What would you say if I told you to stop thinking like a landscaper? Do you think that would help you better run your business? Would it help you to see your connection to clients more easily? Would it help you better retain clients and employees? Would it help you better align and focus your business?

Jim McCutcheon things so.

McCutcheon, the CEO of HighGrove Partners in Austell, Georgia, uses this mantra in his business daily. And at this year’s GIE+EXPO, which was held in October 2015 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, he told a packed house a story about how he saw this same suggestion develop to help the nurseries he does business with.

“We recently brought our nursery suppliers in and told them they had the quality I was looking for but they all thought too much like nurserymen,” he says.

“If I asked them about their operations, they’d show me plants and brochures,” McCutcheon explains “But, to be honest, if they all dropped off the same plant to my office, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between them.”

But what if nurserymen thought more like logistics people? If plants don’t seal the deal, nurseries should think about landscapers’ biggest pain points and address those to retain customers, McCutcheon suggests. “Then they would turn my head because if they are late or they don’t have the supply I need, that’s when they’re killing me,” he explains.

McCutcheon told his landscape company employees the same story. “If you think our customers can tell the difference between the way we all mow, edge and prune, well they just can’t,” he says. “The way we differentiate ourselves is with service-oriented issues. We consider ourselves a service-oriented business that just happens to do landscaping.”

One way HighGrove does this is by having its people become certified in real estate practices. “We give seminars to our customers each year on real estate topics and this helps them fulfill their continuing education credits for real estate,” he says. “That gives customers extra value from us.”

What can you do to provide unparalleled value to your customers to make you their absolute first and only choice?


Nicole Wisniewski
Editorial Director/Editor-in-Chief