Ep 032 – Growth and Resilience: Insights from Lifescape CEO Michael Hupf

Home / Episode / Ep 032 – Growth and Resilience: Insights from Lifescape CEO Michael Hupf

What does it take to turn a business struggling through a recession into a multi-million-dollar success story? On this episode of Roots of Success, Michael Hupf, CEO of Lifescape Colorado, reveals the blueprint behind growing his landscape company from the brink of collapse to earning $36 million in revenue. Get ready to explore the powerful impact of focusing on people, process, and product, and how a growth mindset can propel your business to new heights. Michael shares invaluable lessons on maintaining client loyalty, implementing effective sales and maintenance strategies, and the essential role of smart, ambitious team members. Tune in to learn how Lifescape pivoted from mere survival to exemplary excellence in the landscaping industry.



Growth mindset and strategic planning ensure business resilience.

Key Moments:

[04:30] Invested in landscape business, sought opportunities in Colorado.
[08:57] Choose business over corporate career, achieve rapid growth.
[14:22] Discussing growth strategies with team
[17:35] Designer turned COO manages all aspects efficiently..
[21:42] Focus on service, drivers, and long-term growth.
[27:43] Healthy business needs profit for sustainability.
[31:27] Enhance client experience through efficiency and preparation.


    1. What are effective strategies for scaling a small business?

    2. What are key metrics to track for business growth?

    3. What are the best practices for managing cash flow during economic downturns?

    4. How to improve client experience in service-based industries?

    5. How to implement a growth mindset in business?

Episode Transcript
Michael Hupf [00:00:00] The Roots of Success podcast is for the landscape professional who's looking to up their game. 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. Tommy Cole: Hi there. Welcome to another episode of Roots of Success podcast, and I'm your host, Tommy Cole. We have an awesome guest today, which is our good friend and partner in crime for a lot of reasons Michael Huff from Denver, Colorado, and he's the, CEO of Livescape Denver, Colorado. Welcome, Michael. How are you? Michael Hupf: Great, Tommy. Thank you for inviting me. Michael's Career before Landscaping Tommy Cole: So you have been by far one of the smartest persons I do know. Let's talk about your background just slightly. you went to school at Creighton University, got an accounting degree. So you're the. You're the numbers guru financial guru, and then also a business degree from, from Stanford. And you spent some time as a [00:01:00] senior associate, but most importantly, you also had a wine business, which you probably learned a ton about that. And then you purchased Lifescape and Roughly what? 19, 20 years later, here we are. Right? That summarizes your whole career? Michael Hupf: Basically, except you missed the whole thing where I grew up on a farm in Nebraska. So that was basically, if you want to know where it all started, it was basically growing up on a farm, Tommy Cole: Yeah, Michael Hupf: helping dad with four brothers, was also into 4 H. So as the 4 H king and did, you know, a bunch of gardening and everything from there. So I remember I was talking to my mom and I'm going, I said, I don't even know where this all started. And she goes, well, I can tell you. So just rely on your moms. She'll remind you. Tommy Cole: right? Michael Hupf: But yeah, it, it did start back in Nebraska. And then like you said, I went to Creighton. I was actually a double major. It wasn't just accounting, it was biology as well. So I was pre med. And so I was looking at what path do I [00:02:00] go? Am I going to go medicine, go to medical school, or am I going to go into business? And I chose a business. So I was with Deloitte for almost four years as a CPA and then went to Stanford business school. And after that, I worked for McKinsey, which is the world's best consulting company. And through that, I worked on a bunch of public studies, which were kind of nice to talk about one being Warner Brothers and, Tommy Cole: Oh, Michael Hupf: You know, it's working on their whole integration. One of the worst mergers in history between AOL and Warner brothers. But I was helping to clean that mess up. And that's when, after that I started had an opportunity and started a wine company from scratch. So it was a project we did at Stanford and it was pretty cool. Where did, Tommy Cole: So how'd you get in the wine business? Like what happened there? And then what was that experience about? Michael Hupf: it was, it started back at Stanford business school. It's like we had a wine club and we did our own private label for the class and then sold it. As a fundraiser [00:03:00] for the university at the business school. And so what did is that if we can do that for one university, why don't we take that nationwide? And so that's where it started. So we started doing wine for USC. We did wine for UCLA university of Nebraska, Colorado across the country, and then also started doing IPO wine. So we did. Yahoo's IPO wine for celebrations. We did web band. So it was really a direct