4 Ways to Handle Negative Customer Reviews

Service customers often rely on the opinions of their family and friends to make purchasing decisions. In fact, according to Zendesk, a customer service software platform, 88 percent of customers say they’ve been influenced by an online customer review when deciding what to buy.

That’s why getting positive reviews is essential.

However, when you open your business to reviews on websites like Yelp and Angie’s List, you open your business to negative as well as positive reviews. While negative reviews can adversely impact your business and drive down your overall rating on customer review sites, they also present opportunities.

“Negative reviews can benefit your business,” explains Paul Chaney, author of “The Digital Handshake: Seven Proven Strategies to Grow Your Business Using SocialMedia.” “If every review is positive and abounds with four- and five-star ratings, potential customers could become suspicious, feeling that the reviews are ‘manufactured’ rather than being left by real customers. As paradoxical as it sounds, the fact that negative reviews appear can contribute to building trust, rather than diminishing it.”

And, “while dealing with unhappy customers has always been a challenge for business owners, in today’s age, negative reviews are for everyone to see, which makes handling the situation properly even more important,” explains Alain Parcan, director of marketing, Market Hardware.

Here are four ways to deal with negative customer reviews.

4 Ways to Deal with Negative Customer Reviews

How to Handle Negative Customer Reviews #1: Monitor your online mentions. To respond to reviews promptly—both the good and the bad—you first need to know what customers are saying and where they are talking about your business.

Online reputation monitoring tools like Social Mention (which is free to use), Reputology or Review Trackers (the latter two require a small fee) can help, Chaney shares. Also, set up Google Alerts to track your business name so you don’t miss anything.

Social media management tools such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social also have built-in monitoring capabilities, Chaney adds.

How to Handle Negative Customer Reviews #2: Be polite, respond promptly and take the issue details offline. Responding to positive and negative reviews alike shows customers you are attentive and care enough to address customer concerns.

To craft the best response, first “remove emotion from the equation,” Parcan says. “Reacting emotionally tends to lead to an over-the-top response, which usually just adds fuel to the fire. Instead, take some time to relax and think about where the customer may have felt slighted (whether they are right or wrong).

“Also, you never want to air out an entire conversation in a public forum, so start with a simple, generic response,” Parcan advises. “Be as polite as possible. A positive attitude will help get a positive result.

Rebecca Hussey, Market Hardware’s director of account management, suggests the following responses:

  • Thank the customer for voicing his or her concerns. Say you are looking into the customer’s account and will be in touch to work toward a resolution.
  • Apologize and say, “I’m sorry to hear that you weren’t happy with your service. Can we contact you directly to try to resolve the error?”

“Communicating with an upset customer in a more personal manner, such as over the phone or in person can help eliminate any misunderstandings and help speed up solutions,” Parcan says. “It will also show the disgruntled customer you are aware of the situation and are working to sort it out.”

How to Handle Negative Customer Reviews #3: Encourage positive customer reviews. To combat negative reviews, consistently encourage your happy customers to leave positive reviews.

Since only a small portion of your total customers may take the time to leave reviews, the people who do certainly have the strongest feelings toward your business—whether positive or negative. “Get in the habit of encouraging your customers to leave you reviews online or even consider sending out an email blast with a link to different review sites (Google being a priority),” Parcan says. “Chances are you have many happy customers who would be happy to take a minute or two to leave a review.

“One blemish won’t have much of a negative effect when surrounded by several glowing reviews, and the fact that reviews boost your search rankings makes this an added bonus,” Parcan adds.

How to Handle Negative Customer Reviews #4: Share reviews with your employees. At a company or team meeting, share positive and negative customer reviews with employees. Positive reviews provide great momentum as your team goes into the field that day.

And with negative customer reviews, the internal communication can “help ensure you prevent similar problems in the future and build a customer-centric mindset,” Chaney says.

Become Review Worthy

A PowerReviews study says 97 percent of consumers consult reviews before making a purchase, with 85 percent seeking out negative reviews specifically. The majority of consumers read between one and 10 reviews before making a purchase and 50 percent of consumers write reviews for products and services they’ve purchased, the study further revealed.

