It's the end of the year, and I'm excited to share some reflection on my personal and business goals and some lessons learned this year, some of my personal and business goals for 2024, including some exciting new products to help our Ramblin Jackson clients get more business in 2024, and the number one book that I read in 2022 that made the biggest impact for me this year.
Hey everyone, Jack Jostes here, and welcome to The Landscaper’s Guide podcast where we share sales, marketing, and leadership inspiration to help grow the snowman and landscape industry. This time of year, wintertime, December, is one of my favorite times of year to reflect on what's working, what could be better, what am I grateful for, and what do I want next year? Now I've been doing this, I've been planning annual goals pretty much my whole career, and we now run the EOS, the Entrepreneurial Operating System. I've been doing that for about seven years and a key part of it is setting your 10-year target, your three-year picture, your annual goals, and then your quarterly rocks. And if you haven't read Traction, it's really good. There's a really good CliffsNotes version of the book almost called, "What the Heck is EOS?" that I recommend. So I really enjoy doing this and I like to hear from my team about some of their goals to see how we can align those with what the business is doing.
For those of you watching, you can see that I'm actually in my house right now, and in my family we celebrate Christmas. We have a noble fir Christmas tree that I got from my client, Rich Leeman who runs Landscape Technology Group, and he also owns the Garden Center of Gypsum. I went hunting with Rich for elk this year, and when I went up to pick up the elk meat that we had a professional butcher package for us, I bought this Christmas tree. It looks awesome. Thank you, Rich.
We've got our nativity scene over here under the fire. It's a really peaceful time of year. It's a good time to think about what's good. And there were definitely some major wins this year at Ramblin Jackson. We broke $2 million in revenue. This was a significant milestone for us. We had our first in-person Ramblin retreat since before Covid and everything, and that was such an incredible time. We flew out our staff who are based all around the country, to Colorado, and it was great to meet people in person and really strengthened relationships in a way that, we already have really great relationships and we're getting amazing work done virtually. And meeting in person just took that all to the next level.
We also had numerous Ramblerversaries and all Ramblerversariesare great, but we had some that were 3, 5, 6. One person is coming up on their seven-year Ramblerversary, and I'm super grateful for the team that we have here at Ramblin Jackson. I love working here because of the people that are here. Now there were many other wins.
03:28: Lesson 1: Fire Toxic Clients Faster
Those were some of the highlights though, and some of the lessons learned on the business side. The first one was to fire toxic clients faster. Fire toxic clients quickly. Fire them immediately. Now, I want to be super clear that we embrace demanding clients. We enjoy what I call standing in the gap. If there's conflict or misunderstanding, I will get on the phone, I'll have a Zoom meeting, we will work it out, and if we ever screw something up, we will fix it. But there's a difference between having a demanding client, and clients with high standards are great. We want clients who want to do great and we want to do a great job for them, but when you have clients who are toxic, they can really eat away at your team and at you. And I find when there are people that I'm thinking about on a holiday or when I'm on the weekend and they're blowing me up for no reason on the phone, that's a problem.
04:36: How Kelly Slater Inspired Me with her Zero Tolerance Policy
And one of the people that I learned from this year was Kelly Slater who runs Pleasant Landscapes and she has basically zero tolerance for toxic clients and she still has over 85% client renewal.
It's important to this day that our clients appreciate the hard work, not just in the quality, but in the professionalism that every single team member of ours displays. And I have a zero tolerance for a client that's going to be rude to any staff member. I'm not afraid to fire a client. I don't care how much their account's worth if they don't fit that mold. Every single staff member of mine respects what they do and respects the client's property when they're there, and we expect the same in return from our clients.
05:26: Lesson 2: Find Ways to Support Staff when Managers are Out
Another lesson was to find a way to support staff when key managers are out. We had a key manager out for several months. It was planned. We thought that we created a good plan for that time. We really put a lot of thought into it. And in hindsight, I realized that there were some people on my team who report to that person that I thought would be fine because they've been here for so long, but come to find out that they were really struggling, they were really overworked, and I didn't have enough communication with those people, and I regret that. So that was definitely a lesson. And I know that many of you watching have people take leave from your company and you can plan on it. And in hindsight, I could have had maybe other people assist in managing those people or a way of communicating with them more regularly. Now, I think we've worked through it all, but there was definitely a learning lesson for me as an employer and as a manager.
