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One of the most effective ways to increase get your staff to “buy in” to the growth and culture of your company is to work through a book together. There are so many great business books that it’s hard to narrow it down to a few, but here are my favourite business books that would be great for group study:
Good to Great - Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don’t by Jim Collins
This book describes how companies transition from being good companies to great companies, and how most companies fail to make the transition. "Greatness" is defined as financial performance several multiples better than the market average over a sustained period. Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. Collins finds the main reason certain companies become great is they narrowly focus the company’s resources on their field of key competence.
The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey
Written by Stephen R. Covey's eldest son, this book guides business leaders and their organizations towards unprecedented productivity and satisfaction. Covey shows you how to inspire immediate trust in everyone you encounter - colleagues, constituents, the marketplace - allowing you to forego the time-killing and energy-draining check and balance bureaucracies that are so often relied upon in lieu of actual trust.
Traction - Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman
Tractionis a business strategy book that guides leaders of entrepreneurial organizations on how to gain control of their business through the Entrepreneurial Operating System.
The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack
The Great Game of Business is teaching employees to think and act like owners, using open-book management techniques developed by Jack Stack.
Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan & Al Switzler
“Crucial Conversations draws our attention to those defining moments that literally shape our lives, our relationships, and our world. . . . This book deserves to take its place as one of the key thought leadership contributions of our time.” (From the forward by Steven R. Covey)
Crucial Conversations gives you the tools to prepare for high-stakes situations, transform anger and hurt feelings into powerful dialogue, make it safe to talk about almost anything and be persuasive, not abrasive.
So how does as company book club work? First, meet regularly - weekly or bi-weekly is recommended. That way the content stays fresh in everyone’s mind. Assign a chapter or section for each meeting. We recommend attendees come to the meeting having already read the chapter/section for that meeting.
Ask each person to talk about 2-3 points that impacted them from the chapter. Then look for consensus for one idea that can be implemented to improve the business. Keep a running list of company improvements and review these on a regular basis as a reminder of changes you want to make.
Some will say that they have no time for a book study. I would like to argue that doing a book study will bring the team together and make them much more cohesive and, consequently, much more effective. You will also realize who in your leadership team is an “A” player who’s looking to improve the company.
I would love to know if you already make a practice of reading through a book with your team. If so, what have been the most helpful books?
Most landscape business owners have no idea what their business is worth, whether they’re just getting started or looking to sell soon. Nor do they know how to determine the value of the business. And yet knowing the value of your business, and understanding the steps needed to increase its value are critical for the growth and health of the business.
In response to this need, we’ve developed a training workshop, in partnership with a mergers and acquisitions firm, to help business owners learn the value of their business today and what tools and best practices can be implemented immediately to help increase its value. This makes the business more profitable and attractive to potential buyers – whether you’re looking to sell soon or in the future. We work directly from the financial and operational information that owners are required to bring to the workshop, giving us the ability to build an accurate picture of the current state of the business.
Attendees will receive insight and information on best practices, KPI’s and tools on the 6 pillars of business: Safety, Staff, Customers, Financials, Operations and Leadership. They will also get to interact with other business owners and discuss problems and solutions as a group.
We are offering this workshop in three formats: a one-hour information seminar, a one-day interactive overview workshop or a two-day interactive intensive workshop.
The one-day and two-day workshops includes a mix of education, discussion, and take-aways and program materials are provided electronically to all attendees.
Click here to learn more about the What’s My Business Worth program.
This is a continuation of my previous two blogs which listed my favourite programs and apps that target different areas in your business. If you haven’t read those blogs, you can access them here.
So now that you’ve decided you need some new technology, how do you implement it?
1. Choose software as a leadership team, getting input from each division. Ask each division to create a list of what technology would make them more effective and efficient. Review these lists, going back for additional information until you have a clear picture of what you need from your technology.
2. Set up an implementation team that meets regularly to work on implementation and set clear goals and expectations. The leadership team must commit to the implementation process. If not everyone is committed, then when something else is vying for your attention, the process will get stalled. And don’t worry, something will go wrong along the way. Have the implementation team assign specific tasks to specific people during the implementation process. Use a Gantt chart or Microsoft Planner to lay out the process for everyone to see. Include a time budget in the planning, as implementation takes time. Don’t forget to track the down time or shop time of your crew staff in order to get an accurate sense of the time being put into the implementation.
