Write Down the SOPs: Field Operations

Steven Cesare, Ph.D.

A business owner from Florida called me the other day to discuss the future of his company.  Successful by every stretch of the imagination, this sincere business owner felt his company revenue was at a comfortable level, for the time being of course, external competition was non-threatening, and his own organizational culture was “positive.”  Given that assessment, the business owner told me he wanted to focus more executive and managerial attention on efficiency, gross margin, and productivity in the hope of developing operational and administrative “best practices.”

Impressed with his awareness and elated at his epiphany, I told the business owner that to achieve “best practices” his company had to develop goal-oriented standard operating procedures (SOPs) to drive accountability, minimize wasted time and effort, and become the foundation for various training programs (e.g., operational, new employee orientation, and safety).  I admonished the business owner that such a venture would meet with internal resistance from his management team in that SOPs are notoriously tedious, ostensibly bureaucratic, and conveniently overlooked when needed most.  It would be incumbent upon him, and him alone, to drive the unyielding level of accountability necessary to drive these SOPs into the organization’s ongoing work routines.

Undaunted, the business owner asked me to provide him with a list of the most common and efficacious SOPs that landscape companies rely on.  Here is the list of field operations procedures I offered to him:

  1. How to estimate a job accurately
  2. Developing a sales proposal
  3. New job start-up
  4. Yard departure/arrival
  5. Labor Scheduling
  6. Mowing
  7. Installing sod
  8. Installing mulch
  9. Ordering plant materials
  10. Receiving materials
  11. Laying pavers
  12. Planting and staking a tree
  13. Planting annual color
  14. Performing an irrigation run-through
  15. Chemical applications
  16. Sourcing and managing subcontractors
  17. How to conduct a walk through
  18. Job sequencing and rotation maps
  19. Field management
  20. Renting equipment

The list of administrative procedures that I offered to the Florida business  owner will appear in the next weekly installment of this publication.  Stay tuned.

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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 68 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.