The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) understands that the landscaping business can be a challenge. Not only does landscaping require physical stamina, it requires good business sense, a grasp of marketing, and the ability to relate directly to customers. To help newcomers to the industry, the NALP has started its Trailblazers program, which pairs experts in the industry with new landscapers looking to learn the ropes. Here is what the Trailblazer program is all about.
Who Are Trailblazers?
Trailblazers are experts in the landscape industry who have been nominated by their peers for their contributions. They have a minimum of 10 years of experience in landscaping and come from all sub-areas of the industry (e.g. design, building, installation, irrigation, lawn care, etc.). Trailblazers are vetted by the NALP Membership Committee and approved by the Board of Directors. Once confirmed, a Trailblazer provides insight into his or her experiences in the industry, answers questions, and mentors landscapers looking to boost their skills and learn more.
Choosing a Mentor
Landscapers who are interested in being mentored by a Trailblazer start by reviewing the bios maintained by the NALP. They then choose five individuals who they think can offer the learning they seek and complete an application. The NALP then matches the landscapers with a Trailblazer and contact information is shared. The landscaper and Trailblazer then decide how much mentorship is needed and in what areas.
What the Program Achieves
Individuals who have been involved in the Trailblazer program talk about how it boosts their professionalism and enhances focus at their companies. Many compare the meetings with mentors to starting a franchise – they learn everything they need to know about running a landscaping business. Most participants are surprised by the amount of information a Trailblazer shares about running a successful business as well as by the level of detail Trailblazers get into. Most Trailblazers not only mentor new landscapers, they send them to other Trailblazers who they believe can offer additional insight.
Trailblazers on Call
To get information about tough business decisions or to find answers to complex technical questions, NALP members can turn to the Trailblazers on Call program. This online forum sources questions to the appropriate expert who will respond within 24-72 hours. The service is free and unlimited for NALP members and has received praise from individuals who have used it.