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

Are you opening a branch, pivoting in a new direction or transforming your capabilities as a means to capture and deliver great market value? If so, the first thing you need to do is stress test your game plan. Getting these seven things right will help you beat the odds.

Reflect.

Ask tough questions in a “lessons learned” review with your team. How well did you meet key business objectives, handle the spring rush? Did you hit your enhancement goals, and if not, why not? Did you have enough labor? Did you experience high or unexpected turn over? What’s your functioning speed? If you get more customers because you open a new branch or roll out a new service, for example, can you keep up? Can your business handle the stress of change without compromising output? Do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis and run scenarios to measure your organizations’ fitness and performance capacity.

Organizational discipline.

Evaluate your financial foundation and executable systems. If you don’t have a knowledgeable and experienced controller or CFO, get one. Make sure you have organizational discipline and systems and processes in place to track hours, overtime, payables, receivables and budgeting process. Good job costing is also crucial since you need to be able to identify profitable business types, customers and job sizes.

Cohesive and replicable culture.

Make sure the behaviors in your company are integrated across your organization and consistent with what customers expect when they work with you. A breakdown in credibility and delivery will have an impact on performance when your new branch or satellite yard operates differently than the home office. This misalignment will affect employee morale and customer experiences. Moving key employees (ones grounded in your culture) into leadership positions at your new branch is a successful practice that can assure a smooth transition and a successful outcome.

Deep bench.

A strong bench, a promote-from-within policy and a strategy for building, training and retaining people will make it easier to populate and support your expanded service footprint. Hire ahead of need, encourage employees to train their replacements as part of their own upward mobility, and focus on hiring people that have high functional and leadership potential and who can be deployed strategically as you grow.

Customer focus.

Use customer data to better understand your customer and more effectively communicate with them. Actionable information can also be gleaned from surveys and feedback. Make sure you are keeping track of customer buying patterns and your customers’ industries trends, have a policy in place for service recovery, angry customers, jobs in jeopardy, new job start up, changes in client contacts, change in property management or ownership or handoff from sales to operations.

Operational excellence.

Integrate the way you manage and align your organization around the needs of your people. Be deliberate about best practices, technology, procedures and process-based decision making. Make sure you are proficient in your core competencies, whether it be maintenance, design/build, snow, tree, etc.

Safety.

Make safety a strategic imperative and improve the quality and effectiveness of your existing efforts. When integrated into everything your business does, safety can be the foundation for greater growth, higher profits and better talent retention. Unfortunately, safety is only discussed in terms of incidents. But an active emphasis on safety places your company above the competition and is something you carry with you into new markets as a success factor.

Expanding your business is a natural next step for successful companies, but going forward without a strategic plan and a parallel commitment to manage disruption is filled with risk. The more you prepare, the better you will be able to redirect your company resources to a new goal.

Contact Bruce Wilson at bwilson@giemedia.com