Couldn’t make it to GIE+EXPO this year? We’ve got you covered. The editors of Turf were on the ground, covering everything you need to know from the show. At the end of the day, our editors came together to curate a round-up of the standout insight and advice from the plethora of educational sessions with Hardscape North America, NALP’s LANDSCAPES and the GIE+EXPO sessions and workshops.

1. Water Concerns in 2017

At the panel convened by the National Association of Landscape Professionals to discuss landscape trends during GIE+EXPO on Friday, experts pointed out that dealing with water is a major part of their business. Whether handling excessive water as David Snodgrass from Dennis’ 7 Dees in the Pacific Northwest mentioned, or using drought-resistant plants in Colorado, as Michael Hupf of Lifescape Colorado noted, water usage and management will continue to be a concern for landscapers in 2017.

– From NALP’s LANDSCAPES session “Landscape Design Trends in 2016 and Beyond”

2. Customer Service is a Team Effort

Just like everyone on a football team will scramble for the ball if it’s fumbled, so should everyone in a landscape company pitch in to satisfy a clients’ needs, said Gary Ross, motivational teacher and sales trainer, during his talk on “Delivering Knock-Your-Socks-Off Customer Service” during Hardscape North America’s education session Friday. “Providing customer service is the focus of every staff member because every staff member impacts the customer,” he said. One key way to make sure customer service is top-notch is to make sure employees are also served at the highest level. “Studies show when the internal customer service is good, the external customer service is good,” Ross said.

From Hardscape North America’s session “How To Deliver Knock-Your-Socks-Off Customer Service” with Gary Ross, Motivational Teacher & Sales Trainer, Oldcastle APG, Masonry & Hardscape Divisions

3. Why Good Employees Don’t Stay

During his session on how to retain key employees, Tom Hudgin, president of Wilmington Quality Associates, examined the motives behind key performers who stay versus those who move on to what they see as “greener pastures.” During his session, he listed six reasons why good employees decide to leave.

  1. The work environment is not particularly friendly.
  2. Lack of effective leadership.
  3. Lack of recognition/appreciation.
  4. They don’t feel supported.
  5. Unfair treatment
  6. Passed over for promotion

From Hardscape North America’s session “Retaining Key Employees… Creating a Self-Motivating Work Environment” with Tom Hudgin, president of Wilmington Quality Associates

4. Economic Outlook: Mediocre? 

How do landscape professionals feel about the general economic conditions over the next year?

The majority — 47 percent — of the 60 companies responding to an Operating Costs Study say “mediocre,” 32 percent say “good,” 14 percent say “excellent” and 7 percent say “needs improvement,” says CPA Daniel Gordon.

How do landscape professionals feel about the general economic conditions over the next five years?

The percent that say “mediocre” increases to 60 percent, 33 percent say “good” and 7 percent say “needs improvement.” No one says “excellent.”

Feelings about the landscape industry are similar by study participants over the same time periods.

Gordon predicts the election’s impending outcome may have something to do with these changes in the general economic outlook.

From the NALP Workshop “Operating Cost Study: Lessons Learned – Knowing Your Numbers to Drive Success” with Daniel Gordon, Turfbooks.com 

5. Improvementus Interruptus

Bill Silverman says a disease may be lurking inside your landscape business that could cause it to hemorrhage money and time.

The disease is “improvementus interruptus,” or the failure to follow through on new initiatives or new processes, procedures or policies until they are adopted completely or by everyone in the business.

Signs you have this disease in your business are when you implement a new procedure that over time starts to fade and things go back to the way they were before.

Luckily, there’s a cure. Keep a list of all improvements you’re implementing and follow up monthly to ensure each is still being used as intended. If not, take corrective action. Repeat this for one year and then go to quarterly until the improvement is fully adopted.

Silverman warns: Cutting this “prescription” short could lead to relapse.  

– From “What the Owners of Great Multimillion Landscaping Businesses Do That You Should Do” with Bill Silverman

Read More of our GIE+EXPO 2016 Recaps.