Commercial customers are also reading reviews. A State of B2B Procurement study from Acquity Group says 94 percent of business buyers do some form of online research before making a purchase—77 percent use Google search, 84.3 percent check business websites, 34 percent visit third-party websites and 41 percent read user reviews.

Your online reputation is vital to your business’ success. “It affects your online marketing strategy, so don’t take it lightly,” Parcan advises. “Monitor the popular review sites regularly, and make sure you follow these directions closely if you do happen to run into a negative review along the way.”

Editor’s Note: Want to learn more from Alain Parcan? Check out his webinar “Want to Sell and Retain More Clients in 2019?” at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 23, 2019. Learn more here. He’ll also be hosting our upcoming workshop 5 Step Formula for Winning on the Web. Learn more about the workshop here.

Posted in Business Advice & Stories | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Experts Forecast 3 Residential Landscape Trends for 2019

Many landscape experts are forecasting their 2019 residential landscape trends to prepare homeowners for the upcoming year.

Wondering what residential landscape trends your customers are reading about? Here’s what we’ve seen so you can prepare for what they might ask for in their outdoor spaces in 2019.

Residential Landscape Trends #1: Staycations Still Reign Supreme

residential landscape trends

Photo: Exscape Designs

Garden Design says homeowners are finding more ways to “enjoy a staycation in the comfort of their own backyard rather than waiting in airport lines and living out of a suitcase.”

Since existing house stock averages 38 years old, much of it is in need of updating, according to Hanley Wood/Metrostudy, which explains why the Home Improvement Research Institute says the steady increase in remodeling activity will continue through 2021. “With home prices increasing, new construction harder to find in some areas of the country, and homeowners aging in place, people are staying put and remodeling,” Forbes explains.

Landscaping is one of the upgrades homeowners are making. Upgrades include outdoor rooms that include cozy furniture, outdoor kitchens for people who love to cook, lighting to extend the use of these spaces into the night, and speaker systems so homeowners can enjoy music when outdoors.

Vacations typically involve private getaways, so creating secluded backyard spaces to destress and unwind is vital. Think meditation gardens, reading nooks amidst the trees and water features that add soothing sounds.

Residential Landscape Trends #2: Seller’s Market Means Curb Appeal is Paramount

residential landscape trends

Photo: Exscape Designs

In a seller’s market, making a great first impression is key. The first thing potential buyers will notice about a home is its front exterior. If it’s lacking curb appeal, buyers may not even make it past the front door.

Garden Design suggests making an entrance in homeowners’ front yards by installing scented plants along entry pathways, installing lighting to make the journey to the front door dramatic and easy to navigate and adding seasonal containers.

Residential Landscape Trends #3: Edible Plants Still Stealing the Show

Edibles are not new to the landscape trend scene … and they aren’t going away. Garden trend watchers say more homeowners continue to plant food in their landscapes. They are doing this through containers, using ornamental edibles in landscape beds, and by growing herbs in wall planters.

Tell Us What Residential Landscape Trends Are Happening In Your Area

NALP releases its 2019 residential landscape trend report next month to let homeowners know what will be “in” and “out” for the year ahead. We are gaining insight from NALP members in the field to make these predictions. NALP will share the forecast with the media so we can best communicate what’s trending to homeowners who want to enjoy their outdoor living spaces. What are you seeing in your area? If you provide residential services, please complete this four-question survey by Dec. 5 to give us a peek into trends happening in the neighborhoods you service.

Posted in Business Advice & Stories, Industry News, Sales & Marketing, Trends | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Thank Your Employees and Customers

Last week’s Thanksgiving holiday is a reminder to us all to be thankful. But just because Thanksgiving is over, doesn’t mean you should stop showing gratitude.

Many times, landscape business owners find themselves being thankful for things in their personal lives, such as health, family and friends.

But there are so many things to be thankful about in business, and that includes employees and customers.

