📍 📍 📍 📍 The Roots of Success podcast is for the landscape professional who's looking to up their game. We're not talking lawns or grass here. We're talking about people, process, and profits. The things deep within the business that need focus to scale a successful company from hiring the right people and managing your team to improving your operations and mastering your finances.
We've got a brain trust of experts to help you nurture the roots of a successful business and grow to the next level. This is The Roots of Success.
📍 📍 📍 📍 📍 📍 📍 📍 Hey, welcome. This is Tommy with Roots of Success podcast. I've got a special guest on today. I'm super excited and I see his smile. If you've got the cameras on, it is Vince Tortilla from the Grow Group. We finally locked him down with his busy schedule, and he is not in the classroom. Amen. Vince, how are you?
I'm good Tommy. Thanks for making time. Always good to chat with you. I know we've been looking forward to doing this, so Yeah, excited to be with you.
Yeah, this is gonna be great. So I can't wait to get going, but Vince, man, what a crazy year it's been for you personally, right? You have been in the books and in the class, but that is done.
for, for those that don't know and now that they would know Tommy, I don't think people are looking my bio up every day on LinkedIn or the internet. But I set out to graduate from law school and I just graduated in May of 2023 from Syracuse. I had support from. Ton of people to do it, your team included.
So I appreciate that. Been a lot of late nights, a lot of early mornings. I used to have a lot more hair than I do, but hey man, I'm done and I'm so happy to have it behind me and happy to have a new kind of tool in my toolbox to share.
No, that's great. You know, you've been working your butt off recently and we've been supportive of you and.
Basically holding you accountable to keep it going. Right. Don't, don't give that up. And now that you're on our side of the workforce to have you basically full-time and not having to worry about school on the back end, this is gonna be very awesome to have you on board.
A hundred percent. So we're excited.
Yeah, no, it's been great even in the last few months, just digging back into things, getting organized, getting refocused has been great. So yeah, plenty, plenty to do for all of us. And, Happy to be done,
Yeah. So one of the questions we gotta ask, like we've known each other for a little while you know, and how we got started. I, I, I've known Jim, Jason and Chris for a really long time, but since, really since 2008. And so we worked together and then you and I kind of ran into each other and I was kinda like, who is this guy, man?
He's, he's He's very bright. And then I was shocked to hear that, how young you are. And I'm like, man, he's very well spoken and got things going. I don't know. Tell that how, how you got started with the Kroger. You met Marty as an intern and then you've been rock and rolling since then.
Yeah, it's, it's, it's exactly right Tommy. So I think that we actually first met, I think at Michael Huff's grow in 2019. I don't even think you were a full-time team member yet. I think it was just kind of starting out the process and I think, yeah, Jim had mentioned, Hey, you know, Tommy's gonna be with us and future member of our team, et cetera.
So it's hard to believe that happened and everything that's even happened since then, but my kind of path through the industry. Yeah. I went to the University of Dayton and Dayton, Ohio, go Flyers. Same place that Marty Grunder went. He knew a teacher that I had. She hooked us up together. I started out as an intern with him.
That was 2011. I had like just turned 19 and we've been working together ever since. So things have evolved tremendously since 2011. Just not only in terms of the industry, but what we're all doing. And then obviously partnering with you and your team on peer groups, coaching and everything else that we do has been great for us and great for you and great for the industry.
So I gotta like come clean. I've never worked on a crew. I've never scheduled a job, right? I'm, you can, you can talk about Latin plant names all you want, and I'll have no idea what you're talking about. But like, this is the only industry I've ever worked in. It's the only industry I ever wanna work in.
I love it. I love what it does for people, the opportunity it creates, you and I have gotten to see in so many places, shapes, parts of the country like this industry changes people's and their family's lives. So it's an awesome industry to be a part of. I love what it stands for. I love what it brings.
And there's only upside for people in the green industry right now.
Yeah, I, I love this industry. I've been in it since day one. Kind of what, A little bit different than you getting a going to school for a landscape architecture degree and. Who the hell I thought would be right in this situation right now. I never knew I'd be a podcast, never thought I'd be in coaching, never thought I'd be traveling the country, gonna these destinations, seeing companies.
But it's still in the wheelhouse of landscape and I love every second of that, you know, and people get into this industry just because they can make such a grand impact. It's sort of like just instant gratification to someone's property or house or, or business. And it's just, It's so gratifying to, to be a part of, not only that, we get to do really cool things and help people in the business.
We get to share all of our experiences that we've with, with people and members and being on the road quite a bit and, and helping people grow. That's where we get all of our satisfaction, right?
Hundred percent, right? There's nothing better than going to work with companies and seeing where they were, where they want to go, and having us being a part of that journey. So it's incredibly rewarding for us and for people that we work with.
McFS and GG Relationship
Yeah, I love it. So I oftentimes people get confused with Mcfarlin Stanford and the Grow Group, right? We we're not a law firm and all the time, right? And, and the Grow group, but man, has this been like the most awesome relationship for both companies, you know our team, your team, Marty Grinder.
It is just been such an awesome ride. Explain to our audience what, what all that means.
Yeah, so you're, you're spot on. So, just to give a little bit of background. So Marty Grunder, founding Grunder Landscaping Company 40 years ago. Very relatable story, you know. Pickup truck and a lawnmower grew the company. Over time, people started asking him, Hey, I've read stories about your company. Can you come help my company?
