Peers, we took this picture last week while we were shooting some videos for some of the Ballard Inc. products we offer. As I was looking at it, it made me smile, frustrated and happy all in just a few seconds! Dirty equipment… S#@t! It really got me thinking about the high school teacher who said “Kory, pay attention in class or you’ll be mowing yards your whole life”. He wasn’t the only one that made comments and jabbed at me as I worked every night and weekend while in high school (and every day after). I acted like it didn’t bother me, but it did, and I found it only fueled the fire to prove them and everyone wrong. I later realized that nobody really cared or was keeping score but me. I thought that college probably wasn’t for me and wanted to pursue my passion and control my own destiny… whatever that meant at 18 years old. I assume this path may be the same or a similar story as some of you.
As our business grew, and mistakes were made, we tried to always be optimistic. Maybe too optimistic at times! I never thought failure was an option or even possible. I can tell you there have been some bad days, weeks, months and even years along the way! With just under 200 employees, and 3 locations, I am very grateful and blessed today to be a part of it. This is a culmination of great people believing in one common goal, and the willingness to work hard to make it happen. We all have probably hit cruise control along the way, I know I have.
Today we are more focused than ever on being the best company we can be. It can be exhausting pursuing something that at times, feels unattainable! It feels good being reconnected to the daily grind again, although almost feeling more out of control the closer to the center of it all I get. And at the same time, I really try to put it all in perspective, this is just work right? We strive to offer great opportunities, treat people with respect, promote safety, all while providing a great balance of life and work for our team and their families. So, I empower you to think about where you are today, where you want to be, and what do you need to do to get there? Are you willing to do that? If not, it’s ok, but remember you are the one that ultimately controls the outcome. No whining, just grinding! Oh, and by the way, we sell some awesome gear to make your daily efforts much more efficient, protect you, protect your valuable people, protect your equipment, and make work life gooooooood! Make this your best year yet!
Whew…we made it! The snow is finally gone and I think everyone is finally kicking off their Spring services. You guys out East made it through five nor’easters last month!
As we kick off the month of April I’d like to think about the people behind the people. The work behind the work. As business owners, we are always thinking about our business. There is no shut off in the grind. Working hard, selling more, doing more, buying more, saving more, making more, hiring more, etc. No matter how big or small your operation is, there is likely someone, or a team of special someone’s, that are making your dreams come to fruition. I encourage you to thank that person, or persons, and find small ways to make them feel like they are a part of the team. Although we sometimes think we are doing the hard part, it takes a different skill set and tolerance to do the backend work as well, and these are the tasks most of you don’t enjoy!
We had a record 500 orders and 775 products shipped in March! I know that my role is the easy and fun part; sell stuff, talk to customers and promote. But on the back end, my wife Lindsay is working all hours of the night and weekends to keep up with what was only once just a “hobby” business. So, this is a thanks to her! I’ll probably tell her in person as well. Thanks to your continued support, we have completely changed the Ballard business model and are excited about the future. We will be adding
several new products in our new Outdoor LifeGEAR section in the next week or two! So yes, you’ll get to see my awful acting skills over and over.
So as spring kicks off, we should thank all of the great support people that let us insane people go out and chase our dreams! Hope you all have a kick ass season and be safe out there!
“A business, no matter how well designed, is only as good as the people who live and work in it”
Hey guys and gals, here we are kicking off another Spring. I hope all of you had a profitable winter, or a relaxing one if nothing else! I wanted to thank you guys for the continued support! We have now blasted well past 10,000 followers on Facebook and 3000+ on Instagram in less than a month there. We’ve had a record start to the year and it’s thanks to all of our supporters! It seems we sell most of our products to the smaller companies in the industry. These great companies are the backbone of our economy and what makes America so awesome. The reoccurring theme when I talk to you guys is about your people. Where do I find them, how do I keep them and how do I train them? I get a lot of, “What is wrong with people these days!?” and, “The f@*#ing kids these days!” From what I know, you will only get out of them what you put in. The truth is people haven’t changed, they still generally need the same basic things in life and work. But society has changed. Everything is easy, digital and soft. With everyone getting a trophy for just showing up, it’s hard to see how that separates the real leaders. Well I can tell you this, that’s all the more reason you should be grinding hard, working on your business and in your business. The great ones don’t make excuses or play the victim, they make things happen. Get up before your competition, do things that they won’t, and don’t talk about action, take action! As your industry peer, we are always taking big steps to improve our culture and taking an honest look in the mirror figuring out what WE can do each day to make an impact. I really encourage you to work on living life positive and treating everyone with the respect they deserve. Try it…. what do you have to lose?
Each year we continue to seek out new and innovative products that can really make your business and life better. Be sure to check us out at www.ballard-inc.com or on Facebook or Instagram. We’ve got some more “top secret” items in the works now!
I’ll leave you with this quote I found and recently used at a team building event.
“If you could get everyone in your company moving in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time!”