Related is that turnover is a hoot. Yeah, turnover is a hoot. Now, as far as where we started the year at Ramblin Jackson where we ended, we had one person leave. And then we hired several more. And the hires were, one was a replacement hire, three of them were growth hires, and then Rebecca Chambers came back to Ramblin Jackson. So many of you watching have worked with Ramblin Jackson, and Rebecca was our Project Manager, left for a period, and then that wasn't great where she was at, and ended up coming back. So we're super grateful to have Rebecca back on the team. And for the one person that did leave, cool, didn't work out. Turnover is in some ways inevitable and it just caused a lot of stress for other people here.
07:18: Lesson 3: Record More Milestone Training Videos For Internal Use
And so that reminds me of another lesson, or this is maybe more of a tip, which is to record more milestone videos. So at Ramblin Jackson, we actually have literally hundreds of training videos. We have our own online course called Ramblin Jackson University, where every position has a series of videos to go through. So we're able to onboard people really quickly. And just the nature of growing your business, I realized when we had this turnover, a lot of opportunities for some additional videos to make, that would assist with onboarding, but also just with client education. Because what I find that's similar about my business and many of our landscape clients is you need great people and you need great people who can talk with your clients. And when you're in a busy season and there's turnover, video is a really powerful tool because if you make it one time really well, it can be sent to people dozens, if not hundreds of times again.
So that's one of the ways that I'm seeing an opportunity to just lean into what's already working at Ramblin Jackson, which is using video, for again, what I call milestone videos. Where there's certain key milestones in the journey of working with us where people need to hear certain information. And having that in video will help get that message out more clearly. And we do this same thing with our clients, with many of our design build clients have milestone videos that they're sending along. So for Ramblin Jackson, maybe we get a new point of contact at our client's company who hasn't read the Tree of Good Fortune and maybe they didn't read the audit, maybe they don't understand why we write long form content. I know that we could onboard those new points of contact better, and that video could really help. A really short compact video explaining the whole process and where we're at.
And the same thing is true for you all. If you do commercial landscape maintenance, there's going to be turnover or new people who come in to work with your company who maybe it's a new point of contact at the Property Management Company, or maybe you do HOAs and there's a new HOA board President or whatever it is. Or maybe you bought a residential landscape company and now you're taking over and you do billing differently than the previous company or whatever it is. I believe there's a lot of ways to use milestone videos to answer commonly asked questions or objections or things that would cause friction with your clients to do better. So those were just some of the key lessons that I thought I'd share that would be relevant to what you're doing with your own business. There were certainly many other lessons learned along the way.
10:19: Jack Shares Personal Wins from 2023
Some personal wins. My number one personal goal this year was to celebrate 10 years of marriage with my wife Kara, and we did. I'm super grateful to be married to Kara. She's been a key part of growing Ramblin Jackson and helping me become the person that I am, helping raise our family. So many good things. But celebrating that 10 year milestone was really important to me, and I'm really glad that we did. Related to that, one of my goals was to take a family portrait at Kara's family reunion in Minnesota. So this was great.
I bought the camera that I'm using right now. It's a Panasonic GH5, several years ago. It was like way overkill at the time that I got it, and it's taken me years to really learn about it. And I've learned on the video side, and this year learning photography was a goal and I wanted to take a photo with the GH5 on a tripod using the timer, and I did it. So it's not like an award-winning photo or anything, but I wanted to be there and enjoy that moment and capture all the people together. And I'm really glad that I did.
Another project that I did at that family reunion was I interviewed my wife's family members and aunts and uncles and all these people, of family stories and edited it into, it's about 80 minutes, so it's not quite a movie, I guess it's a family movie. It's the first family movie of its kind in the family that I know of. But I love capturing these stories and interviewing people. And so we got that done.
Another win this year was coaching my kids' soccer team. Now, I wasn't planning to do this, but when I got the email that they were going to cancel the team if somebody didn't raise their hand to coach, I stepped in to be the coach. And at first it was a bit overwhelming, figuring out how to coach this team, but I watched a ton of YouTube videos. I got a book at the library, and I believe that we had a good fun season where everyone grew, everyone got better. And I did it again in the spring and it was amazing to see how much kids grow in one year. In one year, the difference between seven and seven and a half is significant, and these kids improved so much. It was super rewarding, and I'm going to do it again next year, to be the coach.
One of the people who inspired me to do it was my client, Jake Harris. Jake runs Jake's Designs and we interviewed him about partly helping him with his marketing, getting his lead generation dialed in, and then his sales process helped him save 40 hours a week, so then he could go and coach his kids' football teams. And so I had a conversation with Jake this year about coaching and let him know that he inspired me to do this. So for those of you who are watching, if you own your own company, you should find the time to coach the team or whatever it is you need to do, because it'll force you to grow your business in an even better way and it'll create more opportunities for people on your team.
