Fixate On Your Finances

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<![CDATA[Any extended periods of downtime this winter are the prime times to take a hard look at your finances and review the money coming in, the money going out, and the money set aside for lean times. Snow Magazine’s finance and accounting writer Mark Battersby outlines seven areas for snow contractors to focus in on during seasonal downtime.

Take Stock Of The Operation’s Assets
Disposing of unneeded, unwanted, obsolete equipment or other property deserves some thought as part of year-round tax planning. There is, after all, no point in letting excess equipment take up space when it could be contributing to the operation’s bottom-line.

“Selling, donating those unwanted assets to a charity or actually abandoning them, creates cash and/or tax write-offs,” Battersby says. “Don’t forget to document each event, keep receipts and physically abandon assets, not merely store them away.”

Employee Or Not An Employee
California’s controversial new law for freelancers and others in the so-called “gig” economy is spreading the worker classification issue to more states. And the IRS also continues to challenge whether workers are employees or independent contractors.

Independent contractors are not subject to withholding, relieving the employer of liability for payroll taxes.

“Workers, for their part, can avoid higher tax bills and lost benefits by knowing their proper status,” Battersby says “For those uncertain whether workers are classified correctly, the IRS can provide a determination letter telling how it views the operation’s workers – as employees or independent contractors.”

In addition to using IRS Form SS-8 to request a determination of worker status, an employer can apply to the IRS if it has been erroneously classifying workers as independent contractors. This application for “530 relief” allows the operation to get relief from liability or payment if it has been classifying workers as independent contractors in error.

Shopping For Another Banker
Despite bank branches disappearing in record numbers and the growing number of financing options, credit card processors and other services available from a variety of sources, every small business still needs a bank. However, despite how important banks are to small businesses, the majority of businesses appear to be experiencing significant challenges when it comes to banking services.

According to a recent survey of more than 1,000 business owners, only 9% of small business owners say their current bank meets all of their needs. What’s more, a whopping 69% of small business owners don’t believe their current bank is meeting all of their needs and, thus, would be willing to switch banks.

A credit-card processor may offer less-expensive fees and the fast-growing Web financing community might offer more attractive rates. But only banks allow a business owner or manager to negotiate lower rates based on the number of services they utilize.

“Banks want your business,” Battersby says. “But while they’ll sometimes offer significant cash bonuses for opening a business account, remember, no matter how appealing that cash bonus might appear, it is the operation’s day-to-day banking needs that count. In the long term, meeting the needs of the business will have a bigger impact on the health of the business than any immediate cash benefit.”

Coping With Reality
What better time to take a closer look at the operation’s cash flow? Every business owner should have a plan for periods of tight cash flow, upcoming projects and financing needs.

“With this in mind, it is no surprise that the best-performing businesses in past downturns had strong balance sheets and were even taking on additional debt to purchase more assets, expand or even acquire competitors – all relatively inexpensively,” Battersby says.

Make The Most Of Customers And Clients
The importance of increasing the number of customers the operation has can’t be overemphasized. After all, the unexpected loss of a big customer, contract or project can impact even the most financially stable business. And it is unfortunate that customers are usually the first to go during tough economic times.

“An economic downturn or recession means that now is the time to take care of loyal customers, since they could also bring new customers to the business,” Battersby says. “Telling customers how much their business is appreciated or rewarding them through discounts, loyalty cards and gift certificates can reap big dividends.”

Win A Competitor’s Customers
Any business hoping to prosper in tough times must continue to expand their customer base – and that often means drawing customers away from the competition. This can be accomplished by offering more or something different than the competition does.

“Providing better customer service is often viewed as one of the easiest ways to outdistance the competition,” Battersby adds.

Find A Pro
Now might be a good time to shop around for a pro. While most business owners and managers know their operation inside and out, there are highly technical matters of law, accounting, management and marketing that are usually best handled by outside experts.

The first step to finding the right tax professional requires an inventory of what you – and your business – actually need in the way of services and advice, and equally important, how much you can afford to pay for that advice or services,” Battersby says. “The best way to find someone to render needed advice or guidance is via a referral from business associates, your banker or an attorney.”]]>

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accounts

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How much would you pay for 100 accounts mixed in with commercial/residential? Not sure if it matters, but I am from Mass. Thank you.

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CambridgeHOK appoints Ian MacKenzie to head up engineering and design

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Horticultural facilities specialist Cambridge HOK has appointed Dr Ian MacKenzie to head up the company’s expanding engineering and design division.

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Britain's biggest compost seller set to end bagged peat sales

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The first multiple retailer to set a date to stop selling peat-based growing media can be revealed.

