At Grunder Landscaping Co., we've nearly doubled our revenue in the past two years and in some ways have doubled our stressors too. We know we are not alone in this. Many of our ACE Peer Group companies are going through this same thing, and it's a natural part of any business trying to grow and achieve something they have never done before.
Much like learning a new skill or starting back on your exercise routine, there are some painful days when you question what you are doing and if this is all worth it. Let us remind you that it is. We thought this week, we would share with you three things we are doing not just to survive growth, but to thrive in it:
1. Keep Perspective. The larger your company gets, the number of issues you have are going to increase. At Grunder Landscaping Co., our warranty replacements are up, but as a percentage of our revenue, our warranty replacements are actually down compared to last year. More money may mean more problems, but if it's proportional to what you've always seen it may not indicate a larger issue. It's just part of the growth that you are experiencing. Putting the issues you're seeing into perspective like this can help you address them rationally and avoid overreacting. Whenever you feel like you are focused on one metric that is frustrating you, make sure you zoom out and see the whole picture. It doesn't make sense to compare dollars of warranty work to last year when your total dollars are twice as much.
2. Keep Calm. When presented with a problem, don't start looking for someone to blame or react until you have all the facts. When we're busy and stressed it's tempting to play the blame game, but teams need to keep cool heads. When we saw the number of warranty replacements for this season, we stayed calm and dug deeper. Instead of trying to place blame on our team members we simply asked questions to ensure we understood the root cause. Why were we replacing the plants? What were the issues with them?
What we found was that most of the issues were from watering (either too much or too little) and very rarely was it the result of something our team did wrong. There was no one to blame, and this is just an issue we have when dealing with live plants. Seth Pflum, our COO, often reminds us to search for what went wrong, not who did something wrong. It's helped our team to talk about problems objectively and get to a solution quickly. So next time you go over on a job, don't just ask "Well who sold it? or Who installed it?" remember to ask "What happened that allowed the job to go over". You might end up back at a person, but it's much more likely that you end up noticing an issue in your process.
3. Focus on Solutions. We don't need a process to solve for the outliers, but we do need processes to solve for the 95%. When a unique problem comes up, solve it, but don't overcomplicate it. At one point at GLC, every time we came across a problem we were creating a new process to avoid it in the future. Some of our processes became so convoluted because we were trying to solve every variable. We've gotten more efficient by reducing complexity in our processes, and then just solving for the 5% of times that something goes wrong as it happens.
As we welcome fall, you may feel a bit worn out from problem-solving and stress from this year or apprehensive about growth plans for next year. I encourage you to stay positive, be inquisitive, and focus on what instead of who when problems come up. Don't get discouraged, no matter how great of a team you have mistakes will always still happen.
I'll talk to you next week!
President & CEO
The Grow Group & Grunder Landscaping Co.
Come See Me This Fall!
I would love to see you this fall at Grunder Landscaping! Come tour our operation, see what's changed since your last visit, and spend 24 hours with me learning and working on your business.