There are no secrets to success in building a profitable green industry business. There is nothing that you can’t learn that somebody else hasn’t already learned. There is nothing you can’t do that somebody else hasn’t already done. Encouragingly, these “somebodies” will freely share their knowledge and their experiences with you… that is if you’re also willing to share what you know and your experiences with them.
I’m referring to networking, of course.
In terms of business, what can you expect to gain by networking with other like-minded landscaping and lawn care owners and managers? You can expect to learn about:
- the best types and brands of vehicles and other equipment to use for the services you provide.
- systems to reduce expenses and improve productivity.
- profitable services you may want to incorporate into your business
- attracting, training and retaining valuable employees.
- technologies and trends that are making waves in the industry.
- effectively dealing with common regulatory, horticultural and business-related issues.
- whatever you and the other members of your group decide to share with each other.
Pretty neat, right?
It’s no exaggeration to suggest that networking can become your most powerful business-building “tool.” Taking that statement even further: If you’re not networking, you are not giving yourself the opportunity to be as successful as you can be — or getting as much fun and enjoyment out of your career as you deserve to get.
Yes, you read that correctly. The words “networking, fun and enjoyment” fit together quite nicely in the same sentence. Admittedly, the notion of networking may seem dry to you. Indeed the Oxford dictionary definition of networking — “A group of people who exchange information and contacts for professional or social purposes.” — is as lifeless as a sun-bleached bone in the desert. But, clothe that skeletal definition with a circle of knowledgeable individuals willing to help you advance your goals as a business owner and you will also find yourself with new friends you enjoy socializing with.
Organized green industry networks (one of the biggest trends in the industry) commonly consist of five to 10 owners and/or managers representing non-competing companies. Participants generally run operations of similar size although not necessarily offering the same mix of services.
While today’s technology allows members to correspond and discuss common issues via the internet (like on our community-focused sister site, LawnSite), it’s also important to meet up face-to-face. The most successful groups attempt to meet in person at least twice a year. In addition to getting into the nuts and bolts of their businesses, they also break bread and share a common recreational activity, such as golf, fishing, etc. during their time together.
In almost all cases, the group has a leader who plans the get-together and sets the agenda. While some groups tightly script their meetings to keep everybody on point, other successful groups pose a list of say 10 or 12 topics or issues and let members decide what they want to dig into during the course of their time together.
How do you get involved in a peer-to-peer network? To start, browse and post in the regional networking forums on LawnSite. However, the best way is to join and become active in industry associations. That’s the most effective way to expand your circle of like-minded acquaintances and gain new friends willing to share with you. You will find that, unlike some other industries, the green industry is surprisingly accommodating to newcomers and other folks anxious to improve their companies.
In fact, every state and region of the country offers opportunities to participate in industry affairs.
On the grander scale, the annual GIE+EXPO in Louisville, Kentucky, each October, offers incredible networking and education opportunities through National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) and Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS).
If you’ve never attended, check it out. But do so soon. Some of the best networking opportunities, such as the NALP’s Breakfast of Champions at Landscapes 2016 fill up prior to the October conference in Louisville. Sign up forms are due September 2.