Another win this year was sighting-in a new 30 odd 6 rifle and harvesting a cow elk. Many of you who listen to this show know that I'm an avid hunter, and this year was a great year for me. I got a cow elk with my client Rich, and we have a whole podcast episode on that, and it was definitely a highlight of the year.
Now I'm sharing these goals not to brag, but these are just the things that I talk about in real life with my clients, and I think it's so important to have personal goals that you're excited about, that are aligned with your business goals and they feed into each other. There's also some lessons here this year for me. One is about the basics of exercise and nutrition.
So a win for me this year was I completed this, I think it was a 16 week kettlebell training program. And from that, I learned how to program my own kettlebell workouts. I now work out three to five days a week with kettlebells. I learned a ton about nutrition and the importance of prioritizing protein for muscle growth, and that partly came from, I had another conversation with another client who is telling me how men lose muscle every year after 40. I'm not quite 40 yet, but prioritizing protein and muscle growth has such an impact on the rest of your health. So that was definitely a win to do that.
But there were several weeks this year that I just got way off track. I didn't exercise, I ate everything, and I gained weight really fast, and I got sick in those weeks more easily. I got stressed and it was really falling off the bandwagon, so that didn't feel good. I travel a fair amount for trade shows and things, and I've just realized that the older I get, the more I really need to focus on basic stuff like nutrition and exercise for the whole picture, for my whole wellbeing, which includes then the impact on my business to stay on track.
One other lesson was meditation is really powerful. I've gone in and out and can't say I do it super regularly, but I found that when I had flare-ups where I got angry or stressed out or stuff like that, they were in periods where I wasn't meditating, I wasn't exercising, I wasn't doing those things.
Another one is sleep. Sleep is so cool you guys, I don't know if you've tried it, major lessons around that. So a lot of those lessons are partly just seeing what happens with my kids. When my kids don't exercise, when they don't sleep, when they don't eat on time or eat the right foods, they get way off track. And I'm not really that different.
16:52: Jack’s Book Recommendation: What Radical Husbands Do: 12 Steps to Win and Keep Your Wife's Heart
The number one book that I read in 2022 that had an impact on me in 2023 was What Radical Husbands Do: 12 Steps to Win and Keep Your Wife's Heart. So kind of an intense title. It's by Regi Campbell. I've actually listened to the audiobook at least six times and certain chapters even more. This book was recommended to me by my business coach, Wayne Herring. And if you are a husband listening to this show, watching this show, check out this book. It was excellent, and it's something that I'd recommend to any person that's in a serious relationship, even if you're not married. I think it's really good. And a key takeaway, big picture, is really just being intentional in that relationship, every single day. And I think that sometimes over time you can take things for granted. You can get lazy. You can get lazy in your business, you can get lazy in your health. You can get lazy in your marriage.
And this book certainly motivated me to step it up every single day. And what I liked about it, I listen to a lot of books. I listen to podcasts, I watch YouTube videos, I'm reading print books and so on. This book though gave me 12 steps to follow and to think about and to implement, and I did and it made an impact in my life. So I wanted to tell you about this book. Check it out, What Radical Husbands Do.
18:22: Looking Ahead: Jack’s Goals for 2024
So I have a lot of goals for 2024, and I also try and keep it simple, keep it something that I can look at on a daily, weekly, quarterly basis and see like, am I on track? Is this something I want? And my first goal is to simply stick to the basics every day. So one of my goals in 2023 was to walk 10,000 steps a day and I track it with the Garmin. And for the most part I did. And for the year, I actually tracked more than that. And when I did, the whole rest of my day went well. My stress level was lower, my sleep was better, my focus was stronger.
And on the days when I didn't do it, I was more stressed. I didn't sleep as well. And then you kind of get into this little cycle. So that's something that I can control every day, is how many steps am I going to take, how many walks am I going to go on, and how can I make it fun and maybe bring my kids to play cops and robbers. We did that tonight at the park with the Christmas lights that are out right now.
So we got our steps in and they didn't know that we were just getting steps in, we were playing, but tracking it motivated me to then ask them to say, "Hey, let's go play cops and robbers in the park."
Okay, another one is simply to stay hydrated. I have this giant water bottle, when I drink it first thing in the morning with my workout, I feel great. Eating 150 to 180 grams of protein every day. And when I set that goal and prioritize eating the protein, I don't eat the rest of the junk that I eat when I'm off on my protein. Sleeping seven hours a day is a goal of mine. So going to bed on time, basic stuff. Meditating every day. Reading at least a chapter a day. There's no reason that I can't read at least one chapter a day. And when I read one chapter a day, I'm thinking of new ideas all the time. It really has a big impact on me as an entrepreneur and as a creator.