And then, you know, starting about 20 years ago, Marty started this like coaching consulting group, then called Marty Grunder, Inc. Now called the Grow Group, where he'd go work with companies and Marty's still actively involved in Grinder Landscaping Company, but he was running peer groups and doing some coaching and doing some events like our GROW event that, you know, we've been.
Fortunate enough again to work with you and your team on as well. And we got to meet Jim and Jason first at Complete Land Sculpture in 2016, and I. They got to come in and say, Hey, you know, we see what you all are doing. We're trying to do the same thing. We can do a lot more together than we can apart, and it's been in great partnership since then.
So, you know, Tommy, the Grow Group is a great way for people to get kind of big exposure to what the industry can do for you get to see a company that operates well. And then I love to tell people if you're. Looking for, you know, peer groups, one-on-one coaching, bookkeeping, recruiting, all the things that go in to support your company.
You know, the Grow group doesn't do any of that. Right. That's why we partner with people like you at McFarlin Stanford, to give them the in-depth like scalpel type tools to go operate in their business. So it's a great fit for, for us to be partners and we bring so much value to our clients. It's just, it's super fun to do together.
Yeah, it's been, it's been just really good. And having both parties together is, It's been a great relationship. The McFarlin Sanford team, you know, we've all been in the landscape business together. We've, we've, we've been at the same company. Grunder's been going for a long time. It's been very relatable to everybody.
Role at Grunder
I think you're involved in Grunder landscape as well a little bit, right.
That's, so it's fortunate for me because I get to kind of see inside the four walls and outside the four walls at the same time, and that was really a product of Covid. We were just kind of reevaluating everything we were doing in 2020. Marty and Seth and Seth really runs Gruner on a daily basis over there.
Just came to me and said, Hey, like, you've got a ton of knowledge that we don't have. We need help. We're going through kind of uncharted territory, and I got involved more heavily with them in 2020, which really involves being on the leadership team, kind of setting a chart, setting a plan. Giving them an outside perspective, but it's been, it's been awesome for me.
I've learned a lot more about the nuts and bolts of the industry, but then also good for gruer to have an outside perspective. I've got no emotion in the business. You know, I've got no I, I'm not there every day to, to kind of see every single thing that happens in a good way. 'cause I can kind of come in clean and say, Hey, you know, this doesn't make sense from an outside perspective.
And it's one of those things where they're like, yeah, we just see it every day and kind of take it for granted. But you're right. This isn't working, we gotta make changes. So it's really been a great learning opportunity for me as well.
Yeah, it's not been difficult for you to jump in, right? Not industry related experience. I think most of your, you know, the dirt that you sort of hold on to as far as when you come into companies or even grunder landscape is just. Basic business, business practices, you know, you know, standardizing process and systems, you know, good culture, right?
That has nothing to do with Latin names at the end of the day. And I think, I think a lot of us get sucked into the whole knowing the industry, right? Or, or being at Grunder landscape. You kind of just have like the same blinders on in the same rotation every single day. Whereas Vince can kind of come in and sort of change things.
Or see it from a different perspective.
Absolutely right. No different than, you know, Tommy Cole walking into my house right now. Like, you're gonna, you're gonna see things differently than I do. I see it every day. I take. I don't even think about where my towels are or why my bathroom's here or why this is that way, or what things look like 'cause I'm just so used to it.
So outside perspective lends a lot. And again, like my default kind of, I'm not emotionally involved. So people play favorites. People don't like people. We get to come into companies and say, I don't care how long Tommy's been with you, that guy's a stud, whether you like him or not, like he is producing.
And sometimes people cannot see that 'cause emotions clouded or things clouded or Well, Timmy's been my guy for 25 years and I'm like, I've been here for three days. I have no idea even what he does here. You know what I mean? So it's, we get to come in totally clean and have a good professional conversation about, Hey, really what do you wanna do with this business?
'cause it is a business, right? This could be a not-for-profit if you want it to be. That's not what the intention is.
So non-emotional, Hey, this is just what I'm seeing. I'm gonna give you professional advice. I'm gonna do it in a way that we're both gonna win. Coach people to make good decisions and we get, it's just a nice benefit for us, a nice benefit for the people we work with.
Yeah, it's, it's great. It's no different than, like, when I was in the landscape world, every day you'd show up to somebody's house. And you're like, man, I can sit here and go, that's wrong. That's wrong. That looks great. How come about this? What happened over here? You know? Now, now we get to travel the country and go, wow.
Timmy, Tommy, Sally, Bob, and you kind of know how things are run when you first show up. Like you can, you have a really good idea of how things are run with that company. And that's where we sort of, We have a little bit of an advantage or a little bit of an insight of just because we see so much going on, we see, you know, great things going on.
We also see some things that need improvement. So that's, that's where the US, us running peer groups has helped a lot.
Yeah. So I, I gotta, I gotta, I gotta, you know, we're talking about trends and what's going on, right? I mean, we got you on board today and, You know, like what's out there right now?
Like, what are people thinking? You know, we're halfway point of 2023, you know, we, we've been through the covid thing and like, what's, what's just out there that you see that's sort of dominating the industry.
