My Spring Break

My Spring Break

For 20 years now, I have taken a week off during the busiest time of the year for Landscapers: Spring. I just got back from a lovely week in Rosemary Beach, Florida; it’s on the panhandle. I had a great time with my kids and wife and many other families from our hometown that went to the same area.

The week off does me a lot of good. I bring a ton of books with me (not to mention the books on my Kindle), many articles I have saved for reading, and my to-do list and strategic plans for both my companies. The intention is to relax, which I do, and to spend time with my family, which I do. But, I am always learning, so this week I thought I would share with you some observations I made while in Florida.

Joe Calloway’s book, Be the Best at What Matters Most, is outstanding. Really, it’s terrific. Sure, maybe I’m biased because a whole chapter in the book is on Grunder Landscaping Co., but it is an outstanding book that opened my eyes up to a bunch of little things I need to pay more attention to. Specifically, here’s what I’m going to do as a result of reading the book: 1. I am going to focus on making clients happy, as I know if they are happy, my business will work. Sounds simple and trite, but it’s true and while I think we do a good job at this, we can do better. 2. I’m going to make sure my team is happy with our company. If they are happy with us, they will treat our clients well and if our clients are treated well, they will be happy (see #1). I know, it sounds silly to tell you that’s what I learned, but that’s it. Joe’s book is brilliantly simple and you should read it.

Waffle House is one efficient place. My pal Mike and I have a lot in common. We have spent many vacations together. He’s funny, smart, and a great listener. I love hanging with him. Our spouses like to sleep in; we don’t; so we like to go to breakfast. We ate breakfast several times at the Waffle House in Panama City while down there. We were amazed at how efficient they were. Mike and I ran the numbers of what the little place probably does a year in business and as business owners, we saw processes, a facility, and a work force optimized for profitability. We both agreed we could mimic them more and improve our businesses as a result. It was just cool to see another business in a whole other line of work than Mike and I are in doing well by keeping things simple. I think my pal Joe Calloway could add Waffle House to his book as a company that “gets it.”

Some brands are cult like. Auburn University has a pretty powerful brand. My second daughter is going to attend Auburn University in the summer of 2014 and play soccer for Coach Hoppa and crew down there. I’m just as excited as she is to see this. So excited I have purchased a few Auburn shirts and sweatshirts. The first time I had on an Auburn shirt I was walking through the Atlanta airport and a businesswoman pulling her suitcase next to me says, “War Eagle.” I replied, “Yeah, go Auburn.” To which she said, “You didn’t go to Auburn, did you?” “Nope.” “I can tell.” Sigh…I’ve since found out, if someone says “War Eagle,” and a lot of people said that to me down here when they saw my hat or jacket, you better say “War Eagle” back immediately. I can only hope someday in Dayton, Ohio, people wear our cool looking “G” and say “Grunder Landscaping” and the reply is? “Grunder Landscaping.” Brands are powerful things; they captivate emotions and get people excited. “War Eagle” does that; now here’s to hoping their football team gets better fast so they sell all their chairs at this supermarket. One Alabama chair left? Lots of Auburn chairs and a whole slew of Georgia chairs. And no, I did not buy one; I did think about it though.

Driving 12 hours in a car with your family is a good thing. You get to talk to them and be around them. Nothing wrong with that. At the end of the day, your kids will never remember how much money you spent on them, but they will remember how much time you spent with them. Speaking of cars, my Toyota has 299,825 miles on it as of last Thursday. (I drove my wife’s truck to Florida, not the famous one.)

Mark Sanborn’s new book Fred 2.0 is fantastic as well. The whole book is full of story after story of people who have demonstrated care and concern for clients, friends, and just normal people. Everyone in America should read this book. Everyone. If we all acted like Mark’s mailman Fred (the book is based on him), the world would be a better place. The last story in the book, an “afterword” as Mark calls it, makes buying the book worth it. It involves 3 people and a couple of pizzas and it moved me. I love reading books when on the beach. This book is fantastic; thanks, Mark.

After a week off, I am more than ready to hit my sales goals at Grunder Landscaping Co. I am ready to start a new online educational piece at Marty Grunder, Inc. that will blow you out of your socks. I am in much better physical shape than I was 6 months ago as I ran almost every day down there, some with my wife, which was really enjoyable. I am grateful for the 45 people that make up my 2 companies and I have a lot to be proud of. Very few businesses make it 5 years, let alone 29, like GLC has. Small business owners have dealt with a lot of turmoil in the last 4 years and there may be more to come. But all we can do is keep our head down, avoid complaining and be glad that we can even take a vacation. I’m going to have a great 2013 because I will make it great. I hope you do the same.

Grant (on left) and his buddies Peter and David. Where did Grant get the height? Not from me!

I saw many sprinklers running in the rain and right after it rained. Wasting money (and water) and missing an opportunity to make money by installing rain sensors!

While in Rosemary Beach, I also spied on the competition. Always something you can learn, right?

Early before the kids got up and on the one rainy day we had, I finished up thank you notes for those who came to GROW! I do try–I emphasize the word try–to practice what I preach!

And the final book I read while on vacation was this…

The book is a little heavy, but every speaker, entrepreneur, and sales professional ought to read it. It will open your eyes up to a lot of things. Pages 217-236 and Sticky Advice in the back of the book are the most important parts. So, if you are lazy, go to the library and photocopy those pages and study them. I promise you it will be worthwhile.

Okay, that’s a recap of what I learned on vacation. My family means everything to me–your support allows me the opportunity to support them–so I thank you!

Time to get back to work and put some money in the bank so I can do this again next year!

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