By Ron Hall/Editor-in-Chief

LOUISVILLE, Ky.-You gotta have a plan for your landscape company. That was one of the key points that consultant and longtime ValleyCrest executive Bill Arman stressed to landscape company owners during a presentation at the 2011 Green Industry Conference here this past November.

"You wouldn’t built a landscape without a plan. You wouldn’t build a home without a plan ," Arman said. "Have a plan." Starting his consulting career in 2007, Arman spent 29 years with ValleyCrest Companies in various management positions.

Here’s what a plan will do for you, he said:

-It establishes a road map to your desired destiny.

-It identifies your company’s current reality and defines whaty ou want its destiny to be.

-It provides a roadmap to get the company from where it is now to where you want it to be.

Arman, who partners with former landscape company owner and fellow consultant Ed Laflamme in the Harvest Group, suggested that company owners plan for three to fives years out, but with tractical and strategic checkups and repositioning periodically. "Stuff happens all the time, but you need to have a roadmap of where you want to be," said Arman.

The basic components of your plan should include:

-a SWOT review. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

-SMART goals, goals that are specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and timely.

-Budgets, a sales and marketing plan, employee and customer relations guidelines, an operations manuel and defined initiatives, programs and processes.

"Have a plan. It should be in writing. All of your key people should have a copy of the plan. It should be worn out. There should be coffee stains on it, dog ears, highlights," said Arman. "It should be a working plan."

Having a plan in place reduces confusion within an organization. It boosts accountability, ownership and increases cooperation among your team. Equally important, it establishes milestones, goals and strategic intent.

Arman advised the owners not to set their plans in stone. As you review your plan periodically (monthly, perhaps quarterly) you will almost certainly have to make adjustments.

"A plan is a powerful tool in any organization," said Arman.