Planning my day every day. When I plan my day, when I take even five or 10 minutes and just plan out what I'm doing, my day goes so much better than when I don't. So those are the basic habits that I want to do every day and just operate within those basics. And when I do that, things are pretty good. Another personal goal of mine is to get a Wilderness First Responder certification. There's a multi-day course that I can go to, and I just do so many outdoor adventures with people, and I have an interest in this and I'd like to do it. It'll be a challenge for me. Because I don't really do this stuff for work most of the time. I work in sales and marketing. And to learn some key medical skills would really be a challenge for me, and it would help me feel prepared when I'm coaching soccer or when I'm taking friends camping or hunting or whatever it is, I want to have those skills ready in case of an emergency.
Now, another fun business goal that I'm really excited about is I'm going to attend Dan Kennedy's super conference in Texas this year. So Dan Kennedy is my favorite marketing author. He's definitely the most influential author that I've read. And I actually spoke at his super conference in 2016, and that was very, honestly, it was life-changing because I was the worst speaker at the whole show. I was the lowest performing speaker. And that was very inspiring because I got to see and speak on the same stage as some of the best people, people who've been doing this for 20 or 30 years. And I learned so much that inspired me to become a better speaker and to write my first book was an inspiration that came out of that. And I've read so many of Dan's books and I got years worth of work to do just from reading those books and going to that conference. And now I'm ready for more.
I've joined Dan Kennedy's Mastermind. I'm taking his courses, and I'm going to go to this event and be surrounded by people who also love direct response marketing, which relates to some of the cool things that we're doing at Ramblin Jackson. So this year I'm planning to write another new book and introduce lots of new products at Ramblin Jackson. So I've been doing social media and email and paid advertising. And over the last several years, we've really been building the team and the processes at Ramblin Jackson with our core services around branding and differentiation, website design, local SEO, online reviews. We've been building in video, we've been building in paid ads. And this year we're going to massively expand the services that we offer and head in a very direct response marketing direction. So I'm super excited about this. We've got all kinds of new things.
The foundational four hasn't changed. I still believe they are the foundational four. What has changed is that we now work with larger companies who have a bigger budget. And when I work with clients who are looking to grow, and the other thing is the market is more competitive. There are more landscape companies. There's private equity firms coming into markets. There's a lot of capital in landscaping. The market is more competitive, businesses are more savvy. There are more landscape companies with good websites and good SEOs. So the bar is being raised and the budgets are being raised. So we're going to roll out these additional services that we already know how to do combined with our green industry experience, to get really great results. So I'm super excited about that because it's a time to step back into innovating and building new products and services. And I've got a workshop in the beginning of the year with our Director of Operations, Jessica, and that's really fun because she likes building new products and services.
24:46: Stay Tuned for Even More Resources for Landscape Companies in 2024
This, it's going to be a good year. We've got a lot of good things coming. So those are some of the wins for me, some of the lessons. I hope you enjoyed hearing this and encourage you to take out a piece of paper and write down what was a win for you personally this year? What was a win for you and your business? What was a lesson? I don't know that it has to be a loss, but if you learn from it, then you'll do better next year. One of our core values is Grow or Die at Ramblin Jackson, and part of growth is going through phases of uncomfortable stuff and then being motivated and hungry to learn and move into that next level. I don't know that you can have growth without some of these lessons and periods of discomfort along the way.
So I'd love to hear what some of your wins and lessons were. Hit me up. Follow me on Instagram, send me a message there. What are you working on next year? And if you want to make sure your marketing is on track ahead of the springtime, we'd love to make a review of your website so you can request a website review video where people from my team will grade your website based on the Tree of Good Fortune strategy that we've created, and give you some pointers on things that you're doing well and some things that you can improve to get even better leads. So go ahead and request your website review at ramblinjackson.com/webreview. You can just actually get it straight up from our homepage at ramblinjackson.com. And I'm going to put a link to that in the show notes here so you can just click on it and get it. All right, my name's Jack Jostes. Thank you so much for watching this podcast or listening to it. I hope you have a Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. See you next year. And thanks for listening to The Landscaper's Guide.
Watch the full episode + see the transcript at: https://landscapersguide.com/podcast/
Tell us where to send your beef jerky: https://landscapersguide.com/toolbox
Request your free personalized Website Review at: https://ramblinjackson.com/webreview
Check out the book: What Radical Husbands Do: 12 Steps to Win and Keep Your Wife's Heart: https://www.amazon.com/What-Radical-Husbands-Do-Steps-ebook/dp/B00KQ1X0FK
Check out Traction by Gino Wickman: https://a.co/d/3OzzFyh