Vince Lombardi
Vince Lombardi (1913–1970)

Great business leaders always strive to improve. Whether it’s generating more sales, marketing to a wider audience, or reducing wasteful expenses, the recipe remains the same. What’s the secret sauce that turns success into profitability?


A thoughtful analysis of coaching great, Vince Lombardi, suggests it’s mastering fundamentals. According to David Marannis, author of When Pride Still Mattered, Lombardi brought all his players down to the simplest starting point:

He took nothing for granted. He began a tradition of starting from scratch, assuming that the players were blank slates who carried over no knowledge from the year before… He began with the most elemental statement of all. ‘Gentlemen,’ he said, holding a pigskin in his right hand, ‘this is a football.’

Other greats such as John Wooden and Phil Jackson were notorious for similar methodologies.


So how is Lombardi’s method so pertinent to business? The answer is elementary: when simple things are done incorrectly, dynamic things go awry. As James Clear says:

You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.

The current trend in our economy is to automate tasks, drive down costs, and build efficiency. This certainly helps, but without your core employees gaining proficiency in the basics, you can still miss the mark. In fact, the most specialized military units spend more time on the range going over basics than any other task.


In the landscaping industry, we constantly battle costs, and the bottom line is often the determining factor of a happy boss or a grumpy one. You may sell more jobs than ever before yet come to find your net unchanged (or worse). Maybe you had to repair a large piece of poorly-maintained equipment, or you didn’t factor in extra driving time with an expanded client base. Either way, you’re scratching your head wondering why greater sales are not generating more profit.


Simple examples of bypassing the basics are avoiding preventative maintenance on vehicles and equipment or failing to create/enforce policies that encourage accountability for smaller equipment and inventory. Another is lacking a grounded procedure for collecting past due receivables.


When facing potential uncertainty in the industry and economy, it behooves business owners to take a good look at their fundamentals and assess each business system for maximum efficiency. What areas of the business might you be blind to?