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Registration open for Landscape Lighting Conference

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Registration is now open for the Landscape
Lighting Conference, presented by the Irrigation Association. Experts will discuss the latest trends and best practices used in the industry, and products will be put in the spotlight during the lighting product showcase.

Below is the conference schedule. The event runs Monday, Jan. 11 from 12-4 p.m. EST. Cost for members is $99, while nonmembers pay $119. Prices increase by $30 on Dec. 23 and onward.

  • 12:05 p.m.

Opening Session – State of the
Lighting Industry

Ryan Williams, Director of
Marketing, FX Luminaire

  • 12:30 p.m.

Panel Discussion – Shoot for
the Top: How to Create & Maintain a Successful Lighting Business

Moderator: Chris
Pine, President, Irritech Training Inc.

Panelists:

Michael Deo, Owner/President,
NatureScape Lighting

Robert Hobart, Owner,
Britescape

John Pletcher, Owner/Principal
Designer, Natural Accents LLC

 

  • 1:10 p.m. | Break

 

  • 1:25 p.m.

Panel Discussion – Speaking
From Experience: Successes & Failures

Moderator: Dan
Puthuff, Director of Channel Management, Horizon Distributors Inc.

Panelists:

Jim Ply, Principal, Oak Crest
Landscape

Keith Rosser, Owner, Landscape
Lighting Pro of Utah

Scott Sim, Moon Glow
LightScapes

 

  • 2:10 p.m.

Panel Discussion – Taking It Up
a Notch: Advanced Installation Techniques/Specialty Lighting

Panelists:

John Higo, Illumicare Group

Kevin Smith, National Trainer,
Brilliance LED

Andy Thomas, Owner, Viewpoint
Lighting

 

  • 2:55 p.m. | Break

 

  • 3:10 p.m.

Landscape Lighting Technology
Product Showcase

Presentations from FX
Luminaire, Brilliance LED, Illumicare Group Limited and Letzgo Products Inc.

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Coxreels offering roller bracket for Challenger Series reels

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Coxreels now offers roller bracket assemblies for the Challenger Series. The function of the roller bracket, as it is on other models such as the 1125-Series and the 1175-Series, is to assist in guiding the hose during both extension and retraction. The roller bracket assembly is available only in a 4-way upper roller format, due to the compact size of the Challenger platform.

For 12” disk Challenger models, the roller bracket assembly is available for 8” wide drums and 12.5” wide drums. For 17” disk Challenger models, the roller bracket assembly is available for 8” wide drums, 12.5” wide drums, and 18” wide drums.

Coxreels has been manufacturing professional-grade hose, cord and cable reels since 1923 – offering a full product line serving the industry.

For further information on Coxreels roller bracket assemblies, contact Customer Service at 800-269-7335 or visit www.coxreels.com.

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Kubota to hold free Turf Talk virtual event

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Join the free Turf Talk virtual event to learn tips and strategies from industry leaders on upping your game in uncertain times – a turf industry marketing guru, fleet management expert and other professionals will present on how to help track, market and grow your business in 2021 and beyond.  

Those that register by Jan. 6 are automatically entered to win one of 30 prize packs with items from Kubota, Echo, Kawasaki, Hydro Gear and more.

Click here to register.

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A Smart Way Growers Can Deal With Plant Stress

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grafted cucumber plant growing in high tunnelLearn how researchers designed a portable device for fast detection of stress in plants.

The post A Smart Way Growers Can Deal With Plant Stress appeared first on Greenhouse Grower.

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Bridging the gap

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From handshakes to hard work, understanding the nuanced differences between the American and Latino cultures can lead to a more productive workplace.

This was the message during the webinar “Lost in Translation: The Five Things Businesses Must Understand About the Latinx Culture.” The education was sponsored by the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association and went live earlier in November. Given that Spanish-speakers and Latinx employees make up roughly half of the landscaping industry’s workforce, understanding ways to bridge cultural gaps became imperative to speaker Bernie Carranza, the manager at Lotus Farms Chicago.

But before Carranza told attendees some of the lessons he’s learned as both a manager and member of the Latino community, Donna Vignocchi Zych, ILCA president, opened up the webinar.

“I deeply believe that this seminar isn’t just about getting more performance out of our teams,” she said. “It’s about bridging an essential gap and how our different cultures interpret words, actions, gestures, hierarchies and traditions. When employees feel safe, they have the ability to excel and better their collective lives.”

Here’s some of what was discussed during the webinar:

DIVERSE CULTURES. First, it’s important to understand exactly what demographic of people you’re referring to when you say “Latino.” In this case, it’s anyone from a Spanish-speaking country. Latinx is a more recent term that replaces the “a” or the “o” in Latina and Latino to make the term gender-neutral. And in his experience, Carranza said people who were originally born in one of these Spanish-speaking countries identify themselves as Hispanic, while those born in the U.S. with familial ties to other countries label themselves as Latino. He made it clear, however, that they can ultimately determine how they’d like to be identified.

