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Keeping Your Strategic Plan Alive

Keeping Your Strategic Plan Alive

Written by Kevin Martlage

Over the past year, ArboRisk Insurance has published numerous articles about how to strategically advance your company. Primarily we have focus on developing a strategy around supporting  your team, your leaders, and the business culture necessary to successfully advance your tree care company. In an article ArboRisk published on October 28, 2021, “Why is Strategic Planning Important”, I wrote about the importance of developing a strategic plan that not only validates the “why” of your organization, but also the steps you can take to achieve the “why” and your goals.

An impactful strategic plan is one that helps to ensure your current path is sustainable, profitable, and most importantly helps you achieve all that you can as a company. When developing a strategic plan, you must ensure you have clear goals in place for the next 1-3 years as you continue to build your company and your team? If not, you will certainly end up somewhere in the future, but is that where you want to be and have you achieved all you can achieve as an organization?

Before we talk about how to keep your strategic plan alive and relevant,  I’d like to recap the process we recommend following as you develop a strategic plan. When leading organizations through the strategic planning process there is typically focus on five key areas:

  • Confirming the “Why”
  • Reviewing performance and current state
  • Identifying what is possible and where we want to go
  • Determining how we will get there
  • Implementation and monitoring

The outcome of the strategic planning process is several short term and long-term goals that will help the organization achieve the overall mission, or “why,” of their organization. Additionally, you then must develop an operational plan and budget that supports the goals that have been identified. This is done in numerous ways, but usually by focusing on the following key questions that will help you dive into your company to see what is needed to achieve each goal:

  • What resources are necessary, and do we currently have those resources?
  • Do we currently have the staff needed to make these goals happen?
  • What are some potential roadblocks that we need to proactively identify?
  • What are some other outside resources and knowledge that we may need to engage?

Whether you go through the strategic planning process internally as a team or have someone help facilitate the development, every organization is then left with the question of “now what”? As an organization you have spent time developing this iron-clad strategic and operational plan that will take you to the next level, but other things always seem to get in the way of making it happen. Those things are what I like to call unintentional noise which always seems to interfere with the implementation and effectiveness of the plan you just spent time creating. So how do we eliminate the unintentional noise and effectively implement and carry out your plan?

A Harvard Business Review article, “4 Common Reasons Strategies Fail” published June 24, 2022 outlines some reasons why strategic plans fail. Specifically, it notes:

“…60-90% of strategic plans never fully launch. The causes of derailment vary widely, but execution consistently bears the blame.”

I cannot tell you how many organizations I have worked with, and have worked for, where the strategy was not understood, and therefore never fully executed across all levels of the organization. In some instances, the developed strategy and operational plan is not even understood among the leadership team that developed the strategy in the first place. All too many times a strategy is developed, and the plan gets put on-the-shelf  to be dusted off 3 years later or when it is determined that the organization is not heading in the right direction. When it is finally dusted off, it is realized that the answers were right there all the time. If the plan would have been followed the organization would be closer to where they now think they should be than where they are. This may sound extreme, but it happens all the time and creates lost time, extra expense, negativity towards the business culture, and a negative impact on your ability to serve your customers. So how as an organization do you ensure execution and delivery of the strategy that you and your leadership team so carefully developed? The answer starts with communication and understanding.

Every company has their own resources, budget, team and “why,” however how they keep their strategy and operational plan alive can be the same regardless of the size and direction of your organization. Here are a few steps I recommend you consider for implementation to ensure you keep your plan alive once developed:

  • Communicate your plan to the entire organization and ensure their understanding
  • Determine operational champions/leads for each functional goal to assist with oversight
  • Develop, communicate, and review key performance indicators (KPIs) for each goal
  • Review expectations and confirm understanding of key deliverables
  • Integrate KPI monitoring, updates, and performance review into all staff meetings
  • Align meeting agendas to include strategic plan performance and general updates
  • Align impact areas and KPIs to each specific job or functional position within the organization
  • Integrate strategic categories and updates into your annual review process
  • Review the validity of your plan annually and adjust as necessary ensuring changes are communicated and understood

The more you can integrate some of these items into your standard operating procedures, the more effective they will become in helping to keep your plan alive. Integration of some of these items can be easy depending on your company. For instance, can you create a standard meeting agenda template that always includes a strategic plan performance and impact update? Depending on your IT capabilities, can you create a KPI dashboard that is updated in real time and aligned with the strategic categories and goals of the organization. How about a weekly or monthly, CEO/Owner newsletter, webinar, or lunch and learn focused on strategic plan performance and updates.

