Building Landscaping Leaders and Businesses

In this, The Faces of Business, our guest, Thane Isaacs, Leaders Building Leaders, Founder, Innovations Tomorrow, shares how landscaping business owners need to focus on developing leaders within their organizations to build strong and sustainable businesses.

In this, The Faces of Business, our guest, Thane Isaacs, Leaders Building Leaders, Founder, Innovations Tomorrow, shares how landscaping business owners need to focus on developing leaders within their organizations to build strong and sustainable businesses.

Thane Isaacs leverages his knowledge from the John Maxwell coaching program, a voracious study of leadership, and decades of experience working in and managing green industry companies. Thane actively coaches landscaping business owners to improve leadership skills and operations and develop leaders within their organizations to build stronger businesses.

Thane’s experience in the green industry spans decades across diverse geographies. As a phenomenally successful branch manager, he decided to pursue a lifestyle change, moving his family from Memphis, TN, to experience living in rural Vermont. This move allowed Thane to dedicate his professional pursuits to leadership study and helping green industry leaders build better businesses.

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Since, Thane has worked with some of the most successful owners in the green industry, helping to shape the industry, teaching leadership and the attention to detail needed to build world-class organizations.

Damon excitedly welcomes Thane to this Livestream. The latter cherishes Damon’s company, saying, “It’s an honor.” He describes that working hard has been his family’s tendency. His father sold BASF—feed additives—to farmers. Long after he had left the company, his colleagues remembered him and held him in esteem. Because of his surname, people instantly recognized Thane.

Thane further reveals that as a child, he wanted to live in New Mexico. He shifted there the moment he got an opportunity. Moreover, he believes in doing hard work, “I want to die with dirt under my fingernails.” He has worked at ValleyCrest, which acquired TruGreen. He closely watched their work and now is ready to transmit his knowledge to “the little guy.”

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The guest helps his clients understand their goals. He frankly asks, “What is your endgame?” In case they want to become large, they need to start building systems and processes. To the young ones, he advises forming a policy and procedures manual. “You don’t have to implement them,” he continues, “but as you grow, you grow into it.” In his view, life has to be lived forward and understood backward. Contrarily, in business, we must understand and grow forward simultaneously.

Thane’s first law is to make people aware of things around them. So once they become aware, they can be more intuitive about things. He points out mistakes people make. People try to run a business without actually having deep connections. In business, every relationship is a potential customer.

Sharing his deep knowledge of human character, Thane says that we are never the same person we were two years ago. We are always becoming something. “We’re always either becoming better or becoming worse.” To grow, knowing ourselves is important.

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Damon asks the guest what drew him to become a leadership coach. Thane narrates that when he was 17, out of 520 students, he wanted to be senior class president. Through his ability to influence people, he wore down the opposition. Later, he got busy in life. He started reading Wayne Dyer, Tom Peters, and John Maxwell in his early twenties. He learned that leadership is all about influencing people. Thane believes that “the truly inspirational leaders in this world inspire people to achieve the impossible. He tries to “help people see things inside themselves that they can’t see.”

Thane opines that people’s attitudes toward their work make a huge change. A mason may build a house “moving some bricks,” or they may think of “building a fantastic and amazing place for people to come.” A gardener may cut grass or “make our community a more beautiful and enjoyable place.” Similarly, snow management and the landscape industry make our lives easy and livable.

We must try to be unique and prominent in our approach to business. “If we’re like everyone else, we’re just going to be another blade of grass in the field.” He mentions James Cole, founder of Blackstone, offering caretaking services. Thane put James through to Alyssa, owner of a coffee business. They both became each other’s clients. He gives an idea of how we can support each other’s businesses.

The guest shares a much-needed secret to success. He believes appreciation is a key to winning hearts. He advises against giving random compliments, rather pass a specific compliment to what someone did. So they know what to do “to keep recreating that experience.” They feel respected. That helps us create an experience for people like no other landscape company can ever do.

Thane further reveals being a multimillionaire or a piece of junk is our personal choice. The mindset of abundance, a wish to have everything in the world, cannot be satisfied, for this world will keep building material objects. Similarly, there will always be room to earn more money. Thane believes that “we have just to build ourselves spiritually.”

The guest, as a leader, shares his observations on landscape business. He believes that communication is the most misused tool in any organization. This reflection extends to all industries, let alone landscaping. There should be written documents, meeting agendas, and so forth for improved communication. Otherwise, there will be digressions. Moreover, having a customer care department is important. Many companies don’t have it, and they suffer damage.

“They’re assuming that the job is taken care of their billing the job before they know it’s taken care of.”

Similarly, he suggests that the businesses score the properties properly. Not doing score dismisses our chances to know “what our customers think of the property.” Any miscalculation could result in “trouble.” In that case, we must have “an action plan in place.”

Thane notes that people should have a growth plan for themselves. As a leader, we need to be investing in ourselves. “How are we growing?” We should find time for ourselves. “I’m gonna read a book a month.” At least one self-help book a month and discussing with people about them allow us to apply knowledge.

Likewise, Monday morning allows us to reflect on our week. And it helps us hold ourselves accountable to our commitments. This habitual reflection should be a part of our intentional growth plan. “Who are you developing to replace you?”

Furthermore, we have got to create a legacy. We cannot be leaders without mentoring two to three leaders to take our roles. We have to have someone to replace us. Doing otherwise means we are out.

He quotes some real-life examples to elaborate on this idea. “Let’s talk landscaping,” he invites the audience’s attention. Out of three crews, a business leader has to look for a potential manager, account manager, and crew leader. Each person running those crews is training someone to take their place. The bigger an organization grows, the tougher it becomes to manage the day-to-day operations. But, if we keep training leaders at the micro level, we can overcome these problems.