The presentation was more geared toward Latinos who had not acculturated to American culture. Many are from Mexico; the complicating factor is that their experiences and cultural influences are different depending on what area of Mexico they’re from.

“The employer, when appropriate, should discuss with their Latino employees the cultural differences that exist and how to make everyone comfortable,” he said. “There are differences in simple, everyday interactions. The more we become familiar with these, the (better) communication we have.”

As it pertains to showing these employees respect, simple things like hand gestures and body language go a long way. Directly looking at someone’s eyes during serious conversations can be viewed as a challenge to his authority, and handshakes for Latinos are supposed to be soft to the touch rather than firm and rigid. Greetings in American culture are brief and to the point, while in Latino culture, they’re more warm, welcoming and expected.

Employers should talk about those differences and clarify with the employee that they’re not trying to upstage them with direct eye contact, for example. 

EDUCATION. Latinos prefer cooperative learning environments rather than competitive. As an example, Carranza recalled helping other cousins through school lessons growing up rather than trying to outdo them. This carries into the workplace, as training at a company should be done in more of a group setting than individually.

Carranza recommended allowing for smaller meetings to go on during larger meetings for those who learn most comfortably in a communal way. In his experience, these smaller groups lead to more productivity from his Latino workers as they explain to one another what they’ve learned. This is particularly important should language barriers exist at the company.

Another challenge is understanding that Latinos “don’t know,” even when they do, Carranza said. This means that they’d rather not embarrass somebody leading a meeting by upstaging them with the correct answer, even if it means sitting on vital information. This can be avoided by encouraging them to speak up often.

“We should encourage them to ask questions,” Carranza said. “Our style is more formal. What that means is that if you’re the presenter, if you’re the authority of the person presenting, there is this tendency to not interrupt you.”

UNDERSTANDING AMBITION. Latinos often credit their achievements to fate or religious circumstances rather than their own ability, Carranza said.

“We look down at our shoes – we downplay our successes,” he said. “When something good happens to us, we don’t credit our own hard work.”

He said because of this humility, Latinos are often labeled as unambitious. Some miss out on raises or bonuses because of this trait. Their politeness can lead to Americans viewing them as subservient.

As Carranza put it, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and sometimes, people with bad manners get what they want. Latinos’ ambition for career progression is demonstrated quietly, he said, and “the key for you is recognizing that ambition and directing it.”

Carranza said sometimes, Latinos struggle to speak up when things get difficult because they have adopted a culture of hard work and pride in their company. He said it’s up to employers to listen to employees and ask them proactively how the work is going.

“Working hard is in our culture, it’s in our DNA,” he said. “What can we do? We encourage them, we empower them.”

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LMN announces 2021 leadership team

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LMN announces new additions to its leadership team. This expansion of LMN’s C-suite and executive team results from the technology company’s growth and future market expansions.

According to Ibis World, the market size, measured by revenue, of the Landscaping Services industry is $98.7bn in 2020. The market size of the Landscaping Services industry in the US increased faster than the economy overall.

"2020 has been a growth spurt for LMN, and with that comes the expansion of our leadership team," said Mark Bradley, CEO and co-founder of LMN, also known as the Landscape Management Network. "LMN raised the bar in preparing for 2021 to be our most successful year in building trust and equity in the landscape industry."

The 2021 leadership team includes:

David Chalmers, chief revenue officer (lower left)
Chalmers is a sales leader with a track record for growing revenue and building and coaching teams. He has served as LMN’s chief commercial officer since 2018, and prior to joining the company, he held global executive roles with Microsoft and Blackberry.

Sarah Collins, chief marketing officer (upper right)
Collins brings more than 15 years’ experience across the marketing and communications spectrum to the CMO role. Before joining LMN, she served as the vice president of social PR at The Buyer Group.

Abbey Gilhula, chief of staff (upper left)
Before joining the landscape software company, she spent 12 years working with Blackberry and its founder’s subsequent companies. Gilhula has been dedicated to LMN’s growth and success since 2015. She previously served as vice president of U.S. operations and the vice president of marketing and strategy, respectively. Through her leadership, LMN opened training centers in Orlando, Dallas and Toronto.

Megan Macaulay, vice president of customer experience (lower right)
Macaulay joined LMN in 2016 and has played a critical role in the company’s development and launch of the LMN Academy programs, including the Academy Classroom and Academy Online. She has served as the vice president of U.S. software implementation since 2018.

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