March 8, 2011

Gearing for winter improvements

By Jacki Hart CLP

Prosperity Partners program manager


By the time you read this, the growing season is shifting gears, as plants of all descriptions prepare for the coming winter. Are you preparing for the coming winter?


We are very fortunate in this industry to have a shoulder season. For many, it’s a long stretch of down-time. While the winter months may present cash flow challenges, for many the huge benefit of a more flexible schedule allows us to catch our breath, and reflect on what we need to do differently next year. Of course, for others among us, winter means long hours of clearing snow and ice.


Consider for a moment how you would answer the following questions:

·        What is the one thing that really caused you the most stress this year at work?

·        Based on your answer (and there may well be a tie for what caused you the most stress, so it’s perfectly OK to have more than one thing you want to address), how would you like that one thing to change in order to reduce stress at all levels and for everyone next year?

·        If you start with that end in mind, and work backwards, what things would you address in order to get a more desirable outcome?

·        What skills do you, or anyone you work with, have to help create a solution?

·        What skills are you missing, or if you don’t know where to start creating a workable solution, what resources do you have to gain the skills needed to reduce the stress resulting from the problem you identified in the first question above?



Find available resources


In the Prosperity Partners program, we take a look at gaps which may exist in your business, and the available resources to help make improvements. The best place to start is with our Professional Development Guide. This guide, which will be available this month from Landscape Ontario, is full of excellent training opportunities for people at all levels and a variety of jobs in your business.


All of the professional development at Landscape Ontario is organized by six pillars: Technical Education, Professional Operations, Sales Success, Financial Health, Leadership and Developing Loyal Customers. First, take the time to consider where the people you work with need to expand their performance ability. Then go to the relevant Prosperity Pillar and find the training you need. Be sure to check out the Prosperity Partners resource page ( for additional business and professional development offerings, which are either available on the Internet, or locations outside of Landscape Ontario’s facilities.


If you have taken the Prosperity Partners program, you may recall the following expression, “If you are aiming at NOTHING, you will hit it with HUGE accuracy.” Tim Glover, Jump-Point. So, WHAT are you aiming at?


I am here to encourage you to step back as the season winds towards a chance to catch your breath. Start considering what you are going to change for next year. Develop a professional development plan for the company team, budget for it, and go for it!


I have always used the month of November for this kind of working ON my business, and it has always ensured that my team and I emerge the following spring with a bit more gas in our tank, and a few more tools in the company tool box to lever and make improvements to service, scope and the behind the scenes stuff.


The 2010 season has been interesting with many sectors seemingly split down the middle, as to whether or not this year has provided a more confident consumer base, or a more conservative one. There is definitely change all around us – to name a few, change in attitudes, spending patterns, the way we communicate with customers, and in the way they make decisions. Every business, regardless of the sector, needs to be proactive, creative, collaborative and prepared for change. The stronger the skill sets at all levels in your business, the better your road to success and prosperity.


Business awards


Prosperity Partners Business Engagement Award submission deadline is Oct. 31. The 2nd annual event will take place at the Landscape Ontario Awards Gala during Congress 2011, on Tues., Jan. 11. This award pays tribute and acknowledges business owners in LO who are actively engaged in working to improve their business from the inside out. It honours participants in the program who follow the principles of growing a prosperous business within the Prosperity Partners framework. This program requires the submission to seven questions. All the winners will be notified in advance of the awards ceremony. Prosperity Partners participants should have received their ballot questions by email. To request a copy, email and place Prosperity Awards Submission in the subject line.