Giving thanks is a great way to strengthen business relationships, extend goodwill and reestablish your brand, business experts say.

Let’s explore two key groups of people in your day-to-day life as a landscape business owner and talk about how you can best say “thank you,” and how those acts can benefit your business.

3 Ways to Thank Your Customers

How to thank your customers. Customers are at the heart of a service business. Without them, you’d have no business. Maybe they’ve been your customers for years or maybe they make up a new batch of referrals. Maybe they were your first customers and have been loyal for years or maybe they let you know when your crews weren’t performing their best and helped you perfect your systems and operations.

Despite when a certain customer came into your business life or how customers continue to enrich your company, thanking them is always a good idea. Here are some ideas on how to thank your customers.

  1. Send thank-you cards. In today’s high-tech world, paper thank-you notes stand out. Purchase them in bulk to save money and use them when needed. Want to kick it up a notch for the holidays?
  2. Offer a discount. Jumpstart a new service with a thank-you discount to current customers to add the service. Or offer a referral discount or gift to current customers for providing you with a referral who becomes a client.
  3. Offer a gift. Provide a thank-you poinsettia to every new holiday lighting client or to thank your renewing clients for upgrading their holiday lighting package. Some landscape professionals send wreaths or pies to their customers during the holidays to thank them for their business.

3 Ways to Thank Your Employees

How to thank your employees. If customers are important to a service business, one can argue employees are even more important since they provide the very service that keeps your customers coming back for more.

No one likes working for a company that takes them for granted. Employees who feel appreciated, challenged, respected and given room to grow will work harder to do a great job. They’ll also be more likely to brainstorm the kind of creative solutions upon which the best businesses thrive.

Thanking employees can cement your long-term working relationships and ensure loyalty. That’s good for them, good for you and good for business. Here are some ways to thank your employees.

  1. Throw a party. Acknowledge your employees’ accomplishments with a party full of their favorite foods.
  2. Close early. Sometimes the best thank you for a job well done is to schedule no client visits or maintenance and let everyone go home early before a holiday.
  3. Give out bonuses. Even small bonuses during this busy holiday season may be just enough to power everyone through.

Being Thankful is Good for Business 

Make the time and effort to show gratitude, and you’ll be surprised how much it improves your customer relationships, employee well-being and business success.

As Lori Worth, president at Vibe Communications, says, “Good makes good. Business is personal and happiness is serious business. If we learn to tap into the values that create good, solid people and bring a sense of life balance and happiness to work, we’ll see business success follow. Go ahead: Show thanks for someone or something today and watch what happens.”

Posted in Business Advice & Stories, Professional Development, Trends | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Improve Culture, Solve Labor Problems

As a business coach at Aileron, one of the biggest pain points Phillip Stoller hears from companies he works with is, “I can’t get enough talent.”

“This seems to be a growing trend in the labor market, compounded by strong growth in job creation and job vacancies in the upper tiers of management left by retiring Boomers,” he says.

Just Pay More to Solve Labor Problems?

Phillip Stoller

The seemingly obvious solution of “just pay more” to solve labor problems does not always work for several reasons.

“First, many companies feel unable to pass along the cost of elevated salaries in the form of price increases to their customers,” Stoller shares. “Second, today’s workers are increasingly prioritizing other factors when considering employment options.”

The Secret Weapon to Solve Labor Problems: Culture

The differentiator: culture. “Many companies are looking to culture as the differentiator that allows them to both recruit and retain the top talent needed to give them an edge over their competition,” Stoller says.

But what is culture? A common definition Stoller has heard is “the way we do things around here.”

“In all honesty, I think this definition falls flat,” he says. “I believe this definition is missing the human element.”

Stoller offers an example to explain his point.

“At some companies, I am warmly welcomed by a smiling face, a firm handshake and an offer of coffee or water the moment I walk in the door,” he says. “I have visited other companies where I wait in a small vestibule unacknowledged, peering through a shaded glass window. Internally, I am debating whether I should knock on the glass or just wait for someone to notice me.