Victor Vidya finds a commendable mention. He was a top performer in one of the landscaping companies. “Victor was so awesome” because when he was promoted to account manager, he was still working with the existing irrigation techniques to ensure they had everything they needed.

The conversation ends with Damon appreciating Thane’s presence and time.

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Damon Pistulka, Thane Isaacs


Damon Pistulka  00:00

All right, everyone, welcome once again to the faces of business. I’m your host, Damon Pistulka. And man, am I excited today? Because I have none other than Thane Isaac’s with me here today. And we’re gonna be talking about building landscaping leaders and businesses. THANE, thanks for being here.


Thane Isaacs  00:19

David, it is always a blast to be with you to be on with x of your way with the faces of businesses incredible. And I just appreciate you having me and it’s an honor, I am so pumped. So far away with whatever you got


Damon Pistulka  00:33

to do this thing. Let’s do this thing I thought was funny because we got Ronald Henderson he’s out there saying he’s getting getting seated in my chair with my drink.


Thane Isaacs  00:42

Didn’t get the popcorn. All right, well, I’ll get my wife to pop some popcorn and we’ll be ready. So yeah, we


Damon Pistulka  00:47

ready to go. So thing, you know, obviously, we’re talking about landscaping today. Let’s talk a little bit about your background. And, and, and how kind of you got into landscaping. What really you you like about it like about the business, the industry, the green industry, and then we’re just gonna talk about, you know, building these businesses and leaders.


Thane Isaacs  01:12

Sure, sure. I tell you what, so my family were farmers, I my dad was in agronomy, he to the day he died, he worked for BASF selling to farmers, he eventually worked with other companies as well as he left BASF he retired, but then he still liked working. He loved what he did, he had the largest area in Texas that he covered. So if that tells you something like the largest area in the state of Texas, and I would go to events, even once I started landscaping, and people would know my dad, they’d hear my last name and go, are you, you right?

Are you? Are you gonna be like, Yeah, I am. It’s like, okay, and I’m from you, because they were work for BASF, too. So I always love being outside, I’m not I don’t like to be inside I live in Vermont, and the green mountain forest. You know, I mean, that’s where I, one of my to one of my big places I had a dream to live when I was a child was here in New Mexico, I got the opportunity to do it here and I’m so grateful.

But I love I mean, they’re probably not as dirty because I took a shower because I’ve been painting, you know, I want to die with dirt under my fingernails, I want to die work in the earth that I love. That’s what I love to do. And I love to help people do that. And why I got in business doing what I’m doing is I work for Valley crest, you know, some of the large, large corporations, I had worked for a business that TruGreen bought out when they were buying everybody out. So as part of the true green umbrella for a short time in my life.

And when I decided to start my own business, what I wanted to do is start giving some of the people who don’t have that edge some of that some of the systems and processes some of the things not not what they actually did, but some of the ideas with those companies, how they actually made success and help some people have success through what my experiences have been. And also get just being able to give the little guy an edge that the little guy might not have these multi million and billion dollars volley crest was companies at one time.


Damon Pistulka  03:07

Yeah, that is interesting. Because you know, when you get larger and larger, they have to systematize everything. And while much of that won’t translate to a smaller landscaping business, I gotta believe some of the principles do. Oh, they


Thane Isaacs  03:23

do you know, some of the principles doing and again, what I try to teach people is if you know, what is your goal is you always ask people as well, when you’re working with them. What is your endgame? What is your endgame? Okay, well, if you want to be that large, we need to start building systems and processes. Now you don’t want to wait till you get to $13 million and start putting systems and processes in place. That’s a little bit difficult. Let’s do it.

Now when you’re young, Start Policy and Procedures Manual, let’s lay them out. You don’t have to implement them, then you may not even be ready to implement some of these things. But as you grow, you grow into it.

Because what we want don’t want to do is do a business kind of like life, life has to be live forward and understood backwards. We don’t want to do that with our business. We want to understand our businesses we’re growing because we don’t want to understand it after it’s too late. So being able to prepare for it I believe helps us better so that’s that’s just what I one of the things I try to help people do. Wow, I


Damon Pistulka  04:20

just Just think about that a little bit because you said business you want to say that again? Would you live, life


Thane Isaacs  04:29

has to be lived forward but understood backwards. We can’t understand it till after we live it as I always say we’re always becoming right. We’re always becoming growing into into who we are and becoming what we are. Business. You want the opposite. You don’t want to learn about business after you’ve lived it. You’ve got to be getting prepared for it and understand it before it happens with business.

That’s what true leadership and business is, is seeing before seeing before others see understanding before others understand. Being ready for things that others aren’t ready for. I mean I can run Remember back in the 90s, this was always my thing, people would come and say, oh, there’s a new business in town, what are we going to do?

And I’m like, I just hope they’re good. And my guys would look at me, what are you talking about? I hope they’re damn good. We don’t want to rest on our laurels. I hope they they make us stand up to what they’re doing and do better than whatever they have. Because if they’re just mediocre, we’re just gonna be like, Oh, we’re still the best. And we’re, we’re, we don’t have to really improve, we always need those challenges.

So that’s one of those things, I think we, you know, we have to keep in mind, we don’t want to get complacent. We don’t want to be, we don’t want to be as goal oriented as we do growth oriented. And that’s what I try to help people I coach understand, and the businesses I work with understand is, from my own personal experience, Damon on I was so goal oriented, I would hit goals and hit goals. Just feel like Yeah. All right, I’m good.

I’m gonna, and I just stopped setting I mean, I will get comfortable. But now it’s like, whatever goal I hit, I’m going to do more. I mean, I set about 30 serious goals for myself every year. This year, I’m not as on track as I was, last year, I made some great, I did almost 20 of them last year, think about that. If most people do three to five goals a year I do a bunch. And if I hit half of those, I’m further ahead than everybody else.

