The Power of Proactivity: How Looking Forward Helped One Business Owner Reprioritize
Over two decades of operation, Belknap Landscape Company of Gilford, New Hampshire had always weathered the whirlwind of daily operations and customer demands with reasonable agility and resilience. It was not uncommon for McLaughlin to work seven days a week, particularly during the busy season. He found himself wearing many hats and trying to delegate tasks to whoever was the closest to him at the time. Running a customer-controlled business was becoming harder and harder. Putting out fires and handling customer needs daily seemed to be what had to be done to keep the landscaping business going. It was clear McLaughlin was working in his business not on his business.
To think companies in this industry could run smoothly without putting out fires every day, seemed unimaginable at the time, but with a little guidance and grit it is completely possible. McLaughlin realized this was not the leader he wanted for his team. He sought out a solution and found one with LandOpt, a company committed to helping good landscape businesses become great. Within weeks, Belknap began a transformation so pervasive and revolutionary that its effects continue to be evident both on the bottom line and within the business’s thriving culture. Most revolutionary, however, has been the impact on McLaughlin’s personal and professional priorities and perspective.
Before LandOpt, he was often unable to find the time to commit to causes and initiatives near and dear to him. These days, his team and his customers would be hard pressed to see him in the office or in the field on a Saturday or Sunday, days he now happily spends involved in activities with his wife and children and within the community. McLaughlin credits this radical reprioritization to one key variable missing from his life: proactivity. In his personal life, forward thinking has helped McLaughlin to adopt and remain true to a me first, team second, business third mentality. In his organization, it has significantly impacted these three critical areas:
Even in the most challenging times, McLaughlin never doubted strong customer relationships were a critical ingredient in Belknap’s longevity and success. Intuitively, he knew much of the reason he and his team worked more hours than they preferred was because customer needs dictated their schedules. Still, he wasn’t sure how to reverse the trend. It wasn’t until McLaughlin began to work with a dedicated coach and analyze the books that he was able to understand and appreciate the impact the customer had on the bottom line. Over time, Belknap’s ideal customer profile began to come into focus. After having a handful of difficult conversations with some of the business’ unprofitable customers, McLaughlin and his sales team began to proactively identify, target, and sell to only those customers fitting the ideal profile. These days, Belknap drives every transaction, a power shift that has resulted in significant savings of time, energy and resources and even stronger relationships with customers.
The whirlwind of daily operations frequently consumed the lion’s share of the Belknap team’s pre-transformation days. Tasks were frequently handed off to whoever was available to take them, regardless of whether that person could successfully complete them. Meetings were the exception rather than the rule. Now, the days look very different. The team holds weekly meetings to check in with one another, address challenges, troubleshoot solutions, and plan next steps. “Things run smoothly now,” McLaughlin says. “Everyone knows what everyone else is doing.” In addition to providing clarity around roles and responsibilities within the organization, proactivity in operations has also given McLaughlin and his team a clearer picture of the costs associated with performing work. This has allowed them to develop and implement pricing structures that recoup costs and helps the business to consistently realize a maximum return on investment for each job sold.
Before forward thinking became a mainstay of Belknap’s operations, it was not unheard of for team members to be promoted into management roles simply for being reliable. “That wasn’t working for us,” McLaughlin admits. Now, the recruiting process is much more deliberate and targeted. Belknap’s dedicated HR team routinely prospects for candidates and keeps the pipeline full of top talent. McLaughlin shares, “From a human resources standpoint, [proactivity] gave us the opportunity to be able to identify the right people for the right roles, which was something we hadn’t done before.” Because turnover was previously one of Belknap’s costliest operational variables, prioritizing the team and proactively incentivizing team members to stay for the long term has served to significantly boost the organization’s bottom line.
McLaughlin is quick to offer encouragement to business owners looking to undergo a whole-business transformation like they made with LandOpt. “The new way you’re going to do business is the way you’re going to want to do business.
What can the power of proactivity do for your business and your life? Visit www.landopt.com to learn how to ditch the rear-view mirror and blaze a bold path forward