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“It’s All About the People”

by Laurence Coronis

The quote in the title for this article is a comment made by Burt DeMarche of the Laurel Rock Company at a recent landscape association meeting, and it reminded me of the importance of taking care of your team. This really is the secret to achieving your competitive edge. After all, we all have the same equipment, skid steers, mowers, trucks, etc., (albeit different brands and condition) and similar supplies from our vendors. So the real difference is YOU and YOUR TEAM.

Employee Retention: Retaining and Growing Employees Is the Key

We all struggle to attract good team members, but we have to learn to focus more on how to retain the ones we have. A satisfied and happy staff will automatically attract more good recruits and act as positive representatives to your customers and the community at large. Turnover is disruptive to your entire operation and to the spirit of your company.

You’re Mainly a Coach, if Necessary a Boss

  1. Regard each staff member as an individual by acknowledging his or her unique strengths and limitations. Learn about and get to know each of your staff and what tasks will suit them in your operation.
  2. Train all of your staff, from day one, how to succeed with positive energy and attitude. All of us have experienced the first day on a new job and know that we go in on our first day excited and wanting to learn what to do. So make sure you take the time to train your new employees properly while maintaining their enthusiasm.
  3. Publicly praise your employees’ successes, no matter how small the success may be. Remember, “You get more with sugar, than you do with vinegar.” The number one item of importance in job satisfaction surveys is being appreciated for your efforts. Be sure not to include constructive criticism at the same time as praise. A good book to hone your skills is The One Minute Manager. It is a short read, but extremely helpful.
  4. Show your staff there is room for growth. If someone shows initiative, work together with that staff member to develop a plan and help him/her acquire the necessary skills to grow within your company. This is as simple as meeting with employees twice a year to review their performance and to guide them on developing skills or specifying the needed training to be able to grow within your company or in their position.
  5. Listen, listen, listen. Then respect what you hear and involve your employees in the success of the company. Include them when looking for new ideas, or trying to solve a specific problem. They may have a different perspective than you. When the staff is involved in the appropriate decision making processes they can make all the difference in helping companies move forward and adopt needed changes successfully. This, in turn, helps to empower them to be contributors to your team’s success and to keep thinking of new ideas because they know you are willing to listen.

Each day is so busy for you and trying to fit any more in seems impossible, but the way you lead your employees is the essence of your company. Your leadership defines your company culture and can be the recipe for your company’s success. We all know the struggle that occurs in the days and weeks after we unexpectedly lose a tenured and trained team member. So make time in every day to know, coach, listen to, and respect your team, because “It’s All About the People”!

About the Author

Laurence Coronis is a business consultant and leadership coach focusing on profitability and bringing sustainability and organic practices into the Green Industry. With a B.S. in Plant Science from U.N.H., he founded Coronis Landscaping Inc., and in the 30 years of operation won numerous state and national awards, including a “Grand Prize for Landscape Excellence” from A.L.C.A. (now PLANET). Coronis Landscaping was named one of the top 100 landscape companies in the U.S. in 1999 by Landscape Management Magazine. After selling Coronis Landscaping to a national landscape company, Laurence stayed on as the Branch Manager. During the years of his leadership, his branch was consistently a top performer in customer retention and profitability. He has served on the Board of Directors and as President of N.H. Landscape Association and presently is on the Advisory Board for NOFA-OLC. He can contacted at or visit his website at