This past December, I celebrated forty years in the green industry. This milestone has brought a culmination of memories to my mind. It has also brought forth many thoughts on what has worked – and not worked – during my career. For this article, I would like to share one of my company’s greatest successes, what I call the ‘5- Most Powerful ‘Must Do’s’ In Building Your Service Delivery Model.’
Early on, I knew that being different was all about distinguishing myself from the competition. While price is, and will always be, a driving factor in consumers buying habits, there is one thing that remains a constant, and that is your service delivery model.
Happy customers mean repeat business and referrals. Unhappy customers can harbor feelings of betrayal, which can lead them to engage in vengeful behaviors, such as venting via social media that they are unhappy with a business. And as you know, we live in a very ‘on-line’ world.
That said, it is imperative that you build a successful service delivery model. You MUST design and maintain a culture-centered workforce, because it is this workforce that is fundamentally responsible for the happiness of your customers.
In an informal study conducted by my firm in 2013, we found accountability to be one of the biggest problems within our landscape clientele. In fact, we determined that 30 to 50 percent of employees were not held accountable for their performance, despite key performance indictors being in place. This can be, and is, an industry wide challenge for many companies.
While the steps for ensuring accountability are not new, they are sometimes challenging. Steps towards improving accountability amongst your TEAM include;
- Setting and communicating clear expectations.
Be transparent with organizational vision, goals and expectations.
- Aligning individual and team goals with departmental and organizational strategies. Everyone must work together, towards a common goal of customer centricity. ‘Together Everyone Achieves More’ (TEAM).
- Providing time, training, tools, and resources.
If you do not make the time, you will never have the time. TEAM members must be trained, coached and mentored in order to deliver their best.
- Empowering people to succeed.
Empowerment is driven by trust and accountability. Empower your TEAM to think, act and deliver.
- Providing recognition and feedback.
The hardest words are actually the easiest. ‘Thank You,’ ‘Great Job’ and ‘I Appreciate the Effort’ are just a few. Feedback, even when there’s a problem, can be positive. Say things like, ‘next time we can do better,’ or ‘what did we learn from this experience.’
Mindset is nothing more than a set of assumptions, or methods held by one or more groups of people. It is so ingrained that it creates a powerful incentive within these groups to continue to adopt prior behaviors.
The difference between leaders who inspire and those from whom employees merely trade time for money has less to do with strategies and techniques than it does with the mindset with which they approach their responsibilities. The best leaders are guided by the following beliefs:
- Employees want to do a good job and succeed.
- Discipline should be taught and sustained, rather than used to mandate compliance.
- Relationships are the ultimate tool for influencing the performance of others.
- ‘Does It Work?’ always must be a ‘two-way’ street.
- Leadership is not ‘defined.’ It is SHAPED.
Once an organization becomes aligned, and these values are understood, success increases. This is because:
- The TEAM with the best coaches, and the most aligned players, has the best chance of reaching its fullest potential.
- People will continue to be inspired by what they have now become.
Know the ‘Three P’s’ – Purpose, Passion & Pride.
If you are not inspired each day with these values, there is no reason for you to be employed at our company. EVERYONE should come to work with a purpose – other than a paycheck – and go home feeling satisfied and happy. Sunday evenings, employees should look forward to going to work the next day.
Develop a culture of continuous learning
We always had a mantra. Leaders lead, managers manage, supervisors supervise and EVERYONE trains, coaches and mentors. This helps develop a culture of continuous learning. Quality work should be a daily expectation – not an exception.
Accountability Is King
We learned that the managers who fostered our culture, our values and our desire to exceed customers’ expectations – at all levels – were unstoppable. These managers consistently created great results and were empowered to remove the obstacles before them. They challenged the ‘status quo’, challenged themselves, and challenged each other.
It really is about the mindset of being powerful and having a ‘Bring-it-on Attitude!’
To succeed in the landscape industry today, you must be flexible and have reasonably good planning and organizational skills. Many people start a business thinking that they will turn on their computers, open the doors and just start making money – only to find that making money in a business is much more difficult than they thought. Avoiding costly mistakes is done by taking your time and planning all the steps necessary towards achieving success and delivering excellence to your client.
Our culture and our manager lived by five steps – what we dubbed our ‘Five Steps to Success.’ Not only were these step the ‘operational standard, but each time we had a problem, we would go back, identify any steps that were missed, and why. While missing the step was less important to me, learning how to not miss that step again was paramount. Our ‘Five Steps to Success’ began with…
Step I: Organize
- Organize your mind.
- Organize your daily start-up.
- Organize your job plan.
Step II: Manage
- Manage by being ‘in control.’
- Manage your TEAM members.
- Manage your jobs. Do not let the jobs manage you.
Step III: Execute
- Execute the job based on the estimate. Exercise financial control.
- Execute the job in accordance with the client expectations. Show them what makes you different.
- Execute the job based on proper management & best management practices. Access your performance.
Step IV: Observe
- Observe the overall performance of the job.
- Observe the performance of your crew(s).
- Observe the end-result.
- Observe how to improve.
Step V: Deliver
- Deliver really what was sold?
- Deliver services that exceed the industry and market standards.
- Deliver services that exceed your customer’s expectations. Overachieve.
Follow these five steps and you will find that your daily routine becomes more organized, and that the results achieved will help improve your service delivery.
You MUST ask yourself this question all the time, “How do you drive expectations and accountability?” Every move you make as a manager is tied to the ‘Customer Service’ experience and can eventually be calculated in revenue – earned, or lost.
If you approach each customer relationship with a positive, can-do-attitude, and with the mentality that ‘the buck stops here,’ you are in the right frame of mind. In addition this mindset, you must take action. Without a positive attitude AND action, your level of service will be satisfactory at best.
History has shown us, over and over, that by creating these types of ‘customer centric’ experiences you will often exceed the emotional expectations of your customers. In turn, the time, resources, and commitment you make will be well worthwhile. Furthermore, your organization’s business goals will almost always be met, allowing you to leverage your market for an increased share – and revenue.
So I ask you… Are you exceeding your client’s expectations?
You can find this post as a published article here The 5- Most Powerful Must Do’s In Building Your Service Delivery Model