This year, I’m probably not as far ahead. But guess what, still got a quarter of a year or a third of the year to go our quarter we’re gonna go so there’s still a lot of time left, we’ll we’ll see what happened more done, oh, we’ll get more done. There’s, there’s no doubt but but try to help people understand that, you know, so that’s, that’s how I try to work with people a little bit.


Damon Pistulka  06:30

Yeah, I really liked that what you said about investments you want to see before you get there, and understand what that’s gonna look like so you can be prepared for it. And, and I think that’s, that’s a lot of what you have to do in the things you’re doing is, is instill that in the leaders that you’re developing in these businesses.


Thane Isaacs  06:51

Yeah. And sadly, part of it isn’t intuitiveness that you have to have about business and people. And some of that’s hard to teach. But what you can do is help people open their mind to that and to be more aware. And I think that that’s where the law of awareness comes in one of the 15 laws and invaluable laws of growth, the law of awareness, and that’s one of the first laws I try to help people with is to be aware of things.

So once you can be aware of them. Now you can be a little more intuitive about them, if you just letting these things go by you, and you’re not trying to really grasp them, you’re not aware of them, just let’s say like an alcoholic cannot solve their problem. So they are aware and admit they’re an alcoholic, we have to be aware of what’s going on around us before we can actually start addressing and being intuitive about it.

And part of that comes from conversation and engagement with our teams. So many times, we try to run a business without actually having that deep connection, that intimate connection with the people in our business. And there’s just no way you can have the kind of successful chemistry you need in a business without that deep connection. And I think that’s something so many businesses miss. I think that’s how we attain some of the greatest things we’re trying to achieve.


Damon Pistulka  08:05

Yeah, he helped there’s there’s a lot to be said there with what you lots of contemplate there’s what you said. He also we had a couple of comments. Phil Kramer, he is Amen. When you were talking about complacency. And so as Ron and I think you hit this head on goals and complacency.

It’s like, Listen, if if, if people set a goal to think that’s an endpoint there, this is just the beginning of the death, or the downfall is this because if you set a goal to think that it’s it’s a waypoint on a journey, maybe that’s a little bit better way of thinking of it, but you bring this up a lot. And I really think that the becoming because we’re always becoming better. And even to the extent of your example, if somebody else is coming into town, I hope they’re really good, because that will push us to be better.


Thane Isaacs  08:56

We’re never the same person we were two years ago. And if we are, we’re still not that same person, because if we are not moving forward, we’re going backwards. So I think we have to be again, that’s that awareness of growth or lack of growth. And we’re also we’re always becoming, we’re always either becoming better or becoming worse. And I think so many people, even people I coach, they get caught up and I don’t know myself, I don’t know myself might forget knowing yourself, just start to try to understand yourself.

That’s the only thing I think we can’t know ourselves because I am so different today than I was three months ago, Damon, and I’m a hell of a lot different than I was three years ago. If I try to know who that person is, that’s great. But it’s not who I’m going to be three months from now. So what I’m trying to do is understand myself, instead of know myself so well. Like that makes sense.


Damon Pistulka  09:41

It does. It does. It does. And really Yeah, I don’t think you ever really know yourself because if you can get to understand yourself, that’s pretty darn good.


Thane Isaacs  09:53

Right? I understand the things that took me that move me and I have to understand how to manage those things, but I, I have no idea who I’m going to be three months from now, I have no idea of what experiences I’m going to have, and who I’m going to be three months for them. So hopefully I’m a better person. That’s true nobility not being better than you not being better than Ronald Henderson being better than myself. That’s true nobility. And that’s all I can work on. Because I have no idea what you’re going through to get to who you are and who you’re trying to become.

You could you could have so many more challenges than I do. Or you could have so few less, so I just focus on me, then I can actually become better at what I am and who I am, as opposed to Comparing to, because that’s only leads us to down the road of nd and won’t give us give us fulfillment. So sorry. Getting back to some of the businesses, you know, that we that we’re talking about, and how you’re talking about to build this leadership and build, build these businesses that are successful.

One of the reasons that I try to help people do this is what I learned, the more all my people can do, the more everyone who works with me can do, the more I can do, the more I can get done. And if I’m having to do everything for everybody, then we’re not able to do as much. And I’m able to work myself out of a job, which is all was always my goal, when I was actually working for companies was how do I work myself out of a job.

And people don’t understand that. But if you do that, right, that means the business is growing, and I’m moving up through the business. And other people are taking my role. And if I’m not moving up through the business, and I guarantee you I will find a business to work with, or like I did, I just started my own business eventually. So that’s, you know, this has been going for getting close to eight years now. I’m pretty happy. So you know, yeah, rolling for eight years.


Damon Pistulka  11:47

So what what drew you to leadership, because you’ve got a passion about leadership that few have, but what really drew you in and said, I mean, was there? Was there an author? Was there something in your life? What was it they just hit you in the head and said, Man, this is what I want to do?


Thane Isaacs  12:07

Well, let’s let’s rewind the clock. I was 17. And I wasn’t, I was a senior in high school, I was probably the youngest. If not one of the youngest three people in my graduating class. I wanted to be senior class president. So I ran for senior class president. And I wasn’t ready to do that. But we had 520 People in our graduating class. And the two people who ran against me had about 25 votes among them from what I was told. So it was like a lot. And it was this thing that I love to be able to influence people.

But I did a horrible job at it. Damon, I was horrible. I wasn’t ready to do that I wasn’t ready to leave that class. But I knew what it meant to be able to influence people and to motivate them to do things they didn’t think possible. And as time went on, I kind of got lazy and forgot about all that. And then I started reading Wayne Dyer and Tom Peters and found this guy, John Maxwell, and learned that what I was talking about was influencing people, which is all leadership is is influencing people to do things.

And I believe that the truly inspirational leaders in this world inspire people to do things they never thought possible by means they never dreamt of. And that’s what I try to help people do I try to help people see things inside themselves that they can’t see. I try to help pull that out from within them so they can do some pretty amazing things.