Well, I think number one, people have really understood that it is all about people at the end of the day.
I'm not sure I saw all that happening three years ago. I think three years ago people were still kind of running and gunning, and it was about things that weren't necessarily all about people, but whether it's covid or whether it's like the modernization of the workforce, whatever you want to call it.
People are really understanding. It is about people no different than like N F L teams. Like it's a quarterback driven league. Like you will be good when you have a good quarterback. Your department will be good when you have the right person running that department. Right? Your numbers will look good financially when you have the right person in that department.
And I think people are really learning that. And Tommy, I'd say going hand in hand with that, we've seen a huge kind of bump in pay across the industry the last few years. 'cause people have really started to understand you get what you pay for. Again, every, everybody got theirs. Kinda their own way of looking at that.
But I think people are, are, are paying people more, expecting a little more out of 'em, understanding that the secret sauce they have is their people. 📍 📍 📍 📍
Any other company can go get the same equipment, can go get the same software, can go get the same things anybody else. But the way that you manage, monitor, coach, train, and have like an accountability system within your people is gonna be unique to you.
So I'd say people, number one.
Companies that are run well are really seeing the value of placing value in the right people in the right seat of their company.
Yeah. You know, I, I totally agree with you. You know, it's been, you know, people is like your number one asset in your
business. It's not the new piece of equipment, the excavator, the pickup truck. It's, people have to operate that at the end of the day and, and good people. So first off, you know, finding the right person, right?
Do you know constantly recruiting, constantly attracting top talent? Like what does that mean, attracting top talent? Well, you know, do we look presentable as a company? How do our trucks look? How does our people look out in the field? Are we good in communication? Do we not communicate well? You know, what do the clients think of us?
Who you are as a company
You know, all that. And people kind of watching. You as a company owner and going, man, that's a really great place. Like there's a lot of feedback from that group. Yeah. People is, the number one thing at, at the end of the day is they, they, they can they can make or break your company at the end of the day.
Oh, absolutely. And again, I've, you know, I've, I've heard it from Marty well before, and it's what you just said, this idea of like, do we have a great company to work for? Like bear, none. Like, would I want my kid to work here? Would I want my nephew to work here? You know, we've learned about referral programs from you and your team.
Like if you're not getting employee referrals, like chances are you may not have a great place to work. I'm like, I'd want to know why that is, right? So without a doubt, I'd say, you know, to your point, people is number one, your absolute biggest asset. Completely agree with you. And I would say kind of going off of that in a little bit of a different way, if I'm seeing any other trends right now, I'm seeing companies, this is gonna sound funny, but companies are kind of now figuring out who they want to be when they grow up.
Like they didn't really have an identity, right? And they've kind of blown through 2020. They keep saying yes to everything. And now companies are like, man, I got to this point and I'm not sure kind of, I'm not sure what kind of company I want to be when I grow up. Are we full service? Are we high end residential and high touch?
Are we bid, build, are we commercial? Like what do we really want to do? And I'm seeing a lot of companies really get very detailed about understanding, Hey, I, I need to pick my lane and I need to be really good at it. And there's kind of no there's no wrong way to do that. It's more about just if there's confusion between you and your team about who you think you are and who you are, that's when we've got problems, right?
Like everybody knows in their head the difference between going to like, you know, a Ruth Chris Steakhouse and an Outback Steakhouse, like. They're just different experiences. Both are fine businesses and there's nothing wrong with either one of 'em. But if you think you're Ruth Chris, and you're delivering Outback Steakhouse service, that's a problem.
Or if you think you're Outback, but you're actually delivering Ruth Chris service, like that's great that you're giving everyone a great experience at Outback, but like they're not paying for that. So where's the rub here? And I think companies are really taking a look internally now, to say, again, sounds funny, like who do I want to be when I grow up?
📍 📍 📍 What kind of company do I want? Again, it's not one size fits all. It really depends on your market, your team, how you're set up, what you can do. But people are really closing the gap on that misalignment of who we think we are versus maybe who our clients think we are.
You know, is that a product of just being young and in experienced and saying, I gotta have it all right. Or the call comes in and do you do tree work? And you're like, man, we don't do tree work. Like that's just entrepreneurial type spirit of like, we'll take it all in, and all of a sudden you've got 12 things of service lines and they're all kind of like 50%.
There. Right. And you just start taking it all in more and more, and then years go by and you're like, I'm bogged down. I can't handle this anymore. Is that a product of just trying it and then just going, whoa, hold on, I gotta chill. I've gotta, I've gotta chill out.
Yeah, no, that's a hundred percent right and very well said. And I think what happens is owners get into this industry for a reason, right? They wanna call their own shots. They wanna do their own thing. They wanna like, again, have their own identity in the company and to, to get to the point where they have a successful company.
They say yes to a lot of things, right? Yes, I'll do this. Yes, I'll do that. Sure, we'll do this. Sure, we'll do that. And then again, as they evolve and get bigger and bigger, The challenge becomes saying no, right? Like, no, we don't do that actually, and I think it's just a product of number one, if you have the right people, you can say yes to a lot of things, right?
