House of Revenue™ Radio

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Episode 15: Why Client Experience Should Be Your North Star with Cindy McCord

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Meet Guest, Cindy McCord

Cindy is President and Owner of Bloom Floralscapes in Denver.  Cindy moved to Colorado in 2002, after growing up in the industry and spending several years in progressive roles at her family’s Dallas-based landscape business. During her tenure there, she maintained a commercial portfolio of more than 150 properties in excess of $2 million in contract value. She developed the in-house color program with on-site greenhouse operations to provide customers with the best plant material while cutting costs for customers’ budgets. 

   

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Mary Grothe (Host)  00:00

Welcome to the House of Revenue™. I'm Mary Grothe, Founder and CEO. I love scaling companies to their first 5 million, then 10, 15, and 20. If you've reached a revenue plateau and aren't sure how to get past it, you're in the right place. Listen in as we interview CEOs and solve their most pressing revenue challenges. If you want to be on our show or want to learn more, connect with us at houseofrevenue.com. What do you do if your entire industry has been rocked by what's happening with COVID and supply chain issues and demand of labor? What do you do? Well, you figure it out, right? If you're a high performing CEO, you figure it out. Today, we have a CEO who's joining us I absolutely love her story. She's built an incredible business. She's in a very competitive industry, she has found a way to build a team rise above have continual growth in performance, we're going to be tackling a couple of revenue growth challenges today are hurdles mostly caused by what's happening in our world. But first, let's welcome Cindy McCord to our show. She's the CEO of Bloom Floralscapes, I'm going to have you tell your story and tell us about this remarkable business that you're growing. 

Cindy McCord (Guest)  01:23

Hi, Mary. Thanks for having me today, I'm super excited to talk about our industry and what we've been able to do at bloom escapes. I started out in the industry working for my family's business back in the early 90s. Before that, I actually had a great training, development opportunity with Neiman Marcus. And so, I learned from the get-go right out of college, how important the client experience was, and that the value proposition be on the dollar was extremely important. So, when I went to work for the family business, I actually only worked there for just a couple of years. But I very quickly saw all of the different facets of the landscape industry, Bloom Floralscapes was founded. I founded it in 2005. On my own, I left Texas and moved to Denver. And when I started the business, it was truly about bringing the client experience a different client experience than what the commercial landscaping industry would typically offer. We our ideal client is looking for a partner, not just a vendor, a company that is detailed and thorough and follows the scope, and is proactive and making suggestions, and really providing an ROI not only on their dollar and their budget, but also with their time. We all know that especially in the property management world, there are so many fires to put out that they need vendors that are acting proactively and engaged with them, and that they're defining success in the same way on their property. And that's what we strive to do at Bloom Floralscapes. And so since 2005, and starting my business, as I grew it very slowly, very organically, I certainly reached certain moments where the trajectory looked different. And I had to make some decisions on what I wanted the company to be what I wanted my experience to be what I wanted the client experience to be, and how to build the right team around that. And so that's what we've been working hard to do. Of course, the pandemic was not anything I thought I would ever experience in my lifetime. But it's been a great opportunity. And my mentor was my father and he taught me some very, some wonderful philosophies that have become key tenants in my life. And one of them is that with every problem, there truly is an opportunity. And that if you take care of your people, and you take care of your team, and your clients then and serve them well, that even when things go wrong, that's truly when the relationship is built and made. And it's our response to those problems and how we deal with them and the solutions we provide that truly formed the relationship. So we always have to look at things as an opportunity.

