3 Ingredients to Success at Maffei Landscape


Last week I flew up to Cape Cod to visit an old friend, Bob Maffei and his company Maffei Landscape Contractors


I met Bob “growing up” in the industry, probably at a JP Horizons event and he’s about as good of a guy as you can get.


After reminiscing (and sharing hilarious stories I didn’t know about my parents), we talked shop and he offered some pointers about running a $10m landscaping business.  


Trying to be clever, I created a little equation from my takeaways.


Personal Accountability + Team Accountability + Enthusiasm = Success


Personal Accountability 


One thing that Bob kept repeating was the 5 stages of employee accountability.  


The lowest form of accountability - scratch that - the polar opposite of accountability is denial....  “The work I did at the client’s house was fine.”


Once they’re able to acknowledge (verbally or not) that their work was subpar, then comes blame...  “It’s not my fault. The salesperson didn’t give us enough hours.”


In an effort to avoid feeling bad, because they’re accepting some level of personal responsibility people sometimes make excuses... “We were working in the rain and the shovels we have are junky.”


Courage is needed to get past anxiety...  “We’ll never finish this job in time…”


I know you’ve never heard these things within your company...   


But, if you do Bob recommends trying to recognize what stage of accountability your team member is currently at and meet them on their level.  Coach them to the next stage, then the next, then the next. If they regress, keep coaching.


Other examples of personal accountability at Maffei Landscape were painted all over. Everything had a process and that process was explained to everyone proactively.  


For example:  in orientation, each employee receives a checklist of concepts they covered and they signed it at the end.  In doing so, they’re acknowledging that someone explained and they UNDERSTAND procedures like how to clock in/out, what to do on rain days, when to show up for meetings, what an acceptable uniform looks like, etc…  


As Bob said, “Upfront it’s an explanation. After, it’s an excuse.”


That’s the personal accountability part of the equation. Let’s look at the team accountability, which is my favorite part.


Personal Accountability + Team Accountability + Enthusiasm = Success


Team Accountability


Living on the Cape, hiring struggles are real.  But not once did I hear an excuse or a complaint from Bob.


This year, among a variety of other strategies, he hired Martin Recruiting and Consulting to bring in help from Puerto Rico. Bob has 100% retention so far, which is a great accomplishment. But, when I tell you his secret, you’ll know why.


Each new employee was provided with housing. Several houses, filled with several guys… with a “carrot”.


  • You’re hired on at $15/hour and that’s what you’ll get on your paychecks.
  • You have the opportunity to make $16/hour if you stay the whole season.  So we’ll put money in escrow and before you leave, cut you a check for a bonus.
  • In addition, you have the opportunity to make $17/hour if your whole house stays together.


That’s the kicker.  4 guys in an apartment and one is on the ledge. You can imagine the other 3 are going to talk to him about sticking around so they get their year-end bonus.  


Of course, shit happens.  


Bob also had 'Plan B' spelled out.  For example what if a guy gets fired and it’s out of the house’s control.  In that case, the house has 2 weeks to find a replacement person and they'll still be eligible for their additional $1/hr bonus.


Bob said many times they’ll find more than 1 additional team member… #Winning


Team accountability takes a lot of the work out of it for you and places the responsibility on everyone.


This culture of teamwork was prominent and one more example was with the way tools and equipment were handled.


All of Maffei’s equipment is tagged with an RFID Invisi-Tag. The open trailers were scanned nightly for escapees.


If your crew is missing a piece of equipment, you can participate in their replacement program. The replacement cost is split between every person in the truck.  Tool pricing is posted in plain sight for transparency. A Cement Hoe costing $49.07 divided by 3 crew members is $16.36/each to replace.



Of course, you can choose not to participate in the replacement program.  This means a note will be placed in your employee file and will be considered at your yearly performance review, when raises are at stake.


Let that sink in, and come back for enthusiasm…


Personal Accountability + Team Accountability + Enthusiasm = Success




Bob is 44, has a beautiful wife and 2 young boys that keep him on his toes. He’s an extra-large-Dunkin’-Donuts-coffee-drinking early riser. His exuberant Boston accent can’t be missed and when he walks in the room people are ready to move.



He’s a great motivator that provides his team with a sense of purpose and direction everyday.


Without his team, Bob knows he wouldn’t have grown a $10 million landscaping business that was financially and organizationally fit enough to be purchased by one of the most prestigious investment companies.


When everyone is bringing energy to their job, amazing work is completed.


Bring your enthusiasm and it will catch on like wildfire.

Bob, hats off to you! Thanks for a lovely visit and the hospitality. We’ll definitely be back after the implementation of Aspire Software to check out all the new changes.  


Wishing you all the best!

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