The Three Most Important Business Lessons I Ever Learned.
My first job is doing landscape installation, I’m making $23,000 a year, I’m getting married, and I’m looking for a way to make more money when… opportunity strikes.
My wife’s grandparents give us a wedding present of $1,000. So I take $300 of it and buy 1 gallon pots, dirt and liners and I make 600 jasmine. Then I sell them to the landscaper I’m working for. That nets me about $1,000 and teaches me the first great lesson I learned in business: You can make more money if you use your hands and your head.
I reinvest my profits and my first company, G&S Nursery, is born in 1995. My brother and I form it together and run it on the side.
Later that year, I leave working for the landscaper and go looking for a pay raise. I land a new job selling bolts for this man Mark’s company. Instead of a pay raise, he talks me into a pay cut! (No good business lesson in that).
But Mark was a highly disciplined individual who really knew how to leverage money and his customer’s benefitted in lower cost. And Mark taught me the second greatest business lesson I ever learned, to think of the customer as “the boss.”
Anyhow, I do so well in sales that nine years into working for Mark, I buy his company, “HUB”, from him. When he first hired me, HUB was doing half a million in sales. By the time I purchased it in mid-2005, we were doing over four million annually. And when I sold it January 4th, 2016, we had grown to about thirty million in revenue.
After selling HUB, I could have retired, but in my heart I wanted to get back to my first love, G&S Nursery.
I had been an absentee owner for 20 years, and I wanted to apply what I learned running HUB to the nursery business. I’ve always liked and appreciated landscapers for being down to Earth, nice people. People that work with their hands.
And I saw a way I could really help landscapers make more money, a way we’d masted at HUB.
At HUB we specialized in “soft-cost” savings. That meant we wowed our clients by specializing so well in what they needed, that instead of them having to buy from 10 generalists, they would get to switch to only using us, one specialists. And that switch saved them a ton of time, labor, invoicing, sourcing, decisions, and headaches.
Those things are called your “soft-costs” and most people overlook them, but they are money in the bank if you can cut them down.
Helping people lower their soft-costs is the third most important business lesson I ever learned. True story, soft-cost savings is so valuable, one of our clients in the Northeast switched from their vendor of 20 years that was literally right across the street from them, to using us all the way down in Florida!
Today, I’m really happy to be back in landscaping and I’m on a mission to bring “soft-costs” savings and the best customer service in the business to my clients, or as I call them, “the bosses.”
And I’m forever grateful to my wife’s grandparents for that wedding gift of $1,000!