons and tons of bed manufacturers, these landscapers come to Dayton, Ohio. One of them came all the way from Oregon and spent three days driving the thing home. Hmmmmmm.

Folks, at the end of the day, we all have a product to offer. For the most part it’s pretty easy for the competition to copy your products, your plants and materials, use the same equipment and trucks as you and even hire some of your team away from you. However, it’s impossible for them to duplicate and copy the way you treat your clients, which is a direct result of the culture you have at your organization. It’s not what one person does that can make or break the successful landscaper, it’s what all of you can do together focused on an end goal, a vision, a desired outcome, your ideal state.

Your job as a leader is to make sure that when a client needs service, you deliver it in such a way they say, “Man, I am glad they’re my landscaper” and not, “I really wish I wouldn’t have done this project with them.” Your job as a leader is to walk around your business and get out on jobsites. You can’t sit in your office and hope things are going well. Get out and make certain.

Your job is to make sure your offering is consistent. If you have branch locations, they all need to perform at a high level, not just some of them. And your job is to be so good at your work, people will stand in line, bring you in from two towns over, and pay you to do what you do because you do it better than anyone else in your marketplace. Quit competing on price – compete on service and quality. That’s the zone to be in.

Marty Grunder is a speaker, consultant and author; he owns Grunder Landscaping Co. See; mail


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