As a business owner, you obviously want to stay busy, but the slowdown imposed by the arrival of winter provides an opportunity to regroup and refocus. Here are a few tasks that often get moved to the back burner when day-to-day operations are consuming all of your attention.
– Your team is probably already well into one traditional winter project, maintenance. Sanding, repainting, and any bigger jobs you’ve postponed will not only prepare most of your equipment for another busy year in the field but also help you decide whether to retire some of it and make some new purchases.
– Check your inventory of repairs kits and replacement parts. Stocking up now on the items you need most often can save you time, money, and headaches later.
– Take a look at the budget you created for the year that just ended. How closely were you able to adhere to it? Inflation may be slowing down, but it’ll still be a problem for the foreseeable future. Are there lines you need to adjust for the coming year?
– Industry publications can help you keep up with the ways that other pros are reacting to technological advances, evolving customer expectations, hiring and retention challenges, and best practices. They also have a tendency to pile up, physically and digitally, as other tasks take precedence. This slow period is a good time to scan recent issues for new ideas.
– Most people who pursue careers in lawn care are following a love of the outdoors. Very few come from a background in accounting or human resources. You might find those subjects tedious, but the more you know about running a small business, the more likely yours will survive and thrive. You have some time now to choose a subject and start a continuing education course.
– Your employees are your most valuable resources. To retain your best performers, you need to get to know them as people – their families, their interests, how they’d like their careers to progress – and communicate to them that you value their contributions. It can be almost impossible to do that in the daily rush of customer service and crises large and small. Take this opportunity to sit down with the members of your team to see how they’re doing. Do they have the resources they need to do their best work? Are they interested in taking on more responsibilities? What are their goals for the year ahead?
– It’s also easy to neglect activities that help people feel like their efforts are contributing to something bigger than themselves. One common way to reinforce an ethic of teamwork is a group dinner in the last days of winter down time. On the social side, staff members can meet each other’s families. In business terms, it’s a chance to recap the previous year and recognize its best employees while bolstering a sense of common purpose – just in time for the busy spring to kick off.
We at Graham obviously don’t care for lawns ourselves, but a lot of these ideas are relevant to any business. If there’s a theme here, it’s the notion that making your company the best choice for customers requires making it a place that great people want to work. When employees feel like they’re working together toward a shared goal and their efforts are acknowledged and valued, are recognized for their contributions, the results of their positive attitudes are easy to see.