Grow your landscaping business with trust, communication: GROW 2019

Landscape business owners need to let their team do their jobs
One-on-one meetings help keep the owner up to date on how the business is doing. (Photo: Rawpixel, Unsplash)

Regardless of the size of the firm, regular communication with key people in the business is a fundamental part of growing the company. At the GROW! 2019 conference in Denver on Wednesday, a panel of leaders representing firms of all sizes shared their experiences of how they scaled their businesses.

[Related: What needs to be on landscapers’ financial reports: GROW 2019]

Seth Pflum, general manager of Grunder Landscaping, took over day-to-day operations at his company when it started to grow in an unscalable way. Grunder Landscaping is a design-build firm in Dayton, Ohio, started by Marty Grunder, president and CEO of The Grow Group, the consulting firm behind the GROW! conference.

The leadership team uses a “senate” format, Pflum said. “It’s a very candid, walls-down communication, and it’s a democracy in that room,” he said. That team includes heads of human resources, accounting, design-build and landkeeping.

Hank Parker, president and owner of Mobile, Alabama-based Bay Landscaping, represented the small firm on the panel. Parker started his company by himself in 2007 and has grown it to a more than 30-person shop. Now his team includes a maintenance, construction, marketing and financial heads.

He realized he was micromanaging his business’s daily operations, and had to let go of certain responsibilities.

“Putting these key people in place, and letting them own their role and take accountability for the things they can control, has allowed me to look at [the business] on more of a macro level and focus on the things I need to do to run the business and grow the business.”

[Related: Planning for purpose—How to build and grow a landscape business]

Parker meets with each leader one-on-one every week, and facilitates a weekly confab with everyone.

Cali noted one-on-one meetings are an important tool for owners because it lets them keep focus during team meetings instead of getting bogged down by details that are better covered one-on-one.

LeAnn Ostheimer, director of design and sales at Lifescape Colorado, noted that Lifescape also has a relatively young leadership team, which they refer to as their “steering committee.” Members include the owner, Michael Hupf, and Ostheimer, as well as the heads of construction, human resources, finance, maintenance and construction.

“Everyone’s bringing the department updates to the table, [and] what we need from each other,” she said.

She added that many owners and CEOs are used to doing things on their own, but encouraged them to empower their team to take charge of their departments.

“It will take time, but they’ll start to trust you more and you’ll have more freedom,” she said.

[Related: 6 factors to build a business with value]

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