Words of Wilson features a rotating panel of consultants from Bruce Wilson & Company, a landscape consulting firm.

As a baseball-loving kid growing up in New York, opening day for spring training was my favorite day of the year. Summer was just around the corner and everything was good.

I’m lucky to live in Arizona, where half the teams do their spring training and where I can observe the hard work that goes into hitting home runs.

Remember the fundamentals when talent shortages, market competition and other stressors overwhelm you.

Spring training’s emphasis on fundamentals – practicing routine plays, throwing techniques and form, base running, etc. – isn’t all that different from the basics that can also help you and your company win in business.

With talent shortages, market competition and a constant need to perform at the highest level, these fundamentals will help your company get in shape for the season ahead.

Market Density.

When starting a new business, we take any business we can get. After a few years, it pays to remember that density is fundamental to strategy. Travel time is dead time; it does not add value to your company or to the customer. So even if you can pass the cost on to the customer and still be competitive, it is what we call a “dumb tax.” Either we pay it or the customer pays it. Additionally, it raises other costs of supervision and account management due to limiting the size of the book of business that supervisors and account managers can manage.

Leadership Bench.

As you build your business, it’s necessary to have a leadership team that does two things: ensures that as an owner, you don’t get maxed out and, that with the right players, your A-Game is exponentially stronger. Creating and developing a high-performing executive team and leadership pipeline that can remain agile over your company’s various stages of growth will provide you with continuity of knowledge and expertise, and give you a senior team you can trust when the going gets tough.

Sales & Operations.

Selling solutions and delivering solutions go hand in hand. But the thread that connects sales and ops is increasingly complex. Automation helps. So does integrated business planning around your entire value chain: the systems and processes of marketing, planning, funnel and lead management, product and service quality, customer satisfaction and revenue stream forecasting. Profitability depends on these functions sharing a real-time view of changing customer demands and a commitment to providing a seamless customer experience at every touchpoint.

Accurate Estimating.

Our search engine world makes it easy for customers to shop. Companies that can quickly respond to requests for pricing and services with timely proposals have a big advantage. Many contractors can deliver pricing with their initial consult or site visit within hours. If a design is required, more time is justified but speed still wins. Develop a good system of delivering fast and accurate estimates to avoid costly mistakes or potential loss of credibility. Your proposal might be the first experience your customer has with your company and can make or break their view of you and your service.

Vision, Mission and Values.

Cultural alignment across your organization, from your front line to the corner office, is grounded in a shared commitment to your company’s vision, mission and values. These fundamentals give your company its personality and its critical path, describe what you stand for and distinguish your business from all others. Alignment starts with hiring value-aligned talent; this is more important than skill in the long run as skills can be trained. Look for value fit by identifying characteristics you value that are inherent in the people you hire, such as: people who are self-starters, team players, tech-savvy or results-oriented, have a positive attitude, or who think like a manager and not an employee, and people who want to learn.