The landscape business ramps up very quickly in the Spring. Before it’s too late, you need to take time to ensure success for the upcoming season by focusing on these three areas during the off-season: Relax, Recover, and PLAN! Planning for success is essential to visualizing and executing a plan for the upcoming season.
Successful planning is focused on setting specific, measurable goals focused on 3 specific areas of your business: Operations, Sales & Marketing, and Financing. This is also a good time to reflect on last season. What worked and what didn’t? Once you can identify weaknesses in your company, you can formulate some intentional goals to help you improve!
Focus on the SMART approach to be certain your goals are valuable tools to grow your business:
What exactly do you want to achieve? The more specific your goal description, the higher chance you’ll have to achieve and measure your progress.
Use these questions to set specific goals:
- What exactly do I want to achieve?
- Where? How? When? With whom?
- What are the conditions and limitations?
- Why exactly do I want to reach this goal? What are possible alternative ways of achieving the same?
Measurable goals means that you identify exactly what it is that will happen once the goal is achieved. It means breaking your goal down into measurable elements. You’ll need concrete evidence. Being more productive is not evidence; Increasing maintenance revenue by 15% year over year is.
Measurable goals can go a long way in refining what exactly it is that you want, too. Defining the physical manifestations of your goal or objective makes it clearer, easier to reach, and easier to see if you are on pace to achieve your goal.
Is your goal achievable? Is the goal really acceptable to you. You weigh the effort, time and other costs your goal will take against the profits and the other obligations and priorities you have in life.
If you don’t have the time, money or talent to reach a certain goal you’ll certainly fall short. Consistently falling short of goals can be poisonous to your future goal setting efforts. Thus, impeding your potential of improving your business. Instead, create a culture of planning goals that can be achieved with proper effort. That doesn’t mean that you can’t take something that seems impossible and make it happen by planning smartly and going for it!
Falling short of your goals is not always bad; if you aim to increase your sales by 40% over last year without hiring additional staff, how bad is it when you only increase by 30%? Not too bad right?
Is reaching your goal relevant to you and your team? Relevance refers to focusing on something that makes sense with the broader business goals. For example, if the goal is to retain your working force deeper into the year, it should be something that’s in alignment with the overall business objectives. Are you planning to pick up additional contracts installing holiday lights or snow plowing to support this goal? How? Are you looking into offering additional services? How will you train your staff to support this?
The main questions: Why do you want to reach this goal? What is the objective behind the goal, and will this goal really achieve that?
You could think that having a bigger team will make it perform better, but will it really?
Time is money! Make a tentative plan of everything you do. Everybody knows that deadlines are what makes most people switch to action. So install deadlines, for yourself and your team, and go after them. Keep the timeline realistic and flexible, that way you can keep morale high. Being too stringent on the timely aspect of your goal setting can have the perverse effect of making the learning path of achieving your goals and objectives into a hellish race against time – which is most likely not how you want to achieve anything.
As you set goals for improving your operations, sales & marketing, and finances, make sure they pass the SMART test. If any element of the SMART goal isn’t met, you’ll likely fall short of reaching or measuring the goal. Communication is key with goal setting. Allowing your team to be part of the goal setting process will help them to share the vision for the company and make them invested in achieving the SMART goals that are set. Incentivize your team with accomplishing the SMART goals so that success is shared collectively and workers stay motivated throughout the long season.