3. Implement some accountability within the staff to follow the documented process and steps. For example, your sales teams may not want to put their leads into the CRM system as it takes too long. They feel it’s easier to just keep things as they were. If this is the case, the sales team is lacking an understanding of why their adoption of the software is essential to the rest of the process and how it affects the company as a whole.
Learning new technology takes time. So be patient – with yourself and your staff. Too many owners get frustrated and impatient so stop using the program and go back to doing things the way they’ve always done it. This is not the way to grow your business. Hang in there! As for your staff, they have to be trained to use it and to recognize its value. There is often a misconception that implementing a system like CRM will solve all your problems. The truth is, it often creates more problems. You’ll experience a range of responses from early adopters, to the open but cautious, to outright opposition. Be patient as you deal with all of these responses, but don’t stop moving forward. It will be short-term pain for long-term gain. And you may find your inner geek through the process!
If you have any questions about these apps or programs, please feel free to contact me. I’d love to “talk tech” with you!
As a continuation of my previous blog, I’ve listed below my favourite programs and apps in the areas of communication and continuing education, as well as a few “bonus” apps at the end. TIf you haven’t read Part 1 of this blog, you can access it here. It deals with areas of health & safety, staffing and operations.
Voxer – www.voxer.com – This walkie-talkie app can replace the old push-to-talk cell phones we use to have. This app offers secure real-time communication that can be used with groups or individuals. It is a great tool for your snow operations.
Zoom – www.zoom.us – This video communication tool is an industry leader in offering solutions for online meetings, training and webinar hosting services.
What's App – www.whatsapp.com – This messenger app works on all platforms and allows you to text, send photos and voice memos, and make phone calls - and its free! We use this app almost daily to talk with our family in West Africa and it’s like they’re right around the corner.
Slack – www.slack.com – SLACK is an acronym for “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge”. This set of team collaboration tools and services allows for fewer meetings, less internal e-mail and an area where you can share documents and information with your team. It allows you to communicate to groups or individuals.
Skitch – www.evernote.com/products/skitch.com - Skitch helps you communicate visually to your staff and customers by allowing you to take a picture, mark it up using arrows, text and colour and then send it out. This is a huge time-saver in your operations.
Hoot Suite – www.hootsuite.com – Hoot Suite manages your company and personal social media accounts. It makes scheduling, managing and reporting on social media as easy as laying sod!
Blinkist – www.blinkist.com – This app allows you to listen to educational material in the areas of personal growth, history, management, leadership, communication skills and motivation.
Grow The Bench – www.growthebench.com – GTB is an online professional education development platform built for landscape and snow contractors. It offers courses on many different topics from time management to conflict management. New content is added regularly.
Downcast – www.downcastapp.com – This is currently my most used app. It allows you to subscribe and listen to podcasts. I listen to podcasts every day and love that they can go with me anywhere.
Audible – www.audible.com – This Amazon company app plays digital audiobooks, radio and TV programs. This is my favorite app to play audiobooks, especially at 2.5x speed.
Day One Journal- www.dayoneapp.com – An online daily journaling app that provides a simple digital way to record your thoughts and memories in the cloud.
Go iLawn – www.goilawn.com – This online property measurement service is a great tool that creates efficiency in your estimating process.
DOZR – www.dozr.com – DOZR is an online marketplace for rentals of heavy equipment. It's like Airbnb for bulldozers and excavators. You can rent the equipment you need or offer your own equipment for rent. It's a perfect example of the new shared economy that we are living in.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but hopefully will get you thinking about what technology can do to make your business better. I encourage you to talk to other companies about what technology they use, what they like and don’t like, what programs or apps they couldn’t operate without. I’ve found that people are willing to give advice and share their experience. This can be one of your greatest resources.