And from some of the people I’ve worked with, it’s true from some of the people I’ve worked with, they’d say, Well I’m an idiot so you know you’ve got you got both courses there. But I do believe that anybody I’ve worked with I’ve definitely had a profound impression on him and have helped them in many ways even though maybe not the ways they they wanted to help so most most people I do help the way they’re they’re looking for it but there are some people who were just not a fit, but


Damon Pistulka  14:01

yeah, oh, that’s gonna happen in anything. So when you when you look at leadership, I mean I think I think of the landscaping industry green industry I mean you think of the the amount of people that are involved in that business it doesn’t happen without people it doesn’t happen with with a lot of people me because it’s a lot of it’s manual labor but the the the work that is done makes beautiful spaces beautiful places and and and can create so much beauty and what are you when when people come and ask you to help them with their you know, with their leadership for their businesses?

What are some of the things that you see that are just like common across the board is like we really


Thane Isaacs  14:52

have to change as people all right, the first thing is calling the people who do the work Labor’s Oh yeah, you titled people a laborer, what aspirations? Do they have to be at work? And to do a fascinating job? What? What, what do they have? And you know, I’ve shared the story many times, but we’ll change it up a little bit. So there were three people working on a project together, they asked the first guy, what are you doing?

And he said, I’m mixing up some some mortar, that’s the other guy’s second guy, what are you doing? I’m moving some bricks, they asked the third guy, what are you doing, and he said, I am building a fantastic and amazing place for people to come and worship, and to have their souls be enriched. That’s what I’m doing. And what I tried to help people understand is that you’re not cutting grass, you’re here making our community a more beautiful place, making it where we can all enjoy it better.

You’re making it where if you’re doing residential work, people have a wonderful place to come home to and they can enjoy it better. You’re if you’re making a commercial landscape, you’re making it where patrons who service that community actually have a more enjoyable experience. Because let’s get this straight people landscaping is the first impression you have of any property you pull up on. Okay, and first impressions, you don’t have a chance. So if your property looks like the ass end of a donkey, you’re in trouble.

People don’t want to come there, they don’t want to come to your hotel, they don’t want to come shopping, if your property looks beautiful, and is inviting people want to come in, you need to have clear space that you so this is what I try to help people understand is this is what you can create. Or you can be a grass cutter, whichever you want, it’s up, it’s up to you, you can be a grass cutter great. Or you can be creating beautiful environments for people to enjoy.

And that’s what I prefer. And with snow less snow management, that’s really not as looked down upon as the landscape industry, but still to a degree. And to me, it’s keeping people safe, so they can get in and out of work in and out of home. And allowing commerce to flow because we allow business to stay open. And that’s what we’re doing as doing snow management. And to get people to understand these things can make them feel bigger and better than they feel.


Damon Pistulka  17:05

No doubt, no doubt. I love how you say that. A from the film The beginning of they’re not laborers, they’re creating beautiful places for people to be and and I think that’s that’s applicable across many industries.

Because you know, whether you’re you’re a truck driver, you’re building a building, you’re doing whatever I mean, those people are bringing us the, you know, making sure that families can eat, eat at night, making sure that we have the medical things that keep people alive, make sure that we can live in a warm house, all different things and, and these are under appreciated, but highly valuable. endeavors and career careers for people.

If you if if you do it right now, I’ve got this is what I love about talking with you about landscaping and about the your leadership and the way that you teach people how to do it. Now have Have you been able to go into a business where they do call people laborers, and we’re you know, they are cutting grass. They are whatever they’re doing in those terms, and really get them to do this switch.


Thane Isaacs  18:23

Yes, yes. Yeah, it is. And I mean, I’ve worked with some people now. And it’s, you know, trying to make it again. Let’s, let’s rewind a little bit. What are we trying to do with our businesses, we’re trying to be unique, okay, because if we’re like everyone else, we’re just going to be another blade of grass in the field. Okay. We’ve got to stand out. And what we’re trying to do is create experiences. Okay.

So like one company I’m working with right now. James Cole, his businesses, Blackstone, I actually gave him the name for that business. He is actually doing some caretaking, he’s wanting to create some care packages. So I reached out to a friend of mine, and she has a coffee business and I need you to make tell me what’s gonna cost to make four ounce bags of Blackstone coffee blend.

So when he gets he’s gonna get his mugs, and he’s gonna have a four ounce blend of his own coffee. I said, but here’s the catch Jim, and those nice that she’s going to be put a card of her business as well. And like a $2 coupon off with her website if they want to order more coffee. So we’re supporting each other’s businesses. You see how this works and Jim loves it. Alyssa loves it Stark stark, stark farms loves it. They’re they’re making this this coffee.

And so anyway, this is this is ways I try to think to be able to help all kinds of businesses. So her stuff is going to be on people’s tables, desks, whatever when they come in. And if they like it, they can buy more online from her online store. She actually has a special blend she makes for the Rangers I’m in Texas that are the border patrol in Texas. She says I’m sending about 10 pounds to them this week, it’s a special blend she sends to those guys.

So anyway, just doing different things like that. Jim loves this. My wife loved it. So I know it has to be not so stupid. And then, you know, it’s helping to different local businesses. each other this, these are the kinds of things I try to help people see, I’m I’m a visionary, I see things that like, oh, that’s what I talked about seeing before. It’s like, how do we create this experience.

And so we’re gonna come up with a really dark, dark blend, because he’s Blackstone, and then he likes that, and send that out and do that as a welcome package for people. Or as you know, a thank you, and maybe even a holiday gift card package as well.

So just trying to create different experiences. And that’s what we need to be figuring out how do we make experiences, and I can promise you this naming. If you don’t care about your people, and you don’t treat them well, they’re not going to create much of an experience for your customers.

