Closing Out the Year Strong

By Phil Key, President

Fall has always been a busy time of year for us and our industry. That remains a constant this year and is compounded by the many extra challenges we are facing. As the year draws to a close, it’s important that each of us understands the tasks that are before us and more importantly, how we can help finish out the year strong.

For the maintenance division, fall brings tasks such as turf renovations, following up with customers on feedback received on surveys and CSRs while trying to renew existing work and secure new work. Nearly 40 percent of enhancements are sold and produced in the last few months of the year as both warm weather and budgets wrap up. It’s also the time when the division is looking ahead to next year—planning for branch expansions, employee shifts to lead and staff those expansions, which is quickly followed by budgeting.

For the landscape division, production is in full swing. Not only is fall prime planting season, but general contractors want to ensure that any production delays that occurred earlier in the year are made up by the end of this fiscal year. Nearly 50 percent of the division’s volume of work is completed in the last third of the year, which means they are hiring to ensure they have the people power to get the work done and to staff a new satellite office in Nashville. Additionally, the division is currently working to close the gap between the $85M in backlog they have and their $115M year-end goal that will supply them with work well into 2022.

Pictured right: Both divisions are working hard to produce work during the fall planting season and as customers’ budgets come to a close.

At the corporate level, we are obviously focused on supporting both division’s plans plus some company-wide initiatives. Our fleet/facilities team is ramping up for winter recon and completing yearly assessments of our facilities to help ensure we are keeping up our standards. Our safety team is continuing to focus on accident prevention and reducing injuries, while our HR, PR and training teams are working to hire the right people for the right jobs, providing the training they need to be successful and making sure they stay with us for the long haul. Our payroll and benefits team is gearing up for benefit open enrollment, which will run for a two-week period beginning October 26th, and our accounting team remains focused on providing quality customer service to both our internal and external customers, publishing timely and accurate monthly financial statements, and preparing for our 2020 year-end audit.

So with all these tasks before us, what are some concrete ways that we all can help and contribute to keeping us on the right track?

  • Use “A”-time planning as often as possible. Mistakes are costly, and time is a valuable commodity. By planning projects out in advance, being organized with the right tools and manpower, we better our chances of doing quality work the first time.
  • Share your knowledge and skills with others. The busier we are, the less likely we are to take the time to show someone how to do something versus just doing it ourselves. Each of us has information, knowledge, or a job skill that we could share with another person. Teaching and/or learning something daily helps build confidence in skills and ability—making us stronger as individuals and collectively as a company.
  • Empower front-line decision makers. If you’re in management position, encourage your team members to make decisions and empower them to do more sooner (or ask your supervisor to give you more). With the proper teaching, coaching and delegating, you (or a team member) can be ready to step up, work through a challenge and know what to do when an opportunity presents itself. This ultimately enables individuals to contribute at a higher level, our customers to be well-served and our company to be stronger and more agile in how we respond.
  • Take time to appreciate and thank co-workers and team members. Often the busier we get, the harder it is to stop and take a moment to relax and relish what we have accomplished. It’s more important than ever during the busy times that we take the time to celebrate the wins of the week on a Friday afternoon, or the individual contributions of someone who has worked extra hard.

As we head into fall, activities that were hallmarks of the season look very different—our children’s classrooms have become our kitchen tables and football games are played in empty stadiums. There are a lot of questions that linger around the economy, COVID, the election and the social challenges that exist. Things look and feel different and we’ve had to become adept at adjusting our expectations and changing our behavior. I think the best advice I’ve received is to be appropriately tuned into what’s going on in the world around us so that you can pivot and respond, but don’t let the fear and uncertainty consume you. By embracing change, we will all be better prepared to move forward once the dust settles.