Leverage uncertainty to discover personal and team strengths Email
Tuesday, July 07, 2020 03:00 AM

Eric HaugenHow many times will we hear the word “uncertainty?” In the last few months our industry has been forced to learn what CDC guidelines are, whether or not we are an essential business operation and if the Paycheck Protection Program is possible, to only list a few. This pandemic has forced us to shift our mindset from beautiful landscapes to the future of our business operations and financial viability. I will be the first to say that negative thoughts often creep into my mind as I worry about the potential of the next recession and its effects on my company’s future. However there is a bright future for those of us who adapt by effectively monitoring our financials and working hard on operational structures while keeping our teams safe.

Adapting to the new normal
Whoever thought we would have to make sure that our teams are equipped with hand sanitizer and face masks versus the proper tools and materials for the day? This doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. We all do our best to make sure our teams are safe while trying to maintain efficiency. Most of us wish tomorrow would bring a lifting of the orders; unfortunately we are quickly learning this could become a new way of life.

This is where our company culture and our team’s strengths can come into full force. The stresses of the availability of labor and inefficiencies such as crew size or wiping down equipment every day can either drive our teams apart or bring us together. Finding our teams’ strengths and developing operational processes around those strengths will create a sense of ownership for our employees in their jobs. They will also enjoy being viewed as a part of the team versus the person in a field whom no one listens to. Assigning each person to different steps in improving processes is important, as it allows you and your team to get excited about something that is outside of normal daily routine. Those around us will make the team better if we let them.

Turning challenges into opportunities
There are many new and positive things that have we have discovered in the last few months: staggered start times, more efficient meetings, learning new technologies that we have potentially avoided in the past, efficiency of curbside pickups, etc. Converting challenges into opportunities can create higher

efficiency, quality work, and better overall quality of life. Luckily, we are each unique and take actions based on what is best for our companies and personal success. Reviewing these new opportunities can be a tool for growing our businesses--for example, conducting more efficient meetings and reducing drive time—all while doing it the best way that works for you.

Learning to love financials
Perhaps you are one of those folks who wakes up early, eager to review the most recent actual-vs-budget report, but for the rest us, perhaps now is the time to start. It is more critical than we have seen in over 10 years to understand and monitor some basic financial metrics. Each day the media announces increases in unemployment and fluctuation of consumer confidence.

Those are external factors outside of our control, but we must be able to adapt our business to avoid potential hardships. Understanding your current and projected cash flow can assist you if immediate steps are needed when a client cancels that patio project or the retail center trims services from their maintenance contract. If we understand our revenue per hour, gross margins and overhead costs, our company will be poised to make it through the uncontrollable external factors and be the leader when economic turnaround occurs.

Though there is no clarity on what the “new normal” is going to look like, there are opportunities if we take the right action. We all have great people on our teams and in our personal lives who are going through the same things.

Becoming a change agent may take you out of your comfort zone, but that is how we grow. We will fall, but we will learn along the way and be better for it in the end. I sincerely believe our industry is full of untapped talent, including talent in ourselves that we don’t acknowledge until we are forced into a situation that requires change. Taking the time to focus on opportunities and the teams around us will get us through the “uncertainty.”

—Eric Haugen is president at LandCare Management, Inc., Arvada, as well as a small business process and financial advisor.

This article appeared in the July/August 2020 issue of Colorado Green magazine.

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green NOW:
Tech tip: printing an article from Colorado Green
OSHA issues new guidance regarding the silica standard

2020 Colorado legislative session was an unusual one
Singing Hills shares secrets to 20 years of success