Jan. 16 2012 09:35 AM

As we enter the year 2012, I’m thinking about the New Year’s resolutions and how fortunate we are. Many landscape contractors have gone out of business over the past couple of years, and we’re still around. I don’t believe for a minute that the reason we’re still here is because of luck. In these economic times, it takes a skill to survive. We’ve all had to learn how to pare down our expenses.

One of the things I wish for is that every job we take on be profitable and that we have satisfied customers. Unfortunately, as many of you know, that is not always the case.

How about the job you took and worked extremely tight, but felt okay about it, because you saw that there were many extras that could make the job profitable…except you never got the extras and you ended up losing money on the job.

A particular job scenario that really bothers me concerns the customer who is referred to you. She came highly recommended and you know you’re going to pay special attention to this one.

You promise a completion date that seems realistic at the time.

You encounter some bad weather as you begin the job, but you’re confident this project will be completed on time and will look great.

Another glitch pops up when one of your subs shows up a week late, then delivery on some material you ordered doesn’t arrive in a timely manner, and comes in the wrong size or color, etc., etc.

Your client is unhappy, so you begin to rush through the project, only to encounter even more problems. At this point in time, it’s important that you keep your client happy, so you put a few more people on the job, and your costs are skyrocketing.

You begin to wonder why this project went wrong—what is it that I did wrong? The truth of the matter is that you tried to handle this job differently than you handle the rest of your work. You took your crews out of their routine and it became a comedy of errors.

There is a saying, ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions;’ I’ve learned not to promise the almost impossible. Follow the project, but let it flow through your regular work process.

You’ll get it done, like you get the others done. Your client will be happier, and you will have saved yourself a lot of grief and money.