consumer and direct to business model and learned a lot about drinking wine, which is a good thing. But then also learned about the basics of business, from, you know, marketing to finance, to fulfillment cashflow management being probably the most important thing I've learned coming from that. And trust me, that came in very handy. Once I got out of that business and, went back to McKinsey went to the East coast, started a shared service center for Condé Nast it was [00:04:00] their newspaper group and was there for five years. And quite frankly, it was tired of flying across. I lived in LA at the time and, I worked in New York city. And so I flew every single week, every single Sunday night and back on Thursday. And through that process, that's where. Said I'm going to do something next. And that's where the whole landscaping thing started. Moving into the Landscaping industry Michael Hupf: So because you had a 4 H background, you said, man, I want to get my hands dirty all over again and, and get started in the landscaping. Right? Not necessarily. Tommy Cole: I knew you were going to say that. Not necessarily the hopes. So, so tell me about the experience of, of getting involved with Flyscape. There's a lot of history there, right? Prior to you. And then you got involved in and started kicking that off. Tell me about that experience. Michael Hupf: So I bought 35 percent of landscape in 2006, but in preparation to that, then you have to get ready for something like that. So I'm not coming in with, you know, a ton of landscaping expertise. [00:05:00] It was. Once I was on the East coast of working in New York, and I was looking at alternative things, that's when I said, okay, what industry do I want to get involved with? Because I wanted to get back involved with a small company, basically back to where things were like with the wine company. And so I looked at industries, honed in on the landscape industry, and then I started looking at markets, you know, love DC, Chicago, Dallas. Yeah. Los Angeles and Denver. Those were the five markets I looked at and then honed in on the opportunities because they were, the other markets were much further along in the green industry than what Denver was. And so there was a quite frankly, a bigger opportunity in the Colorado market. So that's where I did. And then went through the research and looked at the top five companies and found out some good synergies and somebody that was looking at. Going to the next level. And so Randy and I had [00:06:00] a good relationship and ended up, joining him knowing it was going to be a five year transition from 2006, 2011. What we didn't plan on is this little recession in 2000. And what was that? Tommy Cole: 09, right? Oops. Dealing with Recession Michael Hupf: It was, it started. And I looking backwards on the, the books, It all started in 2007. No one knew it that at the time it had, but I started seeing then interest expense starting to creep into our P and L. And so I could see exactly when, you know, our problems started happening here in the market. Tommy Cole: So what happened after that? So you trans, you know, what, what year or two into it, you started seeing this transition, you know, this whole economic sort of boss, this 07, 08, 09 transition. You know, I was in that, that bubble too, right here in Dallas, Texas. And, and it was, it was tough. It was [00:07:00] scary. It was. All hands on deck to figure things out. So what was that transition like going through it and coming out on top and then how's it going past, you know, those sort of past recession, times during a landscape Michael Hupf: It was not easy at all. I mean, when I bought Lifescape, we were right at 3. 2 million and then we quickly grew it in 2007 up to five and a half million. But by 2008, the whole country was in a firm recession. So it went right back down to 3. 2 million. And then no one could see the other side because it, it didn't get over until 2000 end of 2010 is when it really started getting over. And it took capital. So it took the, cash management, going back to the wine company took the cash management expertise. We were managing literally every hundred dollars. And so it was almost like [00:08:00] I was doing more cash management than I was any selling, which was unfortunate, but it's necessary way to keep a business together. And I had to raise over 2 million in friends and family capital raise to keep the company alive. I never wanted the thing where you check the box that says, you know, declared bank rate. Yeah. And I said, Nope. And so that's it. It literally was raising money, working with your vendors, getting together a plan because I knew we were going to get out the other side. We just didn't know when. And so we did. And so that was 2000 and the end of 2010. So 2011, we started making money again. And it, it took a while to repay that debt. And so what, what I did strategically. In 2014 'cause it was a, it was a painful experience. Yes. You're going through the recession. That itself was from 2007 through [00:09:00] basically 2010, but then we were in a dead zone period from 2011 to 2014. And I just knew, you know, it's, I could do what I wanted to do. It's like, did I want to go back to, you know, corporate America? What