By John Crooks, NHCLP
A little over a year ago I attended a NHLA Twilight Meeting in Portsmouth at the new Credit Union building. We had a great turnout even though it was a little rainy. We all ate while enjoying the beautiful landscape and hearing how it was installed. We were then allowed to walk around on the trails and enjoy the landscape up close.
While walking one of these trails I ran into someone who was president of NHLA years ago. He now owns a consultant business and places ads in our Newsletter on a regular basis. He has given a talk at our NHLA Spring Conference as well. He was on the phone as we passed each other on one of the trails in the landscape. I handed him a card and asked if he could call me sometime and then continued on.
Within a couple of days after attending the Twilight Meeting I received the call. We agreed to meet and discuss the benefits of hiring a consultant and whether it would be of a value. A discussion followed on what my company provides for service, our service area, crews, and number of employees; where we are located and the equipment we own; what my business goals are; what my gross sales per year are; and what is my customer base?
We then discussed how a consultant could help my company reach our goals and what the costs would be to hire a consultant. We talked about what figure a company my size should have in sales. We talked about the estimating process and cost per person for service, equipment costs per hour, material costs, and markup charges.
So now we have been working together for a little over a year, tracking time and costs very carefully. I have always done my own bookkeeping and now I have hired a bookkeeper (well actually I am on the second bookkeeper as the first one did not work out). The second bookkeeper is doing a great job. This was a tough one for me to give up because I was worried about handing over all my business information to someone I do not know. As you can see above my concern was justified due to the fact that I had to get rid of one bookkeeper and hire another. The second bookkeeper had worked with a customer my consultant was working with so he had knowledge of what she could do. Since hiring her things are getting done on time in the manner that the reports can be understood and are accurate.
This is freeing up my time to focus on growing the business. We have upgraded our trailers to enclosed trailers and are preparing to get the logo on all the trucks and trailers, which will make us look a little more professional as well as be great advertising. We are currently looking for a shop, office, and yard big enough to handle all my equipment and material.
I have focused over the years to tighten our operating area to about a five mile radius to control travel costs and allow us to service our customers quickly and efficiently. My consultant would like me to enlarge our service radius, which we have done to some extent. Last year I actually went out about 7.5 miles and this year I have gone out a little further.
Buildings are beginning to go up everywhere again and allow us all to grow without increasing our radius by much. The economy is picking up so people are starting to spend a little more on their landscape. Fuel prices have come down at the moment, so that’s nice. Lord only knows how long the fuel prices will stay at these lower prices. It surly won’t be long, as everyone knows when the wind blows the price will rise. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could change our prices because it’s raining and the wind is blowing? Instead the leaves get heavier, we work harder, and the price of our job stays the same.
Well I have run on long enough so I would like to end this with this last comment. My consultant is Coronis Consulting, and when we first signed the contract Laurence asked me to fill out a paper on the value he added to my business. I told Laurence at the time that I did not feel comfortable filling out the paper as we just started to work together. So now, after working together for a year and signing a contract for another year, I am prepared to say that we are heading in the right direction. We have a long way to go, but Laurence has been very informative and gave us some great ideas. He keeps pressure on me to focus on my goals. So as Laurence’s ad says, instead of working in my business, it’s time for me to start working on my business. Thanks for working with me Laurence – you have been a great value for my company, and I look forward to continuing to work together growing my business.