Hope all of you had a great 2017 season! It feels like I was just writing the Spring season kick off a few weeks ago….Time flies when you’re having fun (I heard)!? For some of you, the maintenance season has come to an end and you’re switching gears and preparing for snow & ice services. Some of the lucky ones on here don’t have any idea what snow is! I think the reoccurring theme as I talked with many of you throughout the year always comes back to the one real struggle, PEOPLE. Equipment can be bought and replaced, accounts can be lost and replaced with hard work, but the one challenge all of us face, regardless of size, is staffing. How do I get people? How do I train people? How do I keep people? With this, is also how do I get them to carry out the message as you, the owner or manager, want, and when they don’t do this based on your standards what do you do about it? I can’t fire them because then what will I do? The key word here is THEY. THEY won’t do this, THEY won’t do that, THEY won’t wear the uniform, THEY, THEY, THEY. I have to ask you why? Why won’t THEY? Is your message not clear?
Look in the mirror, it’s YOU! YOU are responsible for the culture.
Here are just a few ideas among hundreds that I think can help:
Clearly define and communicate your vision.
Coach for success and practice random acts of kindness.
Get everyone engaged and listen to their feedback.
Be firm, but fair. Treat people with respect and build trust.
Create incentive programs that share in the success.
Now, I must admit that even writing this I feel a little like a hypocrite. Because even though I know how crucial these things are, and while we are approaching close to 200 employees, we still struggle with these things on a daily basis. Staff recruiting and retention is a top priority as we continue to build our team and company. And I assure you that if you don’t build these foundations now, it will be a brutal uphill battle down the road.
And lastly, make sure you take some time to look after your equipment. Safe and efficient equipment is also a crucial part in building a great company for the future. You can’t expect them to show up to a dirty truck, with unmaintained equipment, and truly care about the quality of the work they perform. It all matters.
“Treat employees like they make a difference and they will.”
Hopefully you guys had a great Spring and are off to a profitable start to the season. Like many of you we have also worked from very humble beginnings and continue to challenge ourselves each day. I encourage you to focus on how you can continue to improve your business and less on what anyone else is doing. Here’s a little story on our beginnings that Landscape Management did this month. As always, I sell great products that we use every day in our company and believe 100% in. Wishing you all the best… Be safe, be kind and most of all kick ass!
Well group, I’ll try to keep this short and sweet. We have had an odd winter and depending on where you are located it’s about GO-TIME. I can feel the excitement when I talk to many of you as you outfit your company with some great new products for this season. As I follow 4 different forums, as well as, post on here to our over 6,500 followers, something lately has really been bothering me. A lot of great questions are asked and most of them are ridiculed for their company name, “stupid” question, truck picture, dirty mower, etc. We all started somewhere and hope to build from there. I think these forums can be a great source of information, but many of us self-appointed “experts,” or maybe just guys that have been around, don’t post or respond because it’s just not worth it. It could be very valuable information, in my opinion. I can certainly be sarcastic in my answers on some posts, but this is only because I truly believe in our products and business systems. I remember the days of worrying about what everyone else was doing, what they were buying, what were their prices, etc. I encourage you to focus on your goals, your staff, your numbers, your equipment, your clients and most importantly your happiness. So take that negative energy and re-focus on getting out there and being awesome. It will rub off and your staff will shine! Most of us get the luxury of not sitting behind a desk all day so take full advantage of that! Hope you guys are well equipped for the 2017 season…. If not you know what we do. I also included a photo of our 600 square foot first shop and office over 20 years ago, which we now have built into a Top 100 firm (Perficut Site Management) with the best team on the planet!
As I have heard in conversations with some of you and through many groups on social media, this may have been the toughest winter yet. Lack of snowfall continues to be a major contributor to that. I know in our region we may be at a 40 year low with some of the season yet to play out. Hopefully a winter like this forces you to think a little different moving forward.
Is snow your only source of revenue? Should you look at a different pricing structure to guarantee some seasonal snow revenue? Or for those that don’t do snow is there a savings plan in place to use the winter as a refocus time. And for those lucky enough to not be in the snow regions … we’re jealous!
I always try to give some history on us so you know that we have been there. I started with a lawn mower and a dream. And as we grew and set goals, I partnered with some great people to surround myself with. I knew my limits and strengths and was lucky to find a great business partner to join me on this challenging journey. Recognize talent when it slaps you in the face. We now have a staff of close to 200 and 3 offices in the Midwest. I don’t tell you this to brag or boast, at times I wonder if running a smaller firm would have been the better fit for me? Truth is we all have challenges and they just may magnify some with size.
Set your goals, layout the path and go for it.
Now … let’s talk about Spring. I see that most of you guys are really into your equipment. And guess what, so am I! I’m here to help! Use that winter to service, paint and prep equipment for spring. I’m a huge proponent of good looking professional equipment. Now that doesn’t mean new equipment. But well maintained, clean and in good working order. I’m also always looking at better more efficient ways to set up our trucks and trailers with the safest and best tools. I encourage you to look at our line of products. Every product on here is used in our operation daily. I don’t sell a single thing we don’t use.