If you have the right people, you can start a tree division. You can build fences, you can wash windows, right? You can do things if you have the right people that are gonna own those service lines. But if you feel like you're kind of on an island, or you got one or two key people, either you have to go out and get those people, or you have to figure out what do I do and what do I do really, really well?
A big city, Tommy, as you know, maybe even like in Dallas, you can just do commercial maintenance all day long if you want, right? You can do that all day, every day. Be really good at it. Never even park in a residential neighborhood if that's what you wanna do. Also, in Dallas, Texas, you can just do residential work, right?
All day, every day. But we get to go around the country and we get to go to places like maybe Appleton, Wisconsin, or Omaha, Nebraska, or Dayton, Ohio, where. You may not be able just to do one thing really well. The market may not bear that. So you might be saying yes to some other things and you're in a market where you can do that, and then you're gonna advertise, Hey, I'm your one-stop shop.
I'll do everything on your property. Right? So I do think owners have gotten ahead of their skis on a few of those things sometimes. And it's great to have the perspective of, okay, now we're gonna start saying no to some things. We're gonna start to reel things back in and get really, really clear about who our ideal client is.
our ideal team member is to support who that ideal client is.
Yeah. So Vince, you mentioned ideal client. I love this topic a little bit, and this is kind of a spinoff, but we coach to this all the time and people are like, man, wait, what? We're like, what do you mean by ideal client? Like, explain to our audience like what some of it's heard that before, but like break it down for me.
Yeah, so an ideal client really is for us, the intersection of a couple things. Number one, it's what can we build a business around, right? So if your ideal client is the like $5 million estate properties, and you live in the middle of nowhere, Ohio. Like tough to build a business around that there's just not enough That could, yeah.
Right. That can be your ideal client, but I don't know. Right. Not enough of those around. So it's kind of the sustainability factor, not sustainable, like green environment, sustainable. Like can we, can we make a business work around this client? Right. That's kind of one prong of the test. Another prong of the test is like, are we good at this?
Do we enjoy this Right. And not enjoy like big smile on my face every day I go to this property, but. Can I see a future with this, right? Are we good at giving the product that we give out? And then number three, kind of most importantly, like, do we make money at this? Like, can we perform this to make a profit, to reinvest in the company, hire the right people get, get the best of the best in terms of our company to go serve.
So when we look at ideal client, we kind of run that three part test. Are we. Can we build a business around this? Is it the kind of work that we want to do and can we make money at it? If we can do that, we can put that person as one of our ideal clients, and again, Tommy, right? Things that we've talked about before, like rating your clients is not a bad thing.
Even on those three things, you know, you can export your client list, you can put 'em in Excel. You can say, Hey, I'm gonna go through and rate each one of these on those factors and figure out if these are our ideal clients or not. Chances are, when you do that, you're gonna understand. Wow. A lot of our ideal clients fit the same profile, maybe in the same neighborhood, maybe belong to the same types of organizations, maybe generate the same kind of people.
Man, all of our non-ideal clients are commercial properties. Like, we need to take a look at our commercial division. Maybe that's our fault. Maybe we're not doing what we should be doing. Maybe we're just not set up well to be a commercial company, and we gotta really figure out either how we're gonna make that jump, or we gotta focus on what we're better at.
But people that don't have an ideal client, like if they're listening to this saying, man, I don't know who my ideal client is, don't overthink it either. You probably have an idea of who it is. It's more about just putting some measurables behind it, but figure out what kind of work is sustainable, what kind of work is enjoyable, what kind of work you can make money off of,
a great target for, for people to get after that ideal client.
Yeah, I think it's more, it's also just the owners taking a step back at their current business and go, I'm gonna block out three or four hours this afternoon and just see what I've got on my plate
of all my clients and all the work we do. You could take your book of maintenance clients and look at it and go, you know, print the list off.
You probably know most of 'em all, if not all. And go through and go, oh my God, I still do Miss Smith's house from seven years ago and I'm charging a hundred dollars a month. And, but Ms. Smith is just so nice and she was my second client ever. I'm like, you're looking at like 75% of your clients that are paying 10 times that you are like, oh man.
Okay. So, and that's what we talk about the client is, Ms. Smith, your ideal client. Have you just kind of grown and evolved the business past Ms. Smith? Right.
So true. So many companies we work with still have like legacy clients they've held onto because again, they're, they've had 'em forever, right. And they don't wanna change it. But you're right. And we can run Mrs. Smith through our filter. We love Mrs. Smith. She's great, right? We love working with her enjoyable property.
Maybe it's not sustainable, it's definitely not profitable. So either we have to make it profitable or we gotta have a conversation with Mrs. Smith about maybe finding her somebody else to do her work from now on. But no, that's a
example of how somebody can run through that.
Operations post covid
Yeah. Love it. Love it. You know, one of the things I'm seeing too is I feel like Covid sort of put a rug over everything operational because the sales were coming in no matter what. How fast can you get me a bid? How fast can you start? When can you be done? Just name the price and the sales were flying in now there's a period where it was, you know, a little.
Unsure with the world. But you know, once that was well and done, everyone stayed at home. It business just skyrocketed. And, and I feel like, I feel like a lot of times, and, and correct me if I'm wrong, if I'm in line, but we sort of like just the sales, were coming in, you know, now we're doing pools, now we've got a backlog, just keep going.
