Meet LandOpt Success Coach Chris Gussey
LandOpt’s coaches are the key to our contractors achieving their goals. Every contractor is teamed with a success coach who serves as a business counselor, financial advisor, sounding board and, occasionally, butt-kicker. Unlike other landscape industry consultants who focus on short-term projects and fixes, we build lasting, multi-year relationships with our contractors.
Chris Gussey, who joined LandOpt in 2018, is one of our coaches.
Q: What is your professional and educational background?
A: I have a bachelor’s degree in IT Management and an MBA. My first “real job” was with Delta Airlines. I worked as an agent and gate supervisor for six years in Pittsburgh. After Delta, I joined DeWolff, Boberg and Associates, a midsize management consulting firm in Dallas that works with mostly large, multi-national companies. With DB&A, I worked primarily in the automotive and manufacturing industries, but I also assisted on projects in nuclear power, banking, and aerospace. After DB&A, I spent a short time managing a retail store where I was responsible for managing a P&L, employees, as well as customer expectations and interactions.
Q: Any prior experience in the landscape business?
A: My uncle owns a small landscaping company that I would occasionally help with – spreading mulch, mowing, weed eating – that sort of thing. The experience turned out to be very helpful, as I have an understanding and appreciation for what our contractors and their teams go through every day.
Q: What attracted you and intrigued you about LandOpt?
A: I enjoyed my time with DB&A, except for the constant travel. I wanted to get back into the consulting/coaching industry with a company that allowed me to spend more time with my family. LandOpt intrigued me because it offered the opportunity to work in a smaller company where I could make an impact both inside and outside the organization. I was very interested in working with small businesses and helping them achieve new levels of success. I liked that LandOpt builds long-term, meaningful relationships with our licensees as opposed to most consulting companies’ shorter engagements.
Q: What is a typical day?
A: Unless I am traveling, a typical day usually starts with analyzing one of my contractors’ financial performance to see if the company is on plan or if anything irregular stands out. Most of my day is spent on the phone with licensees talking through opportunities, issues, offering solutions to problems and sharing ideas from other LandOpt licensees. Part of my job is to hold them accountable so they can achieve their goals. That can include pestering them, but I try to be nice about it!
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: My favorite thing about working with LandOpt is feeling like I am making a difference for our licensees – seeing them improve and grow. It is rewarding to see owners and employees who no longer enjoyed their jobs get back to a place where they like coming to work.
With travel restrictions easing, it has been great to be able to meet with licensees and their teams face-to-face again. Meeting their families and grabbing a dinner or drink after a long day in the office really helps build a friendship outside of the business relationship.
Q: People might find it interesting that you worked as a gate agent for Delta airlines. What did you learn that relates to your work with contractors?
A: My time with Delta was very interesting – I share a lot of stories about things I saw and interactions with angry passengers. Something that I learned at Delta is patience and working to find creative solutions. I remember the time a flight was cancelled, impacting a passenger who needed to get from Pittsburgh to Paris. I was able to reroute him through Brazil so he was still able to arrive in Paris the next day as planned. I try to take that approach with our licensees – helping them establish a vision for their company and then figuring out a creative, adaptable path to achieve it.
Q: Can you offer a favorite example/story of how LandOpt helped a licensee?
A: My favorite LandOpt story happened recently with a newer licensee. We were trying to figure out why his financial performance was not where it should be. We decided to go out and look at properties he was maintaining. They were beautifully landscaped, but after we looked at what he was charging customers, it was obvious that he was losing money on a good number of jobs. He was embarrassed and angry but understood that he needed to make changes. We figured out that the jobs were profitable at one point, but as the business grew and costs increased, he did not adjust the contracts. That’s what happens when you work “in the business” instead of “on it.” He has since significantly increased his prices to existing and new customers, hired an account manager, a scheduler, and office staff as additional support. As a result, his company has gone from at best breaking even to double digit net profits.
Q: What is the greatest value you believe LandOpt brings to licensees?
A: Accountability. The LandOpt structure and support network are huge assets but having a coach and backup team that regularly hold owners and their team members accountable to achieving their goals is the most important service LandOpt offers.
Q: If there is one thing you would like a prospective licensee to know about LandOpt, what would it be?
A: They should know about the commitment and drive that LandOpt has for our licensees to succeed. We take our licensees’ successes and failures personally because we believe that we are a part of their team. Internally, we push each other and take pride in our licensees’ wins.
Q: What else would you like a prospective licensee to know about you and LandOpt?
A: LandOpt differs from other consultants and solutions because we do not take a “one size fits all” approach. We will work with you and your company to find unique, creative ways for you and your company to succeed. We have a structure and systems that we follow, but we make sure that they work for you, your company and your employees.
Interested in learning more about the benefits of joining LandOpt? Contact Alison Blobner at 412.567.4328 x 303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.