“In either case, I begin to experience the culture of the company I am visiting the moment I walk in the door,” he continues. “Sometimes this experience is warm, inviting, validating. Sometimes it is cold, foreboding and intimidating. For both companies, decisions were made based on the values of the organization which shaped my experience. In the first, it is possible that a value around hospitality informed decisions I experienced. In the second, values such as privacy and safety might have been more at play.  All of these are legitimate values, but they create different experiences.”

‘The Way We Do Things’ = Behavior

Another word for “the way we do things” is behavior. Behavior is the connection between an organization values and the people’s experience of those values, Stoller says. “In other words, an organization’s values shape behavior, and then behavior shapes experience,” he explains.

To create a culture, the first step is to get curious about how customers experience your company. “Expanding our awareness around this creates opportunities to test improvements aimed at improving these experiences,” Stoller advises.

Stoller’s challenge to landscape professionals to create culture and solve labor problems: “Follow your curiosity with questions and explore your user experience.”

Editor’s Note: Learn how to define your culture, align your culture and monitor your culture at NALP’s Leaders Forum, Jan. 24-26, 2019, in Aruba. Phillip Stoller from Aileron will be there to talk about “Leading with Influence.” 

Posted in Business Advice & Stories, Landscape Careers, Professional Development, Trends | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

6 Reasons to be Thankful for Your Small Landscape Business

It’s that time of year again. Time to be grateful.

Time to be thankful for your small landscape business.There’s research that supports the idea that experiencing gratitude can positively impact both your personal life, and also your ability to achieve business success.

Plasticity Labs research says companies that embrace a culture of gratitude experience higher job satisfaction, a stronger sense of community and increased performance levels.

Unfortunately, people are less likely to express thankfulness in the workplace, according to a John Templeton Foundation gratitude study. The study says:

  • Only 39 percent of employees are grateful for their current job.
  • 74 percent of employees will never express gratitude to their boss.
  • 70 percent of employees would feel better about themselves if their boss were more grateful.
  • 81 percent of employees would work harder if their boss were more grateful.
  • 94 percent of men and 96 percent of women agree that a grateful boss is more likely to be successful.

It’s Time to Be Thankful for Your Small Landscape Business

The thankful season kicks off with Thanksgiving, followed by Black Friday, and then Small Business Saturday, a national holiday celebrating small businesses that was started by American Express in 2010. Cyber Monday finishes the long weekend.

Time to be thankful for your small landscape business.Understanding small businesses and their impact on the American economy helps one understand the significance of Small Business Saturday. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) defines a small business fairly broadly—up to 500 employees or $7.5 million in annual revenue. Using this definition:

  • There are 28.8 million small businesses in the U.S.
  • Small businesses account for 99.7 percent of all businesses in the U.S.
  • Since the end of the Great Recession, small businesses have created 62 percent of all net new private sector jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among those jobs, 66 percent were created by existing businesses, while 34 percent were generated through new establishments. (Go here if you are looking for a landscape industry job.)

American Express offers free resources and marketing materials geared toward small business owners for Small Business Saturday, including custom flyers, social media assets, signs that you can customize with your brand name. The company also offers tips on how to host Small Business Saturday events and specials.

5 More Reasons to Be Thankful For Your Small Landscape Business

Small Business Saturday is one reason to be thankful you’re a small business; here are a few more.

  1. You can be nimble. Sure, you don’t have the budget of a larger company, but you do have more chances to make decisions and changes on the fly. Therefore, you can adapt to market trends and run with new ideas quickly.
  2. You know your employees and they know you. You can create more family-like cultures and work environments because you have fewer than 50 employees. Consequently, employees at small, locally owned businesses have the highest level of commitment to their employers, says a Baylor University report. With that commitment comes less absenteeism and lower turnover. That’s plenty to be thankful for right there.
  3. You know your customers and they know you. Small businesses offer a personal touch because you deal directly with your customers and provide personal service. As a result, you can more deftly solve customer complaints.
  4. Despite the fact that small business owners work longer hours (50 percent work more than 50 hours weekly, says The Alternative Board survey), they have more flexibility. For instance, they can leave for a child’s event, bring a dog to work or close the shop early.
  5. Your hard work benefits you and your family directly as a small business owner.

