Business Smarts: What Are You Planning For? - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Business Smarts: What Are You Planning For?

The saying “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is often tossed out when an individual suffers the consequences of not planning. However, this is your call to start the year on the right foot and plan purposefully.

“Planning to check a box means just meeting a requirement without understanding its significance,” says Scott Childers, operations manager for Yard Solutions, based in Groveport, Ohio. “Planning with a purpose involves knowing why goals matter and how they fit into the bigger picture. It’s about setting goals that align with values and working towards them with a clear understanding. Purposeful planning drives actions toward meaningful outcomes, beyond just fulfilling obligations.”

Why Planning Matters

Planning around goals can help give your company a clear direction and focus. Childers adds that it can also help prioritize tasks, measure progress and motivate employees.

“Planning also allows for companies to adjust strategies while staying on track,” Childers says. “Overall, goal-oriented planning helps companies operate strategically and efficiently, leading to greater success and achievement of their objectives.”

Plans should be created on a daily, monthly and yearly basis at minimum. Daily plans help ensure regular operations go smoothly, while monthly plans help with tracking progress towards short-term goals. These can be adapted as needed.

“Yearly plans offer a broader view, aligning efforts with long-term objectives,” Childers says. “This approach ensures focus on immediate needs while staying on course for larger goals.”

Crafting Effective Plans

Plans do you no good if you are working with vague goals like ‘growth.’ You need to have clear, specific goals that are broken down into smaller, doable steps.

“They need to analyze where they stand, decide smaller targets to hit along the way, plan out how to reach each one, keep an eye on progress, and be ready to change strategies if needed,” Childers says.

When building your road map, make sure your objectives align with your mission and detail the steps, timelines and responsibilities. Childers says monitoring your progress toward your goal and adapting to setbacks is critical to stay on track.

Aside from setting vague or unrealistic goals, lacking clear communication amongst your team is another common mistake. You need to consider the potential obstacles of your plan and not hold to it so rigidly you are unable to adjust to issues. Childers says inadequate resource allocation can be another challenge.

Planning shouldn’t just be something the owner alone is considering. Encourage department heads to set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART) goals that feed into the overall goal of the company as well.

“Owners should also empower department heads to make informed decisions, adapt strategies as needed, and encourage a culture of continuous improvement and learning within their departments,” Childers says.

Questions to Ask

During planning sessions, owners should ask critical questions like:

  • What are our long-term goals?
  • What challenges might arise, and how can we overcome them?
  • Are our goals realistic and measurable?
  • What resources do we need?
  • How will we track progress?
  • Are our plans flexible enough to adapt to changes?
  • Who are the key stakeholders, and how can we involve them?

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.