Last month, Tom Fochtman, Ceibass CEO, was a guest speaker at J.R. Huston Consulting’s Brainstorming Meeting in Park City, Utah. More than 25 companies and 75 lawn and landscape business professionals were in attendance. Tom’s topic: Building a Landscape Business With An Exit In Mind.

“Building a business with an exit in mind is really about building an enduring business, assembling the right team and equipment, with a focus on EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization,” said Tom. “You want to enhance EBITDA because it’s EBITDA times a multiplier that set a baseline for the value of your business when you are looking to transition it.”

So how do you enhance EBITDA? What are some of the best practices to be in? Here, is the second of two parts of practices Tom identified in his presentation:

Quality of Accounts

  • Contracts must be current; renewed
  • Consistent, organized job files a must
  • Develop a history of getting price increases
  • Demonstrate a history of enhancement revenue
  • Quality clients demonstrate a history of investing in their properties to increase their and (your) ROI

Legal Workforce

  • Maintain proper employee records
  • I-9’s and E-verify need to be in place and organized
  • This aspect of the business is now vital – buyers will not deal with an illegal workforce


  • Keep a clean facility, yard, and shop
  • When you sell your home a good realtor tells you to “stage” your home. You will get more for your business if you keep your facility clean.
  • This breeds quality employees who care for equipment and property


  • What is the quality of work and client base?
  • What is the demographic of your company’s clients?
  • How dominant is your company in the marketplace? If you are in the top 3, an out of state buyer will have an interest for geographic expansion.

Marketing Image

  • Countless companies who are good at what they do. But what makes you great?
  • What is your unique value proposition?
  • What have you done for their community?
  • Have they written press releases and submitted to local and national publications to gain peer notoriety and inform their audience?
  • What industry associations are you involved in?  It’s important to be known in your industry.
  • Have you entered award competitions for quality workmanship that makes you great?
  • Do you have an informative newsletter?
  • What image do you connote?
  • How does your fleet look? Uniformed Employees? Professional?
  • Develop a Customer Advisory Committee


  • Sales are the lifeblood of the business!!!
  • Everyone must own sales from the receptionist, to estimating, to sales, production and billing.
  • Remember: People do business with people they like and with companies that make doing business easy.
  • Without sales, there is no need for the production, billing etc. Everyone in the organization needs to understand the value and benefits of sales.
  • Book a consultant to come in and share the importance of sales.
  • So, you think it is a low bid market? Read about Harvey McKay. He created a 66 point list that his salespeople had to know about all of his clients. (
  • This will get you thinking about sales. Why is Harvey important? His company sells the plain ole #10 business envelope and he consistently sells more envelopes at higher prices than the low bid guy because his team understands the importance of sales.
  • Harvey is the author of many good books.

Field Trips

  • So, you want to be better than the competition?
  • Get out of the office and visit your peers in other markets. Most landscape contractors are an open bunch as long as you are not a direct competitor in their market.
  • Consider starting a peer group where you can share industry best practices.
  • Focus on working ON your business, not IN your business.
  • Get involved in NALP, get networking in your market and on LinkedIn, get involved in a Trailblazers program.