How To Avoid the Small-Business Killer

Tony Bass, founder and CEO of Super Lawn Technologies, has teamed up with small-business guru Michael Gerber to co-author a new book in the popular E-Myth series: "The E-Myth Landscape Contractor: Why Most Landscape Companies Don't Work and What to Do About It."

Bass debuted the book at GIE+EXPO 2011 in Louisville at a special book signing in Green Industry PRO magazine's booth.

The book outlines a 13-stage sequence of events that must take place in order for a landscaping business to lay the foundation for a profitable, sustainable future. The development of systems is at the core of each stage. Topics include financial systems, hiring employees, marketing, and much more.

Each of the 13 "events" outlined in the book fall within one of three primary categories: Finance, Operations and Customer. Bass offers the following words of wisdom on each.

Finance – When you start your own landscaping company, Bass says it's important to immediately decide what you want your financial future to look like. "You must think in terms of dollars and cents," Bass adds. For example, what kind of sales volume do you want to do? What kind of profit do you want to make? Are you primarily interested in earning a certain return on your invested capital? You have to decide why you are in business—and what you want to get out of it from a financial standpoint.

Operations – There are two ways to get started in developing operational systems. 1) Offer services that you are good at and enjoy performing. 2) Offer services that your customers want and need. Bass says most contractors take the first approach. Most successful contractors, however, adopt the second—especially in today's market.

"What can you offer customers that they aren't currently getting?" Bass asks. Think of this as the research and development function of your company. How can you reduce your customers' total costs and/or improve the quality of their lives?

"Try to reach the status of outdoor services company, outdoor property management or even facilities management," Bass advises. "With the aging baby boomer population, these opportunities are going to skyrocket. When people age they buy more services. So, as a service provider, a landscape contractor is in a growing market—and this is not going to change for the next 10 to 20 years."

Customer – "The acquisition of new customers is the way companies become legendary and company owners become wealthy," Bass points out. Today's pricing challenges make new customer acquisition more important than ever. "In order to accomplish your financial goals in today's market, it is likely that you are going to need to serve more people. You need good systems to make that happen."

You can contact Tony Bass at 478-822-9706 or Continue to watch for his contributions in Green Industry PRO and at