did I want to do? And I made the decision. Nope. I'm going to invest more in the business. And what we did is that we grew, we had, our specific strategy was just growth. And so we had for the next, it was six years, it was just nothing but growth, you know, that lasted through 2019. And then of course, we develop our 10 year plan. And I'm not kidding you. The timing was we got signed up with EOS, that entrepreneurial. Operating system from the traction, but we did that in December of 2019. And that little thing of cobit then happened in. Early in the year, Tommy Cole: Yeah,[00:10:00] Michael Hupf: but the good thing is, is that. Our our 10 year plan was then to get to 50M dollars. In revenue, and we are 3 years ahead of schedule. How to handle growth Tommy Cole: there you go. So let's talk about real quick, tons of growth. You hit the nail on the head. I mean, you've, you've seen anything from starting at 3. 2 million, basically when you were around and you're, you'll, you'll get into what you are now. Talk about the challenges of growing. You grew so fast. But talk about the challenges, but also talk about the wins. Why did you have so many wins to grow that, but also talk about the challenges during that period? Michael Hupf: We went, since we went in with a growth mindset that it was, our pure strategy was growth just because we were not a company of scale. What you'll find is there are these different levels in the landscape industry and with inflation, [00:11:00] the numbers have gone up a little bit, but it's really, it's like you're starting off. And then, you know, one person can probably do a half a million dollars in revenue. Now, then the next level, and you're reinventing the company again is a million dollars and then it doubles to 2 million and now that number is probably about 6 million. And you're gonna find that people are gonna stagnate right in that $6 million level for a long time. And lt, you reinvent yourself again. And then once you get to that 6 million, now that number is probably in that 10 to 12 million range and. Then the next number is right about 20 million. And once you, once we hit 20 million, it was like a completely different company. So we went from that. We hit three different levels within it was five years, which is absolutely crazy. And Every single time we hit the next level, it was easier to run the business. And it was that 20 million level. That is that really paid off. [00:12:00] that's when people started paying attention to us nationwide. Tommy Cole: Right, right. So tell me about real quick. So from that sort of five to 20 million, what were some key metrics or key things that like really were successful for your team? Michael Hupf: First of all, it's like we were a hundred percent design build at the time. So since we were a hundred percent design build, what we were doing is that we've always been a very competitive company. And you know, us, we're a competitive company. We're fun. We joke, but we want to win. And so what we would do is that we're tracking. Basically metrics to know exactly how we're doing on the selling front. And so we look, you know, we look at what have we invoiced? Then what have we sold in our backlog? And then we're looking at the weighted average pipeline and we're looking at that every single week. It's not a monthly exercise. And I work with our sales people and designers that they need to look at it every day. You know, it's not there for a scorecard. It's how do you [00:13:00] manage your professional life to make sure that you keep winning? so it was literally focusing on that. Just intently. Tommy Cole: Yeah. I love that. You know, at the end of the day, you want winners in your organization, right? It's, it's no different than a sport, right? Like you want to win, but like, you're going to have losses along the way, right? You could take a loss, but like, what are you going to do when you do lose in that match or that game? Right? No different between the week or the month, right? You can have some tough years or tough months, but like, what are you? How's your team going to react and what are you going to do about it? Right? We can sit here and go wah, wah, wah all day long about not winning, but I love the mentality. You guys love to have fun and you love to win. And those two are like just an amazing combination at the day. And you study, what I like about it is you study the backlog, you study sales, you study your production, [00:14:00] and you're constantly looking at that every single day and week, month, and year. And you keep progressing along the way, correct? Michael Hupf: That's exactly right. And yeah, that's like, we went through even this year. Now we went to push ourselves even further to be a professional sales organization. We went through the Sandler training. Tommy Cole: Mm hmm. Michael Hupf: There's numerous different training out there for sales, but it's like Sandler's recognizes one of the best. And one of the key lessons I learned from Sandler is that don't be afraid to get a no upfront. Tommy Cole: my gosh, isn't that so true? Don't be scared to know. Michael Hupf: Yep. Tommy Cole: Yep. Michael Hupf: and so that's, you know, that was just really, and we have a sales meeting every single