Now before I get the emails and comments about you can build that yourself … I agree, well in some cases. Some of you are very handy and can fabricate some of these items yourself and save money. Have at it! For those that can’t I encourage you to see if these products make sense for your business. I’ve tried many of the others in the market and determined these to be the best value based on how they are designed, constructed and years on the market. None of us want to be product guinea pigs.
I hope you guys all make 2017 great and kick some ass! And remember to take care of your team and they will take care of you. I’m always available to answer any questions you may have.
“What if we invest in our people and they leave us?” “What happens if we don’t and they stay?!” Author – Not me!
Group, as a fellow landscaper I’d like to touch on a topic that I see on here and talk with many of you about on a regular basis. I also own Perficut Companies, Perficut is ranked in the top 100 Nationally and has almost 200 employees. I started this company from scratch so I know I have been where most of you are or have been. Visit www.perficut.com to see more.
I hear “how do I get people” “how do I get good people?” But as I talk with many of you and read your reaction to many of our accessories we sell you are constantly badmouthing your employees. The dipsticks, dummies, idiots, crackheads, etc. “My guys aren’t smart enough to run this”….. its all the same. Always followed by I can’t grow!!? So I challenge you to think differently. We don’t call our people names. I’ve never looked at it that way. We look at them and wonder how do we help them? Can we train better? Can we hire better? Can we lead them and mentor them into a better employee and maybe a better person. They are a direct reflection of you and your company. You may be surprised of the outcome if you change the way you treat them in the performance they give back in return. I encourage you the think differently or continue battling the “dipsticks” on a daily basis. If I’m wrong then you’ll just be right back where you are today.
Your number one asset is your people, everything else can be bought.
Q: Will this fit my mower?
A: Yes, we have a fitment for almost every commercial brand with decks of 36” or larger.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: $199.00 with free shipping continued for a few more weeks. This is for all models.
Q: Is this a new product?
A: No, we started running them on all our mowers in 2007 and after great results became a retailer in 2008. We don’t own a mower without one.
Q: Yes, Dixie Chopper and a few other brands come with something similar.
A: No, it’s not as good. I’ve owned Dixie Chopper, but there is a good reason they are trying to replicate the concept.
Q: Will tall / wet grass clump up with the cover in the fully closed position?
A: Yes, it is made to control the clippings in areas where you need to minimize clippings and debris from reaching cars, buildings, windows, pools, landscape beds, traffic, etc. Also adding a safety value in areas where debris could be thrown recklessly.
I wanted to touch base this week on your image … How are you perceived by the public? If you don’t care then stop reading and please don’t send me any hate mail!!
Do you keep your trucks, trailers and equipment clean? One strategy for doing this whether you are big or small is to hire a part time wash guy … this could be a retired person, student or just someone wanting to pick up some extra hours. I strongly suggest that you keep your production staff separated from these duties and keep their hours strictly to production and billable hours as much as possible. You’ll end up creating downtime OT when you don’t need to and you can get someone at a much lower wage to do the cleaning. I hear your trucks are all new and so clean, the reality is they are not all new, not even close, but even the old ones look decent and that from a distance creates a positive reflection on our business. I know you’ll see that your staff will take more pride in the equipment if they know you care and they start with clean, safe equipment daily. I promise you it will offset an inexpensive wash guy and you’ll create more pride in the work they perform daily. It’s a culture, a belief and passion.
I also encourage that you take this same approach to the inside of the vehicle. Is trash falling out when they stop? This also relates to uniforms … they should be clean and professional and ideally the Foreman on the site identifiable.
Are you allowing smoking in your trucks on your sites? This is not a clean, professional business practice. All the smokers can cuss me. You do what you want, but that doesn’t mean you want your staff puffing away as they stand on a client’s property … then to so casually flick the butt on the ground. I’d lose my mind!
I also think about how they are acting in public, on or off the clock. Are they at a fast food joint whistling at girls in line while your customer or maybe potential future customer is standing just feet away? Off work at a kids ballgame or the grocery store are they wearing your company attire and are they representing you the way you would be proud of? When asked about where they work how would they answer? We hope that our team takes pride in wearing our company ball cap / gear and when asked they are proud to say YES I work for a great company. This starts with you as the owner creating that culture.
Peers, make no mistake we are not perfect in any of these areas … But we work on them DAILY. I’m not trying to sell you more accessories, (but they are the best) 🙂 only to hopefully add value and perspective to the way you run your business. Some people create a job why others create a business, which one do you want?
A good reputation is often more valuable than money.
We need your help! Please tell us a product you would like to see. Even if you have not seen the product on the market we would like to hear your ideas. If your product is produced you may be entitled to royalties.