Being Thankful for Your Small Landscape Business Happens Daily

Give thanks to your employees and customers—not just this week but throughout the year. Gratitute breeds gratitude. “Truth is, without gratitude, we would have no sustained growth,” adds Lori Worth, president of Vibe Communications. “For teams to thrive, for people to connect and for the mind to be open to learning, we must practice and show thankfulness.”

Editor’s Note: NALP is thankful for its members! Thank your employees (or yourself for a great year) to a helpful business resource in our NALP bookstore and enjoy our Cyber Monday specials! Use code CYBER18 Nov. 26-Nov. 30 for 20 percent off!

Posted in Business Advice & Stories, Research & Statistics, Sales & Marketing, Trends | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Landscape Business Leader: Be a Coach Instead of a Manager to Grow Productivity

Ever feel that as a landscape business leader you have to always appear strong, must always know the right thing to say and should have all the answers to all the questions at all times?

Guess what? While that may be your vision of what a business leader should be, it’s not a very realistic one.

And, on top of that, you’re creating a culture within your company that lacks trust, embraces conflict and eliminates any real enforcement of a team working together. Instead, individuals begin to operate in silos, focusing on their own agendas.

Imagine this: If you share your weaknesses with your people instead of covering up your setbacks, your employees might stop being afraid of you and might actually start connecting with you as a landscape business leader.

So Many Business Strategies, So Little Time

Wes Gipe

Wes Gipe learned this lesson all too well. Gipe, a business advisor at Aileron, covered up his mistakes as a business owner. “[My employees] believed I was better than they were, and that just couldn’t be further from the truth,” he says. “I had made every mistake they had made, at least once, and unfortunately some of them several times.”

What Gipe learned is there are several strategies a business owner can adopt. First, there’s having superior service. Second, there’s having close customer relationships. And, lastly, there’s running a seamless operation. Those are all great strategies. But having a great culture is what he calls a “sustainable competitive advantage.” The reason being that the best systems, customer relationships and products or services can all be ruined by a poor culture that works against it on a daily basis.

Culture Reigns Supreme

In today’s tight labor market, getting more done with less is standard procedure. People gravitate toward a company that provides them opportunities for personal and financial growth.

Your goal as a landscape business leader is to build a culture that attracts workers, retains them and develops them along the way.

3 Steps to Build a Culture that Works for You

Here are some ways Gipe suggests a landscape business leader can build a great culture.

Step 1: Show Vulnerability & Build Trust. Sharing your fears and concerns with your employees shows them you trust them, and, consequently, employees begin to share their ideas and thoughts and even doubts with you, too.

“I was afraid that if I revealed these things that no one would follow me,” Gipe says. “What I learned was that the more I revealed, the more they followed.”

People who aren’t afraid to be authentic find focus and are more productive. “We moved the ball forward so much faster,” Gipe explains. “We got so much more done when people were able just to put themselves out there, focus on the work, and pull together.

Step 2: Make Your Values Known. Your mission is the company’s purpose in life. Your values are how you plan to accomplish it. All employees should know what these are. Some companies celebrate their mission and values by displaying them on walls within their offices or facilities. It’s a reminder to current employees of the values that matter to them and their customers.

Step 3: Provide Opportunities for Idea Sharing. High-performing businesses embrace opportunities to exchange ideas. Ensure you gather input and feedback from employees regularly.

Foster Culture and Grow People as a Landscape Business Leader

As a landscape business leader, you may think delivering results is your top job, however one of your goals should be fostering culture and growing individuals and teams to keep your company thriving today and into the future.

What’s important to remember is you don’t build a culture; culture already exists at your landscape business, Gipe says, but you can evolve it and hone it or take it from a culture you don’t like and turn it into a more positive and productive culture, as Gipe did.

How’s the culture at your company? What’s your company vision? Can you state it briefly and clearly? Let us know! We may feature you in a future NALP story!