Okay, yeah, you’re not going to be setting yourself apart. But if your people love to be at work, and they enjoy what they do, and they feel like you really respect and appreciate them, even though they may not be doing the most glorious work in the world, you celebrate them, you say, Hey, man, thank you for being here today. I know gonna be better, because you’re here today.

And when you thank them, you say you don’t just say, Hey, thanks for a great job. You say, hey, I really appreciate the way you guys took care of Mrs. Smith today, she called and said, You guys did this and this and this. And I really appreciate that makes us so much better. Don’t just give them a compliment, give them a specific compliment to what they did.

So they know what they need to do. To keep recreating that experience. Now you’re creating an experience for people like no other landscape company in the area, you are creating an experience where your people are engaged and enjoy what they’re doing. They feel respected. And now you’re getting recommendations because people feel so great about what you do. One of the things I have people do, Damon, right. And written thank you notes, right hand written, thank you notes.

Don’t write emails. Don’t send text, right hand, every handwritten thank you note I’ve ever written. I’ve gotten a phone call from the customer for, you know, it’s like, oh, my gosh, I don’t ever get these. Thank you so much. And the people that do it are like, Oh, my gosh, this is so great. I can’t believe we haven’t done this before. It takes three minutes. And it’s worth 300. It’s worth it. It’s worth more than that ever. And repaying it, making it human again.


Damon Pistulka  22:33

Yes, I think we should just stop for a moment there. In thinking about what you just said. I mean, because it is so powerful. The way that you speak about treating people that you work with in your business differently. That allows them to feel differently about what they do, that then allows them to provide a different experience to your customers.


Thane Isaacs  23:00

Well, I know it really is real and it works. And it leaves an impression on people because when I left Valley crest in Memphis, they made a scrapbook for me.

And they called it although I didn’t they call it at the house that Thane built and it’s full of everybody’s stories they sent me and I know this means a lot because of the impression it left on people not just the work we did Yeah, we had you know, we had the highest retention of most branches you know, we had the number one account manager two years running and all Valley crest we had all these great things but what we had was a family a team of people who work together who embrace that’s why I know that works.

That’s why I know how awesome it is because I lived it you know I mean to get something like that they gave it to me as I’m heading down the road to Vermont as I’m I stopped in as I’m leaving town to give them all one goodbye and they hand me that crying like a baby all the way down the road reading that thing like going off the road good.

I can’t believe I’m leaving. believe there’s a whole trailer full of stuff behind me. hadn’t had any seven eight the Mississippi is and that wasn’t very good. But anyway. So that was you know, that was my my life story back then. And that was what I did. So I know that treating people like that works. But what is talked about in there in that book is not hey, you know, we had the straightest edges and we had the greenest grass.

What people talk about in there is like Jason Lockett, who showed up after his business had failed his irrigation business didn’t know he’s gonna do thought he didn’t want to live, thought he’s gonna lose his marriage and came into work with me, the picture of him and there is he’s, he’s my head sales guy behind his BMW driving his BMW.

But when he came in, he started as the irrigation guy. And I said, Look, I’ve got this and he talks about the vision We painted for what we wanted to do there. And that’s what everybody talks about is the emotions. We built what we were trying to achieve together the team. Nobody’s talking about, you know, we made this much money.

And we did this. And we did that everybody’s talking about what we actually achieved as a team. And I know that that is what is the real core of makes a successful business, and makes people be able to go when they’re, you know, when maybe things are against them when things are coming down on them, like like they do on any business. And no matter how successful you are, you have that team of each other. We have each other’s back. And that was just an amazing thing.


Damon Pistulka  25:38

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, good stuff. I mean, because you’ve lived it, you’ve, you’ve felt it, so you understand how to try to recreate that feeling.


Thane Isaacs  25:46

But you felt the best feeling was little Damon was a year later after I’d gone. And they made more profit than I’ve ever made there. And the team that I had built was the team that stayed in place. And once I left, they were able to do better without me than they were when I was there. That was the biggest feather in my cap in the world, because that was the team that those were people I put in place the guy they said they shouldn’t promote to manager, which they did. Because they couldn’t find anybody better.

And then they ended up you know, that first year, I think the best we’d ever done was eight and a half or nine and they did 10 and a half the first year. So I think the next year they actually did 15 So they kicked my ass all over the place. So good stuff, you know. And that’s to me that that that is the greatest feather in my cap is having people who I’ve trained have great success. And people I’ve coached have great success. To me that’s better than my status my success, right?


Damon Pistulka  26:44

Yeah. And drives your success. Well, we got a few people here. Aiken Daya.


Thane Isaacs  26:50

Okay. Yeah, that’s yeah, that’s what is what is. Scott calls them D man.


Damon Pistulka  26:57

So yeah, that’s it as the man Yeah. And then we got Glen Oaks is here. Yeah, you can’t get landscape gardeners here. They are all portrait. I can’t read the rest of it. I don’t know. Yeah, I saw about that. And then then we Glen’s had something else here. So the thing, the benefits that come from it. Yeah, you’re talking about that. That’s exactly


Thane Isaacs  27:20

good stuff. Because we I mean, you can you can be a multimillionaire and be a piece of junk. Crap, you’re gonna have all the money in the world. It’s just like we talk about on our growth shops. The mindset of abundance, people think it means you have everything in the world, and you can get whatever you want.

Sometimes I’m like, Well, that might be it. But to me, the mindset of abundance is that what I have is more than enough. And there’s always room for me to earn more. That’s what the mindset of abundance is, for me. It’s not that I can’t because I’ve shared Well, I’ve lived that life where I just chasing the next material item.

Yeah, and I still have material items around me, but they’re not what to find me. And they’re not what I chase. You know, I what I try to do is use my time to help people. As a matter of fact, I send my material items out to people all the time. But what I you know, what I believe is that, you know, we, we have to just build ourselves spiritually. And, you know, not not worry so much about what people think what people say, we’ve got to be ourselves, right?


