May 15, 2011
By Jacki Hart CLP
Prosperity Partners Program Manager

Jacki HartApril has been most unkind in the weather department. At least here in Muskoka, where I run my landscape business it sure has been nasty! We've jumped from 70 degree F sunny days and emerging bulbs to sub-zero windy days with a disheartening blanket of snow for weeks on end.

With the inconsistent weather comes unpredictable scheduling changes, logistics juggling, and lots of re-scheduling work, materials, equipment and people. We all work in a weather dependent industry, and last minute changes can turn the best laid plans upside down – and stress-test your operational procedures and systems when you least expect it.

It's with the topsy-turvy April we've just navigated that I've been jerked back down memory lane and assessed some of my systems and operational set-up. And I've found cracks in the armour, which makes it well worth my time to address this now rather than later.

As May bursts wide open along with the frenetic pace of the spring rush, I'm asking you to also force yourself to pause for a moment. Take stock of how you're going to keep it all together without service failures in the hectic weeks to come. What are you doing differently this year and how well are your systems working for you and your company?

Below is this month's Prosperity Primer to help you get you started on thinking smarter about what goes on behind the scenes to successfully run a smooth and consistent operation:
What promises did you quietly make yourself last year to improve the way your company performs? Try this short primer to get you going on improving your professional operations:
To improve the professional consistency and operations of this company, the most important thing to change is: ______________.
The consequences of NOT making the effort to change this are: _______________
The result of this change will be ________________.
The resources I need to use are __________________.
I am going to contact, access, read this resource by June ___, 2011. (Or, I'm going to file this in my November File, and will work on it next winter).
When I have done this, here's what I anticipate will be different and improved: _________________________.

Having a professional operation means making a consistent impression, providing exceptional value, delivering on promises (and on time), and being a proactive, clear communicator with your clients. Every client, every time.

This requires each employee to be equally consistent and aligned with the company image, and understanding his role in delivering on promises, while exceeding expectations. If you ask everyone you know who has worked on improving their professional operations, my guess is you will come with several important similarities:
  • Professional systems take the daily accountability of proper task completion off the shoulders of the owner, and places it equally into the hands of all staff.
  • When you have operational procedures in place, staff will hold each other accountable — and the owner can say goodbye to babysitting. The added bonus is that staff takes the procedures, tweaks and improves them, and suggests new ones.
  • With right fit professional operations in place, customers will experience more consistent service delivery. Word-of-mouth referrals become common.
  • Professional operations lead to more consistent profit management.
  • Professional operations contribute significantly to improve the longevity of your equipment and tools. The Prosperity Partners program and staff are here to help you on a continuous journey of business improvement.
Check out to learn about the many resources available to you through this unique and effective program. As the tulips and forsythia give way to annuals and lilacs, please make sure you carve time EVERY DAY to pause, step back, and reflect on what went well, what needs to be tweaked, celebrate your successes (with your team) and take those less successful moments as an opportunity to learn and improve.

I wish you the BEST May your business has experienced. Keep your stick on the ice, and breathe.
Jacki Hart may be reached at