Now more than ever, the phrase work-life balance is a common part of job descriptions or hiring negotiations. For a potential employee, scheduling flexibility and time away from the job is almost as important as the work itself.
But as a landscaping business owner, that balance can become nonexistent. As an entrepreneur, you accept all of the responsibility and risks of business besides doing what you actually enjoy—the work of landscaping. As your company expands, keeping up with necessary changes and a heavier workload can become difficult.
“Finding a quality work-life balance is something that is often overlooked in this industry,” according to Mike Eisenhuth, a success coach at LandOpt. He recognizes business growth as one reason landscape contractors look for business solutions and choose to partner with LandOpt, a provider of landscape business systems, programs and solutions.
“As companies grow and revenue increases, the owner’s time is usually maxed to capacity and the stresses of owning the business begin to overwhelm. If you were to walk away from your business for two weeks, what would happen? Would it strive or would it flounder?” Eisenhuth asks.
Getting Your Business into Shape
Specifically, the LandOpt process focuses on areas to improve. “We look to transform organizations, and the areas of sales, human resources, operations management and business management,” Alison Blobner, director of marketing and sales at LandOpt, asserts. “We want to go out and find contractors that aren’t happy with the status quo. They want to grow, they want to get better, they want to have the best-performing business out there.”
However, partnering with LandOpt doesn’t mean landscaping businesses lose their independence. On the contrary, business owners maintain choice and freedom. “We essentially create the roadmap for them so they [make the decisions]. We don’t control their business in any way,” Blobner says. “We want landscape contractors to maintain their individual passion for the industry and as an entrepreneur. We’re just bringing the structure for that to be as successful as possible.”
Benefitting from the services LandOpt provides requires landscape contractors to make a commitment to improvement. Eisenhuth says, “The process of transforming a business from its current state to its target destination is one that takes patience. This is not an overnight fix; it takes time for an organization to become fully implemented into LandOpt systems.”
Eisenhuth equates the LandOpt transformation to getting fit. “You do not expect to sign up for a gym membership and expect to be in shape instantly. It takes time, discipline and the willingness to change in order to see results. It is safe to say that, after a few years as a network member, the benefits will become obvious.”
The Associate Program and Ongoing Education
LandOpt currently has two program options to choose from. The new associate program lasts two years, which Blobner describes as a stepping stone to the six-year executive program.
The associate program is intended as a solution for landscaping businesses that are experiencing a plateau in profits. “A lot of times, we see contractors plateau or hit some challenges for a few years that can keep them in a certain spot in their business,” she says. “We’re looking to remove that plateau and remove that wall, so they can continue to grow and have the success they’re looking for.”
The program begins when clients arrive in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to tour the training facility and meet members of the LandOpt team. “It takes 30 to 45 days to walk through the process,” according to Blobner.
During that time, LandOpt assesses companies to ensure they’re a good fit for the peer network. “Once we partner with a contractor within territorial bounds, we don’t license to anyone else within that area. It creates an exclusivity between us and that contractor, as well as a transparent and open network,” she states. “The [contractors are] open to share because their competitors aren’t seated at the table with them.”
Exclusivity isn’t all LandOpt offers. Continuing education includes face-to-face trainings in Pittsburgh, as well as specific boot camps for general and project managers. Furthermore, the company offers an on-demand system of training through its LandOpt Channel, which Blobner describes as an e-learning platform that any network contractor can access.
LandOpt additionally provides success coaches. “All of our contractors also have a success coach driving the implementation of everything. That coach is their partner, and pushes them when they need to, and really helps to keep that owner and their team accountable,” Blobner reports. The coach is on site at the landscape contractor’s location.
“When you partner with LandOpt, you’re not just getting one coach, you’re getting a team of experts in a lot of different areas,” she adds.
At the start of the partnership, coaches provide on-site training in person once a month. “Licensees are assigned coaches to walk them through the transformation process. Visits eventually move to quarterly once the systems and processes are implemented into a licensee’s organization. Outside of site visits, we conduct scheduled weekly phone calls with licensees to ensure that their business continues to progress forward through the process,” Eisenhuth says.
Finding That Balance
LandOpt’s unique and multi-faceted approach to helping landscape contractors beat the profit plateau is all about teamwork and unification. “When we partner with organizations, our team wraps around their team and it’s about joining our organizations together. This is a full comprehensive approach to a business system,” Blobner declares. “Nobody in the green industry does what we do—what we’re doing—bringing that one unified solution of creating a continuous process that all works together.”
In an industry in which business owners can spend up to 90 hours per week working, work-life balance seems nearly impossible. Perhaps one of the most valuable profits LandOpt brings is the opportunity for business owners to take back some of their precious time.
“I see the challenge with landscaping business owners having a good quality of work-life balance,” Blobner says. “On their own, they’re working 70, 80, 90 hours per week. Contractors [who have partnered with LandOpt] are, on average, working 45 to 50 hours per week while still profitably growing their business.”
Angie Mellor teaches communications and writing classes at Western Technical College in La Crosse, Wisconsin, while freelance writing and editing.