How you approach keeping your plan alive is up to you and your company leadership. However, the most important thing is that you implement the plan and then keep it alive through consistent and intentional communication and follow up. Ensuring that a solid strategic and operational plan is kept alive will help your organization continue to have the support and ability to achieve your goals. Communication is key in this phase of implementation and monitoring. The entire team must be aware of the plan that was created to ensure that everyone is driving to the same place on the map and understand where they are on that map. It is up to the leadership of the organization to ensure that a clear understanding of the plan is in place and that everyone on the team is aware of how they impact the plan daily, weekly, monthly, and annually.

If you are interested in learning more about how strategic planning can enhance your organization,I encourage you to look at our Thrive Risk Management Strategic Planning packageIn just four short weeks we can help you identify who you are as a company, what you want to become, and what strategic milestones will be needed to achieve your goals and ensure your team is all driving to the same destination.

Attention is the New Currency

Attention is the New Currency

Written by Katie Petersen

Commitment. In today’s fast paced world, the one thing all companies and people are looking for is commitment. When you get a customer to commit to you, and become a repeat customer, you are winning the “game.” 

But how do you establish commitment? To begin to focus on commitment, many companies need to change their mindset. Rather than worry about the money or potential money a customer could bring in, think of them in terms of commitment. And how do you get someone to commit to you? You give them ATTENTION. In other words, give your customers the attention they deserve and they’ll reward you with dollars for your business.

Attention to your customers in the marketing and sales world is just as important as it is in your personal life or real life. So how do you make your customer and potential customers feel special? Below are our good, better, best ideas for giving your customer the attention they deserve!

 

GOOD – EMAIL NEWSLETTER

An email newsletter is still an excellent way to stay in touch with your clients and prospects. Crafting a newsletter, whether weekly, monthly, or quarterly, is a great way to contact your customers and remind them that you are there! If you can, include a “client highlight” section in your newsletter where you talk about how you helped someone, have them discuss what you did, or let them review your company. Again, give your clients the attention they deserve! Some great options to develop your email newsletter are MailChimp, Constant Contact, or Active Campaign.

 

BETTER – FREE COMMUNITY

Do you offer your clients a place to connect and come together? Fostering a community that they can join where you offer them company updates, free information, or new services is another great way to give them the attention they crave! Being able to have 1:1 conversations (even through an online platform) is a great way to show your clients that you care and you are keeping them top of mind. If you haven’t yet, look into creating a Facebook Group for your business! 

Shameless plug: ArboRisk’s FREE facebook group, Tree Talk by ArboRisk, gives our clients a network to bounce around thoughts and ideas! Plus, our founder, Eric, goes live once a month with one of our industry experts to discuss our topic of the month! Join FREE today!

 

BEST – PAID COMMUNITY

Perhaps you have curated your free community and email newsletter to the MAX and are ready to take the plunge to have people pay you for your information! If you are continually giving away tree care secrets or have found a niche of people who are willing to pay for additional content from you. Start a subscription fee-based newsletter or group! You can upsell joining this group by offering them access to your calendar ahead of regular clients or provide them with extra tips for keeping their trees healthier throughout the year. You could provide them with insider discounts or sample products to try. Giving certain clients this special attention and extra care will keep them returning to you year after year! 

 

These are all great ways to stay top of mind to your clients and give them the attention they deserve! A client that sees the value in the attention you bring will provide you with their investment and loyalty year after year!

