I’ve heard it time and time again: the landscape industry is not rocket science. But you wouldn’t know it by the chaos we seem to constantly create in our day-to-day work experience.
I have yet to meet a landscape professional who does not care about quality and service, even at the cost of redoing a job to please a client or to meet their own quality standards. But why can’t we seem to get it right the first time and every time, consistently? Let me draw an analogy between running a landscaping business and running a fine dining establishment.
One of my favorite entertainment spots in Atlanta is New York Premier Steak House. I never have to worry about having a fantastic dining experience when visiting clients or friends. The team delivers excellence every time. How do they do?
One process for everything
Successful restaurants, or any business for that matter, consistently deliver a great customer experience with a proven set of processes combined into a system that guarantees success. They don’t leave it to chance.
A recent night after a great dinner with friends, I stopped by to thank and congratulate the manager, Jim. I’ve asked him to share how he “does it right” over and over again.
The first thing he said was, “It’s my people – they’re awesome!”
“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 that. is our process.”
“Your process for what?” I asked.
Jim smiled and greeted another guest, then said, “The process we have for everything.” He continued, “Our process for sourcing only the best quality ingredients, our process for storing them in the safest way to keep them fresh, our process for choosing our menu items and our process for training our team, the process for the way we greet you at the door, the way we seat you and serve you…”
Jim explained how effective processes organize tasks into manageable groups that can be easily taught, measured, and improved. He noted that while his employees are sharp, the processes make them even sharper because they can focus on the customer experience rather than the chaos that can come with managing tasks.
I asked him how he set up all these processes and got his team on board. He replied, “Our whole business is our system of delivering a quality dining experience to our customers. We realized that if we could get really good at delivering a fantastic dining experience, we could find a way to replicate that. »
Some of the ideal outcomes of Jim’s cooking experience include:
- Profitability (not giving meals due to incompetence).
- Compare current results to ideal results to identify gaps.
- Prioritize results gaps to create processes to achieve desired results.
- Measure deviations to boost processes.
By now I hope you realize that this is not an article about the restaurant business. Market-leading companies don’t leave success to chance. Operations intentionally designs systems and processes that ensure ideal results.
Take home message
What did Jim teach us about processes? Processes allow us to organize tasks into groups, help sharp people get even sharper, consistently achieve our ideal results, and focus on our customers rather than the tasks.
Process development begins with identifying ideal outcomes and comparing them to existing outcomes. Our professions are made up of a multitude of salespeople. Each sale follows the same sequence from contract to completion. If we can figure out how to produce a sale effectively and efficiently, and develop and document the process, we should be able to replicate that process for every sale.
So how often do we hear about the value of standard operating procedures? This industry is too competitive to give work or rework, for that matter. Most landscape companies that get stuck in the way have failed to identify, develop, document and implement standard operating procedures.
Now that you know, don’t be one of them!