November 4, 2020
Jacki HartEvery now and then, I take the opportunity to share one of my own best practices from my 25-year experience as a landscape business owner. Over the past 16 years of writing this column, I’ve shared my ‘November Files’ process with you a few times, and always received great feedback from readers. At the risk of sounding somewhat repetitive, I decided to share it again, as we near the close of this unusual year.

And what a year it has been! Full of surprises — both good and bad — fraught with ‘new normals’ we’d have never imagined would be in our midst when most of us gathered at Congress last January.

Along with the weirdness of 2020, has emerged an amazing “we got this” pulse among business owners and Landscape Ontario Peer to Peer Network members I talk with regularly. What terrified us in April we’re taking in stride today. There are many things you’ve learned between then and now. It’s worth capturing.

As I write this, Ontario just recorded the highest case numbers of Covid-19 since the pandemic began. A long winter ahead may continue to challenge and impact our new definition of normal — which includes social bubbles and limits on gatherings.

So, what does this mean for your business? Your team? Your clients? Your best practices? Your cash flow? Your season ahead?

Now is the time of year when I used to sit down and gather all of those thoughts and ideas I had throughout the season for making improvements or trying new ways of doing our work. When I owned Water’s Edge Landscaping, I used to have a ‘November’ file. It was a folder into which I chucked every scribbled-down idea describing spontaneous strokes of brilliance, articles, book titles, brochures, etc., that came across my desk or my mind throughout the season that I was too busy to deal with at that moment.

Each November, I’d set aside a half-day to go through the November file, note by note. I would prioritize each idea I had jotted down in the heat of the moment earlier that year, and give it serious consideration. To me, November is the best month to debrief the season and set a course for identifying where to improve, what to stop doing, what to start doing and what to not change at all.

The reality is that winter flies by. Many of you push hard to finish work before weather closes in. Some of you do snow/ice management — for which this is the changing of the guard (and equipment). But in my opinion, it’s also a crucial time of year to debrief, assess, plan and prepare to implement new training and changed processes. Every year in March, I hear many say, “I just don’t know where the winter went… I wanted to put new things in place and haven’t got it done yet.”

What we all know for sure, is that we don’t know what spring 2021 will look like. And, that’s just going to have to be okay for now. Spring will come faster than we think it will from today’s vantage point.

Here’s something you can do no matter what spring brings: focus on what you can control. How can best prepare for either a Covid-free or Covid-restricted spring start? Take time now and ask yourself:
  • What went really well this year?
  • What ideas did I or my team bring forward that we’d ‘get to this winter’?
  • What did we struggle with the most?
  • What improvements could we make to tweak and continue to be better prepared, proactive and work effectively — while keeping everyone safe?
  • What is my Plan A, B and C for 2021? (Play a bit of ‘what if’).
  • What do the ‘Red, Amber and Green’ budgets for 2021 look like?

We’re blessed to have businesses that change with the seasons. It gives us a chance to refresh and reset. Take a moment this month to count your blessings and show gratitude to those people and events that have contributed to a successful season and to everyone’s safety.

It’s November. Already. Make the most of it!

Don't miss the next Peer to Peer Session — January 26, 2021
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Jacki Hart CLM
Prosperity Partners Program Manager