If you need more assistance with your marketing or sales plans, contact ArboRisk today! Our Thrive Sales and Marketing Risk Management Package is the perfect solution for any tree care company stuck in a rut (no pun intended) with their marketing!

How to Audit Your Website

How to Audit Your Website

Written by Katie Petersen

A website review, or audit, can seem daunting, overwhelming, and paralyzing. Where do you start? How do you know what to do? What parameters do you measure? Thankfully, a website audit does not have to be stressful or overbearing – it just has to be something that you get yourself organized for and then actually do it. 

Below are a few tips for prepping for a website audit, followed by potential items to have on a checklist as you review different areas of your website. 

Prepping for a website audit

The number one advice I can provide to you in conducting a website audit is to be as prepared as possible. What do you hope to accomplish with the audit? Where do you want your website to go in the next 5 years? Is there a specific product or service you offer that you specifically want to drive people too? Most importantly, don’t try to do too many pages at once! Pick your five most visited pages, or the five pages that best drive your business goals, and start with those! Making sure these pages are where you want them will help you adjust the additional pages on your site in the future.

Web Design

Next, take a look at your web design. Is your website design easy to read? Research has shown that websites that are too complex actually turn off potential clients. Simple, cleaner website designs actually help drive customers to your business! Make sure your pages’ structure – headers, body content, footers – are all easy to distinguish and help a visitor navigate your pages correctly. Do you include photos to break up the text? Do you have CTA (call to action) buttons throughout that make purchases simple? Does the design of your website align with your company’s brand? Does your website also show up well across all devices – computer, laptop, mobile? Looking at all of these design elements will help you showcase your products and services to visitors in a way that successfully aligns with your mission.

Lead Generation

Does your website convert your visitors into leads? This is the most crucial step when designing and auditing your website. Make sure your pages have clear CTA buttons that are positioned in a visible way and easy for the visitor to understand. If you have a potential visitor who begins filling out a contact or purchase form, but ultimately abandons the form, do you have some type of retargeting set-up to reach back out to them? Many times, companies will automatically send a “Looks like you forgot something…” email to remind the visitor to finish the form. If they happen to try to click out of the form, pop-ups offering an incentive or free consult are another great way to grab their attention and entice them to continue filling out the form.

Content

The content on your pages is also as important as your potential lead generation. Does your content make sense? Is it concise while still providing visitors with the necessary information to move forward with your business? Make sure your content is structured correctly – with the most important information at the top. Ensure there are no grammatical or spelling errors on your site; this is an incredibly easy fix that companies often overlook! Finally, the content should complement the design of your website. If you use blocks, bullets, white space, photo dividers, make sure these all align with your brand and vision!

SEO Generation

Finally, audit your SEO! SEO is a MUST to have your website to rank well on Google and ultimately have your website seen by visitors. To start, set up a tracking tool to find out what is going on with your site – audience, traffic, clicks, etc. Use tags, meta descriptions, keywords and phrases throughout your site. Ensure that you have outbound (links to outside sites) and inbound (links to your own website) links throughout your pages. If you use WordPress for your website, Yoast SEO is a great tool to help organize your SEO – plus, it helps make SEO less overwhelming!   

Auditing your website can seem daunting and overwhelming. However, by breaking it down into simple, easy to follow steps, that mountain is not insurmountable. Being prepared ahead of time and understanding what you want to accomplish will help you complete the audit and put you ahead of your competition.

If you need help with a website audit or your sales and marketing techniques, contact ArboRisk! Our Sales and Marketing Thrive Risk Management Package will help you create the appropriate marketing message to land more of the jobs and customers you want.

Marketing Trends for 2022

Marketing Trends for 2022

Written by Katie Petersen

2021 was a unique and interesting year for marketing trends – but let’s be honest, at this point, every year the world sees new and interesting marketing trends that take us by surprise. That being said, it should come as no shock that diverse and different marketing trends are on the rise for 2022. As you dive into your marketing for 2022, let’s take a look at what trends you should be looking at and how you can incorporate them into the marketing plan for your tree care company!