Editor’s Note: Learn how to define your culture, align your culture and monitor your culture from Aileron’s Wes Gipe himself at NALP’s Leaders Forum, Jan. 24-26, 2019, in Aruba. Gipe will also talk about building a business that endures things like a recession. Check out a portion of a presentation he gave on that topic here.

Posted in Business Advice & Stories, Landscape Careers, Professional Development, Sales & Marketing, Trends | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

NALP Showcases Landscape Industry Careers at the White House

NALP CEO Sabeena Hickman and NALP Vice President of Public Affairs Missy Henriksen attend White House event representing landscape industry careers.

NALP President Jeff Buhler of Massey Services attends White House event representing landscape industry careers.NALP was chosen, along with five other associations, to attend the Our Pledge to America’s Workers event yesterday at the White House. At the exclusive event with President Donald Trump, NALP reiterated its commitment to grow landscape industry careers. It also shared its plans to expand training opportunities for more than 150,000 people over the next five years.

The Pledge Commitment

Under the pledge, NALP will continue its efforts to attract employees to the landscape industry. It will also expand landscape industry careers through enhanced technical training, certification and accreditation programs, as well as apprenticeship training.

Representing landscape industry careers at the White HouseThe Pledge to America’s Workers focuses on expanding programs that educate, train and reskill American workers. Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council; Ivanka Trump, who leads the National Council for the American Worker; and key members of the Cabinet and U.S. Congress, were also at the event. NALP was joined at the event by two employees from member company Ruppert Landscape—Reynaldo Valle, field manager and Jillian Gottlieb, assistant field manager.

Representing landscape industry careers at the White HouseLandscape Industry Careers: Opportunities Abound

Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs, NALP, says it was an honorable experience “to make our commitment to expanding employment opportunities for American workers known at the White House event. There is a misperception that jobs in this industry are all seasonal labor positions. While those roles are absolutely critical to the important work that lawn and landscape companies do every day, our $82 billion industry also offers a wide array of lucrative opportunities and careers, including management roles, across the country. We hope today’s event will shine a spotlight on industries like ours. We have committed to not just filling jobs, but to also providing lifelong careers for hardworking Americans.”

Share Your Thoughts on Landscape Industry Careers

What do you think about the event? What landscape industry careers questions and challenges are you experiencing in your business today? Share your ideas in the comments section and help us keep this dialogue open.

Posted in Industry Events, Industry News, Landscape Careers, Legislation & Regulation, Professional Development | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Overcome These 5 Common Business Fears

There is something extremely powerful about facing and overcoming your fears. And there’s no better day to talk about that than on Halloween.

As a way to find some balance in my very creative, but also very busy and deadline-driven life as a content provider for landscape professionals, as well as a wife and mother of two, I schedule a daily workout session of CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting. I’ve been doing this for five years.

At the beginning, the list of fears in front of me that included things I hadn’t done before or hadn’t done since a much younger age, like pull-ups and rope climbs, was long. But as I kept gaining strength and confidence, I checked them off of the list and they became accomplishments.

As I continue to push myself, the fears get more challenging, like extensive gymnastics and weights that are over my previous limits or much higher than even my own body weight. And every day, I still feel that tinge of fear, that moment where I ask myself, “Can I do this today?” “What if it’s too hard?” “Did I forget how?” “What if it’s too heavy?” “What if it was a fluke that I could do it before?”

Am I scared? Certainly. Most of the time, I’ve learned to do it anyway. Sometimes, I fail the weight. But other times, I toughen up, stand up straight, face my fear and surprise myself tremendously by lifting 10 more pounds above even the weight I was originally going to lift—something I wouldn’t have known if i didn’t try. And I benefit tremendously from the experience. The rest of the day, I’m focused, elated, driven and energetic.

overcoming business fearsThe biggest barriers to your success each and every day are your fears. Fears are sneaky … they can stop you from even trying for something that you might very well be able to do, but your fear convinces you that you can’t do it. As Gordon Tredgold, founder and principle of Leadership Principles, says, “Fears are complex; they’re cunning, they can be deep-seated, and they are often subconscious, which can mean that you are not always aware of what it is that is holding you back.”