But now things have sort of shifted a little bit to being. Little Ester just fall into our lap and I feel like a lot of the operational side was just put a rug over it, so to speak, and we've gotta sort of pull the rug back and go, whew, wow. What is the world that we have now? We have to get better at our operation or our system that we sort of had.
Is that what you're experiencing as well?
Because also through that whole process, to your point prices have been at an all time high for things. And so while pricing is probably never gonna go backwards your operational challenges are gonna eat into those price increases very quick. So if you raise prices by 10, 20, 30% over the last three years, but operationally you're giving back 5, 10, 15, 20%, those price increases are kind of just like covering up all the mess that you've made, right?
So to your point now as we're talking about this, I think expectations for customers are at a super, super high as well. They want what they want. They still want it now. They don't want to hear excuses, they just want to have it happen. So, That's great that we all got to increase our price. That's great that we all got to charge more and maybe our industry was lagging in a price increase for some time, and now we've caught up.
But do not give all that back in this operational challenge that you've just brought up. You really gotta look internally and say, Hey, right, like, just 'cause our, our gross margins are up, but we're giving back more money because, or I'm sorry, our prices are up, but our gross margins are going down 'cause we're, we're sloppy or we're not efficient, or we're not using the right systems or processes.
📍 📍 📍 📍 So, Price increases have been great, but if you're giving that all back in the terms of, you know, operational inefficiency, you're really no further ahead than you were two years ago.
Successful thing companies are doing now
No. Yeah, good point. Good point. So we see a lot of companies throughout the country and we, we travel quite a bit. There's a lot of success out there. There's a lot of good things happening and. We see it a lot. What are, what are a few things? I've got a couple of my of
things that I love to see, but you, like we said earlier, when you show up, you can, you know, what's going on. What, what are some of the things that are companies doing for our audience that we can leave them a few nuggets on this, on this show.
Yeah, I think very clear to me when we go to a company is if they've all bought into the same vision for the company or not. Like how Crystal clear is that direction laid out for the company, not just for owners and management, but for everybody else on the team. I. When we get to go in and we get to meet other companies and we get to see them and go, they go through their stations and we get to meet everybody very clear to us very quickly if they're not all on the same page about where they're going as a company.
And it doesn't have to be anything crazy either. It's not like our vision's to be a hundred million dollar company. It's like our vision is to do more maintenance sales, right? If only one person brings that up out of five people, like I feel like maybe we're a little bit misaligned. And so it sounds kind of.
Sounds basic, but having a super clear direction and vision for the company. Companies that succeed do that very, very well. Everybody on the team from top down knows what are we trying to do, how are we trying to do it, how are we keeping score along the way? And people know not only if they're doing a good job, but also they're being coached if they need to be kind of put in spot to do a better job and correct some of their behavior.
But having a clear vision, having a clear path for what we want the company to do, and the identity of the company is super clear. And then I would say companies that I see that are really successful, they take action and they go execute. They don't wait for the silver bullet. They don't wait till everything's perfect.
They start to make changes at their company for the better. And know that it's a process, and this is a journey and it's a marathon, and it's not a sprint. And we are gonna slowly iterate and make all these changes over time. But they're not analysis by paralysis. They're not waiting till things are perfect.
They're gonna stick and move. They make decisions, they move forward. Sometimes they deal with the consequences, but they use it as a learning opportunity and they move forward. So if you, if you can set your vision and you can set your path, and you can empower your team to make decisions and not have analysis paralysis and wait until everything's perfect.
Whether it's a system, whether it's a bonus program, whether it's a new job, service, whatever the case may be, if you can get your team to move forward I see really, really good things happening for the companies that we work with.
That's a great yeah, vision is great and, and what that means is, you know, what's the direction you're headed? You know, is it within one year? Is it five years, 10 years? But someone, they've got to see that long-term benefit of what we're doing right now, every single day, right.
yeah. And then execute.
Man, the number one thing I see as I see owners doing is overthinking everything, right? They're overthinking about. Oh my God, is this gonna be right? Is this gonna be wrong? What if they, what are the crews gonna think of me if I start a morning huddle? Well, they'll never attend the morning huddle. They're, that's, they'll never get in a circle together.
Like, what ha, how do you do? And it takes one-on-one meetings. Like, no way would I ever meet with someone. It's just like, from the data I have in front of me, make a decision and go with it. Are you gonna be right a hundred percent of the time? Nope. But like stop overthinking and just execute.
Yeah. Oh God. Overthinking is such the right word too, and I'm guilty of it too, on things, right? Like there's times when I can go down the rabbit hole and think of all the reasons why this isn't a good idea, and you've gotta zap yourself out and say, What is the worst case scenario for having a morning huddle?
How is that gonna cause any problems? Like that's only gonna be good. I'm not, I can't carve out five hours for my one-on-ones. Like I, I got other issues if I can't figure out a way to do that. So yes, I, overthinking is such a good word to use. I think a lot of people identify with that. 'cause there are, people are afraid to make mistakes and they're afraid of the
and that's so easy to overthink.
I totally agree.
yeah, yeah. Executing is just, just get it going. But one of the things I like is, you know, take something a little bit different, but when you sell up to a facility, You have a pretty good indication of what things are like. Right. And we're not saying, I'm not saying a world class facility with a brand new building.
