Q & A with Steven Cohen of GreenMark Consulting Group
Over the next several months, I’m going to provide interviews, infographics and other media by some of the best in the landscape industry. These folks either do the marketing for their own companies or they’re consultants that help landscape companies grow and become more profitable.
Steven Cohen, founder of GreenMark Consulting Group is one such person. GreenMark Consulting Group works with landscape maintenance, design/build and snow services companies to build their operational systems for prosperity and long-term success.
WK: Tell me what GreenMark is and your role in the company?
SC: GreenMark Consulting Group is an industry specific consulting, coaching and advisory firm serving the landscape-snow industry. While our client base ranges in size from $350k to over $20 million, we take a very holistic approach with each client we interact with. The foundation of our mission is based on the quality of the relationship, not the quantity of relationships. If you are one of the what I call the 80% club, that is 80% of our industry is made up of contractor under one-million dollars looking to grow to the next level, then you are our ideal client.
My role at GreenMark is what I call lead consultant-chief innovation officer. My DNA says that I am a process architect and that must be the reason I enjoy fixing operational challenges and creating new innovative strategies. Since many landscape business owners struggle with not only operational infrastructure but also organizational culture, these tend to be one of my favorite areas of concentration. My philosophies are that company culture is a company’s stealth growth engine; it’s what sets winners apart from laggards. An ineffective culture explains many organizational failures.
WK: How does your company benefit landscaping and snow business companies? Are there other companies you work with?
SC: I believe that lies within our process. As I mentioned, our approach is very ‘holistic’. This means that the entire organization is considered not just one segment of the business. Using this approach, we begin our process with what is known as an Organizational Assessment. This is where we look at the entire organization as a whole and look closely at its operational and organizational mannerisms. What we are looking for specifically are ‘gaps’ within the organizations operating infrastructure. Our organizational assessment process is a systematic process to collect and evaluate information regarding an organization’s internal & external operational mannerisms. By assessing the internal-external structures and systems of the organization, this process provides information for us to determine capacities that need to be maintained, strengthened or fundamentally changed, in order for the organization to better achieve its vision, mission and values. This process fits well with all sized companies and if you were to look at a company like a builder building a house, this would be considered the foundation of the structure.
WK: Tell me a bit about your boot camps. How often do you hold them? What major cities do you go to? How have your clients benefitted from them?
SC: Our Landscape Business BootCamp was launched last year and we are gaining momentum on its success. The program is a highly interactive one-day program to help landscape-irrigation-snow contractors put the necessary building blocks in place to create a healthy, sustainable business environment. The Landscape Business BootCamp is for owners, managers and key team members of landscape-irrigation-snow businesses of all shapes and sizes that want to:
- Improve team performance
- Increase customer loyalty
- Expand market or service offering
- Grow revenue and profits
- Develop a company that runs itself
Attendees will walk away with the knowledge, strategies and specific tactics to help their companies become dominant forces in their markets. Attendees will learn how to develop, market, finance and manage a landscaping business—while avoiding the common mistakes that often result in failure. The BootCamp curriculum is based on GreenMark Consulting Group’s 4 Cores of Landscape Business Success which is…
- Guiding the business – mission statement, culture, organizational mindset
- Running the business – standard operating systems, process improvement
- Getting the business – branding, marketing & sales
- Doing the business – operations, service delivery model
The Real Secret Is our Landscape Business Success™ Toolkits. We have built over 125 DIY toolkits for contractors to easily apply our teaching methods to their business. In the BootCamp program, each core we discuss includes a Landscape Business Success Toolkit which serves as a blueprint to help attendees embark on important tasks, such as:
- Creating a vision, mission and values statement
- Creating support processes
- Defining a branding strategy
- Managing the customer experience.
Our Landscape Business BootCamp’s will be held in the fall of 2016 and winter of 2017 throughout the country both as stand-alone events and in conjunction with some state landscape associations. The feedback we have received from attendees has been very positive. The biggest impact they said they have received is it has enabled them to put things into perspective and approach business challenges more strategically and for greater success as the values we suggest are for attendees to focus on smaller wins which potentially lead to bigger victories.
WK: Please tell me why you choose the mission: Purpose, Passion and Pride?
SC: We call this the Power of the P’s and it stems as an organizational development tool that I used in my company many years ago. There are actually 6-Ps in the organizational development chain that we coach our clients on. The second are Processes, People, and Profits. My values are very people centric. What I’ve learned throughout my career is that in order to truly build a successful business you must surround yourself with complementary personalities that share the same rooted-values. That said the reasons I chose these are as follows:
–Purpose- Everyone in life needs to have a purpose. As this relates to our professional careers, TEAM member’s needs to show up every day with a purpose. That purpose needs to be centered, not only professionally, but personally. In my company and that of our client, we say that TEAM members have to show up with a purpose to contribute to the success of the company. Purpose has to drive them personally and professionally and drive their contributions at all levels. If a TEAM member is solely coming to work for the purpose of earning a ‘paycheck,’ he or she might not make the best TEAM member long-term.
-Passion- I do not think I’ve met one person in the landscape industry that has told me in 40 years being in the industry that they got into landscaping because of money. Most of the people I met got into the business out of a passion for the outdoors, working with their hands or the ability to be creative using materials such as plants, stone and water. Passion is the soul of what drives most landscapers and for that to work well in an organization that passion needs to be shared by all. If you just show up every day to do something you do not enjoy, you will probably will not be happy. If you show up every day and are driven by something you’re passionate about, you will probably go to work happy, go home happy and on Sunday, look forward to Monday morning.
-Pride- At the end of the day you must take pride in what you do. Taking pride in your work, is one of the best bits of advice I give to those interact with if you want to see your career or company soar to new heights. Many people work for the sake of working. In the landscape industry, you have to take pride every time you look back and say ‘we did that job’. The core values that build the pride mentality are
1- Your Name Is On It
- You Build a Reputation for Good Work
- Each Of Us Has a Role, Each Role Is Important
- Know What You Don’t Know
- Know What You Know
- Build Trust
- Stay True
Once you start to take pride in your work, even your work environment will start to change. You will feel happier at work and even help create a positive work environment. Money cannot be the only determining factor as to why you work. There must be bigger reasons for you to work in order to enjoy your work and that is why I believe the Power of the P’s are so important in all landscape business cultures.
WK: What else can you tell me about your business that will benefit landscapers and other owner/operators?
SC: Simply, I love what I do. In my role as a consultant and coach, it’s critical for me to understand my clients business like it is my own business. I really get to know my clients and their TEAM and learn about what makes them ‘tick.’
Process improvement within the landscape industry is not easy. We are such creature of habits, we very often resist the idea of change even when we say we’re ready to embrace it. I coined the term a few years ago that ‘it’s sometimes easier to wallow in misery than endure the pain to move ahead’. It’s so true. The reality is that there are far greater ‘good’ companies in our industry than ‘great’ companies’ if I want to leave a mark in the industry, it would be saying that I help good companies become GREAT!