Many small businesses operate in reactive mode, failing to address problems until they have already become significant issues. The owners and managers of these businesses are often nearsighted, focusing on daily operations and missing red flags and growth opportunities as a result. Proactive businesses, on the other hand, consistently get in front of obstacles that threaten profitability and continually compile and analyze data so they can improve performance and provide optimal customer experiences.
Proactivity shows competence, forethought, flexibility, adaptability and efficiency. The right customer will pay top dollar for the privilege of working with a proactive landscape contracting firm, which is reason enough to commit to doing five things that make a big impact on the bottom line.
Pan for gold
In the fickle stream of commerce, businesses – especially providers of niche services – can’t always depend on profitable customers floating their way. The proactive business takes responsibility for sifting through a wide consumer population to identify and better define the kinds of customers they most want to work with. The goal of prospecting is to build a book of business that includes only those customers who value the solution offered more than the price quoted, and who help the business to realize a sizable return on investment of time, materials and labor. Targeted marketing, cold calling and event sponsoring are effective prospecting tactics, all designed to draw top-tier customers to your business.
Lean enterprise is the business philosophy that encourages the elimination of the unnecessary to focus on the necessary. Businesses that exemplify lean enterprise show proactivity by refusing to be hindered by obstacles and determinedly staying the course toward specific goals, while preserving valuable profits. To begin living lean in your business, assess which parts of it absorb more time, energy and resources than they should, and think about how you can begin to pare down, scale back and streamline both the operational and financial facets of the overall organization without compromising the quality of the solutions you provide or the safety and well-being of your team.
Embrace the routine
In business, consistency matters, especially as it relates to the care and maintenance of facilities, vehicles, equipment and inventory. Routine attention to these hard-working assets ensures they are always in top working order and reduces the likelihood of costly, unplanned repairs or replacements. It also shows lenders, customers, insurance companies and other stakeholders that you value your investments. Schedule inspections, oil changes, tune-ups and other maintenance appointments well in advance for regular intervals throughout the year, mark them on your calendar and then commit to keeping them. This simple proactive action makes a significant difference and exemplifies the proactive mindset.
Go with the flow
One primary reason many independently-owned landscape contracting businesses become insolvent and go out of business is because they fail to consistently manage cash flow. Owners and managers who don’t have a clear picture of how much cash comes into and goes out of their businesses on a regular basis find it difficult to allocate budgets and make large purchases when the need arises. Getting to know your cash flow statement and regularly using it to plan for both expected and unexpected expenses is a powerful way to manage your cash flow and increase your mindfulness about how cash is spent in your business. Lean enterprise helps you to prioritize purchases and expenditures, and cash flow management helps you to comfortably afford them without dipping into profits and liquidating assets.
Cast the net
Proactive landscape contracting businesses spend significant time and resources finding the right customers, so it only makes sense that they would use similar diligence when finding the right people to join their teams. Casting a wide recruiting net ensures your pipeline of potential team members is always full. As you begin to clearly define roles and responsibilities in your business, you will have a clearer picture of the types of applicants who will seamlessly fit with its mission, vision and culture, making it easier to target your recruiting efforts toward the individuals whose talents and ideas you most want on your progressive team. As with selling, selectivity is key with sourcing and hiring – your net may be overflowing with potential recruits, but the ones that matter are, once again, those who will help your business to realize a healthy return on investment for the time, effort and resources involved in hiring, training and retaining top talent.
In business, it sometimes makes sense to put the proverbial cart before the horse. While it’s not possible to always know with complete certainty what future events will threaten the growth and profitability of your business, it is possible to plan for them by being proactive. A little forethought today translates to big gains over the long term.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Mark Borrasso is a success coach with LandOpt. As a success coach, Mark works closely with the success coaching team to deliver products and services to the LandOpt network of contractors. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.