Month: April 2014

What the hell is happening in my office?

This past month at my office has been a month of headaches and roadblocks. I caught myself asking, “What the hell?” quite a bit this month, “What the hell was my employee thinking? What the hell happened to these reports? What the hell did my vendor do?” That’s when it hit me, I was loosing control of the office I was supposed to be managing.

We just launched a new billing system a few months ago. Each month I am surprised we are still having issues in accounting, after all this new system was supposed to make our lives easier. This month I have been busy with so many little things that took my time. That before I knew it we were half way through the month. That’s when my boss walked in the office with aging reports asking “What the hell is this?” I should know what the status of our aging reports any time he ask. That’s when I realized; I haven’t even looked at them yet. Our office is a smaller operation, so it is very important for us to be on top of collecting lease payments. However, this month we were behind over $10,000. I could blame this on my assistant, or even the accounts receivable. But the truth was this was happening because of my lack of leadership, and my lack of assigning responsibilities to my employees.

Fortunately, my boss was understanding that I was buried with other projects that were taking my focus away from the important things. Like collections and business development. From here we found that a lot of the projects that were taking my time, were projects that I could afford to hand off to someone else.

Some times as a business owner, or manager we feel it is easier for us to do something rather than making our employees learn how to do it or even how fix it. Before we know it, we are behind on what is important because we are focused on little things like picking up more cups at Costco for our kitchen, rather than closing deals or collecting past due payments.

Author Brandon Sanderson once wrote, “The mark of a great man is one who knows when to set aside the important things in order to accomplish the vital ones.”  So what about you and your business? Are there projects or job duties that you can hand off that will allow for you to focus on the big picture?

Prepare your employees. Hand off some responsibility. Hold them accountable. These three steps will help you focus on the vital projects of the business. (and maybe make your life a little less stressful)

Growing too fast? Take it easy.

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Most of my followers are probably my friends or family. (yeah I’m that blogger – I know, its sad) But if you just so happened to come across this blog I would like to tell you a little about my past and how I truly believe that growing a business too fast can be just as bad as no growth – if not worse.

I started working in the landscape industry at the age of 16. I worked at a garden center in the town I grew up in selling flowers and seed. From there I had some great opportunities to work for some of Ohio’s most well known and respected lawn and landscape businesses. I worked my way from grunt labor to crew leader, supervisor, operations manager, sales manager and even helped launch a commercial landscape business out of my home town.

I had an opportunity to move to Buffalo, New York to work as a sales manager for a large lawn and landscape business. After taking the position I was informed of the status of the business. It went from roughly a $600,000 business to a multi-million dollar business in about 3 years. The fast growth was created by purchasing of a few smaller businesses in the area.  Things looked great. At first. Then when clients learned of the business being acquired they used it as a get out free card from their agreements. Before we knew it the sales have dropped, economy has tanked and homeowners were hanging on to any money they could. When times are tough most homeowners get rid of unnecessary expenses. Lawn mowing, mulching and fertilizing is something most homeowners could do on their own.

So, our business was in a rut and we had to make some decisions to keep the business alive. We decided to take a look at the business as a business with multiple divisions; Lawn Maintenance, Landscape Maintenance, Lawn Fertilizing, Tree & Shrub Fertilizing, Landscape Design & Install, Hardscape Design & Install and of course Snow Removal. (we were located in Buffalo where it snows over 100 inches a year)  We then took these divisions and looked at all our profits and losses from each of them. We found that a few were very profitable and a few were loosing us money. A lot of money. After finding this out we decided to close the struggling divisions, lay off employees, sell equipment no longer needed and focus on re-branding the business with a heavy marketing for the areas that were profitable.

As of today (2 years later) the business is stronger and more profitable than ever before. (and on a good pace for organic growth) So the question to ask yourself: Are there areas of your business that are outdated and dragging your profits down? Should you consider restructuring your business to keep it afloat?

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or what services or products you provide, negative services or products will make any business week.

Slow down. Hold off the ego and focus on the future.