Lawn Care Radio Network with Jason Cupp and Chuck Bowen talking HR Issues…

The editor of Lawn & Landscape Magazine, Chuck Bowen, and I do a regular radio interview on business topics that affect not only the landscape industry, but any business. Here is the latest episode we recorded last month on Human Resources and what to do when an employee asks you to fire them and commit fraud in the process, amongst other nuggets. Check it out, there might be something in there for you!

If you struggle with HR issues, I have resources that can help, including “HR In A Box” where our staff HR guru solves your HR concerns, and he knows the laws in all 50 states as well as Canada… Listen and learn! And let me know if you have any questions!

 

Join ME in Making an Impact this Thanksgiving Season

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Hey friends, join me in a fun and impactful endeavor for the next week. I started this morning and already amazed by the grateful responses I’ve got. Here it is: Wherever you go, whatever you do, whoever you interact with, whatever phone call you’re on, or email or text you receive – end it with “Have a wonderful Thanksgiving” or “I really hope you have an amazing holiday”

People today are used to being overlooked, under-appreciated, and generally talked down to. This morning, I’ve said this to the lady in the elevator at the hotel, the Starbucks barista, the flight attendant, and the person who just held the door open among others, and the look on their face, and the tone in their voice is one of surprise.

So, make impact on those around you – show the true nature of the Thanksgiving holiday by letting your actions and words, to those you know and to complete strangers, emphasize your care for people and the relationships around you.

Feel free to share this, make maximum impact, and most of all, have an amazing Thanksgiving week!

Is Margining Your Accounts Receivable a Smart Business Move? @fundbox @girlmeetsgeek

Anymore, I sure don’t understand how Facebook targets advertising, but for the last week, I’ve seen “sponsored” ads for a company called Fundbox.  Essentially, they allow you margin (aka BORROW) against your Accounts Receivables to increase cash flows.

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A quick Google search brings up many who challenge the company, as these type of services are usually VERY expensive.   Granted, I didn’t do a full-blown search on the costs, but did find several reliable sources that say the fee to borrow against your receivables is somewhere between 1% and 6% of the invoice total.   SO, if you have an invoice for $1,000 out there and want your cash faster than your client pays you, you’ll pay $10 to $60 for that convenience.   For a great blog entry on Fundbox, check out this well written and surmised post by GirlmeetsGeek here.  I’m also quite impressed with the reply from their CEO Eyal Shinar. Well said.

This post really isn’t about Fundbox or other short-term margin companies that allow you to borrow against your receivables… It’s really about receivable management to being with. I speak often about the topic, and honestly, if you have to borrow against your receivables, and are NOT in a highly seasonal business, the problem might lie in your business model, the way you write your contracts, the way you report your receivables, and the way you allow your clients to pay you.

Trust me, I know.

At one point in my career, my company had a $4M Line Of Credit and it was TAPPED.  I lost sleep at night. And we were only paying 5% at the time. Think about that for a second.  When our LOC was fully drawn on, we were paying almost $17,000/month in interest. Given our business model that was about 4-5 months of that type of balance.   So, we would pay $70,000 or so in interest. IF we used Fundbox (and I doubt we could have given the size of our A/R) and we were charged the maximum 6%, we would have paid $240,000 in “fees” for the same convenience.  At the lowest fee, in their defense, we would have paid $40,000.  BUT, it would have been much more than that because although our LOC was tapped at $4M, we borrowed, paid it down, reborrowed, and paid it down.  So, we might have borrowed a total of $6-8M over those months, so at the lowest fee, we would have still paid the same amount.  You get what I’m saying.

All that said, you don’t need to. Think about this: When was the last time you put gas in your car?  I would guess it was in the last few weeks, right? Did you agree to pay the gas station later?  No, you sure didn’t. You either paid cash, put it on a debit or credit card, or drove away from the pump.  You see, the gas station got their money AS SOON AS THEY provided you with the product.  And most companies just simply don’t work that way.

The lesson to be learned here is that there are ways to invoice on demand, get paid almost immediately, and reverse your cash flows.   Most of my clients today do that, and their cash flows have changed dramatically, sometimes 3-4x what they were previously… and it all comes down to understanding your financials, your cash flows, your processes and making it easy for your clients to do business with you.