Mary Grothe (Host)  04:13

With every problem, there's an opportunity, I'm pretty sure this is my new anthem. I think that is the most brilliant advice and I feel like as CEOs, we probably have that ingrained in us internally whether we acknowledge it or not because I believe that CEOs thrive is especially in those moments of adversity. We've talked about the CEO profiles several times here on this show, and that's typically somebody who has high urgency they have a great temperament for taking on risk, and they're excellent complex problem solvers. When you add that with truly caring about people and having client experience as your North Star. I truly don't know how you can fail in business. Being more specific in your industry. I have heard this said so many times, not in your industry just in general, we want to be a partner instead of a vendor. Like, that's great, you know, it became marketing speak almost I've heard hundreds of sales reps say that in their presentation, we strive to be a partner for you, we approach as a partnership, not as a vendor, I hear that all the time. And a lot of people like including that in your pitch, but because I know you and I know your industry, and I know what you're doing, it's real when it's communicated to your prospective clients into your clients in this industry, which is predominantly known to be more in a vendor. And here's the task sheet, this is what we're going to do. There's not a lot of personality in that engagement, it's very straightforward, clear cut and dry problems arise. Anytime you're working in the world of landscaping, or construction being a neighboring industry, there's this thought that it is what it is, we'll get it done when we can get into it. There's a lot, it's not my problem, talk to the manager, but not with your company. And I believe that there's something brilliant that you've built. And we were speaking about this before the show today, which is building that camaraderie with your teams, and it's being the best complex problem solvers in the smallest or the largest of situations. As CEOs, I believe we are naturally inclined and have the ability, at least as talented in high performing successful CEOs. And there's another CEO profile we don't really talk about on this show. But for us, that's probably something that just comes natural. And the thing that stood out in our pre-show conversation was what are we doing as high performing CEOs to help our team understand how to be complex problem solvers. And sometimes they may rush to solve the symptom, not the problem. And you can describe the symptom as a presenting problem. So, if a prospective client or a customer comes forth and says, here's the problem, there's an opportunity for that team member to say, am I solving the problem? Or should I take the moment to step back? And understand is there a root cause that's causing that problem or a different problem? Is this just a symptom, I want to take care of this, and I want to solve it for good and not have this be repeat and slow us down all the time. You've done a tremendous job within your team, your culture, of keeping that client experience as your North Star. And I believe it's one of the biggest differentiators in the industry where you compete. But this year, really rocked a lot of people this past year, you're dealing with a both a consumer sale and a business sale between commercial and residential. You have challenges like many companies, not just in your industry, were here in the Denver Colorado market. But this is happening across the nation. There's labor shortages, we have challenge with supply chain, you have pieces and parts and irrigation systems that need to be manufactured, then they get stuck in a canal on a ship. A lot of things happening. So how what are maybe one or two of the top challenges that have presented themselves to you over the last year? How have you been able to navigate through those?

Cindy McCord (Guest)  07:58

I think the most important thing, it starts with our conversations as a team, and setting our own definition of success. And making sure that we slow down, we can evaluate so we can speed up. Oftentimes, when you get stuck paddling as fast as you can. It's like a what do they say duck underwater feeder paddling what normally would have taken you an hour if you'd spend an extra hour to prepare ahead of time and work through all of the perhaps complex issues that are you wouldn't think would occur. If you take that extra hour at the front, then it wouldn't require 10 hours at the back end when you've messed it up, really. And so as contractors, it's very typical in our industry. It's fast, fast, fast, faster, faster, faster. And the clients demanding it faster, too, because as we discussed before, there's an Amazon effect. Why can't you do it? Now? Why wasn't it done yesterday. So when you combine that client expectation and mindset, with supply chain issues, with a labor shortage, it can be really, it's like making sausage and behind the scenes, it's not pretty. However, it's really important back to the team mindset, and how we coach as a CEO, to talk to our team to set the expectation to slow down so you can speed up to do your planning to wrap up the day, the end of the day and start the next day fresh. And so, we have to go out and then talk to our clients and the whole partner vendor conversation looks a little different for us. It is about again, defining what success looks like it's inserting ourselves into their business. Some clients receive it well, some doubt our ideal client does they look for that? I need to know what the building owners plans are. Are they looking to lease sell, convert space, engage clients in a different way. We need to know that we have ideas. We do it through landscaping, but we are idea, people. And we're in this business because it is so satisfying to be able to see your work come to fruition and actually walk away from it and see it.

