Landscape and Lawn Care CEO Lessons

At Leaders Forum, the executive level leadership conference of the National Association of Landscape Professionals, top industry CEOs shared their struggles and challenges on the way to success with panel host, Scott Jamieson of Bartlett Tree Experts. 

Panelists included: Jennifer Lemcke, COO, Weed Man USA; Chris Joyce, President, Joyce Landscaping Inc., Marstons Mills, MA; Paul Fraynd, CEO, Sun Valley Landscaping, Omaha, NE; Mark Tomko, CEO, Metco Landscape, Aurora, CO; and Jason Mathers, President, Monarch Landscape Management, Houston, TX.

So What Have These CEOs Learned from Their Mistakes?

  • Get out of the Way and Delegate – Paul Fraynd confided that he (like many other CEOs) had a fear of letting go of control, but learning a way of management that allowed him to delegate things and then let employees take over was critical to success.
  • Financial Planning is Key – Mark Tomko shared that in the beginning they weren’t focused enough on making projections and measuring against them in order to increase profits.
  • When the Business Grows, Your Role Needs to Change – Chris Joyce had to learn the hard way that the role of the President or CEO changes as the business grows and you need to shift from being fully hands on to focusing on managing people and creating development opportunities for staff.
  • Face Problems Head On – Sometimes it is easier when a staff person isn’t working out, to give it more time and hope it will work out.  But Jennifer Lemcke has learned that you don’t have time NOT to deal with a staff problem and that you can’t make everyone fit – sometimes a position or the career isn’t a good match for people and tough decisions are better in the end for everyone.
  • Retaining People is as Important as Hiring Them – In the highly competitive environment to hire employees – keeping them is critical.  Jason Mathers learned that you can’t just hire people who fit at the time and then struggle when the business grows and they aren’t a fit anymore. You need to create a system to help employees grow as the company grows.

Have Successful CEOs Figured Out the Secret to Work-Life Balance?

In a word – “no”.  The CEO panel seemed to coalesce around the idea that the perfect work-life balance is a myth and you have to cut yourself a break and accept the fact that sometimes the business has to come first, sometimes your family’s needs come first and you do the best you can to carve out time for yourself. As Chris Joyce noted, your business feels like another child, and it is important to take care of it and nurture it without guilt.

Tips for Managing Emails

Our CEO panel struggles with the email-Tsunami just like everyone else. What is their approach?

  • Turn off email notifications – which disrupt concentration.
  • Look at emails early in the morning and then don’t look at them again during the day.
  • Section of a few times a day to review emails and don’t look at them the rest of the day.

Look for more insights from industry CEOs at LANDSCAPES and next year’s Leaders Forum.

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