Damon Pistulka  28:24

Yeah, yeah. Good, good stuff there for sure. So as as you go into these landscaping businesses, and you go, what are some of the typical things you’re trying to help them to see? I mean, because the leadership? Well, first of all, when I when I used to use the word management a lot, and I realized how bad that is.

And for me personally, like just me stopping using I quit using the word management unless it’s specifically what I’m talking about, because we used to talk about managers all the time. And that’s just for me is one of the things but what are some of the things that you see that that in specific that you have to educate the top level people in the the owners, the general managers, whoever it is in these businesses, that these are just things that are holding you back?


Thane Isaacs  29:24

Well, I think one of the first things we have to understand is no matter how well you think your communication system is running, it’s what can be improved the most communication is the most misused tool in any organization. I’ve been in with a landscaping with a property management, whether auto sales, whatever you’re doing any company I’ve worked with, I’ve worked with hundreds okay.

And any of them it’s communication. The largest probably the largest company i I’ve worked with as far as in the in the green industry I’ve worked with much bigger but this company did about 20 million a year and when I walked in for their for my first day I was there the guy, we got to have a meeting great, great, great.

We sit down and the meeting just completely went off track. And so the sales guy gets up and leaves to go take a break. And the general manager looks at me goes, What do you think of that? And I said, What did you send them agenda an agenda for the meeting? And he said, No.

So well, then how did he know what to come prepared for you? You’re wanting to talk about XYZ. And he thought he was coming to talk about z y x. So he didn’t bring XYZ to talk about you think maybe you should send an agenda, mean that simple for a company that at one time had even built in billing out over $20 million a year. And it’s one of those companies that I say, yes, you’re making money. You can make so much more. You’re stepping over dollars to make pennies, you’re missing things.

You’re not doing these little bitty things. You know, so there’s so many things, companies that don’t have their big companies, they that they don’t have a customer service department or a customer care department. Where it’s like, hey, well, we have all this money overnight. You will Why do you have all this money? Well, we have a bunch of deadbeats, no, you don’t have that many deadbeats. Give me the list. Start calling people. Oh, well, this job wasn’t finished. Oh, they damaged my house. And nobody ever. Oh, well.

There’s still material they left sitting at my property they haven’t it’s sitting on my lawn. It’s killed my grass. They haven’t come in gotten it. Well, what do we do? What do we do? Every job? Every job when you get done? Hey, Miss Smith, I just wanted to call see how the job went over. It’s your property. Awesome, awesome. Everything’s great, great. Well, hey, you know what, if you’re really happy I can I can we can take care of that invoice right now.

Or I can, you know, send you a a paint an invoice and you can pay it through the mail, whatever. But you’re able to collect right there your stuffs not getting your money. Or it’s like, well, yeah, I’d love to pay but you guys damaged the gutter on my house, or, you know, there’s a broken window in the office park and somebody needs to replace that.

Now you’re now you’re getting things taken care of. So you’re getting paid, you’re being proactive, not reactive. Having a customer care department is so important. I believe so many companies don’t have that. They’re assuming that the job is taken care of their billing the job before they know it’s taken care of. Somebody needs to always be finding out that the customers especially what we do that the customer is taken care of.

I mean, I share with people doing quality control scores on their property. Yeah, well, you actually score the score, and everyone I show with is like how right? And the people who tell me they do and I say well, do you do it with your customers? What do you do it with your customers? Do you score it with your customers? Well, no, I don’t score, like, so you have no idea what your customers think of the property, you scored it a 92, they think it’s a 78, you’re in trouble.

You’re you’re in you’re in a lot of trouble. So and the other issue that a lot of people don’t understand is when you take them on these walks, it’s a great chance to talk about upselling and improving the property because you’re looking at the property together. So now you’re increasing revenue, you’re increasing a relationship and building deeper connection, because you’re getting to know each other more. And there’s nothing wrong with walking around and getting some blood flowing to get your get your brain working better.

So it’s a it’s a multi level, use, and you know, where you stand with the customer, the customer knows where their property stands. And if it’s bad, you got an action plan in place. And when I also suggest to people Damon, so many people don’t do this, even when I tell them to and I’m just like your call, I can tell you can make money.

When you take over a new property. You always do a score of what it was when you take it over. And then you’re able to three months, six months, uh, hey, let’s do it again. Let’s see where we are now. Because there’s obviously a reason other than price. Hopefully, I’ve hoped that’s not the reason people are changing contracts. Yeah, there’s hopefully a reason that people are changing contracts. And usually when they’re changing contracts, that’s when they’re willing to do most of the upgrades.

They want to get this new feeling they want to get all this going. And, you know, this is also a great time to talk to him to a three year contract, where it’s like, Hey, if you do a multi year contract, we’re able to fit some of this in through the maintenance process in a one year contract. I’m not doing that because I couldn’t write it and somebody else comes and gets it.

So there’s all kinds of things now you’re taking a one year contract and move it to a three year contract, you’re making the customer happy. And hopefully, when when renewal time comes around, you are the favorite son, not you know somebody else because you’ve taken this property to a new level you’ve kept before and after pictures, which many people also don’t do. And you have a portfolio.

So you’re also able to show Hey, remember, this is what we did. Here’s where the property is now. And you’re also able to show people hey, look, remember that property down the street. Remember what it used to look like that’s us who We’ll get to what it looks like now. Yeah, here’s the here these before and after pictures if you Oh, you guys are the ones who did that. Wow. Yeah, that is a kick ass looking property.

Now it did use like the armpit of Louisiana. So that is pretty good. So, you know, again, there’s so many little things that people don’t do that are so easy to do. But they’re like, well, they’re just landscapers. You know, it’s one of the things I told that guy that the guy know who had the 20. I mean, it’s a guy who owned this business $20 million business. So well, great business, I love what you’re doing here, you guys are doing a lot of great things.