Most landscapers are technicians, not techies. They’re gifted in working with their hands and creating beautiful landscapes. They’re usually not so interested in the latest gadgets and apps. (I know some still using a flip phone, for goodness sake!) But technology has provided a vast array of tools to help business owners and their staff operate faster, easier and more efficiently. I am a landscaper, not a techie. But I’ve embraced the technology available to landscape contractors because I’ve seen the difference it makes.
I’ve put together a list of programs/apps that I recommend to landscapers. I’ve divided the content into six areas: health and safety, staff, operations, communication, continuing education and miscellaneous. I’ll talk about the first three in this blog and the last three in the next blog.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Greenius – www.gogreenius.com – Greenius is an online suite of tools for training, onboarding & performance excellence, with over 50 videos for crews and supervisors and an extensive tailgate talk library for getting your crew equipment-trained and safety-ready.
Evernote – www.evernote.com – Evernote allows you to capture and prioritize ideas, projects, and to-do lists, so nothing falls through the cracks. It can be loaded on multiple devices and the program syncs seamlessly between the devices when connected to the internet.
App Sheet – www.appsheet.com – This app building software is easy to use and can transform your workplace by helping you turn paper documents into an app on your employee's phones (ie. circle check form, accident reporting, etc.)
Fleetio – www.fleetio.com – This all-in-one fleet management app can help track your fleet and maintenance, regardless of fleet size, all in one place.
Google Suite – www.gsuite.google.com – This cloud-based software provides e-mail, calendar, document creation, document storage, and even video chat in one program that is easy to use and very cost effective.
Microsoft 365 – www.office.com – This is Microsoft’s answer to G-Suite. It has all the programs you’re used to in a cloud-based platform that is useable on all devices.
Grammarly – www.app.grammarly.com – Grammarly is an online grammar checking, spell checking, and plagiarism detection platform. This is one of my favorite apps and should be used by anyone who sends any sort of correspondence to customers.
Tom’s Planner – www.tomsplanner.com – This free app allows you to plan out your entire landscape business. It can be used for design-build projects or planning your maintenance business for the entire season. It gives you the ability to then share it with your team.
Microsoft Planner – www.task.office.com – This program is another option when it comes to planning your business using a Gantt chart format. Share and assign tasks to your team and see the progress they are making on all your projects.
Landscape Management Network – www.golmn.com – This landscape-specific software helps with budgeting, customer relationship management, estimates, mobile time tracking and much more.
The popularity of podcasts is increasing. Not only are more people listening to podcasts, but they’re listening to more podcasts. The beauty of podcasts is their accessibility. They’re free, they’re available through many different apps and programs, and you can listen anywhere at any time. I enjoy listening to podcasts while I’m driving or walking the dog. My family listens to together when we’re on road trips. (And it’s a great alternative to screen time.)
Most podcasts put out new content on a regular basis, usually weekly or monthly. And I usually anticipate the release of a new podcast. I love hearing interviews with successful business owners who are willing to share their struggles and victories. These are real life stories of well-known people and businesses. I find I am encouraged to persevere and always take away some new knowledge or best practice suggestion. The podcasts provide links and additional content regarding the topic being discussed in the show notes. With so many podcasts available, I thought I’d share my list of favourite business and leadership podcasts. If you find one you really like, be sure to subscribe to it so you don’t miss an episode. Most of them are about 30 minutes long, so the time commitment is minimal, but you won’t regret it!
Here’s my list of favourite business and/or leadership podcasts, with links to each.
1. Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast – https://andystanley.com/podcasts/
2. Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast – https://www.life.church/leadershippodcast/
3. Lead to Win with Michael Hyatt – https://michaelhyatt.com/leadtowin
4. Read to Lead Podcast – https://readtoleadpodcast.com/
5. This is Success (Business Insider) – https://www.acast.com/howididit
6. The 7-Figure CEO Podcast – http://caseygraham.com/7figurepodcast/
7. Master of Scale with Reid Hoffman – https://mastersofscale.com/
8. Open for Business – https://creative.gimletmedia.com/shows/open-for-business/
9. Fortune Unfiltered – http://fortune.com/podcasts/fortune-unfiltered/
10. How I Built This – https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510313/how-i-built-this
 Vidler, Jeff & Jeff Ulster, “The Canadian Podcast Listener: A Landscape Study”, 2017