Motivating to do better

Last night I had one of those heart-to-heart talks with my 8-year-old son about always doing your best, finishing what you begin and persevering under adversity. His reply was, "Yup, yup, yup." I even asked him if he was sure he understood what I was saying, and-once again-"Yup." Probably all he heard was, "Blah, blah, blah. Understand?" Some of it may eventually sink in, but I'll undoubtedly have to keep prodding this lesson.

I'm sure you have had similar discussions with your staff as you attempt to motivate them to do well in their jobs. It's a fine line you walk when you discuss these subjects. You can easily go overboard, risking a turn-off. But your staff looks to you as their leader, and it is your responsibility to set a positive tone that will motivate them toward greater achievements. A well-motivated staff will help set the stage for increased productivity and profitability. This issue focuses on business and ways in which you can make your operation more profitable.

Motivating your staff to be more productive is one step in the right direction, but it is only one step. You need a good plan, proper execution and the appropriate tools. Both plant-care products and grounds-care equipment are pivotal tools you can use to achieve a profitable plan. This issue opens with two features in a series focusing on profitability. Some of the new pest-control introductions we've seen during the last few years offer labor- and cost-savings that will make your operation more efficient and ultimately more profitable. But you may not have considered how they might fit in your operation. Therefore, Part I on profitability focuses on strategic chemical use. Learn new ways to improve your efficiency with innovative chemical use.

Part II focuses on grounds-care equipment that will help you increase profitability. Manufacturers continue to introduce new features that make grounds-care equipment more productive. Ergonomic designs, multiple-use attachments and units designed to save labor all increase productivity. Also discover what Grounds Maintenance readers say about the techniques and equipment that they have found to influence their bottom line.

Labor is one of the most critical factors affecting your operation's profitability. As I've alluded to in the previous discussion, a key element to profitably is to choose and use chemicals and equipment to increase the efficiency of your operation-that is, to use these products to minimize your labor requirements. Of course, you also have to know how much your labor is costing you. Lance Schellhammer, owner of Grass-Roots Inc., a grounds-care firm in Lenexa, Kan., provides tips on how to estimate your labor costs in our "How To:" feature.

In addition to articles on profitability, this issue is filled with other information you can use to improve your operation. "Equipment Options: Light-duty trucks" details the new 1999 introductions. "Managing pest resistance to herbicides" discusses the seriousness of herbicide-resistant weeds and ways to beat resistance. And Dr. Jeffrey Derr, professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, provides tips on controlling winter weeds.

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