Nope, not at all. What I'm saying is like, how is the, how is it set up? Is it organized? Is it clean? Does, does everyone have a role in the morning? You know, I, I read an article the other day that Marty Grunder, you know, did something on LinkedIn and I think you commented and he's so great at his. You know, thinking of his analogies and go, you know, and, and you commented back and said, you know, does each person on the crew have a role to do in the morning?
Like to me, that facility and the morning and how things are going is a direct function of how you are out there in the field. Maintenance properties, construction, job sites,
direct correlation, right?
Oh, so true. I think that if you have a, if I walk onto your property to your point, and I see that it's sloppy, I'm gonna automatically think maybe your job sites don't look as right and tight as they should. If I'm in there at a morning rollout and I'm seeing like number twos and threes on crews, maybe not knowing exactly what they're supposed to be doing in the morning.
I'm already thinking, okay, those number twos and threes probably don't know exactly what they're supposed to do on the property they're at either, I think you're right. Morning rollout and the facility itself is such a good indication of other areas of the organization. And to your point, Mike, it does not have to be the Taj Mahal.
It does not have to be something fancy. It's gotta be clean, it's gotta be good signage, it's gotta be safe, right. All those things. But that is so true. We, we like to even like admit, like when I, when you walk on properties, it should feel like this is a landscaping company. You value the work that you do, right?
We've been to properties, whether it's, you know, I'll give a shout out to Mike Opek in Annapolis, Maryland. Like you go to his facility, there's no question what kind of work they do. Like you feel that from the minute you step on to that, that site, right? Like that is a great example of, of companies taking ownership of their property and their vision and their morning rollout and showing that into their client's properties as well.
Yeah, we're it we're going to see Mike in a couple of months and we are super pumped. We've, we've been there, I've been there once before, but he is built a new place and it's, it's gorgeous. I'll take, I'll get another shout out. Vince. You'll, you'll laugh at this one. This is an old school Tim Tremor professional grounds in dc One word, his facility.
Small, the smallest ever facility, ever known. And do you know, like he gets the biggest bang for his buck in that tiny facility. You've seen those trucks packed in there, but
to me he does a different work than Mike. Completely different, right? Commercial maintenance. And he's, he's evolved over the years from the, from his you know, pass on from his, his family, but, He packed so many trucks in there and so efficient about how his morning rollout is.
It blows me away, right?
Oh my gosh. Totally. Right. And again, like you walk into that company and you can feel that they're an operations driven company. I have full confidence in watching their team operate at their facility, that they're showing the same level of care and really just like overall thought process on their properties as well.
And again, like Tim's got every property property mapped right? Like he is taking advantage of every single thing that he can do, not only at his own facility, but at their customer's facility as well. It's
Actions to Improve as a leader
Yeah. Yeah. Good one. So some actions that you can take to be a, a good, good team member or a good leader. Like, you know, we talk about the facilities, you know, we've talked about the people, we've talked about, you know, what companies wanna be and the ideal client, but like, Let's just go real small and narrow with, with whether you're on a crew, whether you're, you know, coming outta a school and, and learning the industry.
Whether you are vice president of your company, who knows? Like being a good leader goes extremely a long ways. What, what are some things that they can, they can be to, to, to be a good one?
My, my default for anybody that wants to improve their leadership and be better, to your point, whether they're a crew leader or an owner, or a sales manager, whatever the case may be, is to adopt this big philosophy called a growth mindset and the basics of the growth mindset. Tommy is, I'm gonna look at myself first.
I'm gonna correct the behavior that I don't like about me before I go and try to correct and change others. If there's a problem, if there's a problem with our morning rollout, then I'm gonna say, what can I do personally to make our morning rollout better? Then to walk into a manager's office and say, morning rollout sucks.
I'm sick of this. You guys better fix this. If I'm a salesperson saying I'm not closing enough leads. I'm looking at myself first going, man, maybe I'm not quite organized enough. Maybe I don't have my days scheduled properly. Maybe I'm not doing as good of a job as I should be when I know what I could be doing, instead of saying, Hey, these customers suck, these clients are idiots.
This is never gonna work. I hate this. Like, right, that's you're, you're gonna lose every time. So if I can offer any wisdom to anybody, it's. Look at yourself in the mirror first and say, what am I doing or not doing? That's allowing me to be successful first before I look at anybody else. And I feel like if you do that, you're just gonna put yourself ahead from a mentality standpoint.
Right. I, I, I think
a very, very good basic lesson for any future leader to understand.
I, I love that. You know, we live in a. Somewhat negative society where bad news travels better than good news. You know,
negative clients travel faster than great clients. And I remember back in the day of, of, of being on, at a landscape company and you couldn't talk bad about any client. Like, let's just start there, right?
You know what? All clients are gonna be somewhat tricky or difficult throughout the season, but if we look at it as a negative, Way. Then how do we get better? Like, to me, one of the biggest things that I could take as I've matured over the years is, is look at yourself as a mirror, as a leader, right? How, what could, have I done better in that situation?
What could, you know, you're only as good as what your, your crew is, right? It's not, it's not the crew that's terrible. It's like, what could I have done? Like my, my new thing now that I'm reading is this extreme ownership.
