Becoming a Thick-Skinned Solution Finder

Recently I got fired by one of my first clients.

I've only been in business for about 3 months...how could this happen so quickly?

That was a tough pill to swallow, but it's not the first time I've lost a client, and it won't be the last. I've given a lot of thought to it over the past couple of weeks. 

The ability to swallow your pride and accept blame, criticism or negative feedback is crucial. We're all human, we all make mistakes, and things will go wrong. And even when things go according to our plan, some clients will still perceive them to be wrong.

It's our job to prepare for any type of feedback not just operationally, but also emotionally.

So I came up with a few tools...

How to Become a Thick-Skinned Solution Finder:

1. Separate fact from fiction. 

Don't fall into a trap of thinking, "I suck and I'm bad at my job." Instead, realize that there is a process that can be improved or a system that needs to be established. You'll likely solve this problem for another...

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What to Do When H-2B Falls Through

For over 30 years, employers throughout the United States have utilized the government issued H-2B program.  As seasonal businesses, this temporary work visa program fixed a problem of finding enthusiastic workers who are able to work according to weather constraints and/or periods of increased demand.

The Rise and Fall of the H-2B Program

The success of the program quickly caught on and hundreds of employers were benefiting from employing legal immigrant workers during the active growing season; later waving goodbye as they went home to spend time with their families while our work was slow.  

At its peak in 2008, nearly 95,000 visas were issued from the Department of Homeland Security.  

But, whether we saw it or not, the H2B program came with a cost.

And not just following the intricate job posting rules, or jumping through legal hoops in a timely fashion, or paying fees that increased each year.

The biggest cost, was that without realizing it, we abandoned all...

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3 Lawn and Landscape Leaders You Can Learn From This Winter

Jerry Schill

Schill Grounds Management, Ohio 

Jerry Schill is the owner of Schill Landscape Management a full-service Landscape Maintenance and Snow and Ice removal contractor providing services to Commercial, Industrial, Apartment, Retail, and HOA across Northern Ohio.

 

Company Expansion & Growth Without Pains 

He’s a mover & shaker in the Green Industry and this winter, Jerry’s top priority is successfully moving into his new location. They have 2 big branches and 2 satellite locations. The new office will be the largest branch for the team.

He laughingly admits he “over-did it” as he told me about how the ½ acre building is jam packed with a huge formal meeting room, a training center addition, full kitchen, and a robust fenced-in parking lot.

They found, purchased and closed on the property all within 30 days. Like you, I was wondering how he’s keeping his head on straight.

“We’re blessed to have our...

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The Full Exposure Challenge

Think of the one or two people that you love the most. Does someone instantly pop into your mind? Maybe it’s a spouse, a kid, a parent, or a friend…

Chances are the reason you love them so much is because you know them.

You know their ups, downs, highs and lows. You know about their personal life, what they do for a living, and about their family or pets. You know what they’re good at, what you two like to do together, and their preferences on their favorite foods.

Here’s a challenge for you this week.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and expose yourself to those around you.  

Share a story with a prospect about a time that you were hesitant to make a purchase.  Paint a visual picture for your spouse about the things you think about them when they’re not around.  Explain how you feel at the very moment that you feel tension or conflict with a close friend.  Talk about what was going on in your...

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2017 Landscaping and Lawn Care Trends

I've grown up in the lawn care and landscaping industry my whole life, and nothing excites me more than seeing our company grow along with others like us who are living out the American Dream.

The best way that I have found to stay current, is to talk to people within the industry and see what trends they've noticed on the horizon. 

Here you’ll find a collection of ideas from thought leaders around North America on what they believe are going to be the biggest trends we see in lawn care, landscaping and small businesses in 2017.

Robust Water Management and Water Reclamation Efforts


Reduced water usage and water reclamation is growing in popularity especially in Vista California where Heaviland Landscape Management President, Tom Heaviland is located.

Here’s what Tom said about the topic, “California’s current drought is being billed as the driest period in the state’s recorded rainfall history. We are currently entering our...

