These past few years, I have gotten back to the basics of my business. I like to call it a grassroots approach to running my company. A few takeaways of going this route are things like sunburn and achy muscles. Almost getting run over by cars and the occasional semi are also occupational hazards I haven’t had to deal with in many years. Getting back in the field, “digging in the dirt” and seeing the operations of my business from the ground up has been a transition that is helping me restructure my company.
There is a method to my madness that I want to share with you — well actually several methods, if you don’t mind. First of all, let’s be real here, I never really left the field; I just stopped working on a crew. I firmly believe that you cannot run a small to mid-size landscape company from behind a desk. All of our work is outside of our offices and shops; those are just the facts, folks.
Now I know some of the bigger companies out there might be saying; “Well, Steve, if you have the right people and systems in place, then you shouldn’t have to be out there in the field any more.” And I would say right back to them, “Exactly.”
Now here is the punch line: I know that if I don’t get out there and start innovating right now, today, tomorrow and the next day, someone else will and already is. Let me say this in very clear terms: Someone somewhere right now is already changing the way this industry looks, acts, performs and delivers its services and they are using technology in ways we never thought would exist in the landscape world on top of it all. Please believe me on this. It might take some time, but sooner or later you will see it in your market.
“But Steve, this is all worlds away from digging in the dirt, isn’t it?” To that, I would say, “Not so much.”
Think about this for a minute. Some of the greatest advancements in our world were pioneered by single individuals. Henry Ford: the assembly line, Thomas Edison: the light bulb, Steve Jobs: the iPhone. I would be willing to bet they were all in the room when these marvels were being brought to fruition. Eventually they all used systems, employees and technology to bring them to the market. But they started by digging in the dirt, identifying a problem, a dream, an idea and it was them who spearheaded it. They were in the room.
I firmly believe that there is a Steve Jobs out there somewhere with a pickup truck and some equipment. Or maybe the company is already up and running, gaining momentum right at this moment and doing things differently, very differently. Our industry is ripe for disruption and I’m not sure if anyone has quite figured the whole thing out just yet, but when it happens — and it will happen — I want to be one step ahead. I hope you do, too.
I gotta go now and get back to that dirt.