What does it take to make best-run company? Follow along as we uncover the secrets of a well-run landscape company through a series of company profiles and best practices.

Having worked as a regional manager for the Northwest for TruGreen (after they purchased Northwest Landscape Industries) for a couple of years, overseeing 500 employees, Bob Grover certainly knew what it took to manage people and build a positive culture. When he went on to form Pacific Landscape Management, a Hillsboro, Oregon-based commercial maintenance and renovation company, he put those management skills to work. But Grover says in addition to his inward focus on company culture, it’s also been a commitment to the customer that has really helped him succeed.

Bob Grover

In fact, he recently presented on a topic with his coined catch phrase: “Just don’t suck at the landscaping part.” Grover says that good customer relationships have more to do with communication and follow-through than it does producing an outstanding landscape. A lot of people can do a good job at the landscaping part, but it’s the communication with the client where all the difference is made. Grover says if you do a fantastic landscape job but don’t talk to your customer about it, you don’t get the credit for it. Conversely, when you screw up — and you don’t tell the customer about it — the impact is 10 times worse.

“I tell my people, if you make a mistake, tell the customer about it and let them know how you are going to fix it,” Grover says. “It’s human nature to want to just fix it and hope they won’t notice, but the truth is — while I would never advocate anyone screwing up on purpose — you get a ton of mileage out of the recovery phase. People love honesty. And they come to really trust you when you’re willing to admit you messed up and then you go fix it.”

Grover says that the two most vital pieces to a successful business are the relationship with the customer and the relationship with the employees. He says that “both have to be your partners.” And if you abuse either side, it will hurt your business. Still, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t keep pushing forward. After all, without pushing forward, you’ll never grow. Grover says that building strong relationships — both with employees and clients — allows you to be able to successfully do just that.

“We drive our people really hard and have very high expectations for them, but we do so in an appreciative manner,” Grover says. “If we didn’t have that strong relationship with our employees, we couldn’t do that. In the same way, we push the envelope when it comes to charging for our work. We aren’t the low bid. We charge a lot without ever making our customers feel taken advantage of or disrespected and that’s also because of our strong relationship with them. They know we are charging more so we can do more. And they see the value in it.”

While even the best companies will admit they “always have room for growth,” there are definitely some businesses in the green industry that are already employing many of the practices industry professionals say epitomize a best-run company. Follow along as we uncover the secrets of a well-run landscape company through a series of company profiles and best practices.

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