Take a look at this picture. The grass in the foreground was cut by a so-called “professional” lawn mower company. The grass in the background (up to the driveway and just beyond it), my husband cut. The “professionally cut” lawn is scalped – cut way too short – and was cut wet. I took this picture 4 days after it was mowed, and it’d rained some in the interim. By contrast, Peter (aka “swirl god”) mowed our yard, cutting it wet (it just hadn’t had a chance to dry out between showers), but mowing it with a 20″ push mower and high. The “professional” service uses a heavy-duty, top-of-the-line riding mower, has the big trailer, nice truck, and so forth.
The point I’m making is, not everyone who presents themselves as a professional knows what they’re doing. My husband is a true professional lawn care expert, knowing both the chemical care needs of various types of grasses and the best way to maintain those lawns. The company who butchered our neighbor’s lawn has demonstrated repeated ignorance of lawn care.
I see this same behavior in my industry. There are hundreds of great soapmakers out there. There are dozens of fabulous cosmetic manufacturers I know. Then there are the rest. They’ll claim their lotions are “all natural” and “preservative free,” not realizing the safety value of preservatives in lotions. That always leads me to wonder, Are they ignorant of good manufacturing practices, or are they intentionally mislabeling? Some soapmakers will say they make their own soap and do so without lye. That’s pretty much impossible, because without lye, there’s no soap – not the real stuff, anyway.
I’ve seen other soapmakers claim their soaps as “all natural” and “fragranced with essential oils.” Yet, they leave me wondering, Just which part of the gingerbread cookie do you have to press or distill to get the essential oil out? So-called “professionals” from all fields – not just lawn care and cosmetic and soap manufacturing – drive their businesses on their own ignorance and that of their customers. The part that really bothers me, though, is that these business owners or employees can cause some significant harm and expense for the people they deceive and who are ignorant enough or gullible enough to believe them.
Having business cards doesn’t make one a professional at anything, any more than wearing a choir robe means one can sing. Professional people exhibit certain characteristics.
- True professionals start at a place of knowledge. Those of us who have been in the business for a long time know that it takes a lot of time and hard work to become an overnight success. Before we start, though, we learn as much as possible about our business fields.
- True professionals never stop learning. Whether it’s books, forums, peers, videos, seminars or conferences, professionals always look for what more they can learn.
- True professionals accept feedback graciously and seek to learn from it. Being defensive helps no one, and certainly does not keep customers.
- True professionals work with integrity. Whether it’s a mislabeled soap or shooting weed and grass clippings onto a neighbor’s yard, accepting responsibility for sub-standard work only makes one look better.
- True professionals realize that appearances don’t matter as much as quality work. I see lawn care companies in old trucks and open trailers do exceptionally good jobs on lawns. I mean, every. Blade. Of grass. Is. The same. Height. I watched one guy, and was just waiting for him to get out the ruler and scissors. Yet, the guy who cut the lawn above has jazzy equipment but doesn’t know his stuff. A soap company can look charming and adorable on social media, but doesn’t know correct labeling or the difference between fragrance oils and essential oils. In absolutely every facet of life, the inside needs to match the outside.
What other characteristics do you see in companies or businesses that strike you as being truly professional-grade?