Mary Grothe (Host)  10:14

Oh, yes, very much so. That is a beautiful definition between vendor and partner, a vendor is going to take the order, what do you want? How much of it? how frequent what, what does this look like? Okay, great. We'll come by X amount of days a week. This is what's included in the estimate and scope. Here's how it's going to be delivered. If you have any questions, here's the card, that's a vendor, a partner is going to say, hold on a second. Yes, we can do all of that. Why? Let's understand what your goals are. Help me understand the motive behind this the agenda, what's going on with the building? I would say that a lot of building owners, agendas and priorities may have shifted.

Cindy McCord (Guest)  10:50

Absolutely

Mary Grothe (Host)  10:51

Right. Who's having that conversation? You are, your team's having that conversation, is something that you said that so important is that ICP, which stands for ideal customer or ideal client profile, when a CEO can help their team become entrenched in the idea that we have an ICP, then everyone can help find who that is, how to make that profile. And then through attraction methods, you can make sure that you have that type of ICP coming to your company through marketing attraction and sales attraction methods, but then it's your responsibility as business development. You any sales team members, account managers, when you're having that conversation to qualify against that, just as you've heard CEOs say, we hire and fire against our core values, you should qualify and disqualify prospects based on the ideal client profile and your values of why do you want to have a happy time as a CEO and as a as a growing and scaling company? then the answer is yes, then there's an easier way to do that. And that's by not saying yes to everyone who wants to do business with you, because you could have two companies that look identical on paper. But there's something called psychographics, which is more their characteristics about how they are as human beings because remember, even though you're selling B2B, business to business, there are humans that make decision of the business. So even as B2B, you're still dealing with a human. So, it is human sales. And they bring forth characteristics and their personality and their beliefs and their values, how they treat people, how they make decisions around investing money, how they value those investments, and how they can align their budget and investments towards achieving bigger goals, when maybe necessarily, they wouldn't think a landscaping partner has an ability to help with the sale of a building or whatever that end goal might be. So, there's a way to transform that conversation. And the people that fit in the ICP, are absolutely going to align with it. And it'll be night and day and knowing in those sales conversations. So that's usually the Amazon effect has transformed a lot of the way that people do do sales. And I believe it's created an opportunity and B2B building off of what I just said, the Amazon effect for those of you who need clarification on this, Amazon, like, you know, amazon.com, where you buy stuff, they've forever changed the way the buyer expects to have a service conducted for them in two areas, how fast they can find it, order it, that checkout process. So, something cool about Amazon is like they know what we're thinking. I love suggestions, hey, people have bought this bought this based on other searches, you may like this, I've found that through my own way of purchasing, they've just I don't know, some algorithm and big brother in there just figured out what I need, what I want what I like, they also probably look at past orders and say, Hey, this is something that you purchased a month ago. And they may know this a buying behavior, others that purchase this product, buy it every month. So there's ways that Amazon prefers to make my life a lot easier. But then in the delivery. So now they're going to same day delivery, I couldn't even believe that was an option. I had a book I wanted to read. And I had some downtime. And I said look, there's a there's a book that I believe is going to help further me in my life. I actually have a weekend some downtime, and there was an option to get it that evening. I'm like, well, heck yeah, I'll pay 10 bucks extra to the book was only $10. I paid twice as much without a blink of the eye to be like the convenience of this is unbelievable. I'm just going to hit yes on that I got my book that afternoon or the evening and I had the whole week to read it versus waiting two or three days for that shipping, which has been pretty standard. But so I'm a consumer and I buy that way through Amazon, but I'm also a CEO and I'm a buyer have B2B products and services. Do I not as that buyer bring in these underlying expectations that I want salespeople and companies to perform for me that exact same way. And that's the Amazon effect. But I believe that there's value in this so how are you addressing it in your sales cycle are in those conversations, you've got a buyer whether they're saying it or not, you know, that they're coming forth in this conversation, they want it now, they want it perfect, they want it better than anyone else and less expensive.