5 Common Business Fears

There is certainly no roller coaster in the world’s greatest amusement parks that matches the unpredictability, thrills and stomach-churning butterflies as those that come from running a business. Here are some common business fears and how to overcome them.

  1. I fear I won’t succeed. Fear of failure stops too many business owners from not only achieving goals … but even setting them. Remember, every path to success comes with mistakes and failures; they are normal parts of the whole process. You will fear people won’t buy your service, you won’t make enough money, you won’t make payroll, etc. When you are a business owner, you stick your neck out, and it’s natural not to want to be seen as a failure. But ask yourself this: “So what if I fail? What would really happen if I failed?” Usually the reality is that not much will happen, so why not take a chance? Fear is mostly just your pride. Don’t worry about what other people will think if you fail.
  2. I’m scared to ask for what I want (the price, the client, the project, etc.). Many landscape business owners have underpriced their services. Imagine what you could be making if you thought about the value you bring and the results you generate, and then priced your services accordingly.
  3. I’m afraid to say, “No.” Requests come from all directions, and sometimes you want agree to them all. But if it distracts you from your goals, it’s best to politely say, “No.” Focus on your objectives so you can say “yes” to all the right opportunities.
  4. I’m afraid to stop. Business owners are natural workaholics, and today’s technology that makes us reachable 24 hours a day, seven days a week doesn’t help. Many business owners feel like they will miss opportunities if they take any time away from their companies. It’s natural to think you are indispensable to your business, but really you’re not. Your employees will cope—they might even surprise you—if you take some time away from work for some much-needed work-life balance.
  5. I fear I will lose business. Minimize your fears of losing a client by changing your mindset. Patrick Lencioni, author of “Getting Naked,” suggests two key ways to help in this area by focusing on your client relationships. First, consult, don’t sell. Forgo the traditional sales pitch and help your clients solve their problems. Your clients want help, and they’re willing to pay for it once they know you can help them. Second, tell the truth. Build valuable partnerships with your clients by being honest with them about what you find on their properties. Add the most value by helping them see and deal with challenges that others are afraid to bring up.

Don’t Fear Success

The more business fears you can overcome, the more success you can realize.

Which fears impact you and your landscape business the most? Let me know by writing me at nicole@landscapeprofessionals.org.

Posted in Business Advice & Stories | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

NALP Markets Landscape Industry Careers to 68,000

A sea of blue jackets stretched throughout the Indiana Convention Center Oct. 24-26 and into the streets of downtown Indianapolis, as the Future Farmers of America (FFA) hosted the world’s largest annual student gathering, including more than 500 scheduled events, and a large expo with over 400 exhibitors and vendors. This year’s event again saw record attendance, with over 68,000 FFA members, advisers, supporters and guests from across the U.S.

What’s Up With the Blue Jackets?

FFA is a youth organization that prepares students for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture. Earth’s population will be 9.8 billion by 2050, requiring a 60 percent increase in agricultural production. People will need rapidly evolving talent, innovation and technical aptitude in outdoor fields. That’s where FFA hopes to make a difference.

All FFA members don a navy blue corduroy, zip-up jacket as part of the FFA official dress.

NALP at FFA

NALP represented the landscape profession and its numerous landscape industry careers at FFA with a modern, fun booth in the ‘Collegiate Connection’ section of the Expo, near several NALP-member colleges and universities. Conversation-starting yard games drew students in, including NALP-branded Bucket Ball, Giant Connect Four and Giant Jenga. The booth also showcased the new #WhyILandscape career-focused banner displays, a video loop of NALP career and NCLC videos, and contained distributable collateral, including career path information, as well as details on the LandscapeIndustryCareers.org site and job board.