And if I can take, give anyone a word of advice, like go read the book, go listen to the audible, but you owning what you're supposed to own and taking it to the ninth degree is what you need to be doing.
Is I own those two crews, like those are my crews. I own the calendar and schedule. Everything is about me leading that team. To success. That's every single day, right? It's no different than the Navy Seals the guy in charge. He takes all the blame, right? All he, you know, at the end of the day, he's either got his team prepared for battle, he's not got 'em prepared for battle.
So my advice is own it a hundred percent, right? And, and what could I, but it kind of leads into the growth mindset. What could I have done to be better?
Yeah. And I think. What, what's great about, what's great about that too, Tommy, is like, that goes outside of even just like work, right? So if, if, if anybody listening to this can take that mindset and apply it to work or apply it to family or apply it to working out or anything in their personal life, like all those little things, those little decisions in your mind you're making like net lead you to becoming a better person.
Like that's why like successful people get more successful because they're doing the little things every day. And that's like a compounding effect, right? So that if you can get those habits in place and take ownership of things, you're, you're just never gonna be in a bad position. If you do that, you're gonna learn a ton.
You're gonna scrape your knees, you're gonna bump your nose, you're gonna cause problems. There's gonna be some tough things that you encounter, but like, that's how you get better, right? And to constantly just deflect things onto others, to your point is you're, you're gonna be on a sit and spin, right?
You're gonna be moving a lot, but you're not gonna get anywhere.
love it if we can own things and we can kind of look at ourselves first. A lot of good is gonna come from that.
yeah, yeah. You know, take, take the high road at the end of the day and own something and run with it. It'll go much further than the, than the blame everyone else that everything is wrong approach. I always compare. Football. I love football. I know you do. And you know, at the end of the day, they look at the head coach.
The head coach is the leader, the quarterback is the leader of the, of the offense. The also the face of the franchise. Listen, when they're out and winning, they're going back to the coach. And when and when they are winning, they're like, man, life's great. You know? I, I always compare to that, but, you know, I've been in some companies where it's just a, a negative vibe and it, it doesn't, it doesn't go well.
My I get it. Moving forward, the whole this, the rest of this year, the next year and many years to come, like what are some things that you're seeing that people are doing or people are prepared for? You know, the, the economy's always, you know, sort of day to day, month to month unsureness, but yet great.
Next Year of Landscaping Industry
I see the economy still doing great.
You know everyone's busy. Everyone's really just got a good backlog. I don't see much slowing down. Like, what do you think this next six months to 18 months look like?
I think what, what people are doing, I think successfully is just creating plans with kind of some forks or contingencies along with them. Like, Hey, we're gonna make our plan and we're gonna stay the course, and we're gonna continue to do the things that we know we need to do. We're gonna build in a little contingencies to make sure that we don't maybe overextend ourselves or get too far over our skis.
So little things like that would be like, let's just, we're used to creating these like 1, 3, 5 year plans. I think that all still makes sense. Companies should be planning ahead, but also don't be afraid to have some like check marks in there. Like, Hey, we're gonna do this as, as our one year plan. However, like if we miss on our revenue targets or we're learning that we don't have the skills to do this, like, We're gonna reforecast for the rest of the year and we're maybe not gonna buy that truck and add that extra crew quite yet, right?
So I'm always telling people just have some, have some markers along the way where you can either throttle up or throttle down that aren't easy decisions to make. Right? So that's why these one year goals, these five year goals, these three year targets are helpful because now we have some decisions we can make.
You know, we're starting, have our 20 24, 20 25 plans thought out in a. But like if we're missing targets now, I may be a little weary to like invest in that new truck and new crew for next year unless something else changes. But don't be afraid to kind of change and have these contingencies locked in. We, you know, it's like this.
If this, then that planning, if we hit our goal, we're gonna buy this truck. We're gonna hire this new crew and we're gonna continue to grow that department. If we stay flat, we're gonna wait another year. We're gonna ride it out. We're gonna get more efficient, we're gonna cover up our operational slop and we're gonna do well if we miss our target.
📍 📍 📍 📍 Right? I mean, those are the kind of conversations I'd be having with our team and just not overextending. I'd be watching my cash position. I wouldn't be really extending myself too far out on anything right now, just with uncertainty. I'm a little risk averse compared to other people. Just like that's my nature.
and make it happen. Kudos to them if they wanna do it, but I don't think you're ever gonna go wrong. If you have some contingency plans, if this, then I'm gonna do that.
How to share your business plans
Yeah. So if someone's sitting here going, man, how often should I look at this one and two, should I look at it by myself or should I look, should I look at it with my team members, with my hand person? Like, should I share this with anybody? Should I hold it all to myself? Then what do you recommend?
Yeah, so I think for like when I think of strategic things, it's kind of natural, but that's like a quarterly outlook. So if you can take a step back once a quarter and look out really for this year, and then like at Grunder when we do quarterly planning, like minimum, we're looking out like another three quarters.
So like a, a minimum of 12 month lookout. But anything strategic should be on a quarterly perspective and thinking, hey, it's, you know, it's, we're in Q two, we're in Q three, we're in Q four. How are we gonna end this quarter? Then what does next quarter really look like? So that what I, that's what I would do on a quarterly perspective, depending on who on your team can have the same level of strategic conversations with you and you can see a path to coach them.