Video Marketing

Coming in as no surprise, video marketing continues to be a rising trend. More specifically, short-form content, in the form of Tik Toks and Instagram Reels, are the hottest platforms. With Instagram Reels, users enjoy the quick snippets of information, while creators see their account being prioritized by Instagram, due to their focus on Reels within their algorithm. To set your tree care company up for top level video marketing in 2022, I suggest becoming active on Instagram and Tik Tok. Start playing around with ideas for short videos you could promote – a “day in the life of an arborist” video may interest your clients, a bad pruning vs. good pruning job, or creating a montage of customer reviews from satisfied clients. 

 

Influencer Marketing

Raise your hand if you have ever bought something off of the internet because an account you follow promoted it and gave it good reviews. Yes, we’ve all been “influenced” at one point or another. 2022, however, has been dubbed the “year of the creator,” so it is important for your tree care company to understand and embrace this trend. When you think of the tree care world, is there anyone who comes to mind that you trust their opinion on? How could you partner with them to promote a service, a product, etc.? Is there a clothing wear company that you could partner with to promote their product while also having them promote across their channels? Perhaps one of your clients has a substantial following on a social media platform; work with them on how they could promote your business. Influencer marketing knows no boundaries – it is simply a matter of reaching out to connect and cross-promote products or services.

 

Audio Content

2021 saw the rise of Clubhouse as a social audio app that allowed users to listen to, learn from, and chat with like-minded creatives. So it is unsurprising that 2022 will definitely see an increase in audio content consumption. If you have a blog post, consider moving that content to video or audio form. Having audio on your website will help with Google rankings in the coming year. If you have the time, starting a podcast is another great way to create audio content (who doesn’t love listening to a podcast while driving?!). 

 

Livestreaming

In addition to audio, livestreaming is also on its way up for 2022. Users viewing live content is actually shown to be up about 250% from last year. Livestreams allow viewers to connect immediately with sellers and builds trust and rapport in real time – as opposed to perfectly curated content. One way to get into livestreaming is to host a Facebook Live discussing what your company does, host a Q&A session allowing potential clients to engage directly with you, or announce new services or products that your company offers directly to the consumer. ArboRisk, for example, hosts a Facebook Live the last Wednesday of each month in our “Tree Talk” Facebook group, where we discuss our topic of the month (Hiring & Recruiting, Business Planning, Sales & Marketing, etc.). Livestreaming is an easy way to connect immediately with customers and should definitely be a part of your marketing for 2022.

 

Organic Marketing

It’s 2022 and SEO isn’t going anywhere. The tried and true way to drive individuals to your website is still holding strong and can be a leading source of new business for your tree care company. To increase your SEO, if you have not done so already, consider starting a blog! This is a great way to continually update content on your website and drive users to your business. Make sure to write long-form content when doing so – search engines favor content that is 2500-3500 words. Ensure that your website is mobile friendly, as well! Roughly 60% of searches are done on a mobile device and ensuring your website is mobile friendly is an easy way to increase your SEO.

 

These are just a few of the emerging trends that are expected in 2022. The more you are able to look forward and plan content accordingly, the better positioned you will be with your marketing now and into the future.

Need help creating a marketing strategy for 2022? Check out our Thrive Sales and Marketing Package or contact an ArboRisk team member today! It has all you need to help take your company to new heights!

Outlining a Career Path for Your Team

Outlining a Career Path for Your Team

Written by Kevin Martlage

I ran across a Chinese proverb the other day that made me think about the importance of creating a nurturing and supportive work environment for your team. An environment that allows them to not only be successful but helps them intentionally and transparently identify their professional career goals while having the proper support to obtain them. The Chinese Proverb goes like this, 

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” 

You may be asking yourself, what does that have to do with a supportive work environment and specifically why having a career path for your team is important? The answer to that lies within the true meaning, in my opinion, of this proverb and how you can support your team through career development.