Did I strike a chord?  If so, say hi and lets chat.  If not, consider yourself lucky – most business owners that reach out to me have a cash flow problem, and it is so much fun to watch those numbers reverse themselves relatively quickly.   Until then, have an incredible week.  :)

Follow Through After Conferences For Greater Success

I was honored to see many of you over the last few weeks at PLANET’s GIC and the GIE+EXPO.  It was an amazing event filled with lots of networking, educational events, sharing best-practices, receptions, innovative new products, a massive trade show, and just friends being with friends.  I had a blast and was so excited to spend time with so many amazing businesspeople last week.   Some of you might have met my friend Kevin at all of these events, but if you didn’t, as a guy (like me) who has been going to trade show and educational events for most of his career, Kevin gives you some insight on those events from his perspective.   Cheers!   ~Jason

Many of you earmark a portion of your annual budget to attend professional conferences and industry-related trade shows throughout the year. You invest valuable time away from your business to sit through seminars and complete educational courses with the intent of gaining insight to improve your operations.

Perhaps you invest in training employees on a variety of topics from sales to safety. Closer to home, you may have become ASCA certified, or had your employees earn their certifications through our online learning center.

All are sound investments, however, how many things do you talk about implementing but never get around to it? Learning is one thing, implementing is another.

Here is the truth of the matter. The snow and ice management industry got itself into a bind with the insurance industry because actions were not taken to protect companies and insurance providers from frivolous lawsuits. This exposed a weakness that made the professional snow and ice management industry a target for plaintiff’s attorneys.

I use insurance and slip-and-falls as an example because this is something nearly everyone can relate to on a personal and professional level. However, this lesson is applicable to your whole business.

How many times have you returned from a conference, seminar, or lecture excited, inspired and determined but failed to implement any of the cost-cutting, sales building or team strengthening lessons into your operation? How long ago was that seminar you attended? Two weeks? Two months? Two years? And what takeaways have you implemented into your business since?

It’s unfortunate the entrepreneurial spirit that drives most of us to succeed also creates time constraints that limit what can be packed into the typical workday. How many of you have families? Need I say more?

I have heard “We are going to this!” countless times from many of you – some more than once. A prime example is the ISO 9001/SN 9001 certification process. This was created because the insurance industry requires a verification system that ensures a snow and ice removal operation has implemented and is following the Industry Standards.

So the conversations I generally have on this topic typically go like this: “We are doing it. We are about 80 percent of the way to compliance.” Six months later: “We are doing it. We are about 80 percent of the way there.” Six more months later: “We are doing it. We are about 80 percent of the way there.”

I am not here to say the ASCA or ISO are the end all be all. However, industry leaders directed us to find an insurance solution. The solution we’ve developed involves industry members taking responsibility for themselves. Those who don’t will be left behind.

Keep these ideas in mind as you attend sessions at your next professional event. What are you going to bring back to the office, and how long before you implement the new ideas?

==

Kevin GilbrideThis is a guest post from Kevin Gilbride, Executive Director of ASCA (Accredited Snow Contractors Association)

Kevin Gilbride started in the snow industry in 1996 as part of the team that launched what is today Snow Magazine. Deeply passionate about the snow and industry and the issues that face today’s professional snow and ice management companies, Kevin brings a level of experience from the business side that benefits ASCA membership.

Initially entering the publishing industry as a sales representative for Lawn & Landscape magazine, Kevin moved his way up the ranks of GIE Media, Inc. into a management role including Group Publisher of Lawn & Landscape, Golf Course Industry, and Snow Magazines. Along the way, he led the successful launches of Snow Magazine, Interior Business, and Commercial Dealer magazines, as well as the successful re-launch of Golf Course News, and its transition to Golf Course Industry magazine.

Kevin established exclusive partnerships with Mills Insurance to bring unique insurance products to the professional snow and ice management industry.

As Executive Director of the ASCA, Kevin is committed to helping drive our industry to new levels, and getting the outside world to recognize both the professionalism that exists in the industry and the unfairness that the outside world places on your business.

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