Tuesday and we have for the past 15 years. Is that we talk about this stuff every single week. Now, in the middle of that growth from 5 million to 20 million, we then implemented what was really important. [00:15:00] We started the maintenance division. Since we were a hundred percent design build is that when you're looking at you are only as good as what your revenue is for that year, when you wake up on January of the first, Tommy Cole: Start all over. Michael Hupf: what am I saying? Waking up when you go to bed on January, the first. Tommy Cole: Totally. Michael Hupf: At 1201, your revenue just went to zero. Yes. Tommy Cole: Yeah. Michael Hupf: And so that's, and I will give kudos to Jim, Jason, you, and Chris from McFarland. In really helping us launch the maintenance division. It was a combination of you and Bill Arman that really got this off the ground. So maintenance now. If you look at our product mix we, last year, we ended the year as a 36Million dollar company. And 39 percent of our revenue is from, we're from recurring revenue. Tommy Cole: Zero to 39 percent of your business is [00:16:00] maintenance. And over those years, And you saw the value of maintenance, right? You put in some key pieces in your organization between personnel, teams, field teams, you put in a, an account management system, right? That says we're going to be at your property every single week. We're going to take care of the high touches, the high properties, all the details that go in, because what happens, it's just reoccurring revenue every single month, and not only that you get enhancements, enhancements, enhancements. So, so almost half your business. reoccurring. Yeah, we're my goal. So this year will be in the low 40%. So we'll go for 40%. And within 5 years. I would love it to be 60 percent maintenance and 40 percent construction. Love it. Michael Hupf: Makes it makes the New Year's Eve a lot better. Tommy Cole: Yeah, you make it stay out past 1201, right? Michael Hupf: Exactly. Tommy Cole: stuff. The importance of People Tommy Cole: Michael, talk about, talk about the people in your organization. You've got some good [00:17:00] ones. Explain what it means. We talk about people all the time that they're probably your best and most important asset in your business. It's not the skid steer or the lawn mower. It's the people in order to do those activities. Talk about that means to you in Lifescape. Michael Hupf: To me, I mean, you, you need to, first of all, set out what your goals are. Like, what do you want to be? it's best not to create a company around people. You basically have the structure, you know, what your strategy is going to be. And then you bring in great people and you don't know what role they're necessarily going to fill. I mean, right now is the end, you know, or quite well, she was any LPs woman of the year 2023. And she started as a designer with us. She was the first person that I hired. July of, 2006, and she's now [00:18:00] our chief operating officer. So she now is running both the design side design build side, and also the maintenance side. So she runs everything in the field and the great, you know, partner with us. So Then you take from the rest of the operations folks, it's like that have been underneath of her. We've had designers that have been with us for. Going on 18 years. So the key thing is that finding good people, and they need to be smart. Tommy Cole: Yeah. Michael Hupf: want to win, want to have a good time. That's the recipe for success. Tommy Cole: That's great. That's great. You know, I love the part where you say build a structure, right? I got to build a structure. I got to build a system that produces, you know, Great landscape and maintains the landscape. And Oh, by the way, I'm going to find some really good people and you're probably going to hire some bad people, right? That's, that's no big deal. That's part of life. We've all hired the bad ones. We've all had to move on from the [00:19:00] bad ones, but the good ones stick around for a very long time and they adapt to your system and they can move within an organization as Leanne has done It's not been the perfect road, but it has been one heck of a good ride so far. Michael Hupf: And you then look at on our production side, you have folks in our organization that like Cody, he started out as an assistant foreman. So he's number two on a crew. He then became foreman, become senior foreman, and now he's a production manager. Tommy Cole: Wow. Michael Hupf: know he's already looking at, he said, okay, how do I become a branch manager? Tommy Cole: Yeah. Michael Hupf: how you want to be able to grow your talent in the company. Tommy Cole: Yeah. Nothing's better than promoting within. Michael Hupf: That's Tommy Cole: an absolute game changer for your organization. I love it. How to maintain ideal clients Tommy Cole: talk about maintaining landscapes in the high end industry, right? Sometimes people think it's a little scary dealing with high end clientele and budgets and that sort of thing, but [00:20:00] what's attractive about that pot spot? I feel like during the recession, you're probably want a decent spot because The wealthy people love to spend money, right? Rightfully so, dinner, recession. But