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Customer Service is Not a Department

 

Customers were asked, in a study, why they stopped doing business with a company and 43% named “negative experience with a staff person” as the main reason for taking their business elsewhere and 30% said because they didn’t feel like a valued customer.

Services are what consumers come to you and pay you for. (ex: lawn mowing, consulting, food delivery, personal training, etc) Customer service encompasses the entire experience. It’s what brings the human factor into a transaction.

Poor leaders see customer service as a department, something they can delegate to nice people that get along well with others.


But, customer service is not a department and it encompasses everyone in your company. 

Great service does not cost any more money than average or poor service. Yet the returns are spectacular.

Every single person in your organization is responsible for delivering exceptional experiences to your clients.  Choose today to go above and...

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2 Simple Ways to Attract Employees Online

RECENTLY I WROTE AN ARTICLE ABOUT SURVIVING MAJOR H-2B DELAYS AND HOW WE FOUND EMPLOYEES TO WORK FOR US JUST 8 DAYS BEFORE LAWN MOWING SEASON STARTED LAST YEAR.
 
One of the steps we took that has really paid off was to make sure that our website is appealing not only to customers, but also to prospective employees.

It’s baffling how many people miss this one important step for recruiting. Ours is not a perfect example and we’re always learning new things when it comes to digital marketing, but so this has worked for us!

HERE ARE TWO WAYS THAT WE’VE USED OUR WEBSITE TO ATTRACT MORE EMPLOYEES:


1. Posting job descriptions – posting the jobs that you have available is a great way to get job seekers to visit and stay on your site. They can learn more about your company and the possibilities they have when joining your team.

*BONUS TIP*  Who said they had to be in English? Cater to the Spanish-speaking demographic by...

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Pausing for Rock Star Performance

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed with work that you’ve caught yourself rushing through project after project?  

You scramble to answer a phone call while you’re checking your overloaded email inbox in the midst of completing an overdue report.  You push off your workout to make more time for another report that just hit your desk and by the time you look up from your desk to go home, it’s already dark outside.

It’s time for a pause. 

If you’re a business leader, the majority of the tasks you’re working on WILL impact someone’s life. If that’s the case, take a deep breath before moving forward.

Remind yourself that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. 

You’ve accomplished so much already in the first few months of the year. Have you celebrated these achievements with your spouse, your team, and yourself?

Slow down and enjoy the ride! And know that you’re not the only...

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How Dowco Survived a Year Without H2B

FOR THE PAST 20 YEARS, OUR FAMILY-OWNED COMPANY HAS APPLIED FOR OVER 40 WORKERS TO TRAVEL FROM TAMAULIPAS, MEXICO TO ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI ON TEMPORARY 9 MONTH WORK VISAS TO PERFORM LAWN CARE AND LANDSCAPING SERVICES FOR OUR CLIENTS.


Over the winter we jump through a few government hoops, pay a bunch of fees, send out renewals to our clients, plow for a few snow events, and vacation in the tropics with NALP.  When spring time comes, the Mexican employees arrive and it’s off to the races!  We get busy completing massive amounts of work and clients are happy. It requires minimal quality oversight because the same men have been coming each year and know our properties and training. We throw a goodbye party in November to say thank you and then the cycle repeats itself. 

For 20 years this process has repeated and our company has grown and experienced huge successes serving nearly 1,000 clients.  Until 2015.  

  • 2015 was the year that our help didn’t...
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Conversation Starters For Fast-Paced Sales Meetings

Spring time in the landscape industry is our biggest opportunity for sales. Many of our clients and prospective clients see the ads from Lowes about all the latest and greatest gardening ideas and they want it all now!
 
This week I led our weekly sales meeting with a chat about our conversations. The amount of people that our sales team talks to can be overwhelming in the spring and it’s really important that we find a balance between ‘building a relationship’ (shooting the breeze) with capturing unique insight that will help us land the sale.

So what are the best conversation starters that help you quickly jump into the content of the conversation without making the prospect feel rushed? Here’s what we came up with:

  • What’s your story, how did you get to this point?
  • What’s a day in the life of [name] look like?
  • What’s your favorite part of what you do every day?
  • What are your biggest goals and dreams for [your landscaping]?
  • ...
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