April can be a time of anxiety
By Jacki Hart CLP
Prosperity Partners program manager
Well folks, it’s that time of year again. The snow has disappeared (unless you are in Muskoka, or points north!), the trucks are warmed up and ready, staff is hired and in training (right?) and you probably have sweaty palms regardless of the temperature outside.
For me April has always been bittersweet. It’s traditionally a tug-of-war between the frustrations and stress of running my business, and my passion for plant health care, design and creating beauty for my clients to enjoy.
Winter is over. The birds are back, and the grass is greening up. And, there’s that darn phone ringing off the hook. Endless questions are fired at me from all directions. There are rarely enough hours in the day to get it all done, yet the plants are waking, the earth smells wonderful and spring bulbs smile back at every glance.
It’s the time of year when many of us quietly mutter, “Why didn’t I work on fixing this or that last winter? I should have…., I meant to……, Oh no, here we go again…..”
If you have sweaty palms, anxious nights, stressful days and are living the same tug between passion about your business, and exhaustion from what it takes, there is a solution.
This month, I’m sharing another experience from someone who took the Prosperity Partners introductory seminar. Mike Hayes, a certified arborist, has been in business for 19 years, performing tree care, removals and consulting. His company, AllGreen Tree Service, covers an area which includes Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph and the Cambridge area, including Elmira, Elora and Fergus. He employs nine to 10 people in peak season, including his office staff.
Mike and I chatted at length about the challenges of running a growing business, and the challenges which are common to so many across the green industry. He shares with you here, the clarity he defined about his business through the Prosperity Partners seminar process, and the confidence he has gained by moving forward effectively through the next few years:
Q. What are the Core Values and Vision of your business?
A. Our core values are summed up by saying: “Quality Work with a safe and enjoyable work environment. The vision of AllGreen Tree Service is to be considered THE tree service in the area by our clients and our staff.”
Q. What are the things that keep you up at night?
A. Finances and compliance. Finances are extremely important, but are far from my favourite part of the job. I usually give it a lower priority than other duties. The Prosperity Partners seminar taught me to see where I have blind spots in this area, and how to better fill the gaps. Compliance at 100 per cent is very difficult for a small operation. We are very good, but the paper trails can be enormous.
Q. What stuck with you the most from the PP introductory seminar?
A. It helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses. This seminar, thankfully, is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It is designed so that everyone in the room can apply the tools to their respective business in a relevant way. Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. This seminar helps you identify your blind spots and make sense of what’s going well and not so well with excellent clarity. Once you are clearer on where you need improvement, you may better focus on those areas.
Q. How have you been able to apply the things you learned in the Prosperity Partners seminar to improve your business?
A. Knowing that I am weak in the management area, I used some of the suggestions in the seminar, and started to track independent parts of our operation. One example is that we started tracking onsite time versus travel and non-productive time. It sounds simple, but what an eye-opener. Without this revelation from the seminar, I wouldn’t have seen where I can tighten up operations and procedures in order to minimize wage costs and down time.
Q. What are your next steps in the business, and did the program help clarify them for you?
A. Yes, the program definitely clarified what is needed in the near future in order for me to gain better balance and sensible growth. The next steps for me include improving, streamlining and simplifying some of our processes in the day-to-day operations. We are no longer a two- to three-person operation. Now I can see the value in adapting differently to our growth and changing resources.
Jacki Hart may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caption: AllGreen Tree Service is putting lessons learned in Prosperity Partners to work.