Aug. 18 2011 12:34 AM

Most people look at leaders in our industry and believe that they have some magical business formula, technology, tools and team, or that they must be cutting corners in order to be so successful. The truth be told, leaders have most of the same tools and technology that you possess. Think about it—everybody knows which mowers, small equipment, vehicles and green product lines are proven brands. Technology that only years ago was affordable by the larger companies is now available to all contractors. So, why then aren’t YOU a market leader?

How these companies have established a leadership position is by building a culture based on developing efficient systems, and training their people to execute them effectively. The focus of each employee then becomes to make their system more efficient. Each individual is charged with, and rewarded for, improving the overall efficiency of the company. The old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” doesn’t cut it with these companies. Their mantra is more aligned with, ‘There’s got to be a better way.”

Industry leaders have found a way to systematize their company, so that each operating unit functions at its optimal level of efficiency. This means that they have internally designed systems to execute their maintenance contracts more efficiently than you. For example, their route density is tighter than yours, or their loading and unloading vehicle system requires less time and labor than your vehicle loading system does.

How they analyze, approach and clean up a site is more efficient. They break up a site into key areas and performance tasks, such as mowing, weeding and pruning, bed preparation, planting and cleaning. They have designed best-in-class processes and conducted time trials, so that each task is executed in perfect harmony, as if part of a beautifully orchestrated symphony.

Leaders use technology whenever they can to reduce time, labor and increase efficiency. Mobile units that track labor, equipment and tasks performed at the site and then relay the information back to the office are favored by leaders. Equipment and tools are selected not on the basis of who likes what, but on which piece of equipment is the most efficient and effective, based on the task performed and site condition. There’s really no magic here. Take the time now, to assemble your teams and evaluate your site and back-end systems. Are they the best they can be? If not, get to work and think and act like the leaders do. You’ll be happy you did.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Judith M. Guido is chairwoman of Guido & Associates, a business management company. She can be reached at 818-800-0135 or