If you have to add another task to your already stuffed to-do list, can you find a blank spot?

Do you know how to “defend your time,” keeping your daily schedule sacred?

More than 100 landscaping professionals are better at time management after Capitol City Summit 2018, The Growth Network’s annual peer group gathering in August, hosted this year in Washington DC by Level Green Landscaping.

There were a lot of tips to ponder, lessons to learn and wisdom to share.

Here’s a recap of the information-packed gathering:

First, A Reminder: What's A Peer Group?

Capitol City Summit 2018 growth networkIt’s called The Growth Network, Level Green Landscaping’s industry peer group.

The owners of seven landscaping companies of similar size from across the country get together regularly, in person and through conference calls, to share, explore new ideas and learn from each other.

And once a year, they bring managers to a three-day educational summit, so they can meet, mingle and learn together.

The companies are from seven different states, so they don’t compete against each other. That creates an open atmosphere so owners can freely share financial information, business models and best practices.

The Growth Network includes Level Green Landscaping of Maryland; Native Land Design in Texas; Duke’s Landscape Management in New Jersey; Focal Pointe Outdoor Solutions in Illinois and Missouri; Greenscape, Inc. in North Carolina; Mike Ward Landscaping in Ohio and Conserve LandCare in California.

Need More Time?

Capitol City Summit SpeakerThis year’s keynote speaker was Steve McClatchy, a dynamic speaker, trainer, consultant and New York Times bestselling author.

While past peer group summits focused on sales and operations, this year’s highlight was learning how to better organize and manage your time, from innovative software technology to personal time management strategies.

McClatchy stressed the importance of “defending your calendar,” so the inevitable last-minute needs that emerge don’t derail your whole day.

“One main thing I think everybody got from this is to make a schedule and stick to it,” says Michael Mayberry, Level Green’s chief technical officer, who attends the annual events. “New managers often really struggle with this. They’re always putting out fires and trying to satisfy everybody. You can’t do it all at once.”

Successful time management affects more than productivity, Mayberry says.

“It impacts your self worth, your feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day,” he says. “I like the idea, as a company, that we’re cognizant of our time and how we spend it. Otherwise, how do you know you’re making any progress?”

Mingling, Munching and Making Connections

Capitol City Summit group shot 2018The event started on a Monday evening, as chartered buses transported attendees from The Capitol Skyline Hotel to Level Green Landscaping in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

Landscaping industry vendors who helped sponsor the event set up outside so peer group members could browse, ask questions and discover products as they enjoyed a catered barbecue dinner.

Vendors ranged from Toro and John Deere to SiteOne Landscape Supply and Rainbow Treecare.

Summit events included talks about making time for relationships and strategies for personal productivity.

And a panel of college professors offered tips on attracting new talent.

One of the highlights of this annual gathering is the chance to mingle with other landscaping professionals who have the same job you do — but in a different state.

Attendees spend the whole time in their own smaller peer group.

“That way we can share battle stories and best practices,” Mayberry says. “Above any outside learning, the time we spend talking to each other is the biggest draw and the biggest benefit. It’s a chance to be open and candid about issues without worrying about competition.”

It’s Called The Growth Network For A Reason

Capitol City Summit 2018 - Crabs

Slowing down for a couple days to really examine how your company works is crucial if you want to experience growth, Mayberry says.

“This is on the minds of all managers, not just the managers at our company,” Mayberry says. "How are we going to sustain success as we continue to grow?

“It’s so important to take the time as a group to sit and really think about our processes,” he says. “To really evaluate our systems to make sure they’re in good condition when we need to scale up.

“We want to make sure that what we’re doing now will be successful down the road when we add 100 people.”

The Wrap-Up

At the end of the summit, each group offered a wrap-up in the form of a skit, a game or a video. Ashley Owens, business development manager at Level Green Landscaping, led her group to victory with a video sharing highlights of the event, from a big pile of tasty crabs to technology advice to list-making and scheduling tips.

“It was a cool way to wrap things up,” Mayberry says.

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