But here’s the issue is, you have a lot of tree guys running your office, they don’t have the training of doing these things. You need someone to train them, some of the things they need to do some of the things they need to be aware of some of the things, you know, and and part of the issue also was, you know, and I’ve seen this very little, but I did see it there where it’s like, hey, we would like to get some of our sales guys some training. You guys want some training? Oh, we’re good. Okay.

What? What? What? No, no, no, you can’t do that, you know. So, you know, we can always improve no matter where we are. And it just blew my mind that when they’re getting offered free training, the sales guys were allowed to just go, No, we’re good. We’re doing great, we’re fine. It’s like, wow, okay, and they just let it go.

To me, it’s always investing in your people. But also, as a leader, you need to be investing in yourself. However, how does your team see you investing in yourself? Do you have a library at your business that people can check books out? I suggest any business should have a library where they can check things out, not just trade magazines, I’m talking about good books, but they need to be checked out.

So they kept up with and get turned back in. But I think it’s just such a great way for people to go, oh, wow, we value learning, we value investing in the bank of you. And I think that’s what we have to make sure it’s everybody’s investing in the bank of themselves to make themselves better. Because businesses don’t grow. People grow. And they grow the business. So I’m so I’ve been running, I’ve been running my mouth. No, no, this is great. I get excited about the stuff


Damon Pistulka  37:19

that they do. And rightly so. Because you see the difference, you see the start in the end, and you see the difference that they can do.

And I was writing a lot of notes here because you you in the in the course of a few minutes or dropped millions of dollars worth of information for somebody that really wants to listen to it and do it. You know, and when you talk about investing in yourself and people I mean, I’ve seen it to the extent where I had a business owner and granted the business wasn’t 500 people or anything like that. But they did have my you know, it was 20 people or something like that.

They had book, what they call book club, once a week, they sat down for an hour, not all together, they each to each area did it but they did it and they would read and study books, books about business books about technical stuff, and that he would do that that was just part of working there.

And that investing in yourself and your people because the owner did it right alongside with the the managers and the people that were working in there. And that it was it was unique for that to take that time. But I tell you, you could really see that in the performance of the business and seeing the business over years. It’s amazing what the business is done.


Thane Isaacs  38:34

Love it. Love it. Yeah, getting people grow businesses, but people have to be invested in if they have the same information today as they had five years ago. How is the business growing? And most people will answer no, they’re not. And are you investing in your people? No. Yeah, you’re growing. So


Damon Pistulka  38:57

now this is this, let’s talk about this. Let’s talk about in the owners, the leaders that them investing in themselves. Talk about that and talk about that. Just talk about that a little bit. You


Thane Isaacs  39:13

alright, so investing in yourself. One of the things I believe that people should have is a growth plan for themselves. How are you growing? What are you doing to grow yourself? Does that mean? Okay, well, I’m gonna read I’m gonna read a book a month. I’m gonna read this week. I’m reading Star Wars the Ewoks join the battle? No, no, that’s not that that doesn’t count. Building reading books that are developing you and who you are and what you want to become.

And taking at least one a month or one every two months depending on your workload and the pace and the size of the books are reading. But going through them and reading them and having a discussion with people about them. Again, knowledge is not power. It’s applied knowledge. How are you going to pay I have this knowledge. It’s kind of like the retreats we do. One of the things we do at our retreats Damon that people don’t do it a lot of events like this, one of the last day is a day of reflection. How are you going to apply this?

By? When are you going to apply this? Who are you going to apply this with? What you know, because again, I believe what we do when we go to retreats is our any any kind of event we go, we get back on the plane, we’re getting back home, we’re, we’re fired up. Next thing, Monday morning, we’re off the ground Hit and no, you got to list and you need to look back at that list and reflect back and go okay, these are the things I said I was going to do this by then I said I was going to do this by this time, I said I was going to implement this.

And it helps hold you accountable to that. So So again, knowledge is a power we when we read these books, we’ve got to have somebody go through them with us, as we do in our book clubs. We’ve talked in our book clubs, to be able to hear someone else’s opinion. And to go wow, I didn’t think of it from that, in that, that view. Or like me even say, hey, let’s read thinking Grow Rich backwards and see how that goes. And it really actually ended up working.

So doing different things like that, to give us a deeper understanding is better than just reading a book. Having people at work, we can actually have conversations with it. And I believe that’s part should be part of our intentional growth plan. Who are you developing to replace you? Who are you developing to replace you? We cannot be leaders, building leaders, if we are not mentoring two to three people to take our roles, doesn’t mean are going to be able to what I used to let people know is yes, you would be available to apply for the position, once it becomes available.

It does not mean you’ll be given the position everybody has to apply. But you have to have someone to replace you. If you haven’t trained someone to replace you, you’re out. Because I don’t need people who are good at things. I need people who know how to train people to be good at things. And if you can’t train people to be good at things, why do I want to promote you, just because you’re good at it. That just means you’re going to be a micromanager.

If you can actually train people to do what you do, and train many people to do what you do. I need you as one of my top people. That’s That’s it. I don’t care, I don’t care. You know, it’s like, we need them in the field. He’s really good at that bullshit. We need him training everybody in the field. If he can do that, if he’s able to. And not everybody can say it’s a skill to be able to train people, you have to work at it. You have to know how to train people you have to know to talk people.

And you know, again, I think so many times people get overlooked, because they’re really good at something. And they’re never given Hey, can you train people to do that? Wow, if we could have seven, Ronald Henderson’s fixing our machines? Wouldn’t we be amazing? We would be so much better than if we just had one. Ronald Henderson. How do we get well, he could train people. Let’s get him to do that. You know, so how do we how do we do those things?