Cindy McCord (Guest)  15:00

Do we really started to see this shift, I would say about 2016, is when I started to see this shift, and the buying mentality, and I don't, I don't know that our clients truly recognized it, then nor now. I think the way that is most effective to approach it goes back to the ICP, the ideal client. And it was the greatest challenge for me as a CEO, because I'm all about revenue. And it was very difficult for me to learn how to say no, I'm also a people pleaser. I know that we deliver a great service. And why shouldn't we give it to everyone we can. But ultimately, in probably 2018, we hit a wall with that we tripled in size, and did not have our processes and systems, core processes and systems to this up to speed. We had core processes and systems. However, they didn't work at that size. So, we saw the effect of that. And for me, I had to realize and cut through all of the noise and recognize that ultimately, we needed to again, slow down to speed up. Who are we serving, and truly my entire mindset around my business. And what we do is that we are serving people, we're serving our team internally, and we're serving our client. And so I definitely have a service mindset. It might be through landscaping, but landscaping is only the forum in which we serve each other. You can do it through education, teaching, washing windows, working for Amazon, it's an opportunity to serve each other as individuals and human beings. And how do we have that exposure share that experience as we're working together to create a good outcome and to take care of each other. It's a very different mindset. In a world that's viewed as a commodity. contractors are viewed as a commodity. However, what we've seen is that truly Amazon and the products they are selling, that's the commodity because you can flip it very quickly. The buy is emotional, the product is not for contractor. The buyer is emotional, but so was the product. When we finish our project at a residential property or commercial property that last in perpetuity, if it's well maintained. You have families that enjoy their yard, they entertain, what we've seen in the past year is that you're they're using their spaces in a different way. We've returned to our homes, the outdoors, we're bringing in, it's our living room, we can expand, effectively expand the square footage of our home by re landscaping our backyard, if it's done well. And in Colorado, because there's so much our seasonality and the compression of our season. In our industry. Everything has to be that contributed to speed as well, because everything has to be done in q2 and q3. But good design can serve you for 12 months. Yes. And that's another facet of what we do when we design jobs, both commercial and residential. Let's not just look at it and how you're going to use it from May to September. Let's look at the yard as a whole. Let's look at the office as a whole. What is the culture? What is the effect of this landscaping? What's it bringing to your location?

