Monday, March 25, 2013

S.W.O.T. that fly

S.W.O.T. analysis is something every company should do before embarking into their chosen field and revisit every few years. It can be a living, breathing document and one to keep the heart pumping in any successful business.

I know it was one of the first things I did before I clicked the on button and applied my first fertilizer. It is also something I've had to tweak now and then with changes to legislation, weather and public perception.

Let us first, for those who don't know, breakdown what S.W.O.T. stands for.

S.W.O.T. is a way to analyze the competition while looking at your own business operation and comparing the two. It stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

An interesting thing I discovered when I did mine was that many in the lawn care industry operate a certain way and have for many years...because it worked for them. This means extensive cold calling, up-selling, negative billing, fraudulent guarantees, not to mention a high volume of cheap, unskilled labour in the field...and on your lawn.

I know all this, because I used to work for a bigger company and was part of that annual spring cattle-call with one day of training before being assigned a truck and a spreader. It is the same today as it was ten years ago when I first started.

Don't believe me? Look at the job posting above.

Yet, the numbers don't lie. There is enough of a success rate operating this way to consider it a Strength.

It's funny how these were all facets I identified as Weaknesses when I did my analysis and thus an Opportunity to design a new business model.

I could simply rectify this mode of operandi by telling my customers the truth and developing a trust/personal relationship which is uncontested by my competitors. If I backed it up with performance, why would anyone want to go back to a company operating under the old lawn care model?

Since we virtually use the same products when performing applications it seemed the best place to carve out my own brand and try to repair the damage caused by others, in some instances, with ruthless canvassing and shoddy workmanship.

Now I'm not saying that the stones I throw will bring down the big three Goliath companies. There's too much franchise money, a greater workforce and advertising dollars to dent the armor. However, I don't feel the need to compete anymore when many of their wounds are self inflicted...and the Threats to us?...

...I certainly don't see any. Do you?