How to correct landscape business failure when you uncover the truth about your year

At the end of the year, most landscape business owners are totally worn out and ready to do nothing for a while. At least that defines me; certainly, the creative well feels a bit dry. For many in colder climes, there is no rest after the warm-weather season – it’s time now to shift gears and get ready for winter snow management.

The bottom line is few business owners are eager to look back at how they did in any given year – they’re too tired, too busy, too something. Looking back, analyzing performance, and asking hard questions about their business is the last thing anyone wants to do, especially if you’re feeling wiped out. However, it's precisely what you need to do.

Taking a quick look at revenue and profits is not enough. What’s needed is a deeper dive into performance analysis to add insight to those P&L numbers. Unless you do this, you can be doomed to repeating the same business mistakes – and even the same successes. Wait a minute, you might ask, wouldn’t repeating the same successes be good? Well, yes and no – it really just makes for a static business, and is that your business goal? To NOT grow?


Gaining insight to grow – or to become more efficient.

Whether you have lofty revenue goals or just want to make your business more efficient and streamlined, the point is you can’t do either without understanding your business better. Refining a business isn’t the same as building it bigger. It’s building it smarter. Refining business has a crazy way of making revenue go up because it has a direct correlation to productivity and profitability.

By looking at more than just the numbers you’ll gain insights that will give you the tools and fuel to make incremental changes in how you conduct business. This will help you improve workflow, work satisfaction, and employee engagement. So the act of looking back is critical – even if it’s painful. Whether you’re a solopreneur running a one-person show, or a tight team of three or four likeminded pros or a growing company with 8, 10, 15 or more employees striving to expand your operation, looking back helps to set you up for positive course correction.

At the beginning of the year, we at TGC Academy surveyed to gather data on how landscape business owners felt about their business and about being an owner and employer.

The survey respondents listed business organization, recruiting and training, and sales and marketing among the top three areas of business that they felt needed improvement. So, we’re going to focus on those topics in this post. I’m curious, how did your business do in those areas this year? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments section below.

In the meantime, you may want to do your own self-surveying as a way to help you look back at these areas that other landscape business owners identified as most important to them. The answers should help you chart a better, more effective and efficient course to improve next year:

Business Organization

Your organization is only as strong as your weakest link. The purpose of an Organizational Chart is to map out the connections between the people on your staff. It’s a visual representation of how employees can expect to be led, managed, and supported in their daily work.

  • Do you have an organizational chart that represents your business’s team structure as of today?

  • Do you have an organizational chart that represents the business team structure you want for the next year?

  • How well do these documents represent your actual operational flow?

  • If you have employees, how well do they understand the chain of command and support that the chart represents?

  • Would your team agree that the representation is actually what happens?

  • What areas of this chart need tweaking or clarifying?

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Recruiting & Training

Your hiring strategy starts with how you recruit and onboard employees and continues with the efforts you put into training and mentoring them. Bodies don’t build an organization. Unique individuals placed in clear-defined positions do. Their expectations and experiences will make all the difference in the world to how well your company performs. 

  • How successful was your hiring effort this year?

  • Who stayed or left and why?

  • What positions are still unfilled and why?

  • Where do you anticipate struggles next year due to low employment?

  • What roles and responsibilities need to be clarified to ensure a stronger performance?

Sales & Marketing

The connection between how and what you market and how and what you sell must align perfectly. There is a real danger in saying one thing and doing another. How you position your company in the marketplace and how you deliver your services need to be connected to your company’s purpose and mission. And all that data needs to be fully understood and embraced by your team if you want to have full employee engagement.

  • Do you have a written Purpose & Mission Statement for your company?

  • Have you invested in Brand Development for your company?

  • How did you market your company this year?

  • How well did that marketing work for you?

  • Did you exceed, meet, or miss your sales goal for the year?

  • What could you change in your marketing or sales processes to close more deals next year?

The act of looking back at your landscape business performance is critical – even if it’s painful. No matter the business size or age, looking back at numbers and experiences sets you up for positive course corrections

Turn insight into knowledge and knowledge into action.

All of us as landscape business owners have to develop our people, our businesses, and ourselves using the experiences we gather over each production year. The only way we can do that is to analyze our performance, set goals, and review those goals frequently.

Take the time to ask hard questions and create an honest look-back summary. Then use that information to develop and take corrective actions that will help refine your procedures, processes, and operations so that you improve, little by little, over time. These incremental changes will enhance your experience as an owner, increase your employee engagement, and lead to better productivity and higher profits.

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