Mary Grothe (Host)  18:35

So this is significant I have to hit on two pieces here. And this is truly the brilliance behind why you're so successful. I've never heard a landscape company speak that way. And for me, it's like penetrating into my heart of my vision for my own property. And there were some key things you said First, I'm going to backup. Funny timing. My husband and I last night at the dinner table. He's a tech for the phone company and CenturyLink now lumen, he is about to celebrate his 20-year anniversary. He is a field technician. He's my blue-collar man, like I love this guy like crazy. We're the perfect polar opposites. And in the same season as you he works a ton of overtime. And that drives me crazy about his job. So last night at the dinner table I said, Okay, let's talk about our financial goals. We're scaling, how's your revenue our company? And I'm like, okay, where do we want to be 510 years, let's plan this out. And I was talking about early retirement. And he looks at me and he says, I know I don't have the most glamorous job. I know it's not as cool as yours and what you get to do. He's a but I find great purpose in my work. And that is very scripture based for anybody of faith listening to this. It doesn't matter what your role is. But if you take great pride of it and care and go the extra mile and truly take care of people and do remarkable work, you will always be blessed through that work. And my husband's sitting there like I know I'm a field tech but I hear every single day from every client, they've never had service like this. They didn't know anyone in this industry even cared about them anymore. He takes complete ownership over the problem. Even if it's not his problem, he will work it to resolution, no matter what it takes, he follows up and follows through and re engages with those customers to make sure the problem was taken care of even when it's no longer on his dispatch, and now on his plate. He's remarkable in his work. And that stood out to me so strong. So funny thing is, in my devotional, I read it this morning. It was this scripture based on no matter what role you have, if you truly serve people, and your intent is through that work that you've agreed to do to do something remarkable and do right by them. You'll never hunger, you'll never thirst, you'll have the abundance, you're doing right by people, you're loving your neighbor, you're building something remarkable from it, that tiny principle is one of the best seeds that you can plant in a service-based business. And looking at what you're bringing for through your company is truly tremendous. And I believe that that serve mentality. It's not just in the work that you're doing on execution. But it's in the initial conversation that you're having to establish not just the initial relationship, but a true partnership, and achieving those angles. I think what you're doing is so powerful, and hopefully people that are listening to this, and especially for the CEOs and executives, you have an opportunity, you have a choice to do this within your own business, and the results will follow what will result it's going to be key for the continued growth and abundance for the business even through hard times. So the second thing that you said that so powerful, is you provide a service, yes. But there's an outcome that's achieved. And I believe that that's where significant differentiation is with you. Something that frustrates me about personally residential for every service or work I've ever had in any house I've had her property is that I feel like the Colorado weather specifically, we are desert climate, which a lot of people don't know that. And so we don't stay lush and green, we have a season of brown and dry. But there are plans. And there are ways to build something so beautiful and aesthetically pleasing through a combination of both xeriscaping, as well as bringing in your wood annuals or whatever you call it and bring in the pops of color and other ways to do that. So there's one it just buy in the setup and how you're building it and complimentary those earth tones and colors and whatnot. There's so much beauty that can be brought forth in landscaping. And I just feel like it's a miss target or you have homeowners driving like I want this or property saying well, we want to go this or what about that cheap plant with the purple butterfly thingies, or wherever is called that attract bees. And it's like the worst that I see all these offices that put those out by the front door. You're like swatting bees on your way into go into a commercial building. But there are things that I think that you bring forth that you've just you've brought the heart into the business that I just don't think others have. So, I just want to like hats off to you for what you built. I think it's absolutely tremendous. 

Cindy McCord (Guest)  23:01

Thank you and you're speaking our language, the fact that you know about xeriscaping, I'm very impressed. That's great. You know, we also consider that with our commercial properties when we're designing because we do maintenance. And so we're keeping sustainability at the forefront of the design, we're keeping water usage at the forefront of design, there's been a tremendous increase in technology around irrigation and watering, and tools that we now have to monitor water usage that we did not have before. And so we actually work with municipalities very closely as well on our on our private properties and also on municipal properties on at on evaluating the water usage and how can we change it. So again, that that contributes to the ROI. And so, you know, we're considering a lot of different things when we go into design landscapes and when we maintain them. So it's just like we, we talked about having the right person in the right seat, in a company and on a team that you need the right person with the right skills are the right mindset performing the right role. We also have a right plant for the right place. And so we keep all of that in mind. And so there's a lot that returning to the thought of the Amazon effect when clients want it yesterday. now, we have to remind them and set the expectation up front of what our full process looks like.

Mary Grothe (Host)  24:33

It's tremendous. I this show is all about overcoming revenue challenges. And typically we get rolled tactical when we talk about like developing a marketing strategy or right here on air today was something far greater and far deeper that I believe is overlooked and missed by so many companies. There's always a time and a place to talk about tactics to talk about implementing that right marketing plan. But if you don't have right what we do discuss today, then I don't think the tactics matter because then you're growing and scaling something that's so surface level, it's going to be expensive. You're going to get tired, you're going to be having low margins, it's going to be a difficult operation. But if you can crack the code and figure out like what Cindy has done with Bloom Floralscapes, this is unbelievable. Give us that website URL where people can find you.

Cindy McCord (Guest)  25:21

bloomfloralscapes.com 

Mary Grothe (Host)  25:23

Well, isn't that brilliant? Thank you so much for joining us today. I love this conversation. And remember CEOs put the heart in your business serve first, make it your North Star, you will not fail. Thanks for listening to today's episode. If you're interested in being on our show or want to learn more about how we can help you scale your company, connect with us at houseofrevenue.com or with me Mary Grothe, spelled G R O T H E on LinkedIn, Tw

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