October 5, 2020
Jacki HartLandscape Ontario’s Peer to Peer Network held its fourth annual September Summit online for the first time ever, Sept. 24-25, and the speakers, advice and mentorship was second to none!

Operational Efficiency and Exit Strategies/Succession Planning were the two main topics as selected by the 70 participants back at our Congress 2020 session.

At our first morning session, Arden Urbano, vice president at Greenius, shared her deep and broad experience in training — and how to set up a training system that engages and brings positive results. In my ‘podcast style’ discussion with her on our virtual Zoom stage, we talked about the mixed demographic of employees, and how the younger generation coming into our businesses are arriving with different skills than most employers had at the same phase of their work life.

We discussed how anxiety has become a big factor, which contributes to turnover, engagement (or lack thereof) and the overall confidence new employees experience during the onboarding phase in your company. Arden’s presentation included a startling fact: the average company in our industry across North America has 25 per cent of the team with less than four months’ experience at any given time. That’s a lot of repetitive training, a lot of inefficiency, and a lot of stress on supervisors and lead hands.

Arden provided a simple template for efficient and effective training based on the GoGreenius.com training process: watch, test, review and measure.

We ventured into break-out rooms and discussed what participants felt they needed to improve, and what the sources of anxiety would be for their staff at all levels. The highlights were awesome and included the unanimous conclusion that as business owners, we need to include compassion and empathy in our onboarding processes.

Next, Frank Bourque, president of Frank Bourque Consulting, talked about operational efficiency and shared his system for discovering where a company has inefficiencies, and how to fix them. Frank provided great resources to the participants to self-assess their business on efficiencies going forward. Frank’s key points included looking at a company from the top down, from the bottom up, the outside in, and from the inside out. These vantage points included strategy, identifying and simplifying systems, reviewing the company position in the marketplace, and assessing resources and processes within the company. All of these point to an effective operations strategy.

A great takeaway from Frank’s session was that in order to become truly efficient in your operations, a fresh set of eyes and an intentionally detailed, structured process is required for the highest impact.

The next day, we kicked off with Mark Bradley, CEO of LMN who gave a keynote-style talk on the detailed process and tasks required to prepare a business for sale. Participants received slides to help guide them forward as they embark on their journey to prepare for their next stage of business success.

We then had a lively discussion with five panellists that included our previous presenters (Frank and Mark), plus David Wright, president of Wright’s Landscaping, Brian Cotter, president LGMP and Durham Artificial Grass, and myself as president of Consulting By Hart. All panellists had either bought, sold and/or transitioned into a family business. Moderated by Joe Salemi, LO Deputy Executive Director, the panel were asked a series of questions designed to show the many challenges and experiences of the collective panel and offer advice to those in attendance.

Following the panel, attendees were able to hop into a breakout room with various panellists to ask questions. It seems the most important takeaways related to timelines. It was clear from all of the panellists that selling a business is nothing like selling a house. It takes YEARS to prepare the business, and YEARS to execute the plan — ensuring that profitability, risk management and systems are well-established, that the company would emerge well from due diligence scrutiny, and that all parties have a win-win experience in the end.

“Start now!” seems to sum up the best advice from this year’s event, in regards to improving efficiency of staff and company or planning to transition a business for sale.

I would like to thank all of our speakers, panellists, moderators and especially our Peer to Peer Network sponsors: Greenius, LMN and Dynascape. These leading companies recognize the value of peer mentorship, and are committed to the improvement of the profitability and success of the member companies of Landscape Ontario.


Owners and managers of Landscape Ontario members can join the Peer to Peer Network for free.
Email signup.peer2peer@landscapeontario.com.

Jacki Hart CLM
Prosperity Partners Program Manager