Communication and digital technology are revolutionizing how we interact and run our businesses. While it has its dark side as evidenced by security breaches that have the potential to rob us of our privacy and do us great financial harm, few of us can now function efficiently without this technology. We use our smartphones to access entertainment, to stay connected to each other and also for all manner of commerce. Smartphones, along with tablets and laptops, are now indispensable for operating our businesses due to the labor- and time-saving advantages their use provides us.
In terms of communication technology, the genie is out of the bottle—and, in spite of the risks, we’re glad it is. We can’t (and we won’t) turn back. The only option left to us in the business world, regardless of industry, is to use this technology to its fullest advantage. If that isn’t challenge enough, we have to make every effort to stay abreast of the technology because it is ever evolving.
For example, how many of us just a few years ago imagined a wristwatch that would allow us, with a gentle tap of the finger, to receive messages, connect with and share data (including images, etc.) with friends, family, clients and co-workers? If that weren’t enough, it can also measure our heartbeat and other fitness metrics and keep us informed of other personal health metrics. Oh, and by the way, the watch keeps time “within 50 milliseconds of the definitive global time standard,” says Apple, which spent spring 2015 reminding us that it became available April 24. Let’s get in line.
With all of these marvelous tools to trade ideas, share data and stay in touch with each other, why is it that so many of us have trouble connecting all of the pieces of our landscape businesses into a successfully functioning whole?
Building communication connections
That’s the challenge that Dominic A. Chiarella and his brother set out to tackle more than a decade ago in an effort to drive their Connecticut-based company, Ultimate Services Professional Grounds Management, Inc., rather than allowing it to continue driving and frustrating them. As it turned out, much of the solution to making their business more efficient and profitable revolved around lack of directed communication, they discovered.
Chiarella now clearly recognizes the transformational power of communication in turning struggling small businesses into robust, smooth-running operations. For more than 20 years he served as director of operations and as director of business development of the landscape company that he and his brother built in Wolcott, Connecticut. In 2011, armed with this experience and earning university degrees in computer science and Italian and a master’s degree in administrative services, he started a new career. He founded the business development firm, 7 of 7 BEST Business and Life Strategies, which offers consulting and coaching.
What’s unique about his efforts (and what makes it affordable to his clients, he says) is that he offers these services in the virtual world via online coaching, instructional webinars and monthly group calls. His instruction and coaching draws heavily upon the experiences that he and his brother overcame—often frustratingly—and the systems they developed in building their $15 million operation. He shares this information to other business owners in a detailed self-study program, which he oversees.
“One of the biggest problems in business is communication, specifically determining who gets what information and when they should get it. One area that needs the most communication is what happens after the client signs a contract,” says Chiarella. “We the business owners know what happens to the signed contract and where and to whom it goes. But short of following the contract to each department, does the rest of the our company know these important details?”
Chaiarella says for small businesses to grow and become more profitable they must address and implement systems to deal with these four basic communication questions:
- What happens to the client’s contract information?
- Where should the information go?
- What information goes to accounting?
- What information goes to production?
Seemingly obvious on the surface, it is surprising how many business owners struggle because they haven’t established processes to keep every department within their companies communicating with each other. No business, small or large, can function efficiently without concise, properly directed internal communication.
Of course, we’re all aware of the benefits that the communication revolution now provide us in terms of communicating with clients, giving and receiving information on job sites, accessing technical data and too many other time-saving conveniences to name here. Indeed, the technology has literally brought the world and all of its information to our fingertips.
Strangely, even in this age when we are all so intimately connected because of technology, many of us still struggle to communicate effectively within our own operations, creating hardships for ourselves as owners and managers, and limiting the success of our companies.