As professionals in the tree care industry, we are certainly able to outline and discuss the importance of a healthy green infrastructure and specifically the role a healthy canopy and each tree within that canopy. Similarly, we also know the various stages of how a tree grows and develops over time. Everything from how the seed is planted and germinates below ground with the radicle (primary root) and the plumule emerging from that seed to the seedling stage and sapling stage which leads to the Heartwood, Xylem, Phloem, outer bark, and eventually each individual branch and leaf. Without each of those stages developing in a specific order, a tree would not exist and therefore would not be a sustainable part of the ecosystem and canopy. How a tree is planted, nurtured, and developed over time is important to how that tree ultimately survives and becomes an integral part of the ecosystem which is so very important to all of us. 

With that in mind, I challenge you to think of your organization and your team as a tree that needs to be planted, nurtured, and grown over time. Specifically, think of each of your employees as an integral part of your organizational ‘canopy’ which requires the various ‘trees’, your employees, to be highly functioning and productive as you provide your service to the ‘ecosystem’ of the industry. Without a strong workforce, who is highly motivated, supported, safe, trustworthy, and strategic you will find your overall long term sustainable success to be far more challenging than it should be. A specific and detailed career path can help to attract higher quality employees, keep your current employees engaged, and set your organization apart from the competition as a highly supportive place of business that employees want to work for. 

Career paths can take many different forms regarding what they provide your employees. The number one goal in creating a career path is that it is aligned with the goals of your organization while allowing for the individual and collective growth and development of your team. 

 

When beginning to develop your employee career path, it is important to keep the following in mind:

  • What do your employees want and need from their careers (i.e., goals and desires)?
  • What can the workforce provide to your organization to be successful (i.e., needed skills)?
  • Can the developed career path be easily supported by you and your leadership team?
  • How will it be communicated to the team and kept alive once in place?

Once you have strategically determined the answers above, it is time to develop the career path for your employees and your organization. To do this, I challenge you to think about the developmental stages of a tree once again. The career path should start from the seed being planted (the hiring of a new employee) to the ‘leaves’ that are produced as that employee continues to grow within your organization. 

An example of a career path might be the following:

  • Planting the seed: Day 1
    • New Employee is hired
  • Seed Germination : Week 1
    • Radicle forms (downward) 
      • On-boarding – new hire paperwork
    • Plumule forms (towards surface)
      • On-boarding – organizational background 
      • On-boarding – team introductions
  • Seedling Stage: First 30 days 
    • Seedling forms
      • Specific on-the-job training identified
      • Specific on-the-job training provided
  • Sapling Stage: First 3 months
    • Root development
      • Mentor identified and introduced 
    • Trunk development
      • Bi-weekly mentor/supervisor meetings 
      • On the job training continues
  • Growth Stage: 2-6 months
    • Heartwood development
      • Identify and document career goals 
    • Xylem, Cambium, Phloem
      • Create a career development action plan  
    • Outer Bark development
      • Review progress to date
      • Identify opportunities for additional training
  • Nurturing Stage: 6 months +
    • Watering
      • Conduct quarterly performance meetings
    • Pruning
      • Review career action plan annually and update
      • Provide opportunities for outside certification(s)
      • Provide opportunities for external training
    • Transplanting (as needed)
      • Support internal career advancement
      • Support external career advancement

The development, communication, and support of a detailed career path for your employees is equally important to your organization’s success as your strategic plan, financial maintenance, and client acquisition. In fact, I would argue that it might be even more important as you continue to grow your organization. The proper on boarding, development, support, and nurturing of your employees will enhance your overall team culture while ensuring that your team is firmly planted in your organization for many years to come. The time to develop that career path is now. This will allow you to look back in 20 years as you enjoy the benefits of a healthy team that has helped grow your organization and provide a valuable service to your clients and the industry. 

If you struggle with the hiring process, contact an ArboRisk team member today! Our Thrive Risk Management Hiring & Recruiting Package and team of experts will help you one-on-one to create the career path that works for your organization.