Keeping a full tank

By Jacki Hart, CLP
Program manager, Prosperity Partners

Spring is on the horizon.
It's that great time of year when the fresh green buds we yearn for start to swell. Snow melts away. Rivers rush past at a feverish pitch. Song birds emerge as the days lengthen. And, the pit in my stomach once again starts to morph into fear of the spring rush looming ahead.

What is it about March that always bubbles up an emotional cocktail of excitement and trepidation? The questions racing in my head are overwhelming. This used to exhaust me before we took the first truck out of winter storage.

The questions and 'to do' lists are endless at this time of year. The phone starts ringing for quotes and consultations. It seems some of the staff you want back don't come, and the ones you don't want back are banging down your door for a job. The resumes you WISH you had on your desk never seem to materialize in significant numbers, and the seemingly insurmountable learning curve for your new staff comes into terrifying focus. The schedule you thought would work unravels before you with every passing day, and every changing resource.

Such is the reality of the green industry in March. Right?

Start the season off right
Well, stop right there. Let's make THIS is the year that you break the cycle of uncertainty and overwhelming panic. If you start your pre-season off being emotionally exhausted, stressed and scattered, how will you refill your tank before the season's work actually starts?

Think about the following statement as you head into spring: Customers who benefit emotionally from the work you do for them, will become the best advocates for your business, and 'customers for life.'

If you or the staff delivering service in your company are emotionally drained (or indifferent), it will be reflected in the care they take when doing their work, and in the quality of their work. Customers will notice. Your business's "edge" might slip in their perception. The result can be that, in your customer's mind, your business becomes aligned with your competitors as being the 'same' or 'average'.

Satisfied staff create happy customers
In order to give your customers an emotionally fulfilling experience, the work your company does has to be emotionally fulfilling for every one involved in delivering the service to your customer. Happy employees who are engaged in their work generally make sure customers know they care!

Every player in your business needs to start the season with a full emotional tank. And they need to be able to sustain that reserve throughout the season. And, the team needs leadership to make that happen.

So, what are you going to do this spring, and into the season, differently from prior years, which will 'feed' everyone on your team so that your customers feel great about your company?

Here are some suggestions:
Ask your team about what perks them up. What charges their batteries? What makes them feel great at the end of a job or day? Make a list, and talk about how, as a team, you can do more of that. Keep that list handy and visible.

Make it a goal to strive for more of what makes your team feel great about their work. When they do, so do your customers. When customers feel great they are your best advocates, and they represent your easiest sales, aligned with your team, and happy.

It's those energizing good feelings that will keep your tanks full, and help you keep perspective on the unavoidable frustrations and unforeseen changes we juggle at this time of year. So, as the endless "to do" list looms ahead, think about what you are going to do differently this spring to keep your emotional tank full, and NOT become engulfed in a sea of stress. To recap something I said last month, "If you don't aim at something, you will miss it with HUGE accuracy," so plan to manage your work load a bit differently this year, to make room for keeping your emotional tank full. Go ahead, get back into your comfy chair, pour yourself another cup of relaxation, grab that note pad you used last month, and make a list of what keeps your tank full — and do MORE of it! Commit yourself to a solution before you're running on empty.

Jacki Hart is available by e-mail at