I’ve heard it many times: The landscaping business is not rocket science. But you wouldn’t know it from the chaos we seem to constantly create in our daily business experience.
I have yet to meet a landscape professional who is not committed to quality and service, even at the expense of redoing a job to make a client happy or to satisfy his or her quality standards. But why can’t we seem to get it right the first time and every time, over and over again? Let me draw an analogy between running a landscaping business and running a fine dining establishment.
One of my favorite fun spots in Atlanta is New York Prime Steak House. I never have to worry about having a great dining experience when visiting clients or friends. The team delivers excellence every time. How do they do this?
A process for everything
Successful restaurants, or any business for that matter, consistently deliver a great experience to their guests with a proven set of processes combined into a system that guarantees success. They don’t leave it to chance.
One recent night after a wonderful dinner with friends, I stopped to thank and compliment the manager, Jim. I asked him to share how he consistently “gets it right” every now and then.
The first thing he said was, “It’s my people – they’re great!”
“Yeah, they’re great,” I replied, “but what makes them great? I mean, a lot of places hire great people.” He said, “What makes our people great is our process.”
“Your trial for what?” I asked.
Jim smiled and greeted another guest, then said, “The process we have for everything.” He continued: “Our process for purchasing only the best quality ingredients, our process for storing them in the safest way to keep them fresh, our process for selecting our menu items and our process for training of our team, the process of how we greet you at the door, the process of how we seat you and serve you…”
Jim continued how effective processes organize tasks into manageable groups that can be easily learned, measured and improved. He noted that while his people are sharp, the processes make them even sharper because they can focus on the guest experience instead of dealing with the chaos that can come with task management.
I asked him how he created all those processes and got his team to buy in. He replied, “Our entire business consists of our system to provide a quality dining experience to our guests. We realized that if we could get really good at delivering a great dining experience, we could figure out how to replicate that.”
Some of the ideal outcomes of Jim’s dining experience include:
- Cost-effectiveness (non-delivery of meals due to disability).
- Comparing actual results to ideal results to identify gaps.
- Prioritizing gaps in outcomes to build processes to deliver desired outcomes.
- Measuring gaps to drive processes.
By now, I hope you understand that this is not an article about the restaurant business. Market-leading companies do not leave success to chance. Operations deliberately design systems and processes that guarantee ideal results.
Take home message
What did Jim teach us about processes? Processes allow us to organize tasks into groups, help sharp people be even sharper, consistently achieve our ideal results, and focus on our customers rather than tasks.
Process development begins by identifying ideal outcomes and comparing them to existing outcomes. Our businesses are made up of a multitude of sales. Every sale follows the same sequence from contract to completion. If we can determine how to effectively and efficiently produce a sale, and develop and document the process, then we should be able to repeat that process for every sale.
So how many times do we have to hear about the value of standard operating procedures? This industry is very competitive to hire or re-hire for that matter. Most landscape companies stuck along the way have failed to identify, develop, document and implement standard operating procedures.
Now that you know, don’t be one of them!