OK, here we go. It’s a new year, so what’s it going to be? Let’s face it. We’re all going to have ups and downs this year, just like every other year in the history of mankind. Stuff happens, and we are going to have to deal with it. God only knows what is in store for us and for our companies this year.

With that in mind, let’s bring it, brothers and sisters. We all have competition, and low bidders in our markets, and we have big companies breathing down our necks, and crabby customers and employees who don’t show up with their A game every day.

So what? Here’s something to ponder: Can we personally change any of that? No we can’t, so dwelling on the negative is going to get us nowhere. Now that we have established that, let’s talk about a few things we can do to make this a great year.

We can focus on being the best company we can be. We can all improve, and we should all be constantly trying to bring our game up a notch.

We all have customers, and our customers pay our salaries; how do we treat them? Do we treat them like we would like to be treated if we were staying at a 5-star resort? Do we complain about them behind their backs? How about trying this exercise: next time your customer calls to complain, ask yourself not only how you can fix their problem but how you can make that customer say, “Wow that was amazing customer service!” Fix their problems and then some.

We can all improve our company culture. Let’s treat our employees with respect, listen to their ideas and reward them once in a while with pizza, donuts or a sincere thank you. It doesn’t matter if we have a single employee or 100 employees, we should treat all employees fairly and cut them some slack when they make mistakes. If we do this, we will have loyal employees who will do anything for us. If we constantly tell them they aren’t doing it right, yell at them or talk down to them, we will get nothing but headaches. Treat our employees well and they will do amazing things for us. Trust me on this one.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but we are all salespeople and we have to sell. I don’t care if you don’t think you are a salesperson; the minute we started our landscape companies, we became salespeople. We have to sell. So, for those of us (myself included) who do not view ourselves as salespeople, here is one of my best tips. Read about great salespeople and learn from them. Start with Jeffrey Gitomer’s sales books as they contain excellent information and are easy to read. Listen to sales podcasts or books on CD. Don’t try to emulate those slick used car cheese balls yelling at you from your TV screen. Instead, sell by building trust, relationships and giving value.

There are many other things we can do to improve our companies this year. But if we focus on improving our relationships with our customers and our employees and work on becoming better salespeople, we will definitely improve the performance of our companies this year.

And, yes, we can do it.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in the January 2015 issue of Turf and has been updated for accuracy.