Damon Pistulka  43:01

That’s, that’s a great way to differentiate between the people you want on your team you don’t the people you want are people that can train people to be good at what they need to do. Yeah. And you’re developing those people that continue to allow you to keep moving your organization to the next level.


Thane Isaacs  43:20

Right? I mean, think of it if you have if you have three crews, okay, let’s talk landscaping, you have three crews. And each person running those crews is training someone to take their place.

You need one manager, you’ve got three people to look at who can be a manager from the account manager from the from the crew leader level. Okay, great. So that guy’s trained that as you as you’re growing and bringing on more crews, it’s like, okay, we need another crew leader to run another crew what lead person on the cruise is able to take on another crew.

This is how an operation can go from 680,000 to three and a half million in five years. Because you have the personnel that’s always the issue. You don’t have the personnel but you’re painting a vision as well. It’s you’re not painting a vision of a job you’re painting a vision of a future of what they can become and what they can do. You know, letting them see it’s like I don’t care if you’re Hispanic. Yes, you can be an account manager.

Yes, because Victor’s and account manager, Victor was the number one account manager in all of Valley Chris two years running from little Memphis, Tennessee and all Valley Chris two years running in a row. Victor Vidya was the guy who was number one of all 54 operations in the country. Top of the list, okay. Nice. So anybody can be an account manager if you’re willing to do the work that needs to be done.

So that you can fill that role. And part of that is developing someone to take your place. Not me having to develop someone to take your place. Yeah, yeah, we’re more see I can do more. I can do more because I’m not training a new irrigation Tech. When Victor gets moved up Victor’s training the irrigation. And Victor was so awesome. Even when he was an account manager. He was still working with the existing irrigation techs to make sure they had everything they needed to. He was a son of a bitch. He was awesome. Yeah,


Damon Pistulka  45:14

that’s cool. That’s cool. So then, you know, we talked about what you’re doing. We’re getting we’re kind of winding down here. So you got some things coming up this year. You’ve got a retreat this fall that you guys do. I think you’re speaking on some seminars, what’s going on in terms of those things?


Thane Isaacs  45:33

Thank you so much for bringing that up. I will be in St. Louis at the Profit First for landscapers conference and facility tour that’s being put on by the green executive Adam lemon. I’ll be there September 28, through the 30th. And on the night of the 38th name, and I get to go see, I get to see the Cardinals play the pirates. So that’s gonna be pretty cool. Yep. Yep.

So gonna be there. Then. Scott lease Zack and I are through the peak peer groups are putting on the ocean our retreat. I think the first event is sold out. It’s the 22nd through the 24th. And the 24th. Through the 28th. I believe the first event the first part of the event is sold out. We have a second week, the second part of the event of the week. I don’t believe it’s sold out yet. But yeah, we’re doing that. It’s


Damon Pistulka  46:19

October 24 to 28th. Yeah, the second part, okay. So if people want to get a hold and do that, they need to talk to you.


Thane Isaacs  46:25

Yeah, they can reach out to me through LinkedIn. And the really cool thing was the last one we did in April, two things happen. First, Scott said, This is what he would like to do with me for the ride. He’d never been we did this and he was like, I want to do this. I love what this is, I’d love to help transform people’s lives. And all four owners, multimillion dollar business owners all said to me was the most transformational event like that they’d ever been to in their lives.

And that made it all worth because I’ve been trying to get this going again for two years since COVID. And it made all the effort worth it, all the downtime worth it. So it’s pretty, pretty incredible, especially as successful as those guys are, it made me maybe very proud of what I’m trying to achieve, and the transformation that I’m bringing to people’s lives and their businesses.


Damon Pistulka  47:10

Awesome. That’s all I say about that. That’s great that you’re able to do that. So that second year retreat, I just want to make sure everybody knows it’s October 24 through the 28th. If they’re interested, they should contact you on LinkedIn about that.


Thane Isaacs  47:24

Yeah, let me just explain it as a it is right on the ocean front and ocean Isle Beach, it is all expenses paid, all you got to do is get there and get back, all the food is taken care of we prepare the food in house. And that’s part of the bonding is you know, we we barbecue shrimp on the grill, we barbecue ribs, we do all kinds of different meals, we also have challenges that bring people together, the guys were blown away by some of the challenges.

And at the event, the really cool thing is some of them came up with some new challenges that I’m going to implement in this that we haven’t done before. So it was pretty cool. Getting all that input. But here’s you can say whatever you want five guys in a house for over five days. TVs in every room and a TV never came on, except when we were doing sessions on the TVs. Pretty amazing.

I was pretty impressed. And I didn’t really even think about it till the last day. Like as you realize the TV hasn’t even come on once. They’re like, yeah, that was great. It was awesome. Because you know five guys they got a somebody’s got check sports or something. But we’re all good. We were all good. We were all just into the, to the growth and the fellowship. And that’s what it’s about. And the other cool thing is Ronald starts each session with a prayer for us. So he’s he’s pretty amazing.


Damon Pistulka  48:37

Yeah, yeah, good stuff. Well, thing I sure appreciate you taking the time today. I appreciate that. The people you know, we had David Christ are jumping in the end. Had some great context for comments for you there, Jodi? Jodi Soccerway


Thane Isaacs  48:54

Yeah, so he’s that’s one of the challenges he can’t really can’t really go into detail but Yep, yeah, he actually he actually was he was actually the brunt of one of my better jokes at the at the end of that for another time.


Damon Pistulka  49:07

Yeah, well, thanks, everyone for being here. And thanks. Thanks so much for coming and talking about you know, building landscaping leaders and businesses sharing some of your wisdom and some of the you know, some of the great stories from your past in your own experiences of building and helping others build build these wonderful landscaping business and, and just really appreciate your hard work and dedication to helping these business owners.

Thanks so much for being here today. And thanks everyone else, anytime. Yeah, love it, man. Thank you. We’ll be back again. Have a great one.

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