Do this, not that!

Do this, not that!

Landscapers are often faced with choices in their businesses. Often times those choices affect our success much more than we realize. I have a lot of experience making choices. I hate to admit this but in a week or so, I’m going to be 44 years old. I’ve been running a landscaping company for 28+ years now. In those 28+ years, I have learned a lot. I have gained a lot of experience. I love sharing what I have learned with other landscapers in hopes of them improving and avoiding the pitfalls I fell into. For the record, experience is different than advice. Advice, in my book, is what we think will work. Experience is what we know will work…or not work. I offer up experience. I don’t tell landscapers (entrepreneurs) what I think will work; that’s advice! I want to share with you what I have learned from putting my own money and time out there and help you eliminate as much “guessing” as possible.

So, as we go along, I will from time to time share do this, not that and this lays out what I mean by that and frames this Great Idea. I hope you enjoy it and learn and improve in the process. The choices we all make will determine the level of success we will enjoy.

Do this, not that!

Hire outside folks, not family members.

Through the years, I have hired many family members. And I have to admit that I hired them because of their last name, not because of their talents or fit with my organization. Many companies have nepotism rules and policies and there’s a reason for this. Often hiring family members doesn’t work out and then you really have a big problem.

My brother is an incredibly talented person. He worked with me from the time I started the company until he graduated from college. We did not get along and did not have the same ideas on how things should go. I fired and rehired him over 33 times (or close to that :-)). It just didn’t work out. I expected way too much from him and he expected he could do what no one else was allowed to do. He was a very hard worker and helped me grow the company but what was best for both of us was for him to leave and find his own identity. And he has done just that. He didn’t need to work in the shadow of his big brother. Today, Rich is a very successful money manager in Seattle, WA. More importantly, he’s an excellent father and husband. And best of all, we get along great now. I think we would both say having Rich working with me was good but we also both realized it was best when we each went our own way, as the “family” thing was getting in the way. Owners don’t always realize this.

You need to focus on the position, not the person. We tend to look at family as people we can trust and understand. We don’t look at them with the critical eye we should. We tend to put family members in positions we would never think of putting non-family members in based on their talents and experiences.

My experience says, hire the best person for the job and stay away from family members as much as you can. If you feel a family member is the right person for the job, then make sure you have run them through a process that is even more stringent than what you do for other hires. The consequences of a bad hire are bad enough; if they are a family member, you could really end up with a mess.

There’s a lot more I could share on this topic and will in some following products we’re developing to help landscapers improve their hiring efforts. For now I just wanted to make you think the next time you are faced with a hiring choice.

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