To do that, I'd be involving department managers and the current like financial or HR people on your team to help make good decisions. What I, what I wouldn't do is kind of come in with an open slate and say, Hey, you know, what should we be planning for for Q one next year? Because now we've created this, like everybody has their own opinions and now we've opened the bag and we can't really close it.
If you're an owner getting doing this for the first time, I would kind of chart out what my plan is gonna be and say, Hey, this is what I'm seeing for Q one. I'd love your comments. I'd love your feedback. I'd love to know what you think we could do beyond this. But I wouldn't start from nothing. I would start with a plan in your head and plan can really just be.
What are we gonna produce? Are we buying any more trucks? How's our team structure look to support this? But yeah, have something prepared to look at together to open up a conversation. Now it's too difficult. We have too many votes, too many opinions, too many people kind of sharing where we should
be focused on kind of getting aligned on one thing.
Yeah. A good baseline was what they say, A good foundation have a, have a small idea. This goes back to the conversation of the vision. Right. This in hand. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I, I love that. You know, almost taking a step away from, from your business to I. Sort of think about what's going on currently, what do you see trends, what do you see some weaknesses and strengths in your business and your people?
And, and take a look back and then project what you think is, is gonna happen in the next quarterly is the great, it's three month chunks, right? And you can kind of understand everything. Small bite-sized chunk. Its, you know, it's, it's four of those in one year. And that's sort of, that's general business practice, whether you're in landscape or anything.
Is is on a quarter basis.
Yeah. Cool. So, you know, as we, as we sort of come to an end here, you know, great conversation Vince as always, but is there anything that we left out that Vince has got in his back pocket and goes, man, I'm not the landscape guy. I kind of jumped in on this as a kid, as a 19 year old, back in 11.
You know, and I've seen it all. Like is there anything that we may have missed or you would love to. Pull out real, real quick that says, yeah, we can pass on our audience.
It's gonna sound very very rudimentary, but go get it. It is yours to go get. Do not worry. There's always a million reasons to not do things. But the industry that we're in the go-getters are rewarded every single time. So if you're feeling a little in a rutt, if you're feeling a little complacent, hopefully this knocks you out of it.
Go get it and I'll tell you why you need to go get it. 'cause if you don't, somebody else will. 'cause there is the 20 year old Tommy Cole. There is the 15 year old Marty Grunder knocking on doors when you're not going to take what you have built. So if you're
or you're feeling like you're not rocking and rolling, go get it.
'cause if you don't, somebody else will.
Yeah, we're full of opportunities and we're so all great, but someone's gonna scoop you up in two seconds and push you outta the way if you don't.
And I, I, I like to piggyback that, but you're gonna hit roadblocks and there's gonna be things of doubt and concern. And, you know, it's, I always, compared to the wet, you know, the noodle, the pool noodle that's hitting you in the face every day.
There's every day you're gonna wait and there's gonna be some sort of thing hit you. But like, how tough can you get going and move forward in a direction with that pull noodle hitting you in the face?
And that's what it's about. Yeah. Yeah. Good stuff. Vince. Vince, I think you are, you got some stuff coming up.
soon about some webinars that you wanna out there.
Webinar and Peer Group Promo
Yeah, absolutely. So again, one thing that I would encourage for everybody to at least look into is our, our ACE Peer Group program for the owners and leaders of landscaping companies. Marty started around peer group companies, you know, peer groups 20 years ago. We still have members in them. There are great opportunities for you to get around other like-minded owners to work on your business, not in your business.
Whether it's the big details or the small ones, it's an awesome opportunity to learn and grow. Chris Penick and I are gonna host a webinar. Title, the, the, the Breakthrough Blueprint, and we're gonna give you three keys to unlock your growth potential. It's gonna be on September 29th at two o'clock Eastern time.
There'll be links and I'm sure other ways that we can get this out to people, Tommy, so they can get the details and sign up. But Chris and I are gonna talk about not only. What are those three things that you need to do to unlock your growth potential and to kind of break through the current place you're at with our Breakthrough Blueprint.
But we're also gonna give you a little bit of an idea of what ACEs are, how you can get involved, and how you can join the over 140 other companies we work with, the over $1 billion in revenue they have combined, and how you can leverage that network to make yourself better. So yeah, everybody listening, I'd encourage you to join Chris and I for our Breakthrough Blueprint webinar, September 29th.
📍 📍 📍 📍 More details to come on that.
Yeah, I, I ditto everything you just said. Peer groups is where it's happening, guys, and the, the biggest thing I can say is you get to, you can share the ulcer you are going through as a business owner. E the same thing, what everyone else is going through. And instead of going home to your wife complaining how rough of a day is you can complain to the other peer group members in there that are going through the same thing.
It's great. We've grown at very very, very good rate. Lots of members, and we're growing every year with more and more people, and it's just a great. Great partnership and a great thing that you, you're involved in the peer group situation, so yeah, I'm excited for your webinar coming up soon.
It is. Lots of great information, Vince. Awesome stuff. Once again we gotta have you on maybe once a year. This is, this is good stuff.
Love to. Thanks. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.
talk about some other things, but it's great to have you on board and thank you for your time.
Yep. Thanks Tommy. Take care.
We are done.
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