Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Employee feedback should go both ways

By Jeffrey Scott, Consultant

Too much time is spent telling employees what to do. You often give your employees feedback, but instead, ask them to give you feedback. They see so much going on with your clients and company, you are likely under utilizing their insights.

Two years ago I consulted with Maine contractor Mark and Lindsay Clement of Clement Bros. We made many profitable improvements, including creating an employee feedback process effective in increasing company value and employee buy-in. Here is how you can create your own feedback process.

Ask your employees to fill in a survey, then follow up with them on their answers. To create the survey pick some of the following types of questions, and add your own:  

About their job
- What do you like most and least about working at the company?  
- What task is your favorite task/least favorite?
- Tell us about your workload: How do you feel about the number of jobs per day and hours per week?

About themselves
- What are your passions outside of work?
- What skills and interests do you have that we may not know about? How could they be used to make our company better? 

About their future
- What are your professional goals (1, 3 and 5 years)?
- What are your personal goals (1, 3 and 5 years)?

About your company
- What opportunities do you see for improvement? For more efficiency? For more sales? 

By doing this you will develop employees who perform better, have better communication skills, and have more confidence at work. You will also develop their company loyalty if you take the time to get to know them better, and take time to help them achieve their goals. It works!

Jeffrey Scott, MBA, author and consultant, grew his landscape company into a successful $10 million enterprise, and he's devoted to helping others share the same success. He facilitates PEER GROUPS for landscape business owners who want to transform and profitably grow their business.  For more info go to www.JeffreyScott.biz, email Jeff@Jeffreyscott.biz, or call (203)220-8931.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

ASLA launches guide to D.C. landscape architecture

Do you live near or are you planning a trip to Washington, D.C.? If you're a fan of landscape architecture, you'll be pleased to hear the American Society of Landscape Architects has created the "Landscape Architect's Guide to Washington, D.C."

The tidal basin

This online, mobile-friendly guide helps visitors and locals discover more than 75 historic, modern and contemporary landscapes in Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Va. Sites include:

Tidal basin (pictured)
Freedom Plaza 
The Mall 
National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden 
The Exorcist Steps in Georgetown
Pentagon Memorial
ASLA Green Roof
Arlington Cemetery
 ...and many more


The guide is divided into 16 distinct tours in all four quadrants of the District—as well as a tour of the new D.C. bicycle network. Each tour covers multiple neighborhoods, and includes a printable walking or biking map. 

The guide was created by ASLA in partnership with 20 nationally recognized landscape architects, all of whom are designers of the public realm and leaders in sustainable design. The guides were asked to explain the sites from a landscape architect’s point of view and show how the design of these sites influences how people interact with or even feel about these places.

I can't wait until next year's Renewal & Remembrance event. I just might have to tack on an extra day to my trip and visit some of these sites. --Marisa Palmieri

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Marketing in the new world order

By Jeffrey Scott, Consultant

“I saw your trucks” and “I saw your job sign” used to be big drivers for the landscaping and maintenance business.  People would look down the street, see your work, then call you up and give you their business if you returned their call – as long as you didn’t insult them, ignore them or gouge them.

But in the new world order, this is no longer enough.

You still need to create a positive impression (clean, organized, eye-catching) with your trucks, job signs and properties, but buyers now do much more research before they give you a call.  They do Google searches and study your website, and they look for third-party online reviews like Angie’s List, Kudzu, etc. 

But even this is not enough.

You need active referrals to drive your business.  Referrals from existing clients are essential, and even more important are referrals from Professional & Influencers –architects, realtors, designers, inspectors, town regulators, tradespeople and association executives.

If you think you can solely focus on website SEO and pay-per-click, you will soon be disappointed, just like the yellow pages disappointed you in the past. In the new world order of increased competition, you need a broad Internet footprint, massive word of mouth, and community love.

Are you involved in the right charities doing the right community work? Are you literally loved by your community?  Community love creates emotional bonds that bind people to your company. They will hold you in high regard even if they have never used your services.

The residential landscape companies who bring in leads from a mix of all these sources will have the best chance of selling more work and more high-margin work. For commercial firms, it is a related but different mix. For all companies, it is critical to have a “mix.” This is marketing in the new world order.

Jeffrey Scott, MBA, grew his landscape firm into a $10 million enterprise. He now helps owners transform and profitably grow their landscape businesses by coaching them within a peer group format. Learn about his peer groups at www.GetTheLeadersEdge.com or contact him at jeff@jeffreyscott.biz.