Since he was 15 years old, Brett Seltz, 47, has been a landscaper. He worked with builders and developers in Franklin, Tennessee, designing landscapes on new developments and worked with nurseries to source plant materials and general landscapers to help manage installation projects. Jumping from one job to the next, keeping things moving, he said at some point, “I felt like I got little things done here and there, but I never completed anything.”
This feeling of never checking anything off of his list plagued him. “I was wearing so many hats,” he explains. “I got to a point where I’d wake up in the morning and have to drag myself out of bed, saying, ‘Damn, here we go … another day.'”
“My head was constantly spinning, emails and phone calls continually came in 24 hours a day, and I brought my problems home all the time and ended up divorced,” Seltz shares.
Then, two years ago, Seltz had a big scare when he went to the doctor, who almost admitted him into the hospital as a result of extremely high blood pressure. “The doctor said it was from stress and overwork, and I had to get on blood pressure medicine and get this under control,” he says.
On top of that, years of physical and mental stress caused labrum issues and bone spurs in his shoulders, a rotator cuff tear in one and some disc issues in his neck — all of which required a total of three surgeries last year. “The wear and tear added up,” he says. “I was in so much pain, and I was just completely worn out.”
Heavy workload. Constant customer calls at all hours of the day and night. Keeping up with invoicing and payroll. Scheduling and rescheduling jobs. Nonstop juggling: One minute you’re an owner managing the business, the next minute you’re talking with customers, and the next minute you’re filling in on a crew. Those who try to keep this pace typically end up suffering physical exhaustion, sleepless nights, aches and pains, family troubles and chronic health issues.
It’s called burnout, and 91 percent of landscape professionals have experienced it while managing their businesses, according to Turf‘s survey. What’s worse is that only 50 percent of these folks recognized the symptoms and put a plan in place to beat it. Forty-three percent of landscapers still suffer from burnout.
Unfortunately, burnout can get the best of landscape professionals even if they are incredibly passionate about their work. If they are putting more into their businesses than they feel they are receiving from it — usually if the work is no longer rewarding or if they neglect self-care for an extended period of time — then they can likely face this level of extreme fatigue, explains Travis Bradberry, co-writer of “Emotional Intelligence 2.0.”
Before treating burnout, landscapers must understand the specific business management issues that tend to cause breakdown so they can recognize it and learn how to keep it in check.