NALP Staff members Jenn Myers, director of workforce development; Rex Bishop, director of technical education; and Courtney Lawlor, public affairs program manager, attended the 91st annual event. They were joined at the booth by Gail Reinhart (Hidden Creek Landscaping Inc.), Melody Evans (Hidden Creek Landscaping Inc.), Ed Schultheis (ThruPutNow), and Lynda Wightman (Hunter Industries).  Gail, Ed, and Lynda are active members of NALP’s youth engagement and development committee.  All worked together to spread the message that the landscape profession is both a vibrant and smart career choice.

Landscape Industry Careers – Front and Center

Beautiful plant material for the NALP booth was again provided by Indianapolis-based NALP member The Engledow Group. “Many visitors said our plant material drew them in and clearly helped indicate who we are as an industry,” Myers said.

“The positive response to our presence and message was overwhelming,” Myers added. “Many were pleased to see NALP and the landscape profession there for a second straight year. Several faculty said they use NALP materials and the careers site in their classrooms. We believe FFA members represent an audience vital to our profession’s future.”

This year, Myers also had the opportunity to speak with several middle and high school educators during an FFA Teacher Workshop. Her presentation focused on landscape industry careers and showcased videos from NALP’s careers site, strongly encouraging those in attendance to provide landscape-related curriculum and training in their classrooms.

A highlight of FFA Convention & Expo every year is the Nursery/Landscape CDE (Career Development Event). Stihl sponsors this competition, where students showcase their skills maintaining landscape plants, evaluating equipment and services, and designing landscapes.

Spreading the Good Word About Landscape Industry Careers

We look forward to attending this event in 2019 and beyond. If you are interested in learning more about NALP’s trip to Indianapolis or participating with us next year, please contact Myers at jenn@landscapeprofessionals.org.

 

Posted in Industry Events, Landscape Careers | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

5 Ways To Banish Burnout In Your Landscape Business

According to new research from Gallup, businesses are facing what they call “an employee burnout crisis.” And once burnout strikes, it can trigger a downward spiral in individual and business performance.

banish burnout in businessThe Gallup study of nearly 7,500 full-time employees found that 23 percent of employees reported feeling burned out at work very often or always, while an additional 44 percent reported feeling burned out sometimes. This means approximately two-thirds of full-time workers experience burnout on the job. Take a look around your company: two out of every three employees are feeling the burn.

While some may think burnout has become the normal part of working today, taking a look at the true costs of burnout can shed some light on why landscape business owners should try to banish burnout.

Burned out employees are 63 percent more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking a different job. If they stay at their current jobs, they have 13 percent lower confidence in their performance and as half as likely to discuss how to approach performance goals with their manager.

Employee burnout can bring on a continuous decline in individual performance, as well as overall company performance.

Getting better productivity and performance out of their employees is the goal of many landscape business owners. The good news is that burnout doesn’t always result from hard work; it has more to do with how owners manage employees, Gallup reports.

Banish Burnout in 5 Focused Ways

To reduce burnout, Gallup recommends landscape business owners do the following:

  1. Avoid unfair treatment. When employees strongly agree that they are treated unfairly at work, they are 2.3 times more likely to experience burnout.
  2. Make sure you and your managers are managing employee workload. “High performing employees can quickly shift from optimistic to hopeless as they drown in an unmanageable workload,” the Gallup report says.
  3. Clarify employee roles. Only 60 percent of workers can strongly agree they know what is expected of them at work, says Gallup’s Stat of the American Workplace report. Employees can become exhausted trying to figure out what managers want from them if it’s not clear.
  4. Provide communication and support. Employees need to know that managers have their backs when something goes wrong. Employees who strongly agree they feel supported by their managers are 70 percent less likely to experience burnout, Gallup says.
  5. Keep an eye on time pressures. Unreasonable deadlines and pressure create a burnout snowball effect where missing one aggressive deadline follows another and then another. When employees say they have enough time to do work, they are 70 percent less likely to experience burnout.

Banish Burnout For Good

Addressing the true causes of employee burnout in your landscape company can empower employees to feel and perform their best.

Posted in Business Advice & Stories, Landscape Careers, Professional Development, Research & Statistics | Tagged , , | 1 Comment