Couldn’t make it to GIE+EXPO this year? We’ve got you covered. The editors of Turf are on the ground, covering everything you need to know at the show. At the end of the day, our editors come together and curate the top five moments from the busy day’s events — from announcements at press conferences to inspiring advice from educational sessions. Here are some of the top moments from Thursday, October 20.
1. Altoz Unveils the TRX
A video of Altoz’s TRX tracked mower notched more than 2.5 million views and more than 45,000 shares on Facebook within a few days of being posted. Is it any wonder Dennis and Terri Brazier, the owners of the Minnesota-based manufacturer, and their team were smiling when they unveiled the TRX to the media at GIE+EXPO Thursday? The TRX is the first tracked commercial zero in the market.
2. The Importance of Admitting Mistakes
Bob Grover is a successful landscape company owner. Pacific Landscape Management, which he founded in 2001, services more than 350 HOAs and other big properties in and around Portland, Oregon. Grover shared great information about the importance of building strong customer relations. “If we never make a mistake, it makes it look like our job is really easy. When we make a mistake — and we admit it and we correct it — it helps show our customers that our job is hard and it’s not always perfect either. Within any relationship, honesty is very, very critical.”
– From NALP’s LANDSCAPES session “Communication and Customer Service”
3. Avoid Fertilizer Filler
Ever wonder what’s really in that bag of fertilizer you’re buying?
It’s kind of similar to food—like a protein powder, for instance. How much of the bag is what you need and how much of the bag is filler? Just like with food and nutrition labels, fertilizer bag labels can tell us a lot.
“Read the label under the NPK derived from statement,” suggests Eric Miltner with Koch Turf & Ornamental. “Look for a product that has 50 percent or more coming from nitrogen. 20 to 30 percent is very low and usually means the product has some filler in it.”
4. Make a Lasting Impression
“When you stop into the office of a potential client, don’t just leave your business card. Business cards get lost or tossed aside easily. Leave a one-sheet page about yourself that includes some information about your company as well as some recent jobs you’ve done so that the potential client can check up on you. Sometimes all you get is a minute or two of their time — and a sheet is much more likely to leave an impression.”
– Dave Ramirez of Ariens, NALP’s Breakfast with Champions session leader
5. Train Your Replacement
If you get new, young superstar employees in your company, embrace that. Being surrounded by good people will develop opportunities for you. And don’t be afraid to train your replacement. It can benefit you, too. If another opportunity comes up within the company, having your replacement ready makes you more viable for that new opportunity.
– Jen Lemcke, COO of Weed Man during NALP’s LANDSCAPES session “Women in Landscaping: Harnessing Our Strengths for a Greater Industry”
6. Quiz After Training
“We really believe in education. But if you invest in education and nobody is paying attention, you’ve wasted your money. We always do a quiz — but we tell our employees we’re going to do it. In the past we’d do a training on greasing a skid-steer and we’d quiz everyone after and 90 percent would fail. But we found if we told them we were doing the quiz after, they’d all pass because they knew they had to pay attention.”
– Steve Pattie, founder of The Pattie Group during NALP’s LANDSCAPES session “The Art of Building a Successful Landscape Company”
7. The Deadliest Words in Business
According to industry consultant Judy Guido, three of the deadliest words in business are: business as usual.
Why? Because unless you’re in a market where nothing is changing — not customer buying habits, not technology, etc. — the rate of change is happening at a fast and furious pace, and businesses need to keep up with this pace by doing things differently to stay on the cutting edge in their market.
“Think about places you can find efficiencies and reduce costs,” she says. “Focus on your biggest pain points first.”
– From NALP’s LANDSCAPES session, “How to OUT-earn, OUT-learn, OUT-think and Differentiate Yourself from the Competition” with Judy Guido, Guido & Associates
8. The CEO’s Focus
Wondering what you should be focused on as the CEO and owner of your company? Here’s what four of the owners of some of the most successful companies in the industry said they spend the most time on as CEO.
- “Succession planning. We’re always thinking about our next move. I also spend a lot of time spreading the word about our company.” — Pat Covey, COO and president of The Davey Tree Expert Company
- “Taking care of people. Working with communities, customers, employees and families. I’m also a protector of our vision — the person who keeps us true to that vision we’ve had for 30 years, so the larger we grow the more we don’t lose sight of that core vision.” — Ken Hutcheson, president, U.S. Lawns
- “Building relationships and assembling the best team. My focus is relationship-driven. Secondly, I spend time nurturing our brand so we stay focused on our mission. Our mission was homegrown by every individual in our company, and it’s what keeps us true and makes working fun.” — Frank Mariani, CEO, Mariani Landscapes
- “Supporting our folks in any way I can and making sure everyone has the systems and tools they need and are aligned well in the company so they can make the best decisions.” — Tim Portland, CEO, Yellowstone Landscape
– From NALP’s LANDSCAPES session, “Inside the C-Suite: Insights Shared by Industry Legends,” moderated by Judith Guido.
9. Apps for Your Business
According to Frank Bourque, one out of every three American small businesses uses apps to operate their business. We all tend to think office work needs to be done at the office, but with the right tools, you can take your office on the road. “The freedom to bring your office wherever you go and do the same tasks hopefully will save you time and make you efficient and more profitable,” he says. A few apps Bourque recommends: Google Drive, EverNote, SignNow, Fiverr, Joist and Dropbox. (Find more business apps for landscape professionals).
– From Hardscape North America’s session “Setting Up Your Mobile Office with New Innovative Tools, Apps and Resources to Increase Profits and Efficiency” with Frank Bourque, Founder and CEO of Greenmarket
10. Know Your Costs to Make Better Estimates
Jerry Gaeta says to estimate the cost of jobs correctly you must know the costs of what it takes to perform your job. “Get into a position where you know your costs, you know how to estimate and you can make decisions when you need to,” he says. Estimating systems are based on recovering direct costs to establish a break even point, then you can establish a price for the client so you can determine your net profit. Gaeta says if we knew our costs better, the industry would price their services higher. “We don’t know our costs. If we knew our costs, we’d fight for our money,” he says.
– From Hardscape North America’s session “Estimating Projects with Confidence” with Jerry Gaeta of J. Gaeta Business Planning LLC.