like, tell me how you guys have been successful maintaining high end residential clients. Michael Hupf: I think it starts with not calling them high end. It's, it's that I really believe that it's high touch. So. If you think of high end, I mean, that is, yes, they do. It's the luxury market. They have money. That's what defines that market. But by focusing on high touch instead of the high end, that service is what people are looking for. And so that I think is the key is you focus on service, keep your prices reasonable, you'll win day in and day out. Tommy Cole: At the end of the day, you know, you sell a service to the client. That's it, [00:21:00] right? And can you perform that service On time and on budget and then they have a smile at the end of the job. That's it the end of the day, right? It's not complicated. got to produce. We just got when we say we're going to do something to show up and do it Michael Hupf: Yeah. Our number one complaint. Is communication that, Tommy Cole: music Michael Hupf: and it's, it is the entire. Tommy Cole: reason that you're going to get fired Michael Hupf: Yeah, Tommy Cole: lack of communication, right? Hundred Michael Hupf: is exactly right. And so when I think about service is that we are far from perfect. Everybody, you know, it's like, and what you've got to do is you've got to learn from things. Well, it's like this morning we had two complaints from clients about driving. And so my thing is, is that we need to take those complaints. Just as seriously in follow up than if we got a lead for a 15, 20 million home. Tommy Cole: percent Michael Hupf: And so if you focus on that service aspect of [00:22:00] things, that's, that's what we'll, you know, do we have a problem with our drivers evidently? Because we had two complaints, you know, so, you know, but those are the things that we really want to focus on for, you know, us in the longterm. Now we've been, you know, this is now see our, we're going, we are in our 49th year. In business, the oldest, you know, high touch landscape company in the Colorado market. And so, yes, we'll be going in our 50th year Tommy Cole: 50 years next year. I'm there in Denver to celebrate. I will be there, to celebrate 50. So you just tell me the date and we'll be there. Michael Hupf: Perfect. Merging with Mariani Tommy Cole: So let's talk about something unique that has happened to Lifescape early this year. I don't, you, you, you tell us, Michael Hupf: Yeah. Tommy Cole: happened earlier this year to Lifescape? Michael Hupf: Now you're making me nervous. Yeah. It was a big deal. we decided to partner with Mariani. And. I am on day 115 [00:23:00] of this, and I will tell you 115 of 115 days. It was absolutely the right decision. It's the right decision for number one, our team gives them opportunity of doing, you know, it's like even taking life scape to the next level, taking their careers to the next level. And it's the right thing for our clients. And it was, it was a, a great strategy for me, you know, as owner of Lifescape to take chips off the table as well. So, yeah, so it was Frank is a dear friend of mine, Frank Mariani. I met him 20 years ago when I was looking at the market. And when I was back in New York city met a lot of great folks in the industry and he was one of them. And it was, we, we, as Mariani. Are creating the best outdoor living company in the world. That's our vision statement and it is what we're doing. Yes, we're growing rapidly. [00:24:00] And for us, it's been a great experience. And I had our town halls. We always have two town halls a year, of our folks and everybody has said that it is, they have zero complaints. Tommy Cole: That's great. That's great. That's awesome. Well, first off, congratulations. That's been a huge deal and I'm excited and happy for the entire Lifescape team. I've definitely spent some time up there in Denver with you and your team and, and we've definitely spent some time together outside of Denver, Colorado over the years. And when I, when I heard the news, I was extremely ecstatic for you guys. There's one thing that's probably on everyone's mind that's listening to this right now and they go, Oh my gosh. They partner up Mariani, like I'm a 5 million company. Now, listen to this, how do I get my business to where it needs to be at that level to be partners with somebody now, whether it be now or I [00:25:00] need to get to that spot, but talk about some things that you had to get the business to, to be getting ready to that. Michael Hupf: I would start with a great TV show, is on CNBC is the profit. I don't know if you've ever seen that before, Tommy. Yes. And it's like, according to him, it is so simple. Break your business down. It's the three P's. It's number one. It's people. Two is process and three is the product. If you do those three, that results in profit. And he did add a fourth P and that fourth P was passion. And I really believe in that simplicity. And that's, I did not plan on this happening. It just came to be, I knew it was going to eventually, but the timing of it, it was so I did not get the company ready to do this. It just happened. But it was because over the years we had focused on those piece, you know, it really [00:26:00] was those five P's with the fifth one being profit because you have to have the right people. You have to have those processes in place. You need to make sure that you have the, you're creating the right product. And then if you're, if your team has that passion in the product, that those are the people, And companies that companies are attracted and partnering with. And I look at it as a partnership. It is not just an acquisition. It's a partnership and, it's great, but yeah, that's, those are the things I would focus on the basics of business. Don't try to get cute and doctor your books because trust me, anybody would find that out. So it's just getting your, getting the basics done. Tommy Cole: Totally. You hit a, you hit a, a sensitive subject, I think for a lot of business owners and that is. We talk about that a lot, but that's that word called profit. And let's just be real honest with everyone. If you're not making money, [00:27:00] that's an issue. Um, with all the government money that's over the past years, or you're not watching your hours, or you're not making money, or you don't know what your billable rate is, or you don't know, those types of things are hurting. And I feel like our industry suffers because we almost work for free for sometimes, right? And you've heard that across. The entire country. Well, the profits just not there. The profits not there. Well, at the end of the day, we are for profit businesses, right? We work way too hard in this industry. How to increase profits Tommy Cole: Landscape business owners are some of the best people out there in any industry. I, and I'm willing to bet on that, but you got to make money in this business. And you guys have done it, for the most part, pretty well. Like, don't be ashamed of making money at the end of the day. Can you explain some of that? Michael Hupf: Well, you, I mean, it needs to start with that is that a healthy business is a profitable [00:28:00] business. If you don't make money, you won't have the resources to take care of the two most important things, which are your team and your clients, because you will cut corners on both. So you need to be profitable. Now that profit comes in different stages. When we were going through, I mean, you have the externality of the recession, that's different. But then when we were in that period of growth from 2015 to 2020, during that period of growth, I mean, you're a five year period and we were only making between one and maybe two and a half percent net income, which is not enough to sustain where you need to be going. But whenever you're growing that fast, things happen. And so we had a strategy of growth. It wasn't the strategy of, you're getting the most on the bottom line. Now, once we got to scale, once we got, you know, the processes that really wanted people, and then we shifted, our strategy [00:29:00] is no longer growth. Our strategy was excellence. Once we did that, our profits tripled. And so then, you know, the, the key is getting your business to no less than eight, but I would prefer that people are striving for a 10 percent net income. Year in and year out that way. Some years, if you don't do as good as you should have, you'll be at eight and then your good years, you're at 12, 13. So the key thing is focusing on that double digit net income and you can do it. And it's, it is not rocket science Tommy Cole: Yeah, totally agree with you. Talk about, sales, Like you're, you're really involved in that, side of the business of Lifescape and sales. So I feel like this is the year we're in 2024 where you're probably experiencing this a little bit in your business, but sales are not as easy. As it has been right when, when COVID was rampant and people were sitting at home going, [00:30:00] do whatever it takes, I'll spend whatever. Right. And so the first. How to continue to be successful Tommy Cole: This, this year has been a little bit tricky. And I think everyone can see it, but what is Lifescape or what are you guys learning in, in your markets of what you should be doing and what's successful right now, it's not easy, but like, how are you overcoming that right now? Michael Hupf: is you hit the nail on the head. I'm, I'm part of our peer group, you know, it's like we, and everybody, we had 12 companies there, Tommy and 11 out of the 12, All had a softness in the design build backlog and pipeline. it's across the country. And so you have to be better at sales. And so what does that mean? You've got an hours was, is that we actually rethought the whole lead intake process. How do we provide a better experience from that first moment that we have contact with a potential client? So we rethought that. How can we have [00:31:00] Give them more attention. Then we went through the next one. How can we shorten the production process from creating a design and getting that construction contract so that people are out there because now that they're, you know, everybody's backlogs are a little leaner. People can get a project done faster. And that it's like the last part is that working through the production making sure that you are then transitioning that. Over to the property care team. So we get that full service of design build, and then we maintain it. Tommy Cole: I love it. So it's all about the client experience, right? And can we take the experience? And have the most greatest experience for that client. One, two, can we shorten it? Right? Can we get faster? Can we get a quote out quicker? Well, we got to have templates. Well, in the intake form, we got to ask more questions. And out of those questions and all that data, how do I get it to the design sales team? [00:32:00] So they got more information before they go to the on site visit. Production wise, how do we do pre planning and get ready for these jobs and order materials in advance? Construction schedules, invoicing, all that. And you kind of condense them a little bit more and more. At the end of the day, you got yourself, set yourself apart from your competition. And so it's show up on time, look professional, speed kills. Right? Super. Go fast. Say what you're going to do. Communicate along the way and few things will set you apart. Michael Hupf: But if you do it the exact same way that you did it last year, you will fail Tommy Cole: Totally. Michael Hupf: can pretty much guarantee you Tommy Cole: Yes. Michael Hupf: it's a different market out there. And I think it'll be this way for the next 18 months. Tommy Cole: Good stuff, Michael. The future of Lifescapes Tommy Cole: So, future plans for Lifescape. What? You've accomplished a lot in 20 years. And you know, going from 3 to 36. Partnership with Mariani. But what's the future hold with you and the team?[00:33:00] Michael Hupf: Is it, we're just going to continue doing what we have been doing. Which we are known as not just local leaders were national leaders. And now that we've joined forces with Mariani, that's what we'll just do. And so we're going to keep pushing the industry forward. And quite frankly, faster than we could have by ourselves. And so I'm looking forward to the future and you know, the, you know, I look at the background that you have, there is a, the green industry is not going away. And so we. You know, it's like you could have as much AI and everything you want, but the green industry isn't going away with the way that we are improving. Both are the lives of our clients, both residential and commercial. So because that we really want to be leaders in the forefront and give our team the best opportunities of leadership throughout the world. Tommy Cole: Love it. That's great. So as we wrap up, Michael, [00:34:00] any last minute advice for anyone that's listening out there that you've experienced in your 20 years of landscaping, years of 4 H farm, many years in the wine industry, what's one takeaway you can leave with our audience? Michael Hupf: The most important thing is be a good person. Tommy Cole: Yes, Michael Hupf: And it's like, I've had guard managers say, what's the most important quality you're looking at when you're hiring a guard manager. And so I can answer that question. I don't care if I'm hiring a guard manager, I'm hiring a controller, I'm hiring a designer. It really is be a good person, be smart, make sure that you're prepared for everything that you're doing. And it's like, at the end of the day, you'll get exactly what you put into it. Tommy Cole: gets you far in life, right at the end of the day, just be a good person. the high road and go with it. So Michael, I've got a few takeaways. We call these the Tommy takeaways. This is good information. [00:35:00] But I love the fact that, watching sales backlog constantly. What's coming down the pipe? How much are we bidding? What does the production look like? Constantly reviewing that every single day, week, and month managing growth. You got to set goals. Where are you going? Where's this ship that you're steering headed towards? Is it just like in the middle of the ocean kind of going in circles because there's no goals and there's no people know? I love the fact that you have a winning culture because you need to know if you're winning or not. It's no different in football and basketball and sports in life. Like, are we winning or not? Are we just coming in every day, clocking in, do our job and we clock out for no rhyme or reason and we go home and there's no purpose in life. In our industry or in life find good people, put them into structure. That's built the livescape structure, the process, right? [00:36:00] I love the word high touch because your industry considers a lot of touches. Therefore relies a lot on communication. You said the number one reason why you get fired is what? Communication. Love it. A huge partnership with Mariani has probably taught you a ton, but action today to get your business ready to have a great partnership. It's the people, it's the process, it's the profit, it's the product and it's the passion. I love those. Michael, it's been a pleasure. You're such a good friend of ours. We've had tons of visits to Denver and tons of memories and throughout a ton of cities in the United States. It's always been a pleasure having you on. Thank you for coming on here. Michael Hupf: Absolutely. Thank you, Tommy, so much for everything that you and McFarland do for us as well. Tommy Cole: Absolutely. We'll see you soon, buddy. Thank you. Michael Hupf: Thank you, Tommy. John: Ready to take the next step? 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