Make sure you do not overlook these steps while trying to increase sales. As we think about expanding our business, we come across reports with charts and graphs analyzing productivity, income, and competition. However, there are a few really simple and practical ways to grow our business that anyone can do.
Keep good records:
When my husband and I started our landscaping business, we were in quite a dilemma. We had hired our first employee but had no idea how to keep the right accounting records. Only after many discussions with an IRS representative – and a few penalties – did we realize the importance of having an accurate record in all areas of our company.
It is important to carefully document accounting, payroll, and project details. Record everything every day and record with integrity – without fudging. Do not rely on your memory. Use industry-specific or office software to help you. We use both. It is impossible for our companies to grow without accurate records in all areas of business operations.
Treat the employees well:
When we started hiring people. We had little to offer, so it was no surprise that they did not stay with us for long. We asked them to work hard for low wages and without benefits. After a few years, we have recognized the tremendous benefits of employee retention and a healthy corporate culture.
Our first step was to provide a high-quality health program for our full-time employees. And though it was very expensive. It was still more economical – and much less cumbersome – than the relentless cycle of employee exchange and training. This move has led us to find more workable ways to make our business a wonderful place to work. We’ve added a bonus pay system, a corporate match IRA, and an employee month award that comes with a gift card.
We actually have two different employees of the month. One is selected by colleagues and one by the management. The option chosen by management is based on work ethic, attitude, etc. and is generally not given to the same employee twice in a single season. But even if financial benefits are important, we must treat our employees with kindness and dignity. Employee loyalty and enthusiasm should not be underestimated. You can generate growth in your own business by making some of these fundamental changes. Satisfied employees make satisfied customers.
Step outside the box:
When we started our business in the late 1980s, yews and rhododendrons were the most popular plant species for landscapes. In our area, there was hardly anyone who had a clue what a pacer was, and outdoor living was a term that would not be used for several years. Fast forward to the mid-90s, when perennials were suddenly part of the professional landscape design and paver patios were the latest.
These changes have shown us how important it is to keep up with the trends in commerce. While many of us hesitantly took steps to implement some of these new trends, we jumped in with both our legs. It’s never healthy to stay in business and stay in the status quo. The landscaping industry is no exception because it is constantly changing and we would not have bothered to learn, grow and change over the years
We would have significantly slowed down our growth. Remember that this does not necessarily mean that you have to venture into a new specialty. Do what you do as best you can. Find out about the latest and best deals in your area. Read and ask questions and then take the first step outside your personal comfort zone.
Use the available technology:
It would not surprise me if some of you would still keep this year’s receipts in a shoe box, or continue to manually enter your expenses into a general ledger. And that’s fine if you do not feel like growing. But if you really want to grow your business. You must invest in a good computer and good industrial software.
Most of us do some sort of marketing, be it by vehicle lettering, job tags or a full-page color ad in a magazine. But are we doing it wisely? It is important to evaluate our marketing techniques at least once a year.
Some good questions are: Are my signs are easy to read and do they contain the required information? Do I use the free or low-cost marketing resources I have available? Is my website updated and easy to navigate? In our company, one of the first questions a potential customer asks is: How did you hear about us? When one or two months pass and we see that a certain marketing technique is not mentioned in this report.
We believe that this particular way of marketing our business was not worth the money spent on it and are looking for other ways in which we can invest our advertising dollars. The growth of our company is an exciting and challenging adventure. By devoting some time and attention to these five things, you will grow yours.