Of all the services LandOpt provides members, peer-to-peer networking and education always rank among the most valuable. Every year contractors and their teams have the opportunity to attend more than a dozen meetings, training programs and special events. LandOpt’s Executive Office Manager Kristen Martin, aka the “Meetings Maven,” is in charge of making sure each one goes off without a hitch.
Q: What brought you to LandOpt?
A: I grew up loving the outdoors, working in the garden with my dad and often visiting my uncle’s farm. When I heard about the LandOpt opening, I was eager to learn more about the landscaping business because of my passion for the outdoors. I really enjoy being part of the green industry, and LandOpt contractors are all such good, down-to-earth, fun people.
Q: What meetings and events do you produce every year?
A: We always hold three main meetings, as well as about 10 training programs every year. Our first and biggest event is the Principals Meeting & Success Celebration held in February. We pick a different location each year based on attendee feedback. This meeting is for owners, general managers and sales representatives, where we review and celebrate their success from the previous year. I’m looking forward to the 2023 meeting located in Phoenix, AZ.
The second event is Operations Field Day held in the summer, also in a different location each year, and hosted by a LandOpt member. Lasting three-and-a-half days, it is for owners, general managers and operations teams, and features educational sessions, guest speakers and site tours. The host contractor gets to showcase its team, facility and work to the rest of the LandOpt Network.
The third is the Pittsburgh Financial Planning Workshop held in November. It is designed for general managers, business systems managers or anyone that is involved with building their company’s business plan for the following year.
Once or twice a month we hold training that either focuses on a specific role, covers a targeted topic or provides an introduction for new employees to LandOpt’s resources and systems. One recent program featured continuing education on strategic planning. In October we will hold an Account Manager Boot Camp.
Prior to the pandemic these were all held in-person at the Pittsburgh office, but now we are offering a mix of virtual and in-person programs, with some live meetings held regionally. In-person training and events, where the members get to spend one-on-one time with the LandOpt Coaches and other attendees, offer so much more value compared to staring at a screen. At the same time, online programs are time- and cost-efficient.
Q: There are many industry conferences. What makes LandOpt events different and unique?
A: There are broader green industry conferences that members attend, but LandOpt’s events are smaller, more intimate gatherings. This allows members to network with one another, hear what struggles and successes others are going through, and take what they learn back home to their team. At larger conferences, it’s difficult to have those one-on-one conversations with other companies. Another unique aspect is the continual support from LandOpt Coaches, as they follow up with members after meetings.
Q: How do you evaluate your meetings?
A: At the end of each event, we ask attendees to complete a survey in which we ask: What were the most important take-aways? What did you learn from the presentations, guest speaker and team building event? Were there ideas you can take back to your team? Did you have enough time to network with the other attendees and/or explore the location where the event took place? Did you like the location and hotel? Their feedback helps us plan future meetings, including locations.
Q: What do you hear from members about the value of LandOpt events?
A: Members tell us they really like learning new ideas that they can take home. For example, many members who attended this past Operations Field Day at The Greathouse Company in Nashville told us how much value they got from the best practice exchange and site tours.
While learning useful information is important, members also tell us our meetups are about having fun, networking and just spending time with each other, Channel Partners and the LandOpt team. Our network members all get to know one another, so these events become more like family gatherings, not just meetings and trainings. Over the years, I’ve noticed how quickly new members are welcomed to “the family.”
Q: What do you like most about the meetings aspect of your job?
A: I always look forward to seeing the attendees in person at our events, especially since it’s many of the same attendees year to year, and I otherwise only communicate with them via email. I also love researching the cities we are visiting. If I haven’t been to a selected location before, I visit in advance to pick out venues members will enjoy. For each event we use a mobile app that the attendees download, where I recommend restaurants, bars and things to do during free time.
Q: Any funny stories of something that went wrong?
A: My one horror story happened a few years ago as we were getting ready for our Principals Meeting. We were all set to stay at a brand new hotel when we realized it was not going to be ready in time. About two-and-a-half weeks before the event, we made the decision to move everything to another hotel. I had to deal with rebooking hotel and meeting rooms, changing food orders, re-scheduling audio-visual equipment and even altering the team building event. We sent a notice to attendees exactly one week before the event date, and I remember being extremely nervous about the whole thing, wondering what members would think. The meetings went off perfectly with absolutely no issues all week. It turned out I was the only one even remotely worried!
Interested in learning more about the benefits of joining LandOpt? Contact Alison Blobner at 412.567.4328 x 303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.