Turning the Corner

Several key economic indicators began to line up quite favorably toward the latter part of last year and into January. That’s why I’m confident that this is the year we finally turn the corner as an industry.

Many of you feel as though you’ve already turned the corner as individual companies, or at least made great strides in that direction. Most of the time, contractors tell me it’s because they’ve made it impossible for their customers to fire them. Top contractors “over-deliver” by not only performing high-quality work, but by enhancing the overall customer experience.

How are you enhancing the overall customer experience?

We’d recently received an editorial submission from a business trainer, Laurie Brown, who works outside of the Green Industry. I thought it was interesting that the business best practices she pointed to mirror what thriving landscape contractors tell me they’ve been focusing on for the past couple of years. You can read these tips by searching for 10596185 at greenindustrypros.com.

The article makes two key points:

1. Consumers have more leverage than they have in a long time (just ask corporate giants Bank of America or Verizon).

2. Over-delivering on customer service requires you to first over-deliver when it comes to your employees.

Let’s think about that for a moment. Why does pricing pressure (aka cut-throat competition) continue to be your biggest challenge? Because buyers still have all the leverage. What can you do to neutralize this challenge? Focus on #2 above. Without motivated, happy employees who take a lot of pride in the company they work for, outstanding customer service will never be delivered (just ask Papa John’s). However, when you treat your employees exceptionally well, they will treat your customers the same way. Every layer of your organization must understand this. When each does, you can enhance the overall customer experience.

We’re trying to enhance your experience when reading our magazines and visiting our website. We recognize that you like a good balance of not only business tips and contractor stories, but also product information. We’ve decided to dedicate the majority of this issue to products—so you can see more of the new products available for this season at a time when the information is most useful: before the season kicks into full gear. Our partner and columnist, Jim Paluch of JP Horizons, is also in this issue with his regular installment of leadership tips. Then, be sure to check out our adjoining Contractor Success Guide (sponsored by Stihl) for a healthy dose of contractor stories and business best practices.

I hope you can continue turning the corner in 2012. Let us know how we can help you do just that.