Do timely job costing. While having a solid budget and accurate profit/loss (P&L) statements is critical to your success, there is one thing that I feel trumps both. That is timely job costing. When you receive your P&L for the previous month, it’s actually “old news.” You have performed a lot of work, and this is a look in the rearview mirror on what happened out in the field. You may have beat budget, or you may have lost money, but it’s often difficult to pinpoint where gains or losses occurred. This is where accurate and timely job costing comes in. By tracking actual labor and material costs and comparing it to the estimate on your project, it gives you a timely snapshot of how your team is per-forming. Job costing should be done weekly at a minimum. Some of the new software will allow you to track your job costs daily.

Accurate and timely job costing will give you the opportunity to make mid-course adjustments on projects. This is better than seeing you lost money over the past month and not being able to do anything but ask, “What happened?!” Job costing is critical as projects get larger and larger. A bust on a million-dollar job can sink a company!

Do build systems and processes. I work with companies across the country and it’s common to see owners who have grown their companies to a certain point—but then the company plateaus. No matter how hard they work, or how many hours they put in, they can’t get over the hump. The main reason for this is there are no systems or processes to follow.

Typically, the owner—or a couple key supervisors—know the process to complete a task or build a project in the field. The problem is this knowledge is often stored in their heads. This means the owner, or super-visor, can seldom get away during the busy season. Worse yet, if a key supervisor leaves the company, then guess what? All that vast knowledge leaves with them.

The key is to build systems and processes for all critical services the company performs and document them. This actually needs to start from the moment a prospect calls into your company for potential work. There should be a process on how the call is answered, what questions are asked, and what happens with that lead. The systems and processes not only need to be written and documented, but cross trained through-out the company. If enacted, when a key person leaves, you will not also be losing a great deal of critical information. Better yet, with processes in place, the company will grow dramatically!

Professional Development

Do learn to delegate. There are many aspects of professional development that will help you and your company grow. One of the moist critical ones is learning how to delegate. If you don’t learn the art of delegation, you will be the largest impediment to your company’s growth.

When I accepted the invitation to become the president of ALCA (now NALP), I knew I would have to be out of the office for close to two-thirds of the year. At the time, I was still heavily involved in design and sales. I felt I had to be there every day to not only design and sell new projects, but to manage the projects I sold. I never considered taking a vacation during the busy season. Becoming the president of ALCA forced me to change. It forced me to:

  • Fully complete the paperwork on my projects.
  • Have all materials selected and sourced in advance.
  • Ensure all my plans were accurate and detailed.
  • Designate another designer to stay connected with the client.
  • Assign a project manager to oversee the job in the field in my absence.

I should have been doing all these things anyway, but I always used the excuse that I would be there to answer any questions. Not doing these things drove the production team crazy!

By detailing my projects in advance and delegating functions to others, two important things happened:

  1. The projects ran smoother and were more profitable.
  2. The team members that I delegated management duties to grew and matured, while proving they could take on more responsibility.

For these reasons, I encourage you to learn the art of delegation now, before it’s a “must.”

Embracing The Summer Slide (In Landscape Design!)

Design-BuildA backyard entertaining space earns top grades for Phase One Landscapes. How do you earn top grades for a patio project? Incorporating a water slide that maximizes summer fun—while transforming a sloped site from a negative to a positive—is certainly a great start! Read more…

As you can imagine, I have many other stories to share, but I feel these provide the most return on investment. Use some of the things I’ve experienced over the years to start growing your career and/or business now. It will shorten your learning curve and allow you to achieve success sooner!

Judson GriggsGriggs is Head Harvester at The Harvest Landscape Consulting Group, where he offers consulting, education, and design-build peer groups to enhance the selling, management, and profit of projects. With over 45 years of design-build experience and perspective, he has personally managed more than $75M in design-build sales. Additionally, Griggs has developed marketing programs that increase revenue by over 30% in one year. The Harvest Group Landscape Consulting currently does business in 42 states and five countries working with landscape business owners to increase their sales, grow their bottom line, and sell their company when ready. 

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