3 Plans — Plus a Business Plan — You Need to Best Run Your Landscape Business

business plans

When you run your business according to a business plan that outlines a “career path” for your organization, you stay focused on goals and objectives. This is key because it’s easy to let daily operations and mini-crises that crop up during any given week distract you. From managing employees to selling new accounts and buying additional equipment, there are many moving parts to your landscape company. Business plans help you keep your eye on the ball. Here’s a tool to help you create and customize a business plan.

Now, there are three other “plans” you’ll need to align your organization to this business plan. Organizational alignment essentially means everyone is on the same page. Your systems are working in concert to support your business goals. Your business is in balance.

To get everyone on the same page, you’ll need:

  • An organizational policy
  • A wage and salary administration policy
  • A recruiting process

Organizational Policy. Now that you have a business plan in place—a working strategy that you’ll visit and update regularly—you can take this planning to the next level by addressing organizational accountability. Basically, this is who is responsible for what.

Wage and Salary Administration Policy. This policy ties pay and incentives back to the business plan with a structure that compensates and rewards employees who achieve performance expectations and goals.

Recruiting Process. A comprehensive recruiting strategy that is proactive and focused on attaining employees who fit into the culture and bring in-demand skills and talent to the organization.

Now, let’s dive in to the details of these three plans and why they matter for your success.

Plan #1: Organizational Policy

There are two major categories of employees who work at your company. The line “pulls the plows” or performs the services you sell to customers. Staff support the line and include office personnel, managers and field supervisors. A crewmember is part of the line. You, as owner, are staff. Why is this important? As organizations mature, it’s easy to lose sight of how revenue is generated and policies/procedures can become a distraction to line personnel. To support the line, staff needs to gather data form the line. An effective organizational policy facilitates this.

An organizational policy will include:

  • Job descriptions of current positions
    • Include duties and responsibilities
      >>Accountability: When an employee completes duties and responsibilities, then he or she can be considered for additional responsibilities.
  • Job descriptions of positions you’d like to hire in the future
    >>Accountability: Future job descriptions illustrate potential career paths for employees who earn additional responsibilities.
  • Progressive discipline policy
    >>Accountability: Staff gathers data from the line (field), which helps determine whether workers are meeting duties and responsibilities. Also gather data on staff to inform accountability.

Plan #2: Wage and Salary Administration Policy

Employees need ongoing, consistent feedback from managers, so they understand whether they are accomplishing responsibilities. Make assessments objective, and give employees access to training and development opportunities to improve their skills so they can achieve goals and follow a career path. Most of all, personalize development paths for each employee.

An effective wage and salary policy is performance-based and rewards employees who meet expectations and goals. Specifically, your incentive plan should:

  • Reward performance and improvement
  • Tie to overall company goals and business plan objectives
  • Relate to specific position descriptions
  • Balance and adjust annually based on key drivers in the business plan (such as profitability)
  • Monitor to ensure the plan helps improve the company’s performance

Plan #3: Recruiting Process

Does your company employ “dead weight?” Are there people on payroll who have been collecting checks for years even though they aren’t developing on a career path that aligns with your business plan? We know, addressing complacency is a real challenge for owners, especially smaller operators who only recently are in a position to expand their teams. We tend to be unreasonably loyal to employees who might have very little drive or interest in growing with the organization because it’s habit. The person is a long-timer and he helped you get the company to where it is today. Then, that employee hit a ceiling. Still, how can you fire him? 

Systematic purging can be a painful process for owners, but this organizational development phase demands reassigning or removing employees who no longer match up with the company’s social and operation structure. Basically, the company is moving forward—and the employee is happy doing what he’s always done. The problem is, when you hold on to these “sacred cows,” customers ultimately suffer. Then, eventually, so does a company’s reputation and possibly its revenue potential. The problem: Many owners get stuck and keep employees who are no longer relevant because there is no recruiting strategy in place. 

The solution is proactive recruiting. Proactive recruiting will help you build your bench and plan for the company’s future organizational chart.

  • Create a future org chart. Review your business plan and assess what positions you’ll need to add in order to achieve your five-year goal. Draw up that future org chart and begin addressing those talent gaps well before your company needs to fill the positions.
  • Never stop recruiting. So what if you hired the employees you need for the season? Sustain your recruiting efforts because you will experience attrition. Make recruiting a constant endeavor.
  • Tap into your network. Utilize online job boards and social sites like Linked In to help fill the applicant pipeline. Provide incentives to employees who refer people to your business. Ask your staff for their ideas so you can engage everyone in the recruiting effort. Remember, every member of your team is a walking billboard for your business.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was an excerpt from one of NALP’s member resources, provided by well-known industry consultant Bruce Wilson. Want to